The Thornton Historical Society is pleased to announce a book signing by author Michael Hofer entitled “Lightning Bugs and The Harvest: A look back at life in the baby boomers beginning years.” Hofer, who grew up in Thornton, based this book on his experiences there.

This was “A time like none before, prosperity, healing, fear, excitement, new technology, and social frontiers moving. Wars, protests, and rock and roll and more children running around than ever. Discovering and taking on the world, in a small town in the Midwest in the late 1960s while in the last year of childhood.”

Everyone is welcome to come and meet the author on May 7, 2022 from 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM at the Thornton Historical Museum. Mike would be happy to reminisce and sign your book. Books are available from in Kindle, Paperback and Hardcover. There will be a limited number for purchase that day from the author. Proceeds from the sale of Kindle and paperback copies to benefit the Thornton Historical Society.

The museum is located at 114 N. Hunter Street in Thornton. Everyone is welcome.

Village of Thornton Historical Society presents:

I&M CANAL BOAT TRIP/LUNCH Saturday, September 10, 2022

Everyone 18 and over is welcome to join us on an historic journey into Illinois’ scenic past! We will visit the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Area and take a journey back in time aboard the “Volunteer,” a mule-pulled 1840’s replica canal boat, as it coasts gently up and down the Illinois & Michigan Canal. On this one-hour long tour, a period-dressed guide will regale everyone with tales of the canal while the deck hand, mule tender and boat captain guide the boat one mile up the canal to the Little Vermillion aqueduct and back.

After our tour we will enjoy a private buffet lunch at the Lock 16 Café featuring: Baked Lemon Herb Chicken, potatoes au gratin, tossed salad, broccoli cheddar soup, signature apple cake, and a beverage bar of water, coffee, and iced tea. Other beverages and treats from the café are also available. The Lock 16 gift shop offers plenty of unique treasures!

WHO: Anyone 18 years and older

WHAT: I&M mule-pulled canal boat ride/lunch buffet

WHERE: Meet at Public parking lot in Thornton SE corner of Blackstone and Harriet Streets. (In back of Thornton Distilling Co.)

WHEN: Meet 8:30 a.m., Saturday, September 10, 2022

HOW: Travel by Coach bus with reclining seats and restroom

COST: $80 includes transportation by Coach bus, snack, boat ride, lunch and all gratuities.

You must reserve your seat in order to go! Please email to be added to our list. Please do not send checks unless you have a reservation.

TICKETS: Payment due by July 1, 2022. Limit 55 people, first come-first served basis. Sorry, no refunds.

Your itinerary for September 10th would be as follows:

9:00 AM: Depart Thornton, IL

11:15 AM: Arrive at Lock 16 Visitor Center to check in

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM: I&M Canal Boat Tour

12:45 PM: Lunch Buffet at the Lock 16 Visitor Center

1:45 PM: Shop and explore

2:30 PM: Depart for home

Please contact us if you have any questions:

  • V.T.H.S.


Membership renewal is from January to March 1st. Please encourage your friends to join. We are always happy to have new members. Our bylaws have been changed to reflect an increase in membership dues as follows:

Individual Member $ 15 Life Member $150

Youth (18 & under) $ 5 Organization $ 45

Make checks payable to Village of Thornton Historical Society and mail to PO Box 34, Thornton, IL 60476. A form may be downloaded at


· 1931 Illinois License Plate

· 33-1/3 Album "Live from the Golden Horseshoe" artist: Emil Pratscher 1969

· 3 bottle caps "Old Fashioned Lager Beer"

· Unopened 16 oz. bottle of RC Cola from Koch's (Eddie & Ray’s) Market 1968-69

· Covid Pinback

· 50ml bottle Dead Drop Pecan Whiskey produced by Thornton Distilling Co.


The museum is open the First and Third Saturdays January-April from 1:00pm to 3:00m or by appointment. Call 708-877-6569. Please sign up at our next meeting to be a docent or to provide refreshments for a meeting.


February 28 at 7:00 p.m. General Meeting – Illinois Trivia Party with Elaine Egdorf

March 28 at 7:00 p.m. General Meeting – Program: “Watseka” by George Pat Godfrey

April 25 at 7:00 p.m. General Meeting – Program: “Foods of Our Forefathers” by Peg Kapustiak

Beginning May 7, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Museum open every Saturday through October

May 9 at 5:30 p.m. Annual Dinner Meeting (Location TBD)

GIFTSHOP: Our giftshop has unique items such as Thornton Coverlets, T-shirts, Quarry and Brewery history books, photo notecards and much more. They make great gifts!

DONORS: Our sincere thanks to the following people and businesses who have made generous monetary donations to the Historical Society: Skyline Furniture, Sally Cooper Harth & Ray Altmann.

NEWS: Please check our Historical Society website for news, Questions, comments or photos please email For those of you on Facebook, the Historical Society has a page and there are also many old photos posted on a Facebook page called The Real Thornton, Illinois.

HOLIDAY RECAP: Our Holiday Open House was a huge success and a very festive event. A full house of folks attended and enjoyed our homemade treats and Santa Claus. We sold many items from our gift shop and realized approximately $260 from our raffle of items from the Thornton Distillery. Proceeds benefited the Thornton Historical Society.


General. W. F. Thornton was born in Virginia in 1789, and moved to Shelbyville, Illinois in 1834. He accomplished much in his lifetime, held many notable positions and was active in politics. His service as one of the original members of the Board of Commissioners of the Illinois and Michigan Canal led to his association with Gurdon Hubbard and John H. Kinzie, the men who would go on to found our village. Thornton became president of the canal board, Hubbard served as treasurer, and Kinzie was toll collector and an inspector for Chicago. In this time before railroads, when canals were vital modes of transportation, the I & M Canal project sought to provide a direct water link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River that would shift the center of Midwestern trade from St. Louis to Chicago. When a financial crisis halted work on the canal and threatened its completion, Thornton traveled with bonds to London where he secured the financing necessary to rescue the project.

Gen. William Fitzhugh Thornton

An early biography of General Thornton describes him as a forcible, logical speaker and a walking budget of facts and statistics. He was thought to have read more and know more than anyone else. In business he was prompt to meet his engagements. Acquaintances have described him as a charitable man of an exceedingly social disposition with whom it was a genuine pleasure to meet.

Local historians have long believed that Kinzie and Hubbard held Thornton in such high regard that they named our village in his honor. Williams Street (originally platted as “William” Street) may be a nod to the General’s first name. Today a photo of General W. F. Thornton hangs in our village hall where he can inspire greatness in our local dealings.