Jonah Thorn, owner of the first store in the town of Lowell, came to this area with his family in 1842, a few years before Mevlin Halsted, founder of Lowell, moved for the east to his West Creek homestead.
Jonah Thorn was born at Warrenburg, Wiltshire, England, on Dec. 31, 1813, and sailed for Canada with his brother, Franklin, in 1832. There he married Phoebe Richmond, and to them were born two daughters, Lauretta Abagail, born 1838, and Sarah Jane, born 1841.
While the children were very small, the Thorn family moved to Ashtabula, Ohio, and then soon moved on to Indiana in 1842, settling in the area that was to become the Town of Lowell, Lake County, Ind. Among the settlers they met when they arrived must have been Horatio and Abram Nichols, Jabez Clark, and John Driscoll.
In 1852, Melvin Halsted was drawing plans for the Town of Lowell, the original 16 lots clustered on both sides of what was hoped to be the "main street" near the mill site.
At the same time, Jonah Thorn was busy building his small hotel and general store, which was south of the Halsted House on Main St., and close to lots no. 7 and no. 8 of the original plat of the Town of Lowell. The building was set back from the street, allowing room for horse drawn wagons and buggies.
Halsted finished his grist mill just south of Thorn's store in 1853, and in 1857, largely through the energy of Halsted, the Baptist meeting house, a plain brick building, was erected at the northeast corner of Main and Mill Streets, on lot 4. This building served the community well until about 1905, when it was torn down.
Jonah served his customers in the little village near the mill until 1855, when some of the local business owners began to build on what was then called the "County Road," now Commerical Ave.
Then Jonah closed his mill district store and opened a hardware store at the present location of V.J. Robert's law office, and the "main street" of the town was changed to what is now Commercial Ave.
His home during that time was across the street from the present Methodist Church. He became a very successful businessman who took great interest in the development of the town, building many homes and places of business. At one time Thorn owned much of the business property on the south side of Commercial Ave. in downtown Lowell.
His daughters also were inclined to have a knowledge of good management in business affairs as well as in their homes.
Abagail married John Ault, son of early settler Andrew Ault, and Sarah Jane married Perry D. Clark, son of 1837 Pioneer Jabez Clark. Many of their descendants live in the area.
Jonah's wife, Phoebe (Richmond) Thorn died at the age of 47, and later Jonah married Marietta (Barrows) Clark, the widow of Jabez Clark, and they lived in a duplex house on west Main St., near Nichols St. The "Old Timer" tells us that he has seen the old brick foundation of that house, bricks from the Perry Clark brick yard which was in the vicinity, at the end of Liberty St.
Jonah Thorn died at the age of 85 in 1899, and was buried in the old part of the Lowell Cemetery beside his first wife.
Franklin, the brother of Jonah Thorn who came to Canada in 1832, later settled in Chicago, Ill., where he built an iron foundry called the Franklin Iron Works, which later became the Wisconsin Steel Mills, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel.
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