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Family of John L. Thorp


John L. Thorp
1811 - August 3, 1867

John L. Thorp was born in Greensville County, Virginia in 1811 and died August 3, 1867 in Matagorda County.

A marriage record exists for a John L. Thorp who married Elizabeth A. Stewart on June 11, 1836 in Greensville County, Virginia.

John and Elizabeth and John's younger brothers, Henry and Peter moved to Matagorda County during the 1840s, likely 1846 or 1847. John was a planter and the two brothers practiced law in Matagorda.

1850 Census - Matagorda County
John L. Thorp, age 39, b Virginia, Planter, Real Estate-$20,000, 38 slaves
E. A. Thorp, age 30, b Virginia
Nathan Morris, age 22, b Alabama, Overseer
Dock Vallet, age 60, b France, Physician

1860 Census - Matagorda County - Matagorda
John L. Thorp, age 49, b Virginia, Planter, Real Estate-$75,000, Personal Estate-$29,000, 67 slaves
Elizabeth M. Thorp, age 40, b Virginia
May Thorp, age 3, b Texas 
Martha Ward, age 28, b Virginia

Thorp's plantation was located in the William Rabb League No. 78.

The emancipation of his slaves was devastating to John Thorpe and the plantation went in to decline. After his death on August 3, 1867, all of his real and personal property was auctioned at the courthouse door. Elizabeth and May were left with very little. Elizabeth died c 1875 when May was about 18 years old. She left a $10,000 insurance policy and a small acreage to May. At the time of both deaths, John's brothers, Henry and Peter were the administrators and guardians of May.


The Matagorda (Texas) Tribune contains the following report of two days’ cotton picking in that vicinity, for the authority of which the editor vouches. It is certainly the most extraordinary result we ever heard of, and will doubtless astonish our readers:

Cotton Picking on Caney.—A correspondent, for the authenticity of whose statements we will vouch in every particular, sends us the following particulars of a test at cotton picking that recently came off at the plantation of Col. Thorp, on Caney, which we think figures a little ahead of any account we have yet seen published. In case any doubt should be expressed, of the accuracy of the statements given, we will here say that we have the corroborating evidence of the gentlemen whose names are mentioned below:

Col. John L. Thorp, John L. Croom, and Darwin Thompson, Esqrs., being planters on Caney Creek, living near to each other, and having each brag cotton pickers, concluded to have a fair trial of their respective hands, and a bonus of $16 was to be given to the most successful hands. October the 11th being a fair, bright day, the competitors (four hands from each plantation) commenced at sunrise on the plantation of Col. Thorp, and ended at dark. One hour was lost by weighing the cotton, at 12 o’clock. Messrs. Morris and Hill, gentlemen of veracity, were the weighers of the cotton. The following was shown to be the result of the day’s work:

Col. Thorp's four hands.

Ned 880 lbs.
Ben 850
Arthur 820
Bob 820
Total 3370

Mr. Croom's  four hands.

Aaron 720
Dave 785
Jim 675
Lewis 835
Total 3015

Mr. Thompson's four hands.

Jabe 870
Wat 715
Jackson 655
Mike 640
Total 2880


From the foregoing figures you will perceive that Col. Thorp’s four hands averaged 842 ½; Mr. Croom’s 752 ¾; and Mr. Thompson’s 720 pounds each. The second day’s picking, on October the 13th, a fair day, was at the plantation of Mr. Croom, and was as follows:

Col. Thorp's four hands.

Ned 1125 lbs.
Ben 1135
Arthur 900
Bob 950
Total 4110

Mr. Croom's  four hands.

Jim 675
Dave 1050
Aaron 595
Lewis 835
Total 3155

Mr. Thompson's four hands.

Jabe 1185
Wat 960
Mike 765
Jackson 770
Total 3680


Col. Thorp’s averaged 1027 ½; Mr. Thompson’s 920; and Mr. Croom’s 788 ½ pounds.


Messrs. Copeland, Hill, Morris and Sammons were present at the picking; the hands began at sunrise and ended at sunset. If any slaves can beat this, they are welcome to the palm for cotton picking.


The total amount picked by the 12 hands in the two days is 20,210 pounds, being an average of 842 pounds to the hand per day. The four best hands picked in two days 7,860 pounds, averaging 985 pounds to the hand per day!


Carolina Watchman (Salisbury, N. C.), March 10, 1853

Caney, Matagorda County.

Aug. 6th 1866.

Being in good health and sound mind I make this my last will and testament. As R. G. Turner, who has threatened to shoot me, is now waiting to see Henry Thorp before he proceeds to kill me, the cause of offence is that he got one of my then slaves with child and threatened to shoot me if Mrs. Thorp, who knew whose child it was and who explained to some of her friends whose child it [was], did not give a lie bill & if I did father the child he would shoot me & as the Girl had never denyed and had all way sayd it was his child, my wife got her to give her a certificate of the fact which she wished sworn to and authenticated which was carried to Dr. Turner for which he expected to shoot me this evening, or the first time we met and for these reasons I make this my last will and testament to wit

Item 1st I appoint my brothers Peter & Henry Thorp & my wife E. A. Thorp as my executors.

