On September 11, 1821, one hundred and ninety-one years ago, Jeptha Thornton (1821-1889), my 5th great grandfather, was born in Auxvasse, Callaway Co., Missouri.
Jeptha was the fourth of eleven children born to William H. Thornton (1792-1858) and Sally Todd (1793-1891. Jeptha grew up in Callaway Co., Missouri, where his father ran a steam powered saw and grist mill. In 1840, he married Martha Ragsdale Walker (1820-1899), with whom he had at least ten children. In 1865, Jeptha, Martha, and their children left Missouri along the Oregon Trail for Oregon, settling in Yamhill County and then Douglas County, where he was a farmer.
While still in Missouri, religion became increasingly a part of Jeptha’s life. His mother, Sally, was said to have been a “professed Christian” and a member of the Baptist Church, while his father had no real religion to speak of. Jeptha determined at a young age that he would not be involved in religion unless he could preach it himself. He became actively involved in the Baptist Church in Oregon, and eventually, he became involved in the Primitive Baptist Church, where he became an Elder and preacher, traveling by horseback to preach at various churches in the area. Jeptha died in 1889 at the age of 67 in Roseburg, Douglas Co., Oregon.
There is a great biography written by Ralph J. Turner about Jeptha Thornton’s life, particularly his spiritual life, which can be found by clicking here.
Jeptha Thornton (1821-1889) and Martha Ragsdale Walker (1820-1899) were the parents of Mary Elizabeth Thornton (1847-1920), who married John Agee (1839-1912). Mary and John were the grandparents of Lois Beatrice Agee (1897-1983), who married Wilhelm Percy Wellin (1895-1977); and was the mother of Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985), my great grandmother, who married Theodore Alexander Lapham (1910-1955).