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Anna was raised in the far north of Providence County, Rhode Island, probably on a farm on Great Road north of what is now Slatersville. In 1807 she moved with her husband and younger children to New Bedford. They probably lived at the corner of Seventh and School Streets until Elisha died in 1816. It may have been then that she moved back to Smithfield, where she was enumerated in the 1820 census.1 There were two younger women with her, probably her single daughters Lydia and Hannah. Her brother Moses is listed next to her in the census by himself, but it's likely he was in the same house, although keeping a separate household. It's tempting to think they moved back to take care of Anna's widowed father and were living in his house, but if so, he wasn't enumerated there in 1820. Otherwise, there's no obvious reason why she moved other than that she preferred it to New Bedford. Grandson Daniel Ricketson reminisced about a boyhood visit there, and mentioned that his close Read relatives lived nearby. The census puts his grand uncle George close to Anna, and this cluster appears to have lived in the same area as her father, as well as where the Thorntons were before they went to New Bedford. It's possible Elisha owned a house there and kept it after he moved, and that's where Anna went after he died. Deeds need to be seen to find out who owned what and where at that point. By 1820 father John was probably living with his daughter Hannah Smith in what was Mendon, Massachusetts, a neighboring town to Smithfield. He died and was buried there in 1823.
     Anna was buried in the local Friends cemetery, the "Upper Friends Yard" in what is now Woonsocket. She must have chosen not to be buried next to her husband in New Bedford. No stone for Anna was found on a site visit to Woonsocket, but it may be hidden or partially buried amidst thick leaf cover and underbrush. Her brother George's, Anson's and David's stones are still visible there. Unless she was given a grave marker, she certainly isn't in New Bedford.

children of Anna Read and Elisha Thornton:

i. Rachel b. 17 July 1774
ii. Stephen b. 6 April 1776
iii. Moses b. 22 February 1778
iv. Elisha, b. 3, 6 or 11 April 1780
v. Daniel b. 2 February 1782
vi. John b. 28 March 1784
vii. Anna b. 23 April 1786
viii. Mary b. 3 July 1788
ix. Hannah b. 26 November 1790
x. Phebe b. 25 December 1792
xi. George b. 10 October 1795
xii. James b. 2 July 1797
xiii. Lydia b. 24 April 1799

vital records sources: Anna's birth date comes from the Smithfield Friends records. She supposedly was married in Mendon (source?). Her death date appears in the New Bedford vital records and was reported in the New Bedford Mercury issue of 12 May, which says she died "Friday morning last," confirming the day. A transcription of the Friends Cemetery in Woonsocket apparently includes a stone for Anna. It is likely the Grace Tillinghast work of 1832, which is in the Arnold Coll. at the Providence Public Library.

1. Anna Thornton household, 1820 US Federal census, NARA microfilm publication M33, roll 117, p. 195.

all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted