The Annals of a Family

Certainly much appreciation is due to my predecessor, Joseph Francis Thornton, the last child born to George Abram Thornton and Mary Amanda Braxtan, (b. 06 June 1864, Bedford, IN), named for mothers brother and father’s brother, both Union officers. His tireless commitment produced this family history book.
Published in 1940 his research was done entirely without the aid of modern technology. His efforts included collecting books, (some referenced earlier in this blog), visiting cemeteries in Indiana, Kentucky and other known parts of the country where ancestors where laid at rest. He examined court and library records in various counties and states, researched the ancient muster rolls of ancient battles, and lent his ear and pen to extended family.  Contributors to his work are acknowledged as Caroline T. Woolfolk, George Davis, George Abram, Jr., James Clay, Henry Clay Thornton, Louise Thornton MacDougal, Eddie Thornton Baylis, Paul, Henry, Frederic and Stanley Shaw, and Nina Davis Heck, Allie Braxtan Harris, her daughter, Nellie, and her son, Henry Harris, Frank and Samuel Braxtan, Alfred R.Orton (author of “The Family Tree,” c. 1916).

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George Abram Thornton and Mary Amanda Braxtan

The Braxtans met the Thorntons in the marriage of George Abram Thornton and Mary Amanda Braxtan. Thomas Volney Thornton and his wife Clorinda (nee Coffin) hosted the intimate family affair in his home on July 13, 1847 in Paoli Indiana. The following day the newlyweds traveled to their new home in Bedford, IN, where they were honored with more dinners and parties to welcome the marriage.

George Abram Thornton

By all accounts George had a promising future at 25 years old he landed the deputy clerk position for Bedford, Lawrence County, IN, a year before his marriage. Upon the death the Gustavus Clark, County Clerk, George was appointed to fill his position for the remainder of the term and won formal election to the office in 1852, with re-election in 1856.

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So I want to write a book

For some falls the task of recording the family history as it can best be known. My predecessors where such individuals as Albert Hopkins Davis who in 1927 recorded events and people in his infirmed years, and Joseph Francis Thornton who published his compilation covering generations before and as many after as he knew them in 1940. The motivation for taking on such a daunting task can be found in the very family of which they speak. For Albert he wished that descendants would know and appreciate the accomplished life his father Don Henry Davis a veteran of two wars and public servant. For Joseph, he desired to know his father who died within the week of his birth. He left the reader with the distinct privilege of coming closer to the dear Christian heart and benevolent love his mother showered on all of her children. 

As for me, it is my hope to write a version of public and private events that surrounded two of my closest and most interesting relatives; my grandfather Nicholas Dozenberg and the woman he loved who was as equally interesting; Frances Davis DeLawder. Frances’ personal reputation preceded her and was left for others to marvel at years after her death. It was no wonder that she attracted dashing, powerful, and equally charismatic men.  Her choice to become a mother at an unfashionably late stage of life was no less unique than also becoming a single mother in a social setting that was well equipped for the task. She cherished her only daughter and each of her grandchildren.  Her death, and his absence left a vacuum that could not be filled, the loss was palpable, and for at least one young man an insurmountable sum of events.

This story has its roots at least in part from family legend. This is a story that could only happen in America, the greatest melting pot ever known, where established families and immigrants came together in a new social context. I have read that for some descendants with ancestors of dubious character, they,(the descendants), end up on the “wrong side of history“. It is my opinion that there is no “side” to history but rather just a continuum of time in history.

After spending countless hours and personal treasure on researching the family tree and reconstructing events, my research aided by unimaginable technology in my ancestors time, I will present the story as I know it. I am not a historian in the academic sense, but an appointed historian in the familial sense. And so I embark on a journey like so many other journeys in life with an unknown destination, the first task is to settle on a title of my words yet to be tied together in some fashion of readable form.

I have come up with the title after much consternation. The final choice is: “A Man of Family,” and the title of this blog.

This is a true story that spans the globe, political philosophies and intimate personal desires, the stuff that makes up human life. I will share some of the details here. I am telling this story for “us,” the victims of a great deception. You are welcome to tag along as I trek along this path. 

from left to right: me with my family,  father, Amy, Allan, George, Grandma Frances, before the last baby was born

A Tale of Families: The Thorntons

America is essentially a country of immigrants. Only two essential questions bracket the understanding of transplanted people groups. From whence did the immigrants hail from?  Where did they settle and raise their families? The heritage, history and beliefs that people bring is what shapes politcal movement, policy and eventual government of the new homeland. The history of migration is not unique to American shores.

map showing Ireland Scotland England Wales
and shorelines

17th century Ireland became home to Scots settled in the Northern parts of the island dubbed the Ulster Plantation and thereafter referenced to as Scots-Irish or Ulster Scots.

These transplants where welcomed and brought to the country economic growth with new industries and taming of wild lands. The natural course of events lead to a multi-cultural society with people of mostly English descent and those of mixed descent being English-Scot, or English-Irish or, as defined above, as Scot-Irish. The Scots also brought with them their spiritual heritage; Presbyterianism. Churches where planted and grew which soon found them in conflict with their Catholic and Angelican Church neighbors.

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A Tale of Families: The Braxtons

It is hardly without question that the roots of at least three branches of this family reach back to Colonial America; a time when the events that shape families where recorded in Bibles and legal contracts recorded the matters of the affluent. It is also evident that the family history becomes much clearer at the turn of the 19th century. A search of the census records verify the expanding tree.

One such branch is of the surname "Braxton," most certainly Scot-Irish in origin and derived from the old English words of "bracken," a fern hedge, and the suffix, "ton," or "tan," meaning an enclosed place or town in the more modern sense.

Thomas Braxtan I and his wife, Hannah Lindley became pioneer settlers of Indiana migrating from Orange County, North Carolina around 1811. It is believed that at least two generations of Braxtons lived in North Carolina before Thomas migrated north.

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