Columns of Will Ball
Many years ago there stood, on the
southwest corner of 12th and Broadway, a two story frame house, a
good, substantial seven or eight room house.
It was the home of Henry Clay Thornton, a lawyer who had offices at 210
Fourth Street. He owned both the home
and office building. Judge D.P. Baldwin
occupied the room at 208 Fourth Street and, we believe, owned that building, for
around the turn of the century the two men built the structure that now
occupies the site, calling it the Baldwin-Thornton building. On second thought, we are inclined to think
the building was erected after Mr. Thornton had passed away, for we remember
very well when the new building went up and we knew Judge Baldwin very well but
we cannot remember Mr. Thornton. His
heirs, a son and a daughter, undoubtedly joined the judge in putting up the
buildings and giving it their name.
Both the son, Henry Worthy Thornton, and
daughter Pearl had left Logansport before that time. The mother, Mrs. Millamenta Comegys Thornton,
we do not recall, her middle name was Hungarian. She was of Hungarian descent.
Both son and daughter were tall,
handsome young people. The son was a
strapping fellow, well over six feet tall, very active and vigorous. He had been a star football player at the
University of Pennsylvania where he got his B.S. degree and was mentioned for
the All American team at Vanderbuilt.
When he came home on vacation, he had a habit of striding up and down
Broadway to and from his home as though he had a long way to go and very little
time to get to his destination.
The daughter, Pearl, was also tall and
erect and very popular with people of her age.
She later married Isaac W. Geer and came back to Logansport with him to
live in the old home place when he was appointed division superintendent of the
local Pennsylvania Railroad office. That
was about 1904 or 1905. The remained
here several years.
Henry prepared for college at St. Paul’s
school at Concord, New Hampshire. After
finishing at Pennsylvania, he took a job as a draftsman in the office of the
chief engineer of the southwest system of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The offices, I believe, were at Columbus,
Ohio. His advance was very rapid. Starting in 1894, as chief engineer, by 1901
he was an engineer of maintenance of way.
In 1911 he was made superintendent of the Long Island Railroad, a
In 1914, Lord Claude Hamilton, chairman
of the board of the Great Eastern Railroad of England, asked Samuel Rea,
president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, to recommend a man for general manager
of his railroad which was in difficulty.
Rea named Thornton.
At the sudden outbreak of World War I,
the main burden of moving the troops fell on the railroads.. Thornton proved so highly efficient that it
was not long before he occupied the post of Inspector General of Transportation
of the British Expeditionary Forces with full charge of the movement of British
troops in England and France.
He was married on June 20, 1901 to
Virginia Dike Blair, a Pennsylvania girl by whom he had two children, James and
Logansport Press, July 8, and July 14, 1951
Transcribed by Christine Spencer, April,
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