On the 27th of January, 1860 in Fayetteville, Virginia, George Washington Thornhill was wearing out the carpet as he paraded back and forth waiting when he was told that his beloved wife, Martha Ann (Blake), had given birth to their second child John Newton. The young family would soon be caught up in the throes of the Civil War. The family lived in the mountainous part of Virginia that remained loyal to the United States and was soon renamed West Virginia. The family moved sometime after John was born but before Nov 1864 when their daughter was born in Cadiz, Ohio.
Jeremiah E Smith, an Irish immigrant then residing in New Cumberland, West Virginia,, was elated when his wife, Rebecca (Evans) presented him with his very first daughter, Frances Rebecca , later known by everyone as Fanny Bell. Jeremiah and Rebecca had ten children in all.
I am not certain where or how John and Fanny Bell met but on the 6th of October, 1881, they married. Jessie Virginia, their first child and oldest daughter. was born in now, long abandoned, Rocky Side, West Virginia. She was followed by two other daughters, Bessie and Ivy May, both of whom died in infancy, and lastly, in New Cumberland, Claudis Earl. See Blog
In the ensuing years, John and Fanny Bell purchased a home on College Avenue in Beaver, Pennsylvania. . In 1924 John and Fanny Bell joined Claud in California. The Thornhill family was very close knit and in that same year they were joined by Jessie Virginia and her husband Albert Davis and their daughter Naomi and husband John Holt. Albert. and Jessie’s son, Cleo, had followed Claude out in 1922 to go to college. Albert and Jessie and Naomi and John returned to Pennsylvania the following spring of 1925.
Fanny Bell died at their home in Redondo December 3rd, 1924 and was buried in Inglewood Cemetery, Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California. John lived on in California another seven years before joining Fanny Bell on the 6th of February, 1931. As an interesting aside, in 2000 my brother Rodney and I purchased a stone for John’s, until then, unmarked grave.