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Thornton Family Quarterly

Volume I  No. I  Oct. 1969

Fall Hill Mansion

This house, built by Francis Thornton in 1756, is situated atop a high hill, overlooking the city of Fredericksburg, Va.  The house is a beautiful two story home, practically in its original condition, filled with furniture used by the early Thorntons.  Mrs. Lynn Franklin occupies the home, (a direct descendant) a very gracious lady, who allowed us to roam through the rooms at our leisure.  There are nine rooms:  a formal living room, dining room, sitting room, kitchen, (added) and four huge bedrooms. The ceilings are extremely high and the windows are large, with sills wide enough to sit on. These windows were rebuilt in the early 1800’s.  The floors are the originals: wide toe nail, unfinished, and in extremely good condition.  The walls, from front to back, are wide and spacious.  There is a large fireplace in every room. The chandeliers hang low and are breathtaking.  At one time they held candles to light the dark, and these candle holders are still present on the chandeliers. The exterior of the house is faded brick, never having been painted, and the windows are surrounded by shutters. The slave’s quarters (which was also used as a kitchen in early days stand a few yards back from the house.  This too is in its original condition, as is the school house which Francis Thornton had built for the Fall Hill Children. 

Fall Hill is full of folk lore and tradition.  Many fascinating stories have been handed down through the family. One of the most interesting is the story of the pirate, who right after Francis Thornton built the house, sailed his small boat up the Rappahannock River, and became ill, or was wounded in Fredericksburg.  Frances and his family befriended the man, and took care of him until he was well.  However, if I’ve got the story right, he did not leave after regaining his health, but stayed on with his new friends, and worked for them on the plantation.  He is said to have buried his gold, which he said he had confiscated from someone before coming to Fredericksburg, several yards away from the main house.  Several years later, one of the slaves, upon having had a dream, reported seeing the gold buried between two oak trees.  However, no gold has ever been found, although there has been much digging. 

Then there is the story of Katina, the beloved Indian girl, presented to Francis Thornton by Governor Spottswood as a gift.  She died at a very advanced age, and is buried in a grove of oak trees near the old barn, at Fall Hill.  She taught her charges the Indian language and would be gone weeks with them every summer, living on fish she caught, and wild birds she could talk to.  For many, many years the children of the Fall Hill Mansion said the ‘ghost’ of Katina still came to check her ‘carges’ at night.  Just last year, a newspaper reporter for the Fredericksburg Star, spent a night in the old house to see if Katina would pay her a visit.

Then there was Mammie Nancy, the splendid old servant of Frances Thornton.  She raised the children of Francis after their young mother, Sally Innes, died, and was greatly beloved by all. Francis Thornton left her about ‘$200.00’ from the Bridge Annuity a year, and two darkies to take care of her. She lived in Cherry Hill, the house across from Fall Hill which has since burned.  She lived to be one hundred years of age.  Her portrait was painted and destroyed at Fall Hill when it was occupied by the Union Troops.  All the furniture in the Fall Hill Mansion was saved because it was moved and hidden before the troops arrived. The house itself was not damaged during the war.  One can almost picture the balls, long gowns, horse and carriages of the years gone by, there at the house, Fall Hill Mansion.



Franklin Co., Va.   -   Franklin Co. Records

Hannah Thornton to William Bird March 24, 1803, Samuel King Sur.

Littleberry Thornton to Sally Stewart March 24 1807 Sur James Stewart, Min John ashworth

Allen Thornton to Elizabeth Warren, d/o of Ambrose, Apr 8, 1799 Sur Starlin Thornton

Starlin Thornton to Sally Mosely Aug 29, 1803 Sur David Richeson

Page Thornton and Rebecca Frith d/o Thomas Feb 11, 1839 Sur William Scarberry

Judith Thornton to Johnson Williams 7/6/1821 Sur James Keys

Samuel G. Thornton to Mary J. Claughton 8/22/1844 Sur Fobert a. Scott, Min John St. Clair


Sussex Co. Va.  -  Marriage Bonds & Minister’s Returns

William  Thornton to Mary Parhan Sur William H. Comann Jan 30, 1809 Married Feb. 2, 1809 by Rev. James Rogers---Page 131


Charlotte Co Marriage (Book Title)

Joseph Collier to Amy Moseley, d/o Edward Moseley, Sur William Bouldin, Dec 15, 1772 pages 82 & 82

Francis Thornton to Anne Peltus, Married by Rev. john Fore, Oct 15, 1801

Francis M. Thornton to Elizabeth Roach (widow) Sur John  Thompson May 27, 181_?

