Thursday, June 14, 2012

Alexander Thornton

   The success which A.K. Thornton has achieved in the course of an active life well entitles him to mention among the capitalists of American Fork.  He is now in the seventy-second year of his age, his birth having occurred in Ayrshire, Scotland, April 6, 1847, his parents being William and Mary Kennedy Thornton.  The father was a weaver by trade in Scotland and becoming a convert to the faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, made his way to American shores and thence traveled across the country to Utah, making the trip over the plains with the company of Captain Appleton Harmon.  In the party were the parents and their 6 children.  They had also lost 2 daughters who passed away and were laid to rest in Scotland, before the family left that country.  They remained in Salt Lake City for one winter and in the following spring took up their adobe at Cottonwood, going to Mill creek in the succeeding fall.  They next went to American Fork in the following spring and Mr. Thornton, the father, took up the trade of weaving, which he had learned in early life, and also became owner of a farm, but his sons largely had the care, development and improvement of the farm property.  He died June 9, 1865, while his wife survived him for a number of years.
     A.K. Thornton obtained his education in the common schools at American Fork, attending until he reached the age of 17 years, when he began driving a four yoke team of oxen from Salt Lake to Helena, Montana, hauling supplies to the miners there.  He also made trips to Virginia City, Montana, and from Helena and down the Missouri River, from which point he returned to Salt Lake City.  At times he drove a seven yoke team of oxen, being an exceptionally good driver for a boy of his years.  He afterward returned to American Fork where he worked at the carpenter’s trade and engaged in farming and also in clerking in a store.  He likewise devoted his attention to teaming and to mining and thus lived a very active life.  He entered mercantile circles in connection with Joseph Shelley, with whom he has thus associated for a few years, and for 10 years he was engaged in the saloon business.  He then sold out and turned his attention to the lumber and coal trade at American Fork, and in the conduct of the business was associated with his son John.  They after established a branch store at Pleasant Grove, which is now under the charge of his son Alexander.  His son John has passed away.  Mr. Thornton disposed of his interests at American Fork but continues the business at Pleasant grove, carried on under the name of A.K. Thornton & Sons Company.  They handle lumber, coal and general merchandise, also have a drug store and like wise sell hay and grain.  A.K. Thornton is the president of this company and his well defined business policy is a potent force in the attainment of substantial success.

     In 1868, Mr. Thornton was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Miller, who was born on the Missouri River while her parents, Mr. & Mrs. John Miller were en route to Utah.  Her father, who was a farmer by occupation, died soon after the arrival of the family in this state.  Mr. & Mrs. Thornton have become the parents of 3 sons and 6 daughters, of whom Alexander, the eldest, is in charge of the business at Pleasant Grove.  John, the second son, was in business at American Fork, but is now deceased.  William is mentioned elsewhere in this work.  Mary died at the age of 22 years.  Ellen is the wife of John Binns, who makes his home at American Fork, where he is engaged in sheep raising and formerly he gave his attention to cattle raising.  Jeannette is the wife of Elmer Bates, who is with the Chipman Mercantile Company in American Fork.  Elizabeth is the wife of O.C. Lockhart, who is with the government trust service and spends his time largely in Ogden.  Sadie is the wife of Hyde A. Willis, of Salt Lake City, who is with the Oregon Short Line Company. Fern is the wife of Elmer P. Chipman, a farmer and stock raiser living at American Fork.  Mr. & Mrs. Thornton have 22 grandchildren who are yet living, while 5 of their grandchildren have passed away.  There are also 4 great-grand children.
    Mr. Thornton is a stalwart advocate of republican principles and for 4 years served as a member of the city council but prefers that his public service shall be done as a private citizen rather than as an office holder.  He has always given his attention and energies to business affairs with the result that success has come to him in substantial measure, and he is now a director of the Bank of American Fork, with which he had been identified from its organization, and is the president of the lumber company.  Whatever he has undertaken he has accomplished and he is every ready to encourage and aid others on life’s journey.  He and his family occupy an attractive home which was built in 1915 and is the adobe of warm-hearted hospitality.
[History of Utah Since Statehood, Historical and Biographical Volume III, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1919 American Fork Public Library.]

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