David H. Thornton

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Chris & Kerry
December 18, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.
Chicago and New York, Volume II
pg. 158

DAVID H. THORNTON, M. D. Engaged in the practice of medicine and surgery in
Mercer County for nearly thirty years, and for twenty years of that time a
specialist in eye, ear, nose and throat diseases, Doctor Thornton has in
addition to his character as a high minded and proficient doctor exerted a
helpful influence in community affairs and particularly in behalf of the
simplicity of original Christianity and the application of the Bible to the
common life and affairs of mankind.

Doctor Thornton was born in Mercer County, June 30, 1865, is of English and
Irish descent and of Virginia stock, both his parents, William M. and Eliza J.
(Hatcher) Thornton, being natives of Virginia. His father was a farmer, served
as a soldier in the Civil war with a Virginia regiment under Colonel French, and
was all through the fighting to the end. In the battle of Clark, near Princeton,
he was wounded in the arm, but recovered and rejoined his command. After the war
he returned to his farm, and lived there, manifesting a commendable interest in
public affairs, and was a member of the Primitive Baptist Church, but before his
death became attracted to the study of the Bible with his son, Doctor Thornton.

David H. Thornton acquired a common school education, attended the State Normal
at Athens, and, leaving there, went to Janesville, Wisconsin, to the Valentine
School of Telegraphy. After mastering the technique of the telegraph key he
entered the service of the Norfolk & Western Railway as clerk of the Clinch
Valley Division while it was under construction. Doctor Thornton was a railroad
man for three years, and following that bought a store from his brother at
Elgood and was in the general mercantile business two years. He sold out and
used his capital to prepare himself for the profession of medicine. In 1893 he
graduated M. D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Baltimore, and
began practice at Athens where he remained twenty years, and since then has had
his home and professional headquarters at Princeton. Doctor Thornton began
specializing in 1902 in the eye, ear, nose and throat, taking in that year a
post-graduate course at the Chicago Post-Graduate School and also a private
course on the ear under Albert Andrews and on the eye under R S. Pattillo. In
1912 he did other work along his special lines in the New York Post Graduate
School and Hospital; and for a number of years his practice has been limited to
his specialties.

In 1889, at Graham, Virginia, Doctor Thornton married Mary Jennings, daughter
of William H. and Isabel (Shanklin) Jennings, natives of West Virginia. Doctor
and Mrs. Thornton had six children: Chauncey Bryan, Eunice Janetta, Mabel Clara,
Paul Benson, Joseph Harry and David Jennings. Two of them are now deceased,
Eunice and Joseph H. The daughter Mabel is the wife of C. J. Moore, an employe
in the general office of the Norfolk & West Virginia Railway. The son Chauncey,
who is an electrician with the Appalachian Power Company at Bluefield, married
Hattie Meadow, daughter of Attorney J. H. Meadow. His son David is an
electrician in the navy on the battleship destroyer Davis No. 65.

Doctor Thornton many years ago was attracted to the independent religious
movement of Pastor Russell, and has been an enthusiastic member of the
International Bible Students Association and for several years has conducted a
class for the study of the Bible, which is outside of all denomination and free
from creeds, concentrating upon the essential teachings as presented by Christ
and his followers. Some years ago, before the World war, in prosecution of his
study of the Bible and his interest in Old World affairs, Doctor Thornton and
his brother J. T. of Bluefield made a long and interesting trip abroad through
Asia, Africa, the Holy Land, Germany, Italy and France.

Doctor Thornton is a member of the Business Men’s Club at Princeton, belongs to
the County and State Medical Society, is a Fellow of the American Medical
Association, and was formerly active in Masonry, being a Royal Arch and Knight
Templar Mason and Shriner. He served as master of his Lodge and as high priest
of his Chapter.