Dozier Thornton

File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:
Joy Fisher January 31, 2005, 4:18 pm

Author: J. H. Campbell


The subject of this notice was also a Virginian. Lunenburg county was the
place of his birth, which occurred April 14th, 1755. His father's name was Mark
Thornton, and his mothers Susannah Dozier. The former was a High Churchman and
the latter a Baptist. In youth he was fond of playing on the violin and other
instruments. When he left the paternal roof, he engaged in the business of
overseeing in the upper part of North Carolina, where he had opportunities of
hearing the gospel from the lips of a Baptist minister of the name of Lunsford.
The word was sanctified to his conviction, and after enduring great distress of
mind for several weeks, he was enabled to embrace Christ as his Saviour while
following his plough in the field. He immediately ungeared his horse, went to
the house of his employer, (a widow woman,) and told her and the family of the
great things God had done for his soul. He then asked permission to talk to the
servants, which being granted, he exhorted them to forsake their sins and turn
to God. Thus he began to preach Jesus before he joined the church. He was
baptized by Elder Lunsford, and soon thereafter ordained by him and others.

He soon extended his labors far and wide, and preached incessantly. Several
churches were raised up as the fruits of his early labors. After his marriage to
a Miss Hill, he removed to Georgia and settled in Elbert county, about the year
1784. The brethren in North Carolina whom he left so reluctantly, obtained a
promise from him to visit them as often as possible. He accordingly made several
tours back to the old North State, in one of which he experienced a gracious
revival in one of his old churches and baptized a considerable number. During
his journeys to and from North Carolina, many things occurred which are worthy
of being recorded. A few of these only can we introduce here. Stopping at a
house one evening, where he intended to pass the night, he saw some signs which
led him to inquire of his host "If the family had been to meeting?" "Yes." "To a
Baptist meeting?" "No, they are a people that I hate; I would not give house
room to any of them." "You must, then, turn, me out of doors, for I am a
Baptist. But what objections have you to the Baptists?" "They are an ignorant
people, and I will not come down so low as to talk to them." His horse was
immediately brought out, and our preacher left the inhospitable abode of his
Episcopal landlord.

On another occasion, he met a female near one of his appointments, whom he
asked, "Have you heard of meeting at such a place?" "Yes." "Are you not going?"
"No, I can't go; I have no shoes to wear." Having passed her a short distance,
it occurred to him that he had but one dollar; yet, as the scripture came to his
mind, "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord," he turned around, and
calling the woman, gave her that one dollar, telling her to buy herself shoes
and go to meeting hereafter—then went on his way with a light heart. He was then
three hundred miles from home, and not a cent in his pocket. Having reached his
appointment and preached, however, his brethren (who knew nothing of his want of
funds,) presented him with four dollars.

Late one evening he rode up to a house. The woman was engaged in milking cows.
The first salutation was, "I say, good woman, are you a Christian?" "I hope so?"
Having obtained her husband's consent to pass the night with them, he alighted.
Supper over, he asked the woman to give a reason for the hope she professed. She
related a sound Christian experience, whereupon he inquired, ""Why have you not
been baptized?" "It is what I have greatly desired, but there is no church
within some forty miles of us, and I have as yet had no opportunity to obey the
Saviour's command in this matter." "Are you willing for me to baptize you now?"
"Yes, by all means." A torch was soon prepared by her husband; they three
repaired to a creek some half a mile distant, where he buried this believing
woman in baptism. The next morning he left with her a certificate of her baptism
and proceeded on his tour.

The same day he came in sight of a fine dwelling, discoverable through a
beautiful avenue, shaded with trees on either side. A strong impression came
upon his mind to go up to the house and pray for its inhabitants. Without
hesitation, he turned up the avenue. The lady came to the door, to whom he
promptly stated his errand. She kindly invited him to alight and come in, and
though neither she nor any of the family made any pretensions to religion, the
strange preacher was treated with great respect. The husband being absent, the
lady, two sons and two daughters, with the domestics, listened to the good man's
exhortation, his song, and bowed with him in prayer, while he fervently plead
with God on their behalf. This done, he bade them farewell and departed,
expecting to see them no more this side of the eternal world. Several months
afterwards, two strange young men came into Elbert county, inquiring for Rev.
Dozier Thornton, who proved to be the sons of the family above referred to, and
who, with their mother and sisters, had, by his visit, all been awakened to a
sense of their lost condition as sinners, had been hopefully converted, and had
now traveled all the way from North Carolina to seek baptism at the hands of him
whose prayer had been answered in their salvation. They were accordingly
baptized, and returned homewards rejoicing.