Richard Thornton to Sally Sterling Smith d/o Robert Smith Jan 1, 1810


Pittsylvania Co. Va.

John Thornton to Susannah Pace, aug 28, 1777

Preseley Thornton to Mary Growby Dec 1, 1784

Richard Thornton to Sarah Perkins d/o Mary Perkins who consents Sur Isaac Potter Dec 16, 1796


St. Pauls parish Register, King George, Va.

John Brooke to Lucy Thornton July 2, 1777


Halifax Co.   1753 – 1800

John Adams and Prudence Thornton Sur Samuel Hubbard, Prudence signs her own consent, 31 Aug 1791

Thomas Jones and Elizabeth Osborne Moseley d/o Blackman Moseley who consents, Sur Morton Clay, Wit Joseph Faulkner 13 Dec 1797, page 37


Amherst Co. Va.    1763 – 1800

Peter Presley Thornton, bachelor & Mary McCullock, spinster, May 10,1792 Consent of her father Roderick McCullock. Certificate of marriage by Rev. Mr. Crawford (M.R.)


Prince Edward Co., Va.    1754 – 1810

November 25, 1800. Llewelling Jones and Dorothy Thornton, d/o Sterling Thornton who is Surety.

All marriage records have been derived from said sources at the State Archives in Richmond, Virginia.



Lucy Goode Thornton July 17, 1907 Lincoln Co., W. Va.

Elendar Thornton Austin Feb 28, 1908 Lincoln Co., W. Va.

John Bird March 31, 1919 Putnam Co., W. Va.

Henry Addison Thornton may 2, 1919 Greenbrier Co., W. Va.

Mary Martha Wiley Thornton Dec. __? 1927 Greenbrier Co., W. Va. (Second wife of Henry Addison Thornton)

William Marshall Goode Sept 21, 1901 Lincoln Co., W. Va.

Catherine Goode Dec 18, 1885 Lincoln Co., W. Va.

Information above from tombstones and personal records.



Henry Addison Thornton July 13, 1840 Franklin Co., Va.

Lucy Francis Goode Aug 29, 1849  Franklin Co., Va.

William Marshall Goode Aug 30, 1817 Franklin Co., Va.

James Page Thornton July 7, 1815 Franklin Co., Va.

Sarah E. Thornton July 24, 1855 Franklin Co., Va.

Information above from Franklin Co. Court Records, and from various personal sources.



The following is the Will of William Thornton – England (1485?)

(Taken from a letter to Bessie Taylor Robinson from Ann Thornton Taylor Bayliss, June 24, on her visit to Yorkshire, England, where many of the early Thorntons came from.  This Will was taken and copied from the records at the churh in Yorkshire.)

Testimatum Willelim Thornton  nuper generosi defunct

In the name of God amen, the XVLL days of the month of August in the yere of our Lord mccccixxxvIJ.  I William Thornton, gentleman being in gude mynde, makes my testament in thes manner.

First I give and wyttes my soule to God Almighty, and to oure Lady and to all the Feyntes of haven, and my bodye to beryd in theKyrke of Seynt Katheryn.

Also I gyve and I yet to the wrk of said Kyrke iiijs, iiijd.

Also I gyve and I wyt my best garment to be brought to the wit my body in the name of corsepresent.  Also I gyve and I wyt my new messe buke to the manor of Newton, to serve in Doynt Peter Chapelle to the worlde end.  Also I gyvbe and I wyt to xiij Priestes beying at my exequas iiijs iiijd and to t he person of the said Kyrk xijd.  Also I gyve and wyt to John Thornton vjs viiijd.  Also to Alyson Thornton vjs viijd.

Also I gyve to Isabell Thornton iijsiiijd.  Also I gyve and wyt to Johannet my servant j coverlet, j payre blankettes, and a payre of sheets and to Bagby Kyrk v jsviijd.  And to William Johnson and to Thomas Tylsen either of thame xxjd.  Also to Willeim Mylsen xxd.  And I gyve and wyt to distribute to pure people at my exequias for the wele of my saule.

The residue of my doodes I gyve and wyt to Agnes my wife and Robert my son, whom I make myn executeres to dispose of my suale as they think best.

In witnesse thereof to this present testament I have putte my seal.

