George Wade Thornton
George Wade Thornton was my great grandfather Nonie’s brother. Wade (as he was called for most of life) was a little more nebulous than some of the other siblings. His father’s obituary in 1941 mentioned Wade living in Marion, West Virginia and I didn’t think anything of it – until I examined the 1940 census. I was startled to see he was listed as an inmate at Southwestern Mental Hospital.
I was able to obtain Wade’s medical record from the hospital – 89 pages of clinical notes, medical exams, interviews, and legal documents. Not only did the record reveal many intimate details about Wade’s mental illness, which turned out to be due to syphilis, it also included transcribed interviews with him, his father (my gg grandfather) George Washington Thornton, and one of Wade’s uncles Dave Thornton. The documents also confirmed the full name my great grandfather Giles Monroe (his brother), which I had only recently figured out because he went by his nickname Nonie (see more about that in another chapter).
Reading the doctor’s clinical notes and interviews was both chilling and fascinating, and they revealed details about Wade and some of his family life. I was reminded of that universal wish of all genealogists to be able to go back in time and interview your g grandparents – here it was in print.
DNA UPDATE: Because Wade was in the mental hospital when Daisy’s son Charlie Lee was born, I always suspected that Wade was not the father despite Daisy’s claim that he was. Charlie’s granddaughter Sandra recently took a DNA test, and based on the results, I have concluded that Wade was NOT Charles’ father. Using trees from matches to Sandra, I believe Charles Lee Richards was Charles Lee’s father. I found several 2nd and 3rd cousin matches with the Richards name. This surname is not on Sandra’s mother’s side at all, which means they have to be on her paternal side. Charles Lee Richards was separated from his wife at the time, and was from the Pulaski and Montgomery County area, so may have known the Roops. He also named a son Charles Lee with a later wife (suggesting he did not know about Daisy’s baby). The coincidence is too great to ignore. Further evidence is the fact that Sandra and I should be 2nd cousins if Wade was her grandfather. However, the DNA says we are 5-8th cousins. This connection is actually through Daisy – her grandmother was Emily Thornton, the granddaughter of my gggg grandfather Thomas Thornton. It’s coincidence that Daisy and Wade were actually distant cousins so that Sandra and I are still related even though Wade was not her grandfather.