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Emigration to Illinois

Stars & Stripes

Mrs. Woodcock of Huddersfield has provided me with details of the descendants of Adam Proctor Thornber from correspondence with members of the Ainsworth family.  Adam's descent is shown on a separate page for Slaidburn.   The Ainsworth family researchers were Olive, Ralph, Carrie and Elise Ainsworth all of Illinois.  They had identified Adam Proctor Thornber's mother as Nancy Amistead but my transcription of the records of Houghton Chapel shows quite clearly that Adam Proctor Thornber was the son of William Thornber and Ann Proctor.  Adam Proctor Thornber MARRIED Mary Ann Ainsworth.  The Ainsworth family tree shows many dates but not the sources of information and few places of residence.  I reproduce the key features in relation to the Thornber family and have added dates and sources from my own collection of data.

There is a brief account with the tree from which I have abstracted the following paragraph:

" James Thornber, born in 1842, third son of Adam Proctor Thornber and Mary Ann Ainsworth went at the age of 8 to work in a spinning mill in Liverpool and when 15 went back to Yorkshire to work with his elder brothers, Thomas and William.  He was an apprentice until 1866 and then moved to Rantoul in Illinois to join the brothers of his mother, who had emigrated earlier.  He worked for the uncles and in due course, his girl friend from England, Ann Strickland, emigrated to join him and they were married in 1868. Initially the couple rented a farm from an uncle but in about 1880/1 James and Ann moved to Iroquois in South Dakota.  In 1894 they moved to Brookings in the same state, living a mile east of the college on a farm.  James died there in 1927.  Ann Strickland took yellow rose bushes with her when she emigrated and these were eventually moved to South Dakota."

An administration for the will of Adam Proctor Thornber of Blackburn, dated Oct. 1851, is in the index of wills at the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research at York and I have transcribed the main details in a footnote.   The Blackburn electoral register for 1841 through to 1848 shows Adam with house and shop at King Street in Blackburn)

In June 2002 I was contacted by Clayton Thornber who kindly sent me further details of the families of Hubert Elwyn Thornber and Eldon William Thornber (generation 4 below) in the 20th century. Daniel was able to continue the story of the yellow roses mentioned above:

"The yellow roses you refer to that were taken as bare root cuttings to Rantoul, Illinois, and made their way to South Dakota in the 1870's. They grew about the doorstep at the farmhouse near Colman, South Dakota, throughout my childhood, and when I moved to Wisconsin I brought cuttings back and have two very nice outcrops."

Birth dates in the 20th century have been given without the day or month for reasons of privacy.

I am grateful to Nora Thornber, wife of Karvel Kuhn Thornber in generation 5 above for the following details. In a newspaper obituary for James Thornber (who was born in 1842 and died in 1927) it says that in 1883 he and his wife Ann Strickland moved to South Dakota, although evidently before that they had been located in Illinois.

Footnote 1.

I am grateful to Merle Thornber in Australia for sending me the following details from the 1841 census of Blackburn at King Street.  It fits Adam Proctor Thornber, known to be a shoemaker in King Street from the electoral register of 1841. It has a few inconsistencies with previous information in that he was born in Yorkshire not Lancashire. He was baptised at Houghton Chapel, Tosside, Yorkshire, in 1812, so should have been 28/29 in 1841. However, in that census ages for adults were rounded down to the nearest multiple of five. William and Thomas are given as aged 7 and 5 respectively.

There is a death record for John Thornber, 7 months old, of whooping cough, on 2 April 1839, at King Street, Blackburn. He was the son of Adam Thornber, shoe maker. This puts his birth in late 1838.

There is a reference to William Thornber, the son of Adam Proctor Thornber & Mary, baptised at Chapel St. Independent,  Blackburn, Lancashire, 12 October 1834 which is consistent with age 7 in 1841.   

There was also a Thomas, son of Adam Thornber and Mary baptised at Blackburn Chapel St. on 25 September 1836 and a Richard son of Adam Proctor Thornber married at St. Paul's Blackburn on 16 December 1866.

Name Age Description Born in County
Adam Thornber 25 cordwainer Y
Mary Thornber 25   Y
William Thornber 7   Y
Thomas Thornber 5   Y


Administration of the Estate of Adam Proctor Thornber, Admon 30 September 1851

Mary Thornber of Blackburn, widow, Ralph Thornber of Blackburn, labourer and Anthony Armitstead of Blackburn, tailor, were bound in the sum of £400 by the court to administer the estate of Adam Proctor Thornber of Blackburn, cordwainer, deceased. Mary was described as sole administratrix for Adam Proctor Thornber, late of Blackburn, cordwainer. Mary made her mark but Ralph Thornber and Anthony Armistead both signed their names. Adam Proctor Thornber died 27 October 1849 and probate was obtained on 15 October 1851 when the estate was said to be under £200

From this brief account it may be that Mary, being illiterate, had not been able to sort out Adam's affairs on his death. After a lapse of almost two years, on 30 September 1851, she went with Ralph Thornber and Anthony Armistead to the court's representative, John Howson, to swear the estate was under £200. She was required to prepare a full inventory of her husband's estate for the prerogative court in York by April of 1852. The fact that she was bound in the sum of £400 shows that the bishop's representative regarded it a serious business to have delayed so long.

Footnote 2.

I am grateful to Margaret Spencer, who has sent me an image of a newspaper cutting showing the obituary of Richard Ainsworth Thornber in generation 2 above, which I quote below. It is from the Blackburn Times on the 24 August 1918. Note that the cutting shows Richard Ainsworth Thornber had two sons and two daughters at the time of his death but the research shown above has only one daughter so far. The Census for 1891 should reveal the name and age of the second daughter.

Fought in Civil War: Boy Companion of Lord Morley

A well-known Blackburn grocer passed away on Saturday in the person of Mr. Richard Ainsworth Thornber, of 32, Ashworth Street. The deceased gentleman was 74 years of age. He was born in Chapel Street and in his early boyhood days was a companion of the present Lord Morley. He had occupied the shop in Ashworth Street for over 40 years. He was formerly for a short time in business in Addison Street. Before starting as a grocer, Mr. Thornber was employed as a weaver. He had been a member of the Blackburn and District Retail Grocers' Association about twenty years, and his nephew, Mr. W. Thornber is vice-president. The deceased, who was a life-long teetotaler and non-smoker was at one time prominently identified with the Industrious Bee Lodge of Oddfellows, and was a member up to the time of his death. In 1864, he went, along with two brothers and a sister to America, and after a spell of farm work, he enlisted as a private in the Illinois Infantry, taking part in the Civil War. He was discharged from the service of the United States on May 18, 1865, being then just turned 21 years of age. Mr. Thornber was connected with the St. Barnabas' Church, where the family worship. His wifed died over 18 years ago, and he is survived by his two sons and two daughters. The funeral took place on Thursday, the Rev. P. E. Thomas (vicar of St. Barnabas') officiating.

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Copyright:  Craig Thornber, England, United Kingdom    Main Site Address:  https://www.thornber.net/

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