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Charles W. Thornton

CHARLES W. THORNTON is one of the pioneers of Northwestern Alaska, having been a member of the Kotzebue Sound expedition of 1898. He has been identified with the country ever since. Mr. Thornton is a son of Wesley Coates Thornton, who was a grandson of William Thornton, of the Revolutionary Army. Mr. Thornton's mother was Rachel Livingston, whose grandfather was also a soldier in the Army of the Revolution.

The subject of this sketch was born in Le Seuer, Minnesota, March 25, 1869. He lived on a farm in Hennepin County in that state until he was thirteen years old. The death of his father, his mother having died six years prior, caused the family of three boys and one girl to decide to leave the old home and take up their residence with various friends and relatives; where they could continue their schooling. The little property left by the father was not available for the purpose of supporting the children while they were in school, so they were thrown upon their own resources. Charles, having determined to become a lawyer, was enabled through hard work, strict economy, and diligent study to obtain a college education.

Early in the spring of 1898 and while he was a resident of Seattle and reading law under the guidance of Z. B. Rawson, city attorney of Seattle, he was attracted by the excitement over the Alaska gold fields, and joined the misguided stampeders to Kotzebue Sound. He spent one winter and two summers in the land of the midnight sun. During the winter of his residence in Northern Alaska he was on the trail for forty days, and during thirty days of this time the sun never showed itself above the horizon, and the average record of the thermometer was 62░ below zero.

Not finding any gold mines in the Kotzebue Sound country he went to Nome in the summer of 1899. His first work in the Nome camp was mining on the beach. In 1890 he engaged in the general merchandise business, and was the head of the firm of Thornton & Keith. The big storm of September 12-13 of this year wrecked their building and caused them such financial injury that they discontinued business. Mr. Thornton again took up the study of law, and was admitted to the bar in the District Court of Nome in August, 1902.

Subsequent to this date he was associated with the Archer, Ewing Company, prominent merchants of Nome, and during 1903-'04 was the manager of their stare in Solomon. He also practiced law in Solomon. During his Alaskan career he has acquired some valuable mining property. He spent the winter of 1904-'05 in the states, and will return to Nome this season for the purpose of disposing of his interests there with the intention of locating in Chicago for the practice of law.

Mr. Thornton is a genial gentleman possessing a harmonious blending of traits of character. A mind of native brightness has been burnished by studious reading and a useful education, and the executive and moral attributes of character have been strengthened by the strenuous life of the Northland and the glaring revelations of human frailty on the frontier. A host of Alaskan friends will wish him good luck and God speed in his professional work.

Source: Nome and Seward Peninsula by R. S. Harrison. Seattle: The Metropolitan Press, 1905.




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