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Samuel d.1797

James Thornton

Samuel Thornton

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Sonton Food Industries

James and Jennet Montgomery Thornton

By Joan Jackson

Jane Thornton in the Highland County Court records:† There has been confusion at least in the past 4 generations as to her name - Jane, Jennet, Janet, Jenneth or Jeannette or however was the vogue in spelling at the time the name was written down.†

The Rocky Springs Presbyterian Session Book, Vol.1 (Ohio State Library, Columbus, OH. Genealogy Dept.) states that James and Jenneth, his wife, were members in 1810.† John Johnson and his wife Jane were members at the same time. Jenneth and Jane were sisters, daughters of John Montgomery (will written 1777 Abbeville, SC and probated 1782.)† Their brother John died in Abbeville SC 1798 and James Thornton and John Johanson are listed as next of kin - women having no legal status except as widows in estates. Daughters named were Margaret, Agness, Jane and Jennet, and son John. (Wills obtained from Probate Court, Abbeville County, P.O.B. 70, Abbeville, SC 29620.) †

The will for the father John Montgomery was partially destroyed when Samuel Finleyís †house was burned by the Tories in 1777. I have read that during the Revolution public officials often hid recorded documents in their houses to avoid detection by the enemy. John Finley, the son of Samuel, makes the statement of the partially burned document in court appointed appraisement of the missing parts of the documents in 1783. Abner Montgomery Thornton †(son of Samuel †and Ann Henderson Thornton and brother of Samuel Watson Thornton b.1818 and d.1842, Hancock Co. OH - see Autobiography of Samuel Watson Thornton b. 1841), in a letter to my great grandfather Samuel Watson Thornton b. 1841, said that his grandmotherís name was Jeannette and his aunt was Jane Johnson.† He stated that the Johnsons did not have children and she became very close to her nieces and nephews.†† Jane died in 1855 and was buried in the Rocky Springs Burying Ground in Highland Co., OH at the age of 86. (Cemeteries Inscriptions of Highland County, OH, compiled by David and Jane McBride , 1954. National Genealogical Society in Washington, DC, has a copy.)

In Abner Mongomery Thorntonís letter he states that Jennet remembers the trip over from Ireland as a very small child and relates the story of her seeing whales.† That would make her 2 or 3 at the time.† Abner said Jane was born in this country which was in the 96th district of South Carolina.† Jane was 86 at the time of her death so she was born circa†1761.† That gives us a clue as to Jennetís age.† Abner also said that they were cousins of Gen. Richard Montgomery of Revolution fame.† I could find no proof of that, although I did find that Col. Richard Montgomery was in 96th District, SC several years before the Revolution.

So back to the discrepancy in the name of James Thorntonís wife.† We know it was not Jane, although they named a daughter Jane (Court of Common Pleas, Highland County, Ohio).† Jane Johnson is mentiond several times in the Rocky Springs Presbyterian Session Book. Therefore, I am ascribing the name Jennet to James Thorntonís wife, knowing full well that I will, at times, slip and call her Janet.

Why did the court papers say Jane?† They were abstracted. As handwriting and spelling were not as they are today, the clerk could easily have written Jane as Jennet could have sounded like Janet.† So, there you have my theories as to Jennetís name.

James Thornton died in Oct.,1814 (Rocky Springs Presbyterian Session Book, Highland Co., OH found at the Ohio State Library, Genealogy Division, Columbus, Ohio, Vol.2&3).

The 1818 Court of Common Pleas, Wills and Guardianship, Highland Co., OH lists all of the heirs of James Thornton as the result of a suit brought against the family over a land dispute.† Administrators for the estate are Jane Thornton and John Thornton. Page 559 of Deed Book 4 (Common Pleas Court Records of Highland Co., OH 1805-1860) states:† ď26 Dec. 1818.† Thomas Baskins sued the heirs of James Thornton, decíd. to execute a deed to Baskins for 100A. that decedent, while living, had contracted to sell to Baskins.† The heirs who signed the deed, the grantors are; Jane Thornton, his widow, John Shields and Polly hw late Thornton (Rocky Spring Presbyterian Session Book,† pg. 2 Polly Shields died October 3rd 1810.† Pg. 8 Oct. 9, 1814 baptised John Shieldís infant daughter Vashti Wilson) †John, Samuel, William and Levi Thornton, and also John Shields as Guardian ad litem of Abner and Jane Thornton, minor heirs.Ē

Minerva Thornton Bickell, in her Family History written for a Thornton family reunion in 1907, stated that James Thornton was born in 1747. Minerva states that Jennet and James were married in 1767. She states that Jennet was taken by a man named MacDonald when she was 12 years old (either he was her guardian or she was bound out to him when her father died), and she stayed with him until she married James.† I believe that the date of marriage is in error.† We know Jane was born in 1761 in SC, that Jennet was older and was born in Ireland.† The birth of the first child (John)† for James and Jennet Montgomery Thornton is 1789 (Census 1850 IN). A period of 22 years between marriage and birth of first child is not at all likely. I believe the date of the marriage is probably 1787.† Also, it might be possible that Jennet was Jamesí second wife, but there is no evidence in fact or implied to support this - just my guess in trying to sort out these dates. We know that Samuel Strain, the Thorntonís good friend and neighbor was married three times and had 21 or 22 children.†

Minerva also states that Polly was her fatherís (John Thornton's) sister.

Jennet Montgomery Thornton died sometime after 1840 and before her sister Jane who was buried in Rocky Spring Presbyterian Burying Ground (Cemetery Inscriptions of Highland CO. Ohio, compiled by David and Jane McBride, Lithographed by the Edwards Letter Shop, Ann Arbor, Mich.† Copy obtained from the National Genealogical Society Library in Washington D.C.)

Notes for McGehee and Watson

Taken from Abstracts of Old Ninety-Six and Abbeville District Wills and Bonds compiled by Pauline Young, reprinted 1969 by Georgia Genealogical Reprints, The Rev. Silas Lucas, Jr., Publisher, Vadalia, Georgia.

Watson, Stephen-Box. 98, Pack 2400;

Will dated 1807 in Abbeville Dist.
Rec. Feb 17, 1807.
Exrs; Bro. Wm. Watson, John McGehee Wit. Names left out.† Wife, Joanna Watson, Dtr. Peggy Watson. Inv. Made Feb. 20, 1807 by Geo. White, John Chiles, Jas. Watson. Joanna Watson later married Charles McGehee.† Sale, Mar. 10, 1807. Byrs: Joanna, Anthony, Saml. Youngblood, Robt. Finny, etc.

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