Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
Thurston Family Family papers

Finding aid created by
Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Thurston Family Family papers,
Creator: Thurston family.
Inclusive dates: 1823-1974, and undated
Extent: 2 cubic feet (in 6 boxes)
Abstract:
Family papers include correspondence, financial, business and legal papers, photographs, daguerreotypes, photograph albums, biographical materials, scrapbooks, genealogical materials, poetry, publications, and miscellaneous.

Call number: MSS.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
250 East Preston Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: 989-774-3352
Fax: 989-774-2160
Email: clarke@cmich.edu
Website: http://clarke.cmich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Acc# 1060, 1213

Access Restrictions:

Thurston Family Family papers are open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Thurston Family Family papers are open for research., Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


Arrangement

Arrangement is by series: Genealogy, The John Gates Thurston Family, The Francis H. Thurston Family, The George Lee Thurston II Family, George Lee Thurston III, and Visual Images, then alphabetical and chronological.


History

Biography:

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.)


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Thurston Family Papers, ranging from 1823 to 1974, consist of correspondence; a diary; financial, business, and legal papers; photographs, daguerreotypes, biographical materials, and a scrapbook of advertising cards. The papers fall in to six groupings, Genealogy, The John Gates Thurston Family, The Francis H. Thurston Family, The George Lee Thurston II Family, George Lee Thurston III, and Visual Images. The folders in each grouping are arranged alphabetically.

Genealogy contains genealogical material and several drafts of The Thurston Chronicle, a history of the Thurston family, by George Lee Thurston III.

The John Gates Thurston Family material includes legal papers and records from the Massachusetts House of Representatives, an 1824 letter describing Lafayette’s visit to Alexandria, a 1836 diary of John’s trip to Chicago, Civil War letters from his son George L. Thurston I and Henry Nourse, and a passport from a trip to Europe in 1839.

The Francis H. Thurston Family material includes articles by Francis on such topics as Michigan trivia, Civil War memories, building a canvas canoe, and descriptions of the excellence of Michigan. Letters from his mother (1862, 1963) include Civil War news, details of his brother’s death following the war, and marriage advice. In an 1897 letter from his son, George, Francis learns that George had to put in a telephone because the competing lumber mill had one and was getting more business. A letter (1907) to Francis’ recently widowed daughter-in-law Lenore gives her nearly word for word financial advice given to him in 1886 by his friend E. H. Russell when William McNeil had a breakdown and nearly financially destroyed Francis.

The George Lee Thurston II Family material is more eclectic than the rest of the collection because of the variety of people and materials in this grouping. Included is correspondence of the Mohrmann family (George married Lenore Mohrmann) written in German and a German report card as well as both the original and transcript copies of William’s suicide poem “Pallida Mors.” George Lee Thurston II’s publication, the Intermediate Valley contains facts about Michigan, ads, and humorous stories. Letters from his Uncle Dud (1879, undated) are humorous and encourage George to develop his writing--both style and content. Letters written in 1879 from his boyhood friends in Ohio talk of the yellow fever epidemic and of the diphtheria epidemic in Michigan. Frederick Crandall Thurston’s (George’s son) correspondence includes letters he wrote to his family while he was looking for work in New York, 1930-1931, describing railway travel and his negative reaction to radios. The copies of the 1934 editions of the Remington News (Culpepper, Va.) indicate depression-era prices and an unusually progressive attitude (for the South) towards blacks which contrasts with an 1856 receipt for the sale of Hannah (a Negro) for $50 (the connection with the Thurston family is unclear).

Visual Images include photographs, photograph albums, daguerreotypes, and a scrapbook of advertising cards. Identified daguerreotypes and photographs include many family members and friends whose names appear in the Thurston papers. Among these are E. H. Russell, William McNeil, and Mary B. Thurston Nourse. The unidentified daguerreotypes include two images of a man with his dog and one image of a woman kissing a baby. The unidentified daguerreotypes are labeled with a number; the same number followed by a letter (ie 5a, 5b), indicates different daguerreotypes of the same person. A folder with a photograph of a Lee Thurston is in the Clarke’s Biographical Photographs File. The scrapbook includes only one Michigan advertising card, the rest being from New York (State) or other states.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Thurston, George Lee, II, 1863-1907.
    • Thurston, George Lee, III, flourished 1947-1972.
    • Thurston, John Gates, 1794-1873.
    • Thurston, Francis H., 1833-1916.
    • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de, 1757--1834.
    • Thurston family.
    • United States. Army. Illinois Infantry Regiment, 72nd (1862-1865), Company A.
    • Advertising cards--United States--History--19th century.
    • Central Lake (Mich.)--Genealogy.
    • Antrim County (Mich.)--Genealogy.
    • Illinois--Description and travel.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
     
