Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Lucy Smith Crittenden Thornton Papers: Finding Aid
mssHM 68280-68322  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (83.25 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing: Subjects
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Lucy Smith Crittenden Thornton Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1856-1869
    Collection Number: mssHM 68280-68322
    Creator: Thornton, Lucy Smith Crittenden.
    Extent: 43 items in 1 box
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains 43 letters of Lucy Smith Crittenden Thornton (1802-1885), wife of United States Government Land Commissioner in California Harry Innes Thornton (1797-1861), chiefly to her son attorney Harry Innes Thornton, Jr., as well as other Thornton family members. Even though the letters chiefly deal with family matters and the Thorntons' social lives in San Francisco and Oakland, California, many of the letters also discuss the social conditions in the post-Civil War South and family friends who left the South because of failing plantations.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Lucy Smith Crittenden Thornton Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Purchased from Carmen Valentino, November 26, 2004.

    Biographical Note

    Lucy Smith Crittenden Thornton (1802-1885), sister of Kentucky Senator John J. Crittenden, was married to Harry Innes Thornton (1797-1861), Judge of the Supreme Court of Alabama. The couple had four children: Harry Innes Thornton, Jr., Bessie Thornton, Margaret Thornton Fall, and Sarah (Sallie) Thornton. In 1849 the Thorntons moved to San Francisco, California after President Fillmore appointed Harry Innes Thornton Government Land Commissioner. Harry Innes Thornton, Jr., became an attorney and politician. Although the Thorntons lived in California, the family remained loyal to Alabama and the South and when the Civil War began Harry Innes Thornton, Jr., resigned his position as California State Senator, traveled to Alabama and joined the 58th Alabama Infantry. After the war, Harry Innes Thornton, Jr., lived in Texas, Montana, Utah, Nevada, and California while he continued to practice law, specializing in mining litigation and criminal defense. The younger Thornton married his cousin Katherine Marshall Thornton in 1868.


    Thornton, Harry Innes, Jr. “Recollections of the War by a Confederate Officer from California.” Southern California Quarterly 1963 45(3): 195-218.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of 43 letters. Thirty of the 43 letters are from Lucy Smith Crittenden Thornton to her son Harry Innes Thornton, Jr. The remaining letters are written by other Thornton family members including (piece counts in parenthesis): Bessie Thornton (3), Sarah Thornton (2), Margaret Thornton Fall (1), Katherine Marshall Thornton (2), Harry I. Thornton, Jr. (3), and Ann Mary [last name unknown] (2). Even though the letters chiefly deal with family matters and the Thorntons' social lives in San Francisco and Oakland, California, many of the letters also discuss the social conditions in the post- war South and family friends who left the South because of failing plantations. The Thorntons also comment upon the numerous “Yankees” with whom they have to socialize after the war. The family also mentions the freedmen in the South, Jefferson Davis, the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, and politics in California. The 3 letters by Harry I. Thornton, Jr., discuss his travels in the American Southwest, his legal career, and specific court cases with which he was involved. Harry I. Thornton, Sr., is mentioned briefly in one letter.


    Arranged chronologically.

    Indexing: Subjects

    Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1889. Subject in Lucy Smith Crittenden Thornton letter (1866, Aug. 6) to Harry I. (Harry Innes) Thornton, 1834-1895. HM 68295.
    Johnson, Andrew, 1808-1875, Impeachment. Subject in Harry I. (Harry Innes) Thornton, 1834-1895 letter (1868, Mar. 21) to Lucy Smith Crittenden Thornton.
    Thornton, Harry I. (Harry Innes), 1797-1861. Subject in Bessie Thornton letter (1856, Sep. 18) to Harry I. (Harry Innes) Thornton, 1834-1895. HM 68280.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Crittenden, John J. (John Jordan), 1787-1863 -- Family -- Correspondence.
    Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1889.
    Johnson, Andrew, 1808-1875 -- Impeachment.
    Thornton, Harry I. (Harry Innes), 1797-1861.
    Thornton, Lucy Smith Crittenden.
    Freedmen -- Southern States -- History -- Sources.
    Lawyers -- West (U.S.)
    Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877) -- Public opinion -- Sources.
    Veterans -- Confederate States of America.
    Women -- California -- Correspondence.
    California -- Politics and government -- 19th century.
    California -- Social life and customs.
    Oakland (Calif.) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
    San Francisco (Calif.) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
    Southern States -- Social conditions -- 19th century -- Sources.
    United States -- Politics and government -- 19th century.


    Letters (correspondence) -- California -- 19th century.

    Additional Contributors

    Thornton, Harry I. (Harry Innes), 1834-1895.