Obituary of Jonah Thorn from a newspaper called the Tribune:
I noticed a statement to the effect that you would publish articles of interest concerning the early history of Lowell.
The celebration of Lowell's hundredth anniversary, in my opinion, is a fine idea.
As my grandfather, Jonah Thorne, was one of the earliest citizens of the town, I feel that it is appropriate to submit the enclosed brief item:
Jonah Thorne was one of the first settlers in the town of Lowell. He was English by birth. At an early age he came to Canada, afterward coming to the United States. About the year 1838 he located in Lake County, Indiana. According to his obituary published in the Lowell Tribune September 2, 1899, "He was the first man to move his family into the original town of Lowell and the first man to do business therein." Also quoting from the same authority, "He was an honorable upright man in his dealings with his fellow men, and was always counted one of our best citizens."
A few of the older citizens of Lowell may remember Mr. Thorne's store on Commercial Avenue, where for many years he conducted a hardware business. He had no sons. The writer's mother, Mrs. P.D. Clark, was his youngest daughter. This is submitted by his granddaughter.
In the year 1852, about the time of the platting of the new town and the renaming "Outlet" to Lowell, Mr. Thorne built and operated the first small frame hotel and general store. The location of this business was on the south side of Main Street between the present Frank Maloy and Kanaar homes, back from the street. This hotel remained in the family for five generations and some of the lumber from the building is in Sarah Jane Thorne Clark's home, now occupied by the Jacob Hoffman family.
In about 1855 a general store was opened on the county road (now Commericial Ave.) at the present location of the Sweet Shop and Corner Barber Shop, so Mr. Thorne closed his "mill district" store and opened a hardware store on the county road, also, at the present location of the Roberts law office. Mr. Thorne lived during this period on the north side of the county road across from the present Methodist church. He was a successful business man and his daughters were inclined to have a knowledge of good management in business affairs as well as in their homes.
Abigail wed John Ault, son of an early settler, Andrew Ault, and Sarah Jane married Perry D. Clark, son of Jabez Clark. Mr. Thorne's wife, Phoebe, died at the age of 47.
Thorne's real estate holdings included Commerical Ave. from the west boundary of the town square to the creek which then ran west of the present railroad tracks and up to the present railroad tracks and up to the present location of Hardings, Inc. The Lowell town hall now stands on land donated by Thorne for a public hitching rack.
Developing the town seemed to be Mr. Thornes' greatest interest and many of the homes and stores he constructed still stand. His great granddaughter Iva Nichols, now lives in one of them.
In 1855* he married the widow of Jabez Clark, Marietta, and they lived in a duplex house on the west side of Lowell on property now owned by Walter Matter. A brick yard was owned and operated by Perry Clark in that vicinity.
In 1899, at the age of 85 years and 8 months, Jonah Thorne died at his home and was buried in the old part of the Lowell cemetery beside his first wife.
Jonah's brother, Franklin, settled in Chicago where he built an iron foundry called the Franklin Iron Works. It is now the Wisconsin Steel Mills and a subsidiary of U.S. Steel.
One living granddaughter of Jonah Thorne, a daughter of the Perry Clarks, is Mrs. Etta Vories, age 79, of Port Huron, Mich. She will be in Lowell for centennial festivities.
Other descendants, many living in Lowell, are Walter James, Getti Powell, Mrs.Agnes Machacek, Mrs. Iva Nichols, Mrs. Alice Ruley, Myrtle Johnson, Thorne Clark, Millard, Virginia and Margaret Clark.
*NOTE Although this article states that Jonah Thorn married the widow of Jabez Clark in 1855, this is incorrect. For one thing, Jabez Clark didn't die until 1876. For another, according to Mr. Thorn's obituary (at the beginning of this page), he had five wives, the last one being the widow of Jabez Clark. The 1855marriage date likely refers to one of his other wives.
Go to Jonah Thorne, "Pioneer History Index," for further information.
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