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Thornton/Joiner Family, African/Choctaw, Versailles, KY, Kerr Co., TX, FL, Mexico
Thornton/Joiner Family, African/Choctaw, Versailles, KY, Kerr Co., TX, FL, Mexico

My great-grandfather James Thornton was born a slave in March, 1835 in Versailles, Kentucky. He was owned by one of the large slaveholding families named Thornton in the Woodford County, KY area, most likely the family of a David Thornton, originally from Delaware. I am told by relatives that he was taken from his parents at an early age. He was of African and Choctaw descent. He was a Private in Company "B", 12th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, and was mustered into the Union Army at Camp Nelson, KY, on July 22, 1864. Camp Nelson was near Versailles. He was tried with a group of other soldiers for attempted mutiny and was originally sentenced to be shot by musketry. His sentence was commuted and he was then sentenced to serve time on the Dry Tortugas off the coast of Florida.

He married and had two sons Abe and Clarence. I have no knowledge of his first wife's name or what became of her. James, along with his two sons, migrated to Kerr County, Texas sometime in the late 1860s. Once in Texas, he became one of the first Black landowners in Kerr County and married Adeline Joiner (also a former slave originally from Tallahassee, Florida) in 1871. My great-grandmother Adeline had migrated to Kerr County with my great-great grandmother Mahala Blanks and Mahala's brother Theodore. She told my great-aunt Edna that she was thirteen when Emancipation came to Texas.

My great-grandparents had twelve children. One of them, Daniel (my grandfather), migrated to Guadalajara, Mexico in 1901, where he learned fluent Spanish and became a foreman on the railroad. Having proficiency in both languages, my grandfather acted as a liaison between the Mexican workers and White railroad management. He met and married my grandmother Trancito Perez de Ruiz, who was from San Jose de Gracia, Sinaloa. My grandmother was a cook in the army of General Elias Calles during the Mexican Revolution. In later life she was ordained a minister in the Mexican Methodist Church. My grandparents came back to the United States in 1914 and settled in Nogales, Arizona.

One of their ten children, Lydia Esther, is my mother. She was the first woman in Nogales to enlist during World War II. She was in the 6888th CPD (Central Postal Directory) also known as the Black WACs. They were an all-black women's regiment which served in England and France. She met and married my father, Alfred S. Moore and they had three children. My mother, now retired, became a bilingual teacher in Los Angeles.

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