For a time, in connection with Thomas Johnson and Littleton Meeks, he acted as
a missionary to the Cherokee Indians.

A flourishing church, situated on Hightower river, was constituted and kept up
among them until their emigration to the West. In this service he endured great
deprivations and hardships. Once he and Littleton Meeks lost their way among the
mountains, and after traveling until a late hour at night, they were compelled
to take up in the woods, without fire or food, and wait for the dawning of the
day. They were prevented from closing their eyes in sleep by the barking of the
foxes and the howling of wolves.

The churches at Dover's creek and Van's creek were raised up under his
ministry soon after he came to Georgia, of which he was pastor near forty years,
with the exception of about twenty months, which he spent in Kentucky. He
removed to that State with a view to a permanent residence, but soon became
convinced that he was not acting under the guidance of Providence, and returned
to his old neighborhood in Elbert county, where he spent the remainder of his
life. It is related of him that on one of his journeys to Kentucky he fell in
with a family among the mountains, living in a small, fertile valley, which was
thickly settled by a most irreligious community. Finding out that he was a
preacher, they invited him to stop for the night, promising that they would blow
the horn in a certain manner, which would cause the neighbors to collect, when
he could preach to them. He was the more willing to comply when he was assured
there had not been a sermon preached among them for twelve years. About sunset
the horn was accordingly blown, and he had a congregation of about thirty, to
whom he dispensed the word. The most of them were much affected and begged him
to leave an appointment for his return. He accordingly agreed to preach to them
again on a certain evening on his way home. When he did return, however, it was
with several other travelers, with whom he was desirous to keep company through
the Indian nation, as it was perilous to pass through that region alone. As they
would not wait, however, he permitted them to leave him behind. His meeting in
the valley of the mountains was one of so much interest, that he concluded to
continue waiting upon the Lord several days. He accordingly held a protracted
meeting, baptized a goodly number of believers, whom he constituted into a
church. With one of their number, who seemed to possess a gift for teaching, he
left his Bible and hymn book, admonishing him and his brethren to continue
faithful unto death.

About a year afterwards, Mr. Thornton, after spending a restless night, rose
early one morning and told his wife he must go and see his children whom he had
left in the wilderness. The same day he was on the road. When he reached the
valley, to his surprise he found the people had erected a comfortable house for
the worship of God, and that many others had experienced saving grace through
the instrumentality of him with whom he had left his Bible and hymn book. This
brother Mr. Thornton ordained, the new converts were baptized, they were all
commended to the care of the Good Shepherd, and he bade them farewell, to see
their faces no more on earth.

He raised eight sons and eleven daughters, all of whom are members of the
church except one. Rev. Reuben Thornton, an excellent minister, was one of his
children. He departed this life in Franklin county, in this State, in September,
1843, in the ninetieth year of his age.

Additional Comments:



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by
In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

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From: "jeanthorntonjohnson"
Sent: Wednesday, October 25, 2006 6:17 AM
Subject: Re: [THORNTON] Dozier Thornton

