The following narrative was found in the book "Thorntons in North Carolina, Volume 1" (1999), by Kenneth Thornton:
Nathan moved to Montgomery County, Ohio when he was a boy and to Vermilion County, Illinois in the mid-1820s. In the late 1840s, he followed his son Riley to Polk County, Iowa and remained in Polk County the rest of his life. Nathan and Mr. and Mrs. Powell Johnson deeded land to the Quaker Meeting to be used as a cemetery. This is now a large country cemetery called the Greenwood Cemetery. Many of the Thornton and related family members are buried in the cemetery. Nathan's motto was "live every day as if it was your last, and work as if you were to live forever".