Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Monday, August 27, 2012

An Alabama Ancestor

Since I will be heading to Birmingham for the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference this week, it is fitting that I should blog about an Alabama ancestor at some point during the week. Since James M. Thornton died 99 years ago today, I picked him.

Many of my readers are familiar with him since my cousin Terry often blogged about James and his family in his "Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi" blog.

James M. Thornton was born 16 March 1825 in Jefferson County, Alabama. (That's the actual county in which Birmingham is located.) My grandfather is descended from his first marriage to Lucinda Aldridge. The marriage probably took place about 1853, although we cannot be sure because the records were lost to fire. It is believed that Lucinda died in childbirth and that my great grandfather Cape Thornton was reared by his maternal grandparents. James married Nancy Lay about 1857. This couple had seven children. James M. Thornton served in the Civil War. You might think that he served for the Confederacy since he lived in the South, but you would be wrong. The area in which he lived had very strong sympathies with the Union. Although many men from the area were forced to fight for the Confederate army, many of them made their escape from the Confederacy and enlisted with the Union as soon as possible. He was a member of the 1st Alabama Cavalry, USA. His pension file contains 200 pages of information, affadavits, etc. He lived in Fayette County, Alabama, but he was very close to the Winston and Walker County lines. I guess you might say he was a resident of the Free State of Winston (even if he didn't reside exactly inside the county lines). James moved around some. We know he resided for awhile in Glen Allen because of the affadavits in his pension file. He and Nancy spent most of their time in Franklin County, Alabama in the community of Spruce Pine. Spruce Pine is near Phil Campbell which is one of the towns nearly destroyed by the tornadoes of 27 April 2011. It is also near Russellville. Sometime between 1900 and 1910, he moved to Monroe County, Mississippi. (His son John purchased land in Monroe County in 1906 and 1909; his son Thomas R. "Bud" purchased some in 1909. John is supposed to have gone to Oklahoma about 1907 although he did not stay there long.) James M. Thornton died 27 August 2011 and is buried in the Lann Cemetery.

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