The earliest known ancestor of the Thurston family came to America from Kent County, England between 1635 and 1638. The early Thurstons lived in Massachusetts, where John Gates Thurston (1794-1873) was a politician, serving both in the Senate and the House of Representatives. He worked towards bettering the plight of the insane in his state and, ironically, died in an insane asylum, although nothing is known about the circumstances.
One of his sons, George Lee I, served in the Civil War, fought in the battle of Shiloh, and died of dysentery contracted during his service. His boyhood friend and comrade in arms, Henry S. Nourse, married George’s widow, Mary, and raised his two sons.
John’s other son, Francis Thurston (1833-1916) moved to Illinois in 1855 and then to Central Lake, Antrim County, Michigan, in 1879. There he began a merchandise and lumbering business. Following in a family tradition, he was a journalist, writing for Forest and Stream Magazine, The Sportsmen’s Review, and the Michigan Tradesman, sometimes using the pen name Kingfisher of Kelpie. Francis was influential in the development of his community, especially convincing the Chicago and North Michigan Railroad to extend to Central Lake.
Influenced by his father and encouraged by his Uncle Dud, Francis’ son, George Lee Thurston II (1863-1907), wanted to be a journalist. At age 19 he worked for the Mancelona Herald and began his own monthly publication, the Intermediate Valley. By 1833, however, George Lee Thurston gave up publishing to help his father with the store. In 1886 he began writing again and freelanced in various publications. Meanwhile, Francis left for milder climates, trying California and settling in Florida. George remained in Central Lake, working for the growth of the town in the face of increasing competition from Bellaire and East Jordan. He built a cannery (1902) to create employment.
George married Lenore Mohrmann, daughter of German immigrant William Mohrmann, who served in the Civil War and who, in 1912, crippled and depressed, wrote “Pallida Mors” and shot himself.
Little is known about George’s sons, Lee Mohrmann (1896- ) and Frederick Crandall (1894- ) except that Lee was involved in education and Frederick was a journalist. Frederick’s son, George Lee Thurston III was a journalist as well, serving as part of the Capital Press Corps, Florida. (This information is from the collection.)