ROBERT A. THORNTON. Robert A. Thornton, a prominent merchant, stock-man, farmer and cotton dealer of Shaver, Arkansas, came originally from Christian County, Missouri, his birth occurring in 1859 to the union of K. M. and Jane (Boatwright) Thornton, natives of Tennessee, where they lived until 1851. From there they removed to Springfield, Missouri, and resided in Greene and Christian Counties for a good many years. Mr. Thornton, who was born in the year ____, died at Shaver in 1885. Mrs. Thornton died when about seventy-seven years of age. Both were members of the Free-Will Baptist Church for nearly fifty years. All his life the father tilled the soil, and met with fair success in this calling. During the war he was a Union man, but took no part in that struggle. His father, Nedham Thornton, was a farmer and slave owner of Tennessee, where he passed the closing scenes of his life. He was probably a native of the Blue Grass State. Of his six sons and two daughters, the father of our subject was the only one who removed to Missouri. The maternal grandfather, Thomas Boatwright, was a native Tennessean. From there he moved to Texas, where he died, leaving a large landed estate. He was a Confederate soldier.
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Our subject is the youngest of thirteen children, three sons and ten daughters: Mattie, deceased, was the wife of Douglas Jarrett; Louisa, wife of Edward Vaughan, of Greene County, Missouri; Sarah, wife of James Morgan, of Greene County, Missouri; Margaret, wife of Oscar De Graff, of Cherokee County, Kan.; Dotch, wife of Andrew J. Nichols, of Searcy County, Arkansas; Ellen, wife of Isaac Workman, of Texas; Nances, deceased, was the wife of W. A. Fisk; Emma, wife of Frank Tucker, of Barry County, Missouri; Rebecca, wife of Michael Widner, of Boone County; Ann, wife of William Bristow, of Greene County, Missouri; 0. D., a prominent and wealthy merchant and land owner of Berryville, Arkansas (he was a soldier in the Federal Army, and was wounded); Kinnion Blackman, a prominent merchant of Guthrie, Okla., was in the Home Guards during the war.
Owing to the war our subject received a limited education in his youth, there being no schools in his section for some time after cessation of hostilities, and is a strictly self-made man in all that the words imply. When about sixteen years of age he came to Arkansas, and when seventeen years of age began for himself by trading in cattle, etc., in Boone County. After that he spent a year and a half farming in Newton County, and in 1876 celebrated his nuptials with Miss Jennie Shaver, a native of Missouri, and the daughter of Archibald Shaver, who is now a resident of Jasper County, Missouri
About 1879 Mr. Thornton located on Long Creek, on his present farm, and was engaged in tilling the soil and stockraising almost exclusively for a few years. After that he engaged in merchandising at Denver, in Carroll County, for a few years, and he also sold goods in Eureka Springs for a short time. About 1886 he embarked in general merchandising at Shaver Post-office, the same being named after his wife, who has since been postmistress. His annual sales amount to about $20,000, and he also gins about 1,000 bales of cotton per year. Aside from this he is one of the most extensive stock feeders and shippers in the county, shipping about twenty car loads each year. Mr. Thornton has one of the best farms in the county, owning, 500 acres, with 250 acres under cultivation. He has a fine and commodious dwelling, good orchard, and his place is otherwise improved. His success has been almost phenomenal, for he started with no capital, very little education, but with any amount of pluck, perseverance and industry. He is a member of Cotton Wood Lodge, A. F. & A. M., No. 36, at Bear Creek, and in politics is a stanch Republican.