I wish my brothers to revenge my death if I am murdered as I am so old and feeble that I can’t help my self.

I wish them if possible to pay my just debts and if any thing is left I wish it equally between my wife & daughter May, & if there is not enough to support them, I wish my brothers to provide for them as best they may.

I do not wish any wright my wife has in my estate by law to the exclusion of my creditors to be taken from her. If the worms do not destroy my cotton, I shall have enough to pay all of my debts in green backs, but if they do, my executors will have to sell my land. If not, they may keep up the plantation or rent them out as they may think best. If I should have any thing left and my wife & daughter should die without issue, I give all to my brothers Henry & Peter or the survivors.

Given under my hand & seal this day above written.

J. L. Thorp.   Seal

Filed 5 Oct 1867
Recorded 10 Oct 1867

W. Hillard C. C. C. M. C.


1867 Voters' Registration

The registration began the same week that John L. Thorp. The following men were tenant farming on Thorp's plantations at the time of his death. Most likely, they were former slaves who chose to stay on the plantations. The 11 men who were born in Virginia had all been in Matagorda County for 20 years and probably traveled from Virginia to Texas with the Thorps.

The fourth column indicated how long they were in Matagorda County, the fifth was how long they were in the precinct and the last being their state of birth.

Armstead, Charles   Jno. L. Thorp's Plan.            1       7m     TX

Armstead, James    J. L. Thorp's Plantation          1       7m     VA

Armstead, Odus      J. L. Thorp's Plantation          7m    7m     VA
McCoy, Wash        Thorp's Upper Place              9       9       VA

Bowlin, Thomas      Jno. L. Thorp's Plan.            20     20       VA

Brown, Peter          J. L. Thorp's Plantation          7       7       VA

Brown, Samuel       J. L. Thorp's Plantation          1       1       TX

Crane, Benjamin    J. L. Thorp's Plantation           1       1       VA

Fenna, David         J. L. Thorp's Plantation           1       1       VA

Ford, William         J. L. Thorp's Plantation          20     20      VA

Ford, William G.     J. L. Thorp's Plantation         20      20      VA

Haley, George        Thorp's Upper Place             20     10      VA

Jackson, Robert     Jno. L. Thorp's Plan.            20      20      VA

Jogale, Jeff            Thorp's Upper Place              7        2      MS

Law, John              Jno. L. Thorp's Plan.            21        2      TX

Norris, Edward       J. L. Thorp's Plantation         20      20      VA

Philip, Andrew        Thorp's Place                      10        2      AL

Robinson, Oakly     Jno. L. Thorp's Plan.            20      20      AL

Rounds, Jesse       J. L. Thorp's Plantation         23      23      SC

Stewart, James      J. L. Thorp's Plantation         20      20      VA

Stewart, Nelson      J. L. Thorp's Plantation         20      20      VA

White, Austin         J. L. Thorp's Plantation         20      20      VA

White, Simon         Jno. L. Thorp's Plan.             7        7m    SC

Wyche, Anderson  J. L. Thorp's Plantation         20      20      VA

Wyche, Arthur       Jno. L. Thorp's Plan.            20      20      VA



Inventory and Appraisement of Property belonging to the Estate of John L. Thorp
Community Property
November 17, 1867
Elizabeth A. Thorp (widow) and Henry Thorp (brother)
Notarized by John Matthews

1920 acres of land with improvements on Caney, Matagorda County known as the Lower plantation


640 acres of land in Lampasas County being head right of G. Cholwell


640 acres of land with improvements on Caney, Matagorda County, known as the "Mills" on upper Caney (Ramey League)


177 acres of land on Bay Prairie, granted to S. I. Gervais


180 acres undivided in Palacios Town League, andunknown interest in 1000 acres of land on Caney, known as the "College Tract" in suit


Lots No 3 & 4, & 1/2 Lot No. 2 in Block 6, Tier one Matagorda Front improvements


Block No. 15 & 1/2 of Lot 6 in Block 3, Tier 2, Matagorda Front, improvements


Block No. 15 Tier No. 1, Matagorda Front


3 large wagons


2 - 4 mule wagons


1- 2 horse wagon


1 cart


28 mules @ 50 each


7 stock horses @ 35


2 small colts @ $5.00 each


2 carriage horses


60 head of Hogs


300 head of stock cattle


1 ambulance


1 buggy$10


1 gin stand and barns


1 saw mill


23 turning plows & gear


50 hoes @ 50 cents, 16 axes @ 70 cents


1 set blacksmith tools


1 set carpenter


5 bedsteads and mattresses and bedding


household and kitchen furniture


12 sweeps, 1 old rifle


2700 bushels of corn @ 50 cents per bushel


15,000 pounds of fodder


1 sewing machine


15 small sweeps



In the name of God. Amen.

