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Promotion: Nearby Map of Limestone County

Thornton is on State Highway 14 nineteen miles southwest of Mexia in southwestern Limestone County. Settlement at the site began in 1868. The Houston and Texas Central Railway ran a line from Hearne to Groesbeck through the area in 1870, and Cain Hogan settled on Steele Creek just west of the present townsite. The community became a stop on the railroad and was named for John E. Thornton, another early settler.

In 1873 a Thornton post office opened with William L. Wright as postmaster. Soon cotton gins were set up nearby, and Wilson Brothers, a mercantile business, located in Thornton. Ceramics were manufactured from the fine, white clay called kaolin found in that locality. Agriculture was the mainstay of the area. Thornton Institute, an early college, was founded in 1877 by Edward Coke Chambers. He was also placed in charge of the local grade school, which he turned into a preparatory school. He quit both schools and left Thornton in the late 1880s, and the institute was sold to Henry P. Davis. After enrollment dropped, the institute became Thornton School. The Thornton Masonic lodge, No. 486, was chartered with thirty-two members in 1878. Other organizations followed, including the International Organization of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, the Woodmen of the World, and the Order of the Eastern Star.

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Ellen Maschino | © TSHA

Handbook of Texas Logo

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Thornton is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Thornton is classified as a Town


Latitude: 31.41113270
Longitude: -96.57385600

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated


Population Count, 2021 View more »