Abner Powers

This post began with an attempt to understand the family photo with the date 1902 on the reverse and a list of first names.  Who were these men and what was the event that brought them together?  I had thought it might be the death of Wesley Powers, hero of the Civil War, who died very late in 1902.   Wesley was a cousin of Helen Thornton, Shirley’s grandmother.

Then I came on a story about Abner Powers born in 1760 and a hero of the War of Independence.  Abner Powers lived in Canada for many years, arriving in Eaton, Quebec in about 1796,  but died in St. Charles, Kane County Illinois at the age of 91.  Over the years his grave became neglected and perhaps during a bout of national spirit and rediscovery of the War of Independence a movement arose to rebuild Abner’s grave.   A 30’ monument was erected and unveiled on July 4, 1902.  According to newspapers of the day 30,000 people attended and special trains ran from many directions to bring in people.  Would this have been the event some of the Powers and Thorntons gathered for and had their photo taken?   Could they all have  been men from Ontario?  First, who was Abner Powers?

Abner Powers was the uncle of Nathaniel Hart Powers (born 1787) – grandfather of Helen Thornton – and brother of Nathaniel Powers (born 1754).  Abner joined the military at age 15 and saw many of the famous battles of the war of Independence.  For some reason he and his wife Sabra and son Manly (born 1789) arrived in Quebec in 1796 and stayed until late 1811, leaving to avoid the war of 1812 – his son probably fought in this war on the American side.   He did return to Canada as he is listed as living in Eaton, Quebec in 1832 and in Clarke Township, Ontario in 1842.  He returned to the USA in 1844 where he lived with his son Manly and died in September, 1852.     His son Manly and his wife Roxana Caldwell had a child named Lucinda Manly Powers who was born in Canada in 1821.   She married James Powers (born 1818 in Canada) the son of Nathaniel Hart Powers, making these two Powers families very closely related.   Their son Wesley Powers was born in Canada in 1845 and he and his father’s family moved to the USA just prior to the Civil War and Wesley was to become a hero and earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The men in the photo according to notes on the reverse, which I am not sure are to be trusted:  See Photo. Thomas (look like Thomas Powers), John (there was a John Thornton still living in USA), Charles (perhaps this is Charles Jonas Thornton), George (there was a George Thornton still living in USA), Edgar.  I also think Benjamin Thornton and Jonas Thornton are among the men.  Could the Edgar be Charles Edgar Thornton, son of Jonas.   I don’t think so as he would be too young.

I now have a copy of Wesley’s obituary and it gives a detailed list of family members from out of town.  It does confirm that Thomas Powers was there (although late) as was Ulysses Thornton; Jonas Thornton, cousin James Powers; Ambrose Powers; perhaps Simon Powers and Henry Larue Powers; and many members of the DeWitt family (Wesley’s daughter married a DeWitt).  But none of this  confirms that the photo we have was from the funeral.


Nathaniel Powers – Nathaniel Powers – Nathaniel Hart Powers – James Powers- Wesley

Nathaniel Powers – Abner Powers – Manly Powers – Lucinda Powers – Wesley J.

Manly is buried next to his father.

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2 Responses to Abner Powers

  1. Beverly Jett says:

    I would like to have any information on Alma Powers, d/o Manly Powers.

    • Gary says:

      I’m sorry Beverly, I don’t have further information. According to my records Manly Powers was married to Roxanne Caswell (or perhaps Caldwell) and they had two kids: Their daughter Lucinda Manly Powers had at least one child – Wesley J. Powers — and Amanda Powers (not sure of this). If you have further information which would perhaps help clarify this I would appreciate it. You can find further information on Wesley Powers on this site.

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