Emigration to the USA


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The following information is abstracted from a book "The History of Matthew and Jane Ellison and Family" subtitled " A History of Matthew Ellison, Pioneer of Rock Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois", supplied to me by Michael LaCroix of Omaha.   There is much more information in the book but the following is provided to enable researchers to identify if this is a branch of the family that is of interest to them.

There is information on this family, starting with Richard and Hannah on the Ronspiez family history pages prepared by Dona Ronspiez, which are no longer at their original URL.   I have added some details from this source to the tree below.   There was also a site provided by Chester Neff, which is not available now, mentioning Richard Thornber and Hannah Leatham, their son Henry and his daughter Mary Hannah Thornber. I am very grateful to Chester for sending me a detailed account of the descendents of the Thornbers in Illinois, including the surnames of Neff, Siegfried, Walker and Lambert with full details of the sources of information.

Chester Neff's document states that Richard Thornber shown at the top of my chart was born 14 May 1773 at Sawley. quoting as his source "The History of Matthew and Jane Ellison and Family by Mary Seigfried and Downham Registers. I am not aware of a baptism record at Downham for Richard in that year but Sawley is a small area between Clitheroe and Bolton by Bowland and only a few miles from Dowham.

I am also grateful to Sue Regan who has sent me details of the family of Abraham Shaw who married Margaret Thornber. Sue Regan identifies the Richard Thornber who married Hannah Laithom as the one who was the illegitimate son of Ann Thornber and was baptised in Downham on 14 May 1775. Ann was in turn the daughter of Richard Thornber and Susannah Tasker and was baptised in Downham on 12 Oct 1747. Richard was the son of John Thornber and Alice Marsden. This family is shown on these web pages with the second Thornber family on the Gisburn 2 page.

The Henry in the second generation below (baptised 11 Feb 1816) is described as follows in the book:

HENRY Thornber was converted to the Church of the Latter-day Saints about 1839 and emigrated to America in 1842. He embarked at Liverpool with his widowed mother and two sisters, Jane and Alice on 12 January, arriving in New Orleans on 6 March. While sailing up the Mississippi by steam boat to Nauvoo, Alice succumbed to Cholera and was buried on the river bank. Henry worked as a shoemaker, and also for the local LDS church, becoming a body guard to Joseph Smith.  On 11 July 1845 he married Lucy Ellison at Nauvoo, Hancock County, Ilinois.  Henry's sister Margaret and her husband Abraham Shaw lived nearby and planned to move west with the Latter Day Saints so they sold their farm to Henry and Lucy. In 1853 Henry and his family returned to England as Lucy was homesick. They lived near Burnley for a time but stayed only two years before returning to their land of opportunity in 1855. Lucy died on 25 December 1866 from pneumonia, leaving Mary Hannah the role of caring for James Matthew, who was only five weeks old. Henry married again in 1868, to Margaret Pilkington who was born in Bolton-le-Moors, Lancashire, England. They had one son, Amos Joseph Thornber, born 1 August, 1869. Henry died in Hancock County on 17 Feb. 1887, owning 1200 acres of prairie land. He was buried in the Thornber Cemetery which he and his son David had dedicated for public use as a burial ground.

Henry's second son, David Richard, is described as follows:

David Richard Thornber, born 1849, returned to England with his parents as a small boy from 1853 to 1855 but then grew up in Illinois on the farm purchased by his father, Henry, in Rock Creek Township. In 1871 David was married by the Presbyterian Minister, Rev. Waldenmeyer to Sarah Jane Haigh in Appanoose Township, Hancock County, Illinois.  David and Sarah moved to Montana in 1889 where Sarah died on 24 December 1920 and David on 15 March 1926. (The Ronspiez web page places his death in Los Angeles, California)

Information from Lisa Blackburn

Lisa Blackburn in British Columbia contacted me in 2015 with information matching what I show above. It comes from a letter sent to her grandmother, Mabel Margaret Blackburn in 1948 from a cousin (second cousin) Mrs. Edythe  Margaret T. Seigrest of Burnside Illinois. The key genealogical features of the letter are as follows and closely match the family tree below and the account of the trip out to the USA given above.

"Henry Thornber married Lucy Ellison on the 11th of July 1845. He was the son of Richard and Hannah Lord Thornber. He was born near Downham Lancashire England on January 10th 1816. In the year 1839 he became converted to the Latter Day Saints church. On the 12th January 1842 he sailed form Liverpool with his widowed mother and 2 sisters. Jane who married Richard Lambert, and Alice. They arrived in New Orleans March 6th and came up the Mississippi river by steamboat. Alice died of cholrea on the boat and is buried on the banks of the Miss. River. A sister Margaret had emigrated earlier and married Arbraham Shaw. Some of her grand children are in Messa Arizona. They went to Utah with the mormons when they made their exodus from Nauvoo.

