Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thornhill Relatives at the Alamo

My lovely wife, Genie, was helping me this week research the early Thornhill folks—in all honesty, she was doing it all—when she discovered a clue that a descendant of an early Thornhill, and the husband of that descendant’s sister, had perished at the battle of the Alamo and her research talents tingled. She hit the research trail in earnest. Genie is a died-in-the-wool Texan and when she got a hint of such a thing her excellent genealogical instincts soared. If it were true, she would no longer have to apologize to her Rebel kin for her Yankee husband. And wonder of wonders, it was true. She found that the daughter (Edna) of one of my fourth Great Grandparents, William Thornhill, had a son and son-in-law killed in that great Texas battle. I must admit that I was absolutely thrilled at the discovery. And—well, here is the background and story of those two brave individuals, relatives of ours, along with 30 of their companions who selflessly went to the aid of their countrymen, in the Battle of the Alamo in early March 1836.

Edna (Edney?) Thornhill, born in Virginia circa 1769, the middle daughter of three girls of William (1735–1788) and Sarah Thornhill (1740–Sept 1802), married widower Henry Dearduff (Deardorf) in September of 1802. It was Henry’s and Edna’s son William, born c1811, who was killed at the Alamo along with his brother-in-law, James George, husband to Elizabeth Dearduff. William was probably named after his grandfather William Thornhill, and had followed his sister and her husband to south Texas.  There the two men joined DeWitt's Rangers to go to the aid of the men at the Alamo.  To me, the fact that their small unit of 32 men under the command of a Major Williamson chose almost certain death as they marched past the Mexican army of possibly 7,000 men to join about 150 Texians already inside the Alamo. That’s courage way beyond the call of duty.

You can get a more detailed account of the Dearduff and George families before and after the battle at these links:

DeWitt’s Colony, DeWitt's Rangers:

William Dearduff:

Elizabeth and James George:


  1. Wow. I never, EVER, thought I had Texas blood running in my veins...does this make us one of the "first families" of Texas?

  2. Its Good to hear from you again Bob. I am going through all of the "stuff" passed down to me from William Humphries Holt and will make all available to the family if I come across pictures, other items of interest you may not have. I now have the family bible in which William Humprhreys entered each of his childrens births, having received it from my Aunt Charlotte (daughter of Clyde Holt Sr.) upon her death. Clyde Holt, III Raleigh, NC