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John Thorn
Sketch of John ThornJohn Thorn was born in the town of Plattekill, Ulster County, New York, May 22, 1809, the eldest child of Nathaniel and Charity Thorn. The family have belonged to the Orthodox Society of Friends for many generations.

His grandfather, Elnathan Thorn, was a native of Westchester Co., NY. He married Martha Weeks of the same county. They raised a family of seven children: Thomas, John, Elnathan, Nathaniel, Lydia, Phebe, and Sarah. His father, Nathaniel Thorn, was born in Westchester, 1784. His eldest brother, Thomas, first came to Plattekill, and purchased a small farm near Clintondale, now a village in that town, which he subsequently sold to Nathaniel, upon which the latter settled. He married Charity Cornell, daughter of William and Esther Cornell, a short time after moving to Plattekill. They had eight children, viz.: John, William C., Esther C., Sarah, Elnathan, Stephen, Solomon, and Nathaniel.

The four youngest never married. William C. and Esther C. are both married, and are residents of the town of Plattekill. The latter is the wife of Abraham Weeks, and has form many years been an acknowledged minister in the Society of Friends, and has traveled extensively in that capacity through the United States and Canada.

Sarah, a maiden lady, resides with her brother, John. Nathaniel Thorn died Dec. 14, 1857; his wife March 6, 1858.

John Thorn received his education in the district school. At the early age of fourteen he commenced the business of peddling the products of his father's farm at Poughkeepsie, and was for several years thus employed.

His mind naturally took a speculative turn, but in all his business ventures he has shown a rate tact and good judgment, and in consequence has been almost uniformly successful in whatever enterprise he engaged. In April 1830, he went to New York City, where, for about two years, he was employed by his uncle, William H. Cornell, in the manufacture of "Cornell's Patent Overshoe;" during which time he also, on his own account, carried on quite an extensive trade in apples in the New York market, shipping a portion of them to England, which proved a successful venture. For one year thereafter, in company with his uncle, Oliver Smith, he engaged in getting out ship timber for the New York shipyards.

Having made an arrangement with his uncle, by paying him a royalty upon the patent, he commenced at Clintondale the manufacture of the "Waterproof Patent Overshoe," which business he followed for thirteen years, and proved a financial success. In the sale of these goods he traveled extensively through the States of New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

He married, October 9, 1833, Hannah P., daughter of Adonijah and Hulda (Nye) Lewis. Mrs. Thorn was born in Plattekill, June 14, 1810. The next year after marriage he build and occupied the house in Clintondale now owned by M. Moore, where he lived until 1846. About this time, on account of injury to his health occasioned by the use of turpentine in his business, he sold out his manufacturing interest and engaged in farming, which business he since has for the most part followed. In 1856, he purchased the Jeremiah Relyea farm, which, with subsequent purchases, embraced two hundred and eighteen acres. Upon the opening of the Modena and Highland turnpike, about 1870, which passed through these lands, it brought them into the market at profitable rates. They were especially adapted to the culture of small fruits, and many lots varying from one to twenty acres have been sold, upon which homes have been built and rich fruit fields planted. Mr. Thorn took great interest in the construction of the turnpike, subscribing liberally towards its stock, and standing by the enterprise until completed.

In the company with William Rowe he furnished a large amount of material for the Wallkill Valley and Poughkeepsie and Eastern Railroads. During his farm life he as dealt quite extensively in cattle.

The last five years Mr. Thorn has withdrawn from active business. In politics he has been a Whig and Republican. Both himself and his wife are members of the Society of Orthodox Friends at Clintondale. They have eight children, viz.:

  1. William Henry (twin)
  2. Leonard Lewis (twin)
  3. Charity (born 21 April 1837)
  4. John J. (born 3 March 1842)
  5. Solomon P. (born 1 Jan 1868)
  6. Huldah C. (born 15 March 1846)
  7. Hannah Esther (born 23 April 1851)
  8. Nathaniel A. (born 29 Jun 1863)

John J., born March 3, 1842, died June 11, 1865, was a young man of much worth.

Solomon P., born Jan 1, 1845, married Catherine M. Hasbrouck, March 31, 1868, lives in the same house with his father, carries on the farm, and is quite extensively engaged in the culture of fruit. They have two children, John R. and Lewis.

Huldah C., wife of Hallock W. Sutton, to whom she was married November 28, 1866. Mr. Sutton is a carriage-maker and undertaker at Clintondale. They have one child living, John H.

The above material is from the History of Ulster County, New York.


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Last modified on May 15, 2006.
Copyright 1997-1999, John Coutant Thorn