    Thurston Family Family papers are open for research.. [series]:
    Box   1 F   1
    GENEALOGY, Charts, Lists, Short Biographies, undated
    Box   1 F   2
    GENEALOGY, Correspondence, 1971
    Box   1 F   3
    GENEALOGY, The Thurston Chronicle (folder 1 of 3), 1974, undated
    Box   1 F   4
    GENEALOGY, The Thurston Chronicle (folder 2 of 3), 1974, undated
    Box   1 F   5
    GENEALOGY, The Thurston Chronicle (folder 3 of 3), 1974, undated
    Box   2 F   1
    THE JOHN GATES THURSTON FAMILY, Civil War Letters, George L. Thurston I and Henry S. Nourse, 1862-1864
    Box   2 F   2
    THE JOHN GATES THURSTON FAMILY, Correspondence, 1824-1859
    Box   2 F   3
    THE JOHN GATES THURSTON FAMILY, Diary, Trip to Chicago, 1836
    Box   2 F   4
    THE JOHN GATES THURSTON FAMILY, Government Appointments, Legal Papers, 1823-1873
    Box   2 F   5
    THE JOHN GATES THURSTON FAMILY, Massachusetts, House of Representatives Records (copies), 1839-1856
    Box   2 F   6
    THE JOHN GATES THURSTON FAMILY, Passport, 1859
    Box   2 F   7
    THE FRANCIS H. THURSTON FAMILY, Articles, 1885-1915
    Box   2 F   8
    THE FRANCIS H. THURSTON FAMILY, Bullet Shell, Membership Card, 1866, 1896
    Box   2 F   9
    THE FRANCIS H. THURSTON FAMILY, Business Papers, 1871-1915
    Box   2 F   10
    THE FRANCIS H. THURSTON FAMILY, Correspondence, Chicago and North Michigan Railroad Company, 1891, 1894-1895
    Box   2 F   11
    THE FRANCIS H. THURSTON FAMILY, Correspondence, General, 1855-1916
    Box   2 F   12
    THE FRANCIS H. THURSTON FAMILY, Correspondence, with George Lee II, 1896-1907
    Box   2 F   13
    THE FRANCIS H. THURSTON FAMILY, Correspondence and Accounts, Fred Mohrmann, 1909-1915
    Box   2 F   14
    THE FRANCIS H. THURSTON FAMILY, Obituaries, Sympathy Notes, Legal Documents, 1907, 1916-1917
    Box   2 F   15
    THE FRANCIS H. THURSTON FAMILY, Two Gentlemen of Kentucky, by James L. Allen, 1901
    Box   2 F   16
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON II FAMILY, Wilhelm Otto Mohrmann, Civil War Ordinance Records, 1865-1866
    Box   2 F   17
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON II FAMILY, Correspondence, 1870-1899
    Box   3 F   1
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON II FAMILY, Frederick Crandall Thurston and Bernice, Book of Original Poetry, 1910
    Box   3 F   2
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON II FAMILY, Frederick Crandall Thurston and Bernice, Correspondence, 1929-1941
    Box   3 F   3
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON II FAMILY, Frederick Crandall Thurston and Bernice, Essay about Grandparents, Transcript, and Commentary, 1974, undated
    Box   3 F   4
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON II FAMILY, Frederick Crandall Thurston and Bernice, Remington News, copies, 1932
    Box   3 F   5
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON II FAMILY, Lee Mohrmann Thurston, Poems and Essay, “The Role of Education in the Development of the American Way of Life,”, 1934-1952, undated
    Box   3 F   6
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON II FAMILY, George Lee Thurston, Obituaries, Sympathy Note, 1907
    Box   3 F   7
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON II FAMILY, George Lee Thurston, Passenger List, 1852
    Box   3 F   8
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON II FAMILY, George Lee Thurston, Poems, Announcements, 1881-1902, undated
    Box   3 F   9
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON II FAMILY, George Lee Thurston, Publications, The Intermediate Valley, 1882
    Box   3 F   10
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON II FAMILY, George Lee Thurston, Publications, The Central Lake Torch, undated
    Box   3 F   11
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON II FAMILY, George Lee Thurston, Publications, How Santa Clause Came to the Willoughbys, undated
    Box   3 F   11
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON III FAMILY, Articles, Poems, 1970-1971
    Box   3 F   12
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON III FAMILY, Capitol Press Corps, Florida, 1972
    Box   3 F   13
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON III FAMILY, Florida to Arkansas by Van, Travelogue, 1974
    Box   3 F   14
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON III FAMILY, George Harrold Carswell Controversy, Articles, Research Material, Responses, 1970, 1975, undated
    Box   3 F   15
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON III FAMILY, George Harrold Carswell Controversy, White Supremacy Speech, Copy, 1948