Henry Thornber & Lucy Ellison’s children:

1) Ellen b. May 29th 1847 d. Sept 12, 1848.
2) David Richard b. July 20, 1849 d. March 15, 1926 – married Jane Haigh
3) Mary Hannah b. January 11, 1852 d. I think about 5 years ago – married Issac Siegfried
4) John T. Thornber b. Oct. 16, 1854 d. April 2, 1938 – married Flora Berdine
5) Lucy Margaret b. Aug. 29, 1857 d. Dec. 16, 1888 – married Marion McCollom (spelling?)
6) Alice A. b. March 3, 1860 d. August 10, 1860
7) William Henry Thornber b. April 13, 1861 d. November 27, 1932 – married Luanna Lewis, This is my father and mother.
8) James M. Thornber b. November 23,  1866 d. may 22, 1928 – married Cordelia Egan, sec m. Mayme Jansen

Henry married Margaret Pilkington sec. time and this union

9) Amos J. was born. he was a fine physician"

Given that the letter indicates Henry Thornber and Lisa Blackburn's ancestor John were brothers there is a question over whom Henry's brother John married. My correspondent Beth Merryweather in New Zealand had suggested that this could be the John Thornber who married Sarah Slinger, both of this chapelry, at Downham, on 11 June 1835. In the marriage details that I have it does not state if she was a spinster or widow but this is worth checking.

There is another John Thornber in the general area. John Thornber aged 41, tailor, with wife Sarah is in the 1851 census at Upper Settle. This puts John's date of birth as about 1809/10 according to whether he was just 41 or nearly 42

More recently, in 2017, Lisa contacted me with additional information and a new insight. Lisa has found that her grandmother, Mable Margaret Lofthouse, inherited a farm of 252 acres in Gisburn. This leads to the question of which of her ancestors owned the farm and it is unlikely to be the John Thornber who was a tailor. John Thornber, a tailor of Colne married Sarah Wood, a spinster of Gisburn at Colne St. Bartholomews on 24 May 1824. A more likely candidate is the John Thornber who married Sarah Slinger at Downham in 1835 and that the two couples called John and Sarah Thornber have been confused.

Lisa believes that the correct family for John Thornber and Sarah Slinger are four daughters, Sarah, Alice, Mary and Jane. Jane, the youngest, married Anthony Lofthouse, who was from a farming family. In the 1851 census, John Thornber aged 43 and his wife Sarah aged 57 had a farm of 219 acres in Gisburn. Jane, daughter of John was then 15 so born about 1836. There are no other residents at the property. If John was 43 in 1851 it put his birth in 1807/1808 according to whether he was just 43 or nearly 44. This is a good fit for John the son of Richard and Hannah Thornber, baptised on 6 December 1807.

By the cenus of 1861 she had married Anthony and inherited the farm. They had four children; Sarah Lofthouse, Mary Jane Lofthouse, John Thornber Lofthouse (named after his grandfather) and Margaret Lofthouse. The census returns of 1901 and 1911 show John Thornber Lofthouse had the farm and was married to Mary Jany Thompson, with whom he had five children, Mable Margaret, Jane Elizabeth, Anthony, Grace and Violet. Anthony was killed in WWI, Mable inherited the farm.

However, from my own reading of the situation we have a problem. If Jane was 15 in 1851, born about 1836, she fits with the baptism record found for a Jane at Clitheroe Methodist Chapel on 13 Jan 1836, which shows her father to be John Thornber and her mother Sarah Harrison. No marriage of John and Sarah Harrison has been found but in the 1851 census Sarah is said to be born in Downham. Clearly this Jane was born only seven months after the marriage of John Thornber to Sarah Slinger in June 1835. Given the age disparity between John Thornber (43) and Sarah his wife (57) in the 1851 census, it may be that Sarah had been married before and one of the surnames Slinger and Harrison is her maiden name and the other her married name from her first marriage. There cannot be earlier children from John and Sarah so the "daughters" Sarah, Alice and Mary may be from Sarah's earlier marriage. This could explain why only Jane inherited the farm.

Lisa has now found another marriage, Sarah Harrison married Richard Slinger on 31 Oct 1829 and had a son James in 1830, so my surmise about Sarah having an earlier marriage is correct. Further details of place and witnesses are required.

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