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Thorpe Family | Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Name: Thorpe Family

Historical Note:

Elihu Monroe Thorpe was born on April 25, 1790 in Maine. He married Sophronia Osborn on April 27, 1826 and had four children: sons Servetus Monroe Thorpe (1827-1904) and Alonzo V. Thorpe, Sr. (1830-1864), and daughters Ella M. Owens Wolfe (1842-1925) and Adelia C. Hand (1844-1903). Elihu was a prominent millwright in New York before the family moved to Versailles, Illinois in 1841, where he took up farming. He died on December 6, 1852 at Versailles.

Sophronia Osborn Thorpe, born February 9, 1805 in Oswegatchie, New York, was the daughter of Seth Osborn (1771-1834) and Achasah Craw (1775-1858). She was one of ten children, five of whom survived into adulthood. She married Elihu Monroe Thorpe on April 27, 1826 and had four children: sons Servetus Monroe Thorpe (1827-1904) and Alonzo V. Thorpe, Sr. (1830-1864), and daughters Ella M. Owens Wolfe (1842-1925) and Adelia C. Hand (1844-1903). The family moved to Versailles, Illinois in 1841. Sophronia later took two of her grandsons, Alonzo V. Thorpe, Jr. and Jefferson Lee Thorpe, into her care after her son’s death. After being widowed, she moved to Missouri in 1865, with her grandsons, to live with her daughter, Ella Owens Wolfe. Sophronia died on January 12, 1888 in California, Missouri, where she is buried alongside her son, Alonzo V. Thorpe, Sr.

Servetus Monroe Thorpe, born December 17, 1827 in Attica, New York, was the son of Elihu Monroe Thorpe (1790-1852) and Sophronia Osborn Thorpe (1805-1888) and the eldest of four children. After a childhood spent in New York, often sailing on the Great Lakes, Servetus moved to Versailles, Illinois with his family in 1841. Servetus served in the Mexican-American War in Company E of the 1st Illinois Infantry under Colonel J. J. Hardin. After the war, he became proprietor of a general store in Versailles and married Sarah Jane Stone (1834-1897) on March 8, 1855. The couple later had four children: Elihu Mirando Thorpe (1855-1933), Dr. Samuel L. Thorpe (1858-?), Dr. Alonzo M. Thorpe (1860-1946) and Ada C. Myers (1865-1944). In 1858, Servetus left his store and purchased a farm in Wapella, Illinois, becoming an early settler of DeWitt County. In the spring of 1862, he and three companions left for California to seek gold. While unsuccessful in this pursuit, they established a steamboat line on the Columbia River. Servetus helped manage this enterprise for some time before returning home to Illinois. The profit from the sale of his steamboat stock was carried home in gold. While in New York, he traded for greenbacks, leading to a considerable profit in the coming years. Servetus became a political leader in DeWitt County, first as a Republican and later as a leader in the Greenback Party. He championed the Farmers' Movement, resulting in a change in railroad rates, before helping bring about reforms in the Warehouse Commission and Interstate Commerce Commission. Most of the last 20 years of his life were spent in Texas, where he had business interests including a sizeable cattle farm. Servetus died January 11, 1904.

Ella M. Thorpe Owens Wolfe, born February 14, 1842 in Illinois, was the daughter of Elihu and Sophronia, and one of four children. She married Samuel H. Owens, a prominent lawyer and six-time mayor of California, Missouri, on October 10, 1860. During this marriage, Ella’s widowed mother, Sophronia, along with two of her nephews, Alonzo V. and Jefferson Lee Thorpe, came to live with the family. Samuel Owens died after a brief illness, on February 22, 1882, and Ella was remarried to John Beal Wolfe, editor of the California Democrat, a dry goods merchant, and father of three children from a previous marriage, in 1886. She died on February 3, 1925.