This witnesses ect. Pr. March 17, 1488-9



The following gives a detailed description of the arms, crest, motto, etc. of the Thornton Family:


ARMS:  Argent, a chevron sable between three hawthorne trees oroper.

CREST: Out of a ducal coronet or a lion’s head proper.

MOTTO: None recorded. Few of the older arms were accompanied by recorded mottos.  Deo spes mea (My hope is in God) has been used by one Yorkshire Line.

AUTHORITY: Crozier’s “General Armory”, 1904 Edition, Page 126.

Burke’s “General Armory, 1878 Edition, page 1010.


The shield is silver.

The chevron is black.

The hawthorne threes are dark brown with leaves of dark green, and are with reddish pink blooms. 
The coronet is gold.

The lion’s head is naturally colored.

NOTES:  Crozier records for descendants of William Thornton, of the Hills, Yorkshire, who settled in York County, Virginia in 1646, Scarborough, Yorkshire, was the center of residence of this family.  Kirkland Hall, Lancashire, was the seat of one line.  This line bore the lion;s head red.  A line owning the estate of Birkin, in Yorkshire, bore the lion’s head purple, and placed a coronet around the neck of the lion’s head rather than under itl A Yorkshire line with branches in Norfold and Cambridgeshire, bore the same arms, but changed the crest to a dragon;s head and wings of silver issuing from the coronet of gold.  O’Hart, in hid “Irish Pedigree”, Volune 2, states that the Thorntons of England were among the 12 families whom Queen Elizabeth divided 100,000 acres in the County of Limerick which she had taken away from the Fitz Geralds, Earls of Desmond.  This accounts for the branches of the family which settled in Ireland.



A Biographical Sketch

Perhaps one of the most controversial figures of the Thornton family line who migrated into central West Virginia shortly after the end of the Civil War, Henry Addison (Addison H., and just simply Henry in some records) Thornton was born July 13, 1840, in Franklin County, Virginia, the first child of Page and Arebecca (Firth) Thornton.  He was raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, on what is still known tody as Thornton Mountain (presumably named after his grandfather, Starlin(g), or Sterling,, who bought the land), which is approximately two miles northeast of Ferrum, Virginia, and four miles southwest of Rocky Mount, the County Seat.  Addison (It appears he went by this name early in life) was surrounded by three brothers Page James, Thomas Sterling, and john, as well as four sisters, Malinda Emma, Sarah E., Abigail and Rebecca Ann.

The mountains of Franklin County couldn’t secure Addison from the Civil War; in fact, he was inducted into the Confederacy just two short months after the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in April 1861.  From the Confederate Muster Rolls, we find the following information:

Thornton, Addison H.  2187           No Medical Cards

   Card # 15                                           No Personal Papers

Company Muster Rolls

June 15, 1861.  Enlisted at Young’s Store, Franklin County, Va. As a Private under Major James G. Lavender.

Sept.-Oct 1861, Oct 31, 1861 Absent on sick furlough from 17 Oct. 1861

Nov-Dec 1861 Dec 31, 1861 Present, Sick in camp.

Jan-Feb 1862 Feb 28, 1862 Absent AWOL since 24 Feb 1862 in Franklin Co.

May-June 1862 June 30 Absent sick at Drewry’s Bluff Since 27 june

Oct. 31 1862 Present

Dec. 31 `1862 Absent

Feb. 28, 1863 Present

Promoted from 3 Corpl to 5 Sergt. To rank for 1st Sept 1863 per Reg’t Order #107 Dated H. 257 Va. Vol.

Prisoner of War at Point Lookout, Md. Date of Arrival, Ceity Point, Va. April 5, 1865.  Captured at Five Forks April 1, 1885.  Released June 20, 1865.  Pt. Lookout, Md., Register #2 oage 702.

Name appears as signature to an Oath of Allegiance to U.S., June 20, 1885 #29 Sheet 18

Resides in Franklin County, Complexion fair, Brown hair, blue eyes, 5’7”

He was awarded the Southern Cross of Honor (Medal), and this in the possession of Mrs. Earl Harford, Rainelle, W. Va., his youngest daughter by his second marriage.  Henry Addison’s brother, Page, who also fought for the South, became ill with measles at the end of the War and was hospitalized.

