Question: How old was Horace Thornton when he died in Manti, Utah, having served as a young man in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847?
Answer: Horace Thornton was born on May 7, 1822 in Collins, Erie, New York, to Ezra Thornton and Harriet Goodrich, the fifth child of their ten children. The Thornton family moved to several different communities in New York. Their son, Bascom died in 1830 at the age of 9.
While they were living at Collins, Erie County, New York, Mormon missionaries taught them the Gospel. Elder John P. Green baptized the family in 1833. By 1835, they had moved to Kirtland, Ohio. Stephen and Harriet received patriarchal blessings from Joseph Smith, Sr. in 1836. Soon afterwards they moved to Far West, Caldwell, Missouri. They had lived there only a short time when Horace’s father, Ezra, was killed at the age of forty-seven, in some conflict with the mobs in the area. In 1838 Chester Thornton, the oldest son, died at the age of 22.
After the Latter-day Saints were driven out of Missouri, Harriet and her children, including sixteen-year-old Horace, moved to Nauvoo. In 1840 Fanny, a daughter, died at the age of sixteen. Only four of Ezra and Harriet’s ten children made it to Utah. In 1846 Horace’s mother, Harriet, received her endowment in the Nauvoo, Illinois temple. When the Saints were driven out of Nauvoo, Harriet and her family moved to Winter Quarters.
In 1847, Horace, at age 24, was asked to be in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company. He traveled to Utah in the 8th Company of Ten led by Seth Taft. He served as one of the hunters for the Company. Horace also became a member of the 20th Quorum of Seventies.
Horace returned to Winter Quarters in the fall of 1847. In the summer of 1850 Horace traveled to Utah with his mother and his brother Stephen and two sisters in the Aaron Johnson Company. His sister, Charlotte, died about six days after they left Kanesville. She was 24 years of age.
After reaching Utah, they moved south to Springville, Utah.
Horace met and married Elizabeth Wimmer on March 17, 1851 in Springville, Utah. John and Elizabeth took out their endowments and were sealed on March 23, 1852, in the Endowment House. Horace and Elizabeth never had any children.
Elizabeth Wimmer, Horace’s wife, was born on December 22, 1831 in New Castle, Henry, Indiana, the second of eight children of John Peter Wimmer and Elizabeth Hendricks. The Wimmer family was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and some members of the family were baptized in 1836. When the word got out that they were “Mormons,” their neighbors began to shun and persecute them. In 1841, they were threatened by men, with handkerchiefs tied over their faces, to leave town. The family packed up what they could into a wagon. It was just sundown, when the family pulled up to the top of a hill overlooking their farm–their house, barn and sheds. Much to their horror, they saw these same men set fire to every building that was on their property. They sadly traveled on to Nauvoo to gather with the Saints there. Here they experienced more persecution and were driven out of Nauvoo in 1846. They went to Winter Quarters, where they stayed until 1850. John and Elizabeth, and their children traveled west in the James Pace Company. John’s parents, who were in their sixties (Peter and Elizabeth Wimmer), also went west with them. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on November 1, 1850. Horace’s wife, Elizabeth, was 18 years of age at this time when she traveled to Utah with her parents and grandparents. The family moved to Springville, Utah. They stayed in Springville until after the deaths of the grandparents.
Horace and Elizabeth lived in Springville, Utah for several years before moving to Parowan, Iron, Utah in 1861. Horace’s mother, Harriet, lived with them, and she died in Parowan, Iron County on November 1, 1870. Horace and Elizabeth moved from Parowan to St. George and then to Manti, where they engaged in temple work.
Horace’s wife, Elizabeth, died on September 13, 1907 in Manti, Utah. Horace Thornton died on March 20, 1914, in Manti, at the age of 91, and was buried in the Manti Cemetery.
Obituary: Horace Thornton, Manti’s oldest resident, passed away Saturday, March 20, 1914, at the home of his sister-in-law, Mrs. Julietta Wimmer Fielding, who has taken care of him the past seven years. Mr. Thornton was only a few weeks short of 92 years of age. The funeral was held at the Tabernacle.
Source: Manti Messenger, Friday, 27 March 1914, FamilySearch.org; Story of Harriet Goodrich Thornton, FamilySearch.org; Utah, Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, 1847-1868; “Life of John Peter Wimmer,’ FamilySearch.org; FindAGrave.com