    Box   3 F   16
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON III FAMILY, Unidentified, Business Papers, Poems, Letters, fragments, 1856-1907
    Box   3 F   17
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON III FAMILY, Unidentified, Slide Film, undated
    Box   3 F   18
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON III FAMILY, Mohrmann, Correspondence Suicide Poem, 1850-1912
    Box   3 F   19
    THE GEORGE LEE THURSTON III FAMILY, Mohrmann, List of Ships, Java, 1852
    Box   3 F   20
    VISUAL IMAGES, Photographs, John Gates and Harriet Thurston, 1846, 1866, 1903
    Box   3 F   21
    VISUAL IMAGES, Photographs, Mohrmann Family, undated
    Box   3 F   22
    VISUAL IMAGES, Photographs, David S. Crandall (aka Uncle Dud), undated
    Box   3 F   22
    VISUAL IMAGES, Photographs, George Lee Thurston I, Civil War, undated [1861-1865]
    Box   3 F   23
    VISUAL IMAGES, Photographs, Francis H. and Elizabeth Thurston in California, 1900-1901, undated
    Box   3 F   24
    VISUAL IMAGES, Photographs, Francis H. Thurston, 1912
    Box   3 F   25
    VISUAL IMAGES, Photographs, George Lee Thurston II and Family, 1900, undated
    Box   3 F   26
    VISUAL IMAGES, Photographs, Fred C. Thurston, 1907, undated
    Box   3 F   27
    VISUAL IMAGES, Photographs, George Lee Thurston II and Family, 1931-1933, 1970, undated
    Box   4 F   1
    VISUAL IMAGES, Photograph Album, Thurston Album #1, embossed cover – “Thurston” (includes: Lee M. and Jesse, 1935; Harriet Lee, undated; Harriet Elizabeth Peck, undated; George Lee Thurston I (Civil War), undated; Mary B. Thurston Nourse, undated; Harry Peck, undated; William Lee Thurston, undated; George Lee Thurston, undated; Francis H. Thurston, Undated; E. H. Russell, undated; Hattie Lee Russell, undated; E. R. Crandall, undated; William H. McNeil, undated), [1861-1865], 1935, undated
    Box   4 F   2
    VISUAL IMAGES, Photograph Album, Thurston Album #2, inscribed “To Wife, May 25, 1864," broken clasp (includes: Mrs. McNeil, undated; Elsie McNeil, undated; Mrs. E. R. Crandall, undated; David S. Crandall (aka Uncle Dud), undated; E. H. Russell, undated; Hattie Russell, undated; George Lee Thurston, undated; Mrs. Harriet Lee Thurston, undated; E. R. Crandall, undated; E. H. Russell, undated; Hattie Russell, undated), 1864, undated
    Box   4 F   3
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Harriet Thurston #1 (broken binding, broken clasp), undated
    Box   4 F   4
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Harriet Thurston #2, undated
    Box   4 F   5
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Harriet Thurston #3, undated
    Box   4 F   6
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Davis S. Crandall, and unidentified individual (broken binding), undated
    Box   4 F   7
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Unidentified individuals, #1, weak binding, broken clasp, undated
    Box   4 F   8
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Unidentified individuals, #2, undated
    Box   4 F   9
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Unidentified individuals, #3, undated
    Box   4 F   10
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Unidentified individuals, #4, two people, broken binding, 1 broken clasp, undated
    Box   5 F   1
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Unidentified individuals, #5a, female, broken glass, undated
    Box   5 F   2
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Unidentified individuals, #5b, broken binding, undated
    Box   5 F   3
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Unidentified individuals, #6a, male with dog, weak binding, undated
    Box   5 F   4
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Unidentified individuals, #6b, velvet case, broken binding, undated
    Box   5 F   5
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Unidentified individuals, #7a, broken binding, undated
    Box   5 F   6
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Unidentified individuals, #7b, very weak binding, undated
    Box   5 F   7
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Unidentified individuals, #8, infant, undated
    Box   5 F   8
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Unidentified individuals, #9, woman kissing baby, undated
    Box   5 F   9
    VISUAL IMAGES, Daguerreotype, Unidentified individuals, #10, measures three-quarters by one inch without case, undated
    Box   6 F   1
    VISUAL IMAGES, 1 Oversized volume, Scrapbook of Advertising Cards, undated [ late 19th century]