I, Elizabeth A. Thorp of the County of Matagorda in the State of Texas of sound mind and disposing memory being mindful of the uncertainty of life and the Certainty of death, do make this my Last Will and testament, hereby revoking and annulling all Wills heretofore made by me.

Item 1st I order and direct the payment of all my just debts as soon after my death as possible.


Item 2nd I give devise and bequeath to my well beloved daughter May Thorp all the property real  personal and mixed, of any and every description whatsoever to which I may become entitled or of which I may die seized or possessed.

Item 3rd Should my said daughter May depart this life before she arrives at the age of twenty one years, leaving no issue, then and in that case, I give devise and bequeath all my property real, personal and mixed herein bequeathed to her to my Executors Henry Thorp and Peter H. Thorp to be divided equally between them, or the survivors of them and their heirs forever.

Item 4th I now hold a Policy of Ensurance on my life for the sum of $10000.00 which though taken in the name of my said daughter, really belongs to me. The amount of said Policy I wish my executors to collect as soon after my death as possible and apply the same or so much thereof as may be necessary to the support, maintenance the thorough education of my said daughter May, accounting to her or her husband alone for the disbursements thereof. Trusting that my beloved daughter will duly appreciate my anxiety for her future welfare and happiness I earnestly entreat her to consult and advise with my said Executors or the survivors of them, on all matters of importance; to remain under their guardianship until she arrives at full age or marries, and under no circumstances to enter into any engagement of marriage without their consent and approval as I am satisfied that they will advise her to her own benefit. But should my said daughter disregard these my last solemn wishes, and marry without the consent and approval of my said Executors or the survivors of them, then I authorize and direct my said Executors withhold from my said daughter all property herein bequeathed her, until she shall have arrived at the full age of twenty one years.

Item 5th I hereby nominate constitute and appoint Henry Thorp and Peter H. Thorp of the said County of Matagorda Executors of this my Last Will, and hereby authorize and empower them to sell, mortgage, dispose of and aliminate any or all of the property hereby bequeathed or advised, and to make execute and deliver good and sufficient titles to the purchasers thereof as to them may seem most to the advantage of my said daughter. And I hereby order and direct that no Bond shall be required of my said Executors and that no other action shall be had in the County or Probate Court in reference to the settlement of my Estate than the probate and registration of this my Last Will and the return of the Inventory of my said Estate.

Item 6th I hereby nominate and appoint Henry Thorp and Peter H. Thorp guardian of the person and property of my said daughter May, until she shall arrive at the age of twenty one years or marries with the consent and approval of her said Guardians or the survivor of them. I further order and direct that the said Henry Thorp and Peter H. Thorp, hereby appointed guardians of the person and property of my said daughter, shall not be required to give any bond and security as such guardians but shall have power and authority to sell, mortgage and aliminate any property belonging to said minor and make execute and deliver good and sufficient titles to the purchasers thereof as may seem best to said Guardians.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and scroll seal this the 4th day of March A. D. 1868.

Elizabeth A. Thorp

Signed sealed and declared by
E. A. Thorp as her last Will & Testament in our presence, who at her request have signed the same as Witness in the presence of said Testatrix and of Each other.

Galen Hodges
John Plunkett
V. B. Turner

In the matter of the Estate of Mrs. Elizabeth A. Thorp deceased

In open Court before one Jno. L. Croom, Clerk of the District Court of Matagorda Co. this day personally appeared Galen Hodges a resident of said Matagorda County and to me well known who after being duly and lawfully sworn doth depose and say that he saw Mrs. Elizabeth A. Thorp during her life time in the County of Matagorda and on the fourth (4) day of March A. D. 1868 sign the instrument of writing now presented for probate as the last will and testament of said Elizabeth A. Thorp, that said Elizabeth A. Thorp then and there declared the same to be her last will and testament and requested affiant and John Plunkett and V. B. Turner to sign the same as witnesses, that this affiant and said John Plunkett and V. B. Turner then and there signed said last will and testament (which is the same instrument now in Court) as witnesses in the presence of said testatrix Mrs. Elizabeth A. Thorp and of each other, that said Mrs. Elizabeth A. Thorp signed said instrument as her last will and testament in the presence of this affiant and said John Plunkett and V. B. Turner that said Mrs. Elizabeth A. Thorp was then of sound mind and above the age of twenty one years. That this affiant and John Plunkett and said V. B. Turner at the time of signing said last will and testament as witnesses were each above the age of fourteen years.

Galen Hodges

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 29th day of March A. D. 1875 to which I certify officially.

John L. Croom
Clerk D. C. M. C.

By A. B. Braman Deputy.

Will filed March 18th 1875
Proof filed 29th March 1875
Both Recorded March 29th 1875

John Croom, Clerk D. C. M. C., By A. B. Braman Deputy

April 6, 1877

Member of Matagorda Masonic Lodge No. 7

Louisa Jane Thorp Turner


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Apr. 21, 2014
Apr. 21, 2014