Biography of John H. Thornton

Mr. John H. Thornton, veteran of the Civil War and for many years employed in the Government service at Rock Island Arsenal, was born in Ireland June 24, 1847, and died at his home in Moline July 9, 1903. He was the son of Patrick and Mary Thornton and came to America with his parents while an infant, aged nine months. The mother died in Rochester, New York, after which the father removed to Philadelphia, from which city, at the age of sixteen, young Thornton enlisted, July 26, 1862, in Company Fifty-three, Twenty-Ninth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, Third Infrntry. His Company was assigned to the First Brigade, Second Division, Twentieth Corps, Army of the Potomac.

He was in numerous engagements, among them may be named the Battle of Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge and Zurmell Hill. In 1865 he was honorably discharged and returning to Philadelphia he followed the arts of peace for the succeeding five years, when in 1870 he enlisted in the Ordnance Corps of the United States Army, and was assigned for duty at Rock Island Arsenal.

Coming here with Captain Farley, who was next in command at the Arsenal, when General Flagler was Commandant, Mr. Thornton served on the Island till 1894, when he was placed on the retired list as Sergeant, after a total of thirty years of service, with pay of forty dollars per month.

After retirement from the service he secured a position in the shops at the Arsenal, which he held up to the time of his last illness. Mr. Thornton was married to Martha J. Montgomery, daughter of the late and venerable A. E. Montgomery, September 17, 1885. No children were born to them, and his widow, alone, of all his relatives, so far as known, survives him.

Mr. Thornton was a staunch Republican, always active in his party’s interests. He served two years as a member of the board of Supervisors from South Moline Township, and also as school director in his district for several terms. He was a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, also of Graham Post, Grand Army of the Republic, and of Ben Butterworth Command, Union Veterans Union, and at one time was a member of the Select Knights of America. His religious affiliations was with the United Presbyterian Church. Mr. Thornton was a genial, whole-souled man and left a host of friends to mourn his death.


Biographical Publishing Company. Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock Island County. Illinois; Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co.

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