TE photo, 2001
a Pecan Shell
Thornton was started
in 1868, just two years before the railroad came through. In this
case it was the Houston and Texas Central Railway. The town's name
came from one of the founders, John E. Thornton.
The town grew, although slowly. Besides agriculture, there were brick
yards and ceramics manufacturing. The Thornton Institute was started
in 1877. This was a college that later became the Thornton School.
In 1890 the population was 460, over twice what it was in 1880. The
town incorporated in 1907 and in 1927, just before the stock market
crash, Thornton hit its population zenith of nearly 2,000 people.
In the first years of the Depression the population fell by more than
half. Today the population is 526.
Masonic Emblem dates back to 1878.
TE photo, 2001
of the Thornton School
TE photo, 2001
E. 8th Street, between N. Marshall and N. Tyler streets
Thornton was established
in 1871 by the Texas Central Railroad and had a post office by 1873.
By 1880, the town had approximately 200 residents and three churches,
as well as several businesses and a Masonic lodge. Early schools included
the Thornton Male and Female Institute, founded in 1877 by physician
and teacher Edward Coke Chambers. The Institute, known also as Thornton
College, included a wood-frame classroom building, student housing
and Chambers' home. The school received its charter in 1881 and in
1884 merged with the school of Henry P. Davis. In 1889, Chambers sold
the Institute to Davis, who continued to operate the school until
1891, when he sold it to the newly formed Thornton Independent School
District. In 1903, a storm destroyed the school building, and in 1920,
the second school building burned. The third schoolhouse, built of
brick, was completed in 1921. During the 1930s and 1940s, several
rural districts consolidated with Thornton, including all or part
of Mill Creek, Prairie View, Pleasant Grove, Davis Prairie, Beulah
and Eutaw Springs common school districts. In the early 1960s, with
a declining student population, Thornton began to close its schools.
African American students, who had for many years attended a Rosenwald
School on Ellis Street, began traveling to Groesbeck
for classes, as did the high school students from the White campus.
In 1965, Thornton consolidated completely with the Groesbeck Independent
School District, stipulating in the transfer that the main school
building and grounds at this site be deeded to the city for use as
a community center.
sign on FM 2749
Gibson, August 2006
sought on Death of Baptist Minister near Thornton:
I have an ancestor that lived in the [Thornton] area before Thornton
was a town. It was in the 1860s that Reese Alexander Clifton and
his in-laws, the Steele Family bought land. Reese was a Baptist
minister and in 1872 he was murdered by some local carpet baggers
that had taken over the county - so the family history goes. His
family continued to live on the family farm until the late 1880s
then sold out and moved to Haskell County. We will be in the area
in March with other relatives to locate the family farm and cemetery.
Any information [anyone] can furnish on the death of Reese Clifton
would be appreciated. - Dana Funk, February 7. 2006
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