Alonzo V. Thorpe, Sr., born January 23, 1830 in Rochester, New York, was the son of Elihu Monroe Thorpe and Sophronia Osborn Thorpe and one of four children. After a childhood spent in New York, Alonzo moved to Versailles, Illinois with his family in 1841. He married Martha J. Dearborn on October 20, 1849 and the pair had one surviving child, Dr. Alonzo V. Thorpe, Jr. Martha passed away in November of 1852, leaving behind the eight month old infant, who was raised by his grandmother, Sophronia Thorpe. After Martha’s death, Alonzo Sr. graduated from the McDowell Medical College in St. Louis in 1855, and moved to California, Missouri, becoming a prominent doctor and skilled surgeon. Alonzo Sr. married twice again, the first time in 1855 to Sarah Taylor of St. Louis, who lived only 11 months after their marriage, and the next to Abigail Shoen of Missouri, with whom he had one son, Dr. Jefferson Lee Thorpe (1862-1910). He was active in the Democratic Party and a member of the Masonic fraternity. Alonzo V. Thorpe, Sr. died February 15, 1864.

Sarah Jane Stone Thorpe, born January 21, 1834 in Brown County, Illinois, was the daughter of Mirando Stone (1798-1860) and Eunice Merker Riggs (1810-1875). She was one of ten siblings, eight of whom survived into adulthood (including Elmira, b. 1835, d. 1912). She married Servetus M. Thorpe on March 8, 1855 in Versailles, Illinois and had four children: Dr. Alonzo M. Thorpe, Elihu Mirando Thorpe, Ada C. Myers, and Dr. Samuel L. Thorpe. Sarah Jane was known as a woman of strong character, who willingly and generously tended to the sick and needy in her community. She died May 13, 1897 in Kenney, Illinois at the home of her son, Dr. Samuel L. Thorpe.

Elihu Mirando Thorpe was born November 29, 1855, in Versailles, Illinois, the son of Servetus Thorpe and Sarah Jane Stone. He attended the University of Illinois for four years, graduating in 1881. Elihu taught school in DeWitt County for several years before entering the grain business in Wapella. He invented a grain-elevator attachment for threshing machines, which was patented March 26, 1889, and an automatic grain meter, which was also patented. He married Anna Wood on May 31, 1882 in Clinton, Illinois, and had one son, Paul McCormick Thorpe. In 1926, Elihu had his leg amputated following two breaks in four years. He lost his wife on October 14, 1924. Through it all, he continued to live at the family farm. He died on August 13, 1933.

Ada C. Thorpe Myers, born on July 4, 1865 in Wapella, Illinois, was the daughter of Servetus Thorpe and Sarah Jane Stone. She married Dr. Joseph C. Myers on February 14, 1886 and together they had three sons, one of whom died in infancy. Another, Thomas Barker Myers (b. 1889), died at the age of 24 on October 24, 1914 following a serious illness. Thomas was a graduate of Millikin University in Decatur, and left behind his younger brother, Leon G. Myers, with whom he had a close relationship. Leon left Ada with two grandchildren, Lillian Myers Corley and Ada Rose Myers Donaldson. She died in 1943.

Alonzo V. Thorpe, Jr., born March 15, 1852 in Brown County, Illinois, was the son of Alonzo V. Thorpe and Martha Dearborn. He attended school in Wapella and Clinton, Illinois, before the family moved to California, Missouri in 1865 to live with his aunt Ella and her husband, Samuel H. Owens. Samuel Owens became Alonzo’s guardian before he entered St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri in 1869. After ten months, he left due to poor health and went to work in merchandising from 1873-1875, before being employed in the law office of Owens & Wood. He was elected city attorney of California, Missouri, serving two terms, and was also city registrar and clerk of the council. Alonzo Jr. served as notary public for the County of Moniteau during Governor Phelps’s administration (1876-1881). After regaining his health, he entered the American Medical College at St. Louis, graduating in 1884 and moving to Jamestown, where he developed his practice. He was a member of the Eclectic Medical Society of Missouri, serving at various points as secretary, corresponding secretary, and vice president. Like his father, he was a member of the Masonic fraternity. Alonzo Jr. died on May 18, 1914 in Moniteau County, Missouri.

