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Name:    Thornton, John
Profession:  Philanthropist
Category:  Demographics (immigration, etc.), Human and Social Services
Born/Started:    1795
Died/Ended:    1857
Description:    John Thornton was a philanthropist who donated almost $500,000 to the Catholic Church in 1857. Born in Ireland in 1795, he settled in St. Louis in 1816 with his brother Nicholas and started a grocery. He began loaning money to others, including financing many mortgages. He used his profits to purchase land and died a wealthy man in 1857, although no one seemed to realize how wealthy he was. His will stipulated that his fortune of $461,488 be used at the discretion of Archbishop Kenrick. This money was used to finance hospitals, asylums, schools, convents, homes for the poor and churches. (In the 1860s the cost of building one church was approximately $15,000.) Even though his gift was to the Catholic Church, the hospitals, schools, and other establishments were made available.

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