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Biographical Sketches of a THOMPSON Family in Trigg County, Kentucky
Source:  Barney Thompson, ed.  1996.  "Letter to the Editor of the Kentucky Telephone, December 20, 1889."  Pages 6-10 in Pioneers of Trigg County, Kentucky, As Seen through the Biographical and Genealogical Articles of Cyrus Thompson in the Kentucky Telephone and the Cadiz Record, 1889-1899.  [MS] (online at the Trigg County KY GenWeb site). 

Items in [brackets] were apparently added by the editor.

Creedmoor, Travis Co., Tex.
December 20, 1889
Editor, Kentucky Telephone:

As to my own family, the Thompsons were among the first settlers of Cadiz and conspicuous citizens, noted, at least for their numbers.  I trust it will not be considered in bad taste if I refer to them again, and speak of some of the family who have not before been noticed.  I have before spoken of James E. and Hiram, and several times alluded to my father, James Thompson, who was a native of Prince Edward County, Virginia, and of English extraction, whilst my mother, whose maiden name was Steele, was a native of Campbell County, Virginia, and of Irish extraction.  My father immigrated to Kentucky prior to 1810, and located first in Logan County.  He then removed to the immediate neighborhood of the present town of Cadiz, it then being Christian County, and where the town was located and laid out; was one of the first persons to move into it, and continued to reside there until his death in 1840, preceding my mother a number of years, she having died in Cadiz in 1851.

As I have before said, my father was the first hotel keeper in Cadiz, and for a number of years the