Jefferson Lee Thorpe, born July 2, 1862 in Jefferson City, Missouri, was the son of Alonzo V. and Abigail Shoen. His mother and father both died when he was very young, and he was raised by his grandmother Sophronia Thorpe, who lived with his aunt Ella Owens Wolfe in Missouri. He spent his early life in California, Missouri, and was educated there before attending White’s private school in Jefferson City and the State University at Columbia. He entered St. Louis Medical College, graduating in 1886 and establishing a practice in Jefferson City. Jefferson served as physician to the Missouri State Penitentiary from 1887-1889 and as a district surgeon of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. On October 1, 1889, he married Helen C. Thomas in Jefferson City. He was a member of the Democratic Party. Jefferson died March 22, 1910 in Callaway County, Missouri.

Dr. Joseph C. Myers, born August 8, 1858 in Garrard County, Kentucky, was the son of Jordan Myers and Nancy Amelia Banton. He was the eldest of seven children. At age 17, he moved to Shelby County, Illinois to live with his uncle, Samuel Myers, and attended school in Moweaqua before enrolling at Decatur High School. After finishing school, he began the study of medicine in the office of Dr. W. H. Sparling in Moweaqua, and entered the Miami Medical College at Cincinnati, where he graduated in 1880. In 1881 he came to Clinton, where he developed a successful practice. In 1888, Dr. Myers was elected to the 36th General Assembly of Illinois as a Democrat. While serving as a representative, he secured the passage of the “Myers School Book” bill and was appointed to several committees. He was also a president of the DeWitt County Medical Society, member of the State Medical Society, the American Medical Association, and the 10th International Medical Congress, which met in Berlin in 1890. He married Ada C. Thorpe on February 14, 1886, and the pair had three sons.

Leon Goodbrake Myers was born February 2, 1889, one of the two surviving sons of Joseph C. Myers and Ada Thorpe Myers. He graduated from Clinton High School in 1908 and briefly attended the University of Illinois before entering Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, from which he graduated in 1912. He married Rose Kent on December 22, 1914, and the two had four daughters, Lillian Corley, Mary Lu Stone, Gretchen Elliot, and Ada Rose Donaldson. Leon served as an athletics coach and principal at various schools, including Clinton Community High School, a position that he started in 1920. He died in May of 1944.

Lillian Myers Corley, born January 12, 1916 in Logansport, Indiana, was the daughter of Leon G. Myers and Rose Kent. She was raised in Clinton, Illinois and attended the University of Illinois, where she met her husband, Gale C. Corley. After their marriage, on September 12, 1937, the couple moved briefly to Hebron, Indiana, before relocating to Valparaiso where Gale began a 36 year career as a realtor and home builder. Lillian also worked in this business as a corporate officer and interior designer for the family’s company, National Construction Corporation. After Gale’s death, she continued to work in property management. She was also involved in Girl Scouts, the Presbyterian Women’s Association, the P.E.O., and other charitable organizations. Lillian and Gale had two daughters, Dr. Sue Ann Peyton and Dr. Ellen Corley. Lillian died October 23, 2005.

Major Gale Corley was born September 14, 1914, a native of Cowden, Illinois, and the son of Richard Francis and Lulu Cosart Corley. Gale met his wife, Lillian, at the University of Illinois, where he graduated in 1936. After their marriage on September 12, 1937, the couple resided briefly in Hebron, Indiana before moving to Valparaiso. Gale worked in farm management, which evolved into a real estate business and prefabricated homebuilding by the company he founded, National Construction Corporation. He served as president of the Valparaiso Board of Realtors, and as a member of several other home builder associations. Gale was also involved in numerous charitable organizations as a volunteer, including the Jaycees’ “It Pays to Play” program and the Porter County YMCA. He was also a member of Rotary, the American Legion, and a trustee of the First Presbyterian Church. During World War II, Gale served with the 1st and 8th Armored Divisions, and as a major in the 88th Reconnaissance Squadron. He and Lillian had two daughters, Dr. Sue Ann Peyton and Dr. Ellen Corley. He died September 29, 1973.

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