Henry Addison married Lucy Frances Goode, Oct 17, 1865, in Franklin Co. Va.  She was the daughter of William Marshall Goode.  Lucy was born Aug 29, 1847. She had two brothers, Thomas W. and William M., and one sister, Sarah Alice, who later married Thomas Sterling Thornton, brother of Addison.

Right after the Civil War, Henry Addison, Lucy, and we believe Thomas Sterling, and the rest of Lucy’s family came to W. Va. Seeking new fortunes.  Many southerners lost everything during the war, and there were probably the circumstances that brought out Thorntons to the Turkey Creek area in Putnam, Co., W. Va.  Woodson Bird, only living son of Lucy Thornton Bird, by her second marriage, tells us (as was told to him by Lucy) “That when they first settled near the Putnam-Lincoln Co. line, the county was untouched, wild, and beautiful.  They had to build fires at night just to keep the bears and other wild animals away.  They build a 16’ log cabin and moved in even before the doors were hung.  Someone would have to stand watch over the gardens with a gun at times just to keep the wild animals out.” Thus began the lineage of the Putnam County Thorntons; from the mountains of Virginia to the rough, unsettled hills of West Virginia.

Henry and Lucy had five children: William P. Thornton born April 16, 1867, Katherine J. Thornton born Sept. 8, 1869, Elendar Thornton born Oct 22 ,1871, Addison Lee Thornton born May 9, 1874, and Thomas J. Thornton born Oct 22, 1877.  The 1870 Census of  Putnam County, W.Va. shows Addison age 29 as being a farmer, Thomas Sterling (in the same house) as farmer and laborer age 20 and Sarah and Lucy “keeping house”.  It is known though, that Addison operated a small grocery store.  Two months before his last child by this marriage was born, he made such a trip to town. No one knows for sure what life was like in the 1800’s except that it was tough and hard.  Maybe this is what prompted Addison to take the action he did.  He left his horse and buggy in Jurricane, and is believed to have gotten on a train, and was never seen by Lucy or his family again.  (This was in the fall of 1876.  Until the compiler of this biography began searching the Thornton family, no one knew what had happened to him or where he had gone.

After considerable time and many phone calls to various people, Henry Addison’s second home was found: Cornstalk, W. Va. (Greenbrier Co.).  It is told by his daughter, Mrs. Earl Harford that he worked for ahile in the lumber yards in Rainelle, W.Va., and it was here that he met his second wife, Mary Martha Wiley.  They had thirteen children; the last being born when Addison was 65 years old.  His children were: Mamie, Done, (died young), Ida, Bertha, Ica, Olin (Wink), theo, Ode, George, Grover, and Lewis.  We have no  dates of births, deaths, marriages, on these children. The names were given to us by Mrs. Harford. (Ica)  Her mother, Mary Martha Wiley, was born (1880) and died December __?. 1927.  She and Henry (Here he went by the name “Henry”) lived for awhile in the “Old Company House” in Rainelle, W. Va.  Their final home was near Cornstack, W. Va. The foot of the mountain where one parks his car to walk to the house site (approachable only by foot) is about a mile from the Post Office at Cornstalk, on a small dirt road going northwest.  The house used to set about halfway up the mountain, which is about a 20 minute walk from the car.

It is a two-story log house, with “barn and two outbuildings.” His cherry orchard, reported to be one of the finest in Greenbrier County was their main source of income.  In addition he grew rye, wheat, corn and some tobacco.  There are cherry and apple trees still standing, giving evidence to the fact of a splendid orchard.  At this level of the mountain, a magnificent view of the Greenbrier Valley is offered. This mountain is now completely uninhabited, and has never known gas, electricity or running water. The house itself was not very big: one main room downstairs, and three up.  After Henry died, May 2, 1919, Mary Martha moved back to the town of Rainelle.  The house in which they had lived was torn down some years later, the late 1920’s.  and all that is left is a pile of lumber stacked by the small mountain stream which still cuts its path down the mountain.

Henry Addison is buried in a small, abandoned cemetery about a quarter of a mile southeast from the home site, on the Old Crookshank Farm.  One has to keep his eyes open or he will completely miss it.  An old fence surrounds the cemetery as well as hundreds of wild rose bushes.  The grave itself is completely covered by weeds and vines.  There is no marker, but Mr. Harford pointed out his grave.  Henry and his wife are buried beside each other.  The graves are completely unattended and been for many, many years.  There is no road to the home site, and not even a path to the graveyard.  The scenery is breathtaking from the mountainside, especially in the fall, when we were there.



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