THORNTON, George J.
Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 673-674

George J. THORNTON, one of the leading contractors and builders of Rockford [Winnebago County], IL, is pleasantly domiciled in one of the fine residences of his own building, at No. 414 Whitman Street, and at the head of Grand Avenue and Thomas Street.  This is one of the many beautiful spots of the thriving city of Rockford.  Since 1881 Mr. THORNTON has been a resident of this city.  He has attended strictly to his business, winning a just repuration as to his ability as a contractor and builder.  He was born in the Province of Ontario, Canada, and his parents, Bowler and Hannah (BLACKBURN) THORNTON, were natives of England.

Bowler THORNTON was born in Yorkshire, in 1816, and comes of an old Yorkshire family.   He grew to manhood there, and learned the blacksmith trade of his father, John THORNTON.  In 1829 the family came to America, settled at Port Hope, Province of Ontario, and in Clark Township, of that province, Bowler was united in marriage with Miss BLACKBURN.  She was also a native of Yorkshire, England, born in 1821, and in 1832 she caem with her parents, James and Rachel (WARE) BLACKBURN, who were natives of Yorkshire, to Canada.  They settled on a timbered farm in Clark Township, Province of Ontario, and there the parents passed the allotted age of man.  [The "allotted age of man" referred to this and many other U. S. biographies of this period is further defined in some biographies as "threescore and ten," or 70 years.]   Both were prominent members of the Methodist Church.  Of their 11 children, Mrs. THORNTON was the youngest in order of birth.  Her last remaining sister died in the Province of Ontario on 14 Mar 1892.

After his marriage Mr. THORNTON followed blacksmithing for some time, but later engaged in the grain business, and made a fortune at this.  He was also actively engaged in merchandising, but soon met with reverses and lost all.  In 1865 he came to IL and settled in Winnebago County, where he became manager of a sheep and stock farm of 640 acres in Owen Township, know as the L. W. OWEN farm, and received as compensation $65 per month.  Three years later he purchased 160 acres of land in that township, and resided on the same, making many improvements, until his death in Aug 1876, when nearly 59 years of age.  Although he met with many discouragements and reverses, he was never disheartened, and at his death left a fortune of $12,000.  His wife, who is still living and who is 70 years of age, has a comfortable home with a daughter, Mrs. H. H. WILCOX, in Burritt Township [Winnebago County, IL].  She is a member of the Methodist Church, and her husband was also associated with that church.

George J. THORNTON was one of 11 children, and was seven years old when he came with his [p 674] parents to IL.  He remained in IL until 17 years of age, and then returned to Canada.  Later he entered the Medical Department of the University at Ann Arbor, MI, and then the Chicago Medical School, after which he went West.  He had followed the drug business in Canada for some time before going to Ann Arbor, and in 1881, as before mentioned, he returned to IL.  He was married in Rockford [Winnebago County, IL], to Miss Ida J. CORLETT, a native of Guilford Township, Winnebago County, where she was reared and educated.  Her parents, James and Emma A. (WOOD) CORLETT, were natives of the Isle of Man and NY State, respectively.  [See also the Winnebago County, IL, biography of James CORLETT.]  Mr. CORLETT came to the U. S. with his parents when a child, settling with them in OH, and later came to Winnebago County, where he followed farming in Guilford Township.  He was first married to Miss Mary A. VON ALSTEIN, who died when a comparatively young woman, leaving four children.  [The biography of James CORLETT gives his first wife's name as Miss Mary VAN ALASTINE.]  His second marriage was with Miss WOOD, by whom he became the father of nine children.  Mr. CORLETT died at his home in Guilford Township, 21 Dec 1885, when 63 years of age.  He was a very successful and popular business man, and left at his death an estate valued at $75,000.  Mrs. CORLETT is a resident of this city, and is now not quite 50 years of age.  She resides at No. 412 Whitman Street.

Mr. and Mrs. THORNTON became the parents of two children:  Birdie A., who died at the age of about five months, and Bessie A., a bright little girl of six years.  Mr. and Mrs. THORNTON are members of the Centennial Methodist Episcopal Church.  Mr. THORNTON is a Republican in politics.  Socially our subject belongs to the Modern Woodmen of America.

Submitted by Cathy Kubly.