skip to Main Content

Thornwell Celebrates Founders Day Commemorating 147 Years Serving Children and Families

Thornwell, a nonprofit organization committed to the most innovative and effective solutions to help children and families in need across Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, commemorated 147 years of service to children and families during its recent Founders Day celebration. Thornwell Founders Day is held each year on October 1st to honor the life and legacy of Dr. William Plumer Jacobs. Dr. Jacobs is well known for founding Thornwell and Presbyterian College, both located in the small town of Clinton, SC.

“Often as I walk past Dr. Jacob’s home on campus – what we call the Home of Peace – I think how remarkable this man who was in serving God, serving children, and fulfilling the profound vision he felt God called him to pursue,” said Rev. Myron Wilkins, Thornwell President. “His selfless determination, along with the dedication of his devoted wife, Mary, created a ripple effect that has touched hundreds of thousands of lives over 147 years. We’re just honored to be able to continue that legacy.”

Thornwell employees gathered on campus Monday to enjoy activities, games, and time to reflect upon Dr. Jacobs’ legacy and his ministry for children.

Dr. Jacobs opened Thornwell’s doors on October 1st, 1875, to ten children orphaned by the Civil War. His devoted belief “that God so willed and would, therefore, support the endeavor,” carried him and his beloved orphanage throughout the years until his death in 1917. He documented the progress and struggles of the fledgling orphanage in his diary.

“If one dollar is offered to me for the Home of the Fatherless this month, or one child is tendered [to] me, I will take it as God’s call to this work. And if I enter upon it, then my lot is fixed for life in Clinton,” wrote Jacobs.

His inspirational diary is still read by many today and provides a reflective window into the past. Dr. Jacobs’ recorded words mark demonstrations of his reliance upon the Lord for provisions in his work for children. Further, this diary catalogs the answers that God provided proved to be provided in perfect timing. Dr. Jacobs’ testimony is one that has lived on for 147 years.

“As we celebrate our Founders Day, we also want to honor our employees, our Trustees, our donors, our partners, and countless others who play a role in continuing Dr. Jacobs’ legacy,” said Wilkins. “Strong families don’t happen on their own, and they don’t happen alone. It takes the dedication of many to empower communities. I believe Dr. Jacobs would be proud.”

Today, Thornwell is a diverse nonprofit ministry across South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia that serves to prevent child abuse and neglect, to build up and reunite families, and to support healthy communities in the name of Jesus Christ. Thornwell’s continued vision believes in empowered communities in which all people can experience both life and love in abundance. Thornwell will celebrate 150 in service in 2025.

Learn more about Thornwell and the services they provide for children and families in need at


Back To Top