> Mary Ann,
> Will the following quotation help?
> It is from a well documented book from orginal sources by Virginia and
> Oscar
> Bizzell, c1997 titled: REVOLUTIONARY WAR RECORDS Duplin and Sampson
> Counties, North Carolina. Published by the Sampson County Historical
> Society.
> Thornton, Dozier, Private, N.C. Militia
> Soldier was born 14 April 1755 in Lunenburg County, VA. Before the war
> started he had moved to the upper reaches of old Duplin County. He
> enlisted
> in a company of militia in Maj. David Dodds battallion.
> On 16 Feb. 1776 he married Lucy Elizabeth Hill of Goochland County, Va.
> Their children were: 1. Jeremiah born 2 Oct. 1777 who married Elizabeth
> Allen 2. Benjamin born 12 Oct. 1779 who married 1st Sarah Upshaw and 2nd
> Rebecca Cook. 3. Reubin born 16 Feb. 1783 who became a preacher and
> married
> three times, 1st Frances Richardson, 2nd Elizabeth Walker and 3rd Fannie
> Forney. 4. Dozier Jr. born 1785 who married Nancy Allen. 5. Evans who
> married Mourning Adams. 6. Martha Ann "Patsy" born 1789 who married
> Samuel
> Adams. 7. Pricilla [no info] 8. Jonathan born 1793 who married Martha G.
> McMasters. 9. Elizabeth born 4 Nov. 1795 who married Rubin Maxwell. 10.
> Green H. born 1796 who married Rhoda S_____. 11. Lucy who married Jeremiah
> S. Warren. and 12. Sanford born 1798 who married Susannah McMasters.
> The family moved to Elbert County, GA about 1800. Lucy died there 28
> Jan
> 1825 and the soldier married again in Apr. 1826 to Mrs. Jane Pullman. It
> is
> said there were 21 children born into this family but we were unable to
> find
> details about all of them.
> Soldier died 12 Sept. 1843 in Franklin, Co. GA
> am aware that there are genealogies that do link them.
> That is understandable since they were both in Duplin County NC in 1776.
> Jean Thornton Johnson from North Carolina






While Petersburg and the Savannah River section were fast developing the remainder of the territory comprising the new County of Elbert also began to flourish. Settlements sprang up almost over night, and with this mecurial activity horse racing, cock fighting, turkey shoots, gaming and fox hunting became the order of the day. Briefly, and very briefly indeed, did such a state of affairs continue unchallenged, for in 1784, when General George Mathews came to Georgia he was accompanied by the Reverend Dozier Thornton.

Perhaps in all the annals of Georgia Baptist history there has never been a more interesting character than Dozier Thornton. In a degree he was, perhaps, fanatical, but his sincerity cannot be questioned. He was born in Virginia in the year 1765, the son of Mark Thornton and Susannah Dozier (daughter of Leonard Dozier, born 1710, will probated in Lunnenburg County, Virginia, 1787).

His father was a staunch member of the Church of England, or as it became known in America, the High Church. His mother was an early convert to the Anabaptist Society.

While still a young man he left his home in Virginia to seek his fortune in the newer colony of North Carolina. Shortly after his arrival there he was converted to the Baptist faith by a preacher named Lunsford.

For a time, wavering between his conscience and the teachings of a stern father, he declined baptism, but immediately began preaching, a minister without a pulpit, to anyone who would listen.

In a few weeks, however, his conscience proved victorious over the training of his father and he was immersed by Lunsford to enter the ministry of the Baptist Church in which he spent the remainder of a long life. He established several churches in North Carolina and they grew with startling rapidity. Shortly after the close of the Revolution, in which he fought with bravery, he migrated to Georgia. He married Miss Lucy (Elizabeth) Hill who accompanied him on his perilous journey. Throughout the entire trip he preached in every settlement through which he passed and made many converts.

Before the act of the Georgia Legislature was passed creating the County of Elbert, Dozier Thornton was busily engaged in preaching throughout the entire area of Wilkes County.

For a time he and Middleton Meeks served as missionaries to the Cherokee Indians. Neither Thornton nor Meeks evidenced the least fear upon entering the most hostile Indian town and never once were they molested. It was during this period that David Van, the famous Chief of the Cherokees, was converted by the preaching of Thornton and they became fast friends.

The first important act of Dozier Thornton, in Georgia, was the establishment of Vans Creek Baptist Church, named in honor of his Indian friend. This event took place early in 1785, and Van's Creek became the sixth church of the Baptist faith to be established in all Georgia. It was antedated by Kiokee in Columbia County, established by David Marshall in 1772; New Savannah, established 1773; Little Brier Creek, established 1777; Fishing Creek, in Wilkes County, established 1783, and Upton's Creek, established 1784. In point of continuous service Van's Creek is the oldest church of the Baptist denomination in Georgia.

The original members of Van's Creek were: Dozier Thornton Sr., Lucy (Elizabeth) Thornton, Elizabeth Thornton Jr., William ffirnold, first deacon and clerk; Susan Arnold, Nathan Morgan, Elizabeth Morgan, Thomas Gilbert, John White, and Milly White. John White was a licensed Baptist preacher, but had not been formally ordained at this period.

In October, 1788, Thornton established Dove's Creek Baptist Church, four miles west of Elberton, and in the same year Thomas Maxwell was the moving spirit in the raising of Falling Creek Baptist Church which is still flourishing three miles south of Elberton.

After his resignation as pastor of Van's Creek Church, Thornton made numerous trips into the wilds of Kentucky where he established several churches which are today in a thriving condition. These trips were invariably made alone, on horse back, through the unpopulated wilderness.

News October 25, 2007

SARS to hold two dedication services Nov. 3

The Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution, the Samuel Elbert Chapter SAR, the PineyWoods Chapter from Texas SAR, the Stephen Heard Chapter NSDAR, and the John Benson NSDAR announces a dedication of two revolutionary war soldiers.

Michael Gaar, who served in Virginia, traveled after the American Revolution to Elbert County in the 1780's or 1790's with a wagon train which most probably included RS John Rucker and his son, Joseph Rucker (first millionaire in Georgia) who settled Ruckersville. This service begins at 11:00 am at the Van's Creek Baptist Church in Ruckersville on Saturday, November 3. Guest are welcome. Lunch will be served at the Cedar Grove Plantation at 12:30 p.m. RSVP for lunch. Call 706-283-1627.

The second dedication at the Van's Creek Baptist Church will occur at 2:30 p.m. and will include the Revolutionary War Soldier Dozier Thornton who served also as a pastor for over 40 years at the Van's Creek Baptist Church which he established in 1785. All Dozier Thornton descendants are invited to attend this dedication service. If you plan to lay a wreath call 706-283-1627 to get your name on the list.

DEED BOOK O p. 177

Aug 29, 1781

This Indentre made this 29th day of August in the year of our lord One Thousand Seven
Hundred and Eighty One Between Dozer Thornton of the County of Wake & State of N
Carolina of the one part and George Taylor of the County of Granville of the other part
Witnesseth that the sd Dozier Thornton for & in consideration of the Sum of Ten
Thousand pounds, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged hath given granted and
sold & by these presents do give grant bargain & sell align Convey and warrant unto this
George Taylor one Certain tract or parcel of Land Situate lying and Being in the County
aforesaid and State aforesaid & on the Middle prong of the Beaverdam Creek butted and
bounded as follows to wit Beginning at a hickory & running No 20 Degrees E Eighty
Seven pols to a hickory McCullohs Corner thence his line north thirty deg E eighty five
poles to a white Oak thence his other line No 42 Deg W 80 poles to pine thence his line W 56 E thirty four poles to two pinnes Fullers Corner thence his line No Eighty Eight
poles crossing the Indian branch 3 times to a gum and R. Oak thence W two Hndred
poles to a white Oak ____ thence So three Hundred and Twenty Six poles to a W. Oak
thence Es to the first Stattion containing three hundred acres being the land which the sd
Dozer Thornton obtained a Deed for dated the first day of March one thousand seven
hundred and Eighty to have and to hold the sd bargained Land and premises together with
all the benefits privileges and appertenances thereunto belonging to the sd George
Taylor his heirs and assigns forever and the sd Dozier Thornton doth for himself his
heirs and assigns covenant to and with the sd George Taylor that he will forever warrant
the bargained premises against the lawfull claim or claims of him the sd Dozer Thornton
his heirs or assigns _____ _______ person or persons whatsoever and that he will at any
time hereafter Make & execute any lawfull deed or deeds act or acts for the mon (?) sum
making and confirming this bargain’d land & premises George Taylor his heirs &
assigns thereat his or their council _______ shall dev____ or advise In witness hereof
this Dozer Thornton hath hereunto set his hand and affixed his seal this day and date
above signed sealed and delivered in presence of

John Reeves, Jurat

Dozer Thornton