Historic Structures

Thornhill Plantation, Watsonia Alabama

Date added: May 9, 2016 Categories: Alabama House Plantations & Farms Mansion Colonial

Thornhill was built by the first James Innes Thornton, in 1833. It is of the Colonial type, standing upon a high hill covered with stately trees, which overlooks a wide stretch of fertile country, including several counties. It is located ten miles from Eutaw and six miles from Boligee, in Greene County, The house was built with great care by slave labor from well seasoned lumber which was cut, sawed, and hewn by hand.

The estate of Thornhill consists of 2600 acres, enclosed with a wall of stone and fence of chestnut and cedar rails. The high stone wall at the foot of the hill was built to protect the acres of deer park. Hunting was a favorite sport at Thornhill, and the sound of the horn has given signal for many a house party to ôride to hounds".

As one ascends the hill to the house there can he seen on the estate Free Hope Church, which was built for the slaves to worship in. The family attended St. Marks Episcopal Church, four miles distant in the country. The school house where the children were educated, stands on the hillside, it was used during the War Between the States for a spinning and weaving house in making clothes for the soldiers.

A minimized copy of the map of Thornhill plantation of 2600 acres as originally laid out, planned and developed by Col. James I. Thornton; this area was acquired by homesteading 160 acres on which the home was located and the balance was pre-empted from the United States and a small area of the tract purchased on the south end from Allen Glover, so as to square the plantation to a parallelogram.

Col. James I. 'Thornton was born at Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1800, and he and an older brother Harry Innes Thornton, studied law in the office of their Uncle, Judge Harry Innes in Richmond, Va., He and brother rode horse back from Virginia to Alabama and first located for the practice of law in Huntsville, Ala. Col. James I. Thornton was the first Secretary of the State of Alabama, and held this office for thirteen consecutive years; he also practiced law for several years as the partner of Governor Collier; Harry Innes Thornton practiced law at Tuscaloosa bar for several years then located at Eutaw, from there he was appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, where he served for two years and was appointed as the first federal Land Commissioner for the territory of California by President Franklin Pierce and moved Jo San Francisco.