Saturday, January 28, 2012

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.

The following year he was appointed cashier and practically manager of the Bedford Branch of the Bank of the State. The bank prospered under the joint leadership of George and the bank president, D. Ricketts of Indianapolis. Upon the death of George the bank continued another six years before closing its doors.

Undoubtedly George had been the benefactor of his fathers political ties and his older brothers charity. Thomas had taken George into his home upon the death of their mother in 1837 tutoring him through his adolescence allowing him to "read law," in preparation for his admittance to the Bar. George's fondness of his brother is reflected in the name of his first born son .... Thomas Volney Thornton II.

Thomas enjoyed good standing in his community, occupying the Orange County Clerk’s office having been elected for 14 years running. He was considered to be a successful financier, enabling him to donate a plot of land for the building of the Presbyterian Church. Like his younger brother his life was a short, only 39 years in total.

You can picture the tender scene around George's death bed. Knowing his time was short he signed his last will and testament leaving his estate for the support of his wife and children to reach maturity. Some of the details of his last days where captured in the journal of his 16-year-old son. His father had a last request, "Kneel down, dear children," and we all knelt around his bedside as one of our uncles offered up a most touching prayer to God, .... But all in vain, death had marked him ...." His wife stood by with their youngest in her arms born just one week earlier. George's life had been short, only 43 years, but well lived. George's name has lived on being passed down four generations as of this writing.

Mary had been raised in a strict family with "much Quaker blood." As a new wife she took up the tasks of everyday housekeeping, ironing and cooking, and all the myriad domestic duties necessary to be a "thrifty helpmate", despite her nearly privileged position in her father’s house. Mary had studied at the Seminary, as was the custom before the introduction of graded schools. Her preference was for the cultural arts, a love that sustained her for the remainder of her years, and which she impressed on her children. She kept the house in order while her husband was away on business much of the time. She was a woman of strong character and moral resolve, proved when she was left alone at the age of 39 years.

Most of all Mary was a mother, perhaps the embodiment of "motherhood," as her life turned out to be. All seven of her surviving children, Thomas Voleny (b. 1848), Martha Clorina (b. 1850), Henry Clark (b. 1851), Mary Caroline (b. 1854), Edmund Braxton (b. 1856), Emma Sickles (b. 1858), George Abram (b. 1859), and Joseph Francis (b. 1864), where raised to adulthood under the guidance of their benevolent mother.

In the winter of 1896 Mary left her home in Bedford to visit the home of her oldest daughter Mary Shaw in Sturgis Michigan where she died in March. In one of the final communications with her youngest son, Joseph, she wrote of the home that had sheltered her family for so many years.

Elmwood, Bedford, IN, 1896

"Thank you, my dear, that you miss me at home - dear, dear home. No doubt it looks lonely. The unbroken snow on the threshold, no smoke curling from the tall chimneys, no lights in the windows, no lonely mother there looking longingly through the windows of her heart for the dear faces which never come."
MA Braxton Thornton, 1896
References and further reading:
Annals of a Family, JF Thornton (1940)

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