Thornton Homecoming King 2017
Thornton’s Homecoming King for 2017 is Jerry K. Tilley. Jerry, the son of Macelle Fox Tilley and Lester I. Tilley, was born in Thornton, Texas on January 2, 1940. At that time, Jerry’s brother David was six years old and his sister Kay was four years old.
Before his birth, the Tilley family lived on a cotton farm in the Centerville area. The farm was only one mile from the Trinity River and every time the Trinity would flood, their house would be surrounded by water for days on end. When his mother was pregnant with Jerry, she told his father that she was tired of this cotton farm and all of the water. She was going to the farm in Thornton to have her baby. In Jerry’s words, she told his dad, “you can come or you can stay, but I’m gone.” Needless to say, Mr. Tilley followed his wife and went back to the farm in Thornton and never returned to the cotton fields on the banks of the Trinity.
That farm, now known as Shady Oak Ranch and owned by Jerry, has been recognized by the Texas Department of Agriculture in Austin and featured in the Texas Land Heritage Program. To qualify for this distinction, descendants of the original owner must have owned, lived, and maintained agriculture production on the land for one hundred years.
William Fox, the original owner and Jerry’s great great grandfather, came to Limestone County in 1875. William had been born in Canada in 1800 and joined the Canadian Army in the War of 1812 as a drummer boy. He was captured by the U.S. soldiers in the battle of Detroit. After the war, he was released and he chose to stay in the U.S. In 1845 he became a naturalized American citizen and in 1847 he and his family moved to Harrison County where he bought land and farmed. He later sold this land and on June 25, 1875 he came to Limestone County and bought the original 640 acres of land. There he built a log house, cleared part of his land and began farming.
William’s son, Jerry’s great grandfather, Henry G. Fox, obtained 220 acres of the original land purchased by his father. The next owner of the land was Jerry’s grandfather, Lesley Green Fox, who inherited and purchased 71 acres of the land. Mr. Lesley Fox lived on the land til1945 when he sold it to his youngest daughter, Macelle and her husband, Lester Tilley. They raised cotton, corn, hay, watermelon and other vegetables. It was said to this land that Mrs. Tilley returned to have her son, Jerry.
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