WPA J. Y. Thornton
Writer: Georgia B. Redfield
Scource:Mrs. J. Y. Thornton and letters in her possession.
J. Y. THORNTON
Pioneer Hotel Man and Cattle Man
J. Y. Thornton came to
Mr. Thorntonís valiant services during tho'se dangerous times of Indian uprisings and Massacres, proved him to be a soldier whose bravery in performance of his duties entitled him to the praise and public recognition given him in later years by General Pershing, who visited Mr. Thornton at his home in Roswell, February 23, 1916, and by Captain D. H. Clark U. S. A. Commandant of Cadets at the University of Florida in 1903, who during that year wrote Mr. Thornton in praise of his valor and loyalty to duty while a soldier during the Indian War. A part of the letter which was dated September 20, 1903 is given below:
"I remember well the Geronimo
Campaign in which you served. I was Quartermaster, and Major Mock was Post
A courier came in about eleven o'clock reported an uprising and massacre by Geronimo's band of Indians at Aqua Chiquita. It was by my orders you went out after the dead and wounded.
After the drive of 180 miles, without a change of team, you returned in thirty-six hours, thereby making one of the most remarkable drives on record.
You deserve every honor of your valor and bravery in making that hazardous drive through the heart of a hostile Indian country, in going to the assistance of your dead and wounded comrades."
After Mr. Thornton received his discharge from the army on October 9, 1875, on which his conduct and character was marked "good" during his five years of service in the army, he engaged for five years in the cattle business at Fort Stanton with George Curry, who afterwards was Governor of the Territory of New Mexico, during part of which time Mr. Thornton served under him as oil inspector for the Territory.
In 1880 Mr. Thornton moved to
One of Billy the Kid's guards -
Ollinger - was eating dinner at Mr. Thorntonís hotel when he heard the
"Kid's" shot that killed
Mr. Thornton owned the pioneer
livery stable at
General [Lee?] Wallace spent some
Mr. Thornton, with a posse of nine men under leader John Hurley one day, entered a cave near White Oaks seeking the young killer and desperado. The Kid was concealed behind rocks at the fartherest end and was not discovered, but he could have shot each one as they entered the cave if he had desired. He afterwards said they all had once been his friends and he couldn't shoot them down unless they had him cornered and forced him to do so.
While living at Lincoln Mr. Thornton and a Mr. White of
At the time of this visit of Mr. Thorntonís and Mr. White's Roswell had been incorporated as a village in 1891, there were about fifteen or eighteen residence houses, Chaves County had been created from parts of Lincoln County in 1889, and Roswell had been made County Seat, a courthouse and jail had been built, the Main street of the town, laid out in blocks in 1885, had been graded by a twenty horse grading and ditching machine, from the Hondo River as far north as North Spring River. Besides the new Pauly Hotel, there was a church of adobe built in 1887, and a new three room brick school house erected in 1889 had replaced the one room adobe built in 1885, which had become to small.
There was a weekly newspaper, the
"Pecos Valley Register" established by James A Erwin and Louis O.
Fullen in 1888. Besides the pioneer store on North Main Street,
Being favorably [?] the growing town, Mr. Thornton with his family moved to Roswell in 1895, where he in 1897 built the home at what is now 209 North Pennsylvania Avenue. He lived there continuously until his death in 1919, and his wife lives there at the present time.
Mr. Thornton was born and educated
His father, Captain Isiah Paul Thornton, was also a soldier having been made a Captain during the Mexican War.
After moving from
Mr. and Mrs. Thornton had four
daughters Mabel and Eva, both of whom died during the same month of September
with scarlet fever, and Kitty - now Mrs. Raynes V. West of
Mr. Thornton was a charter member
of Elks Lodge and of Knights of Pythias. During his long residence in
Source of Information
Mrs. J. Y. Thornton (wife) and [?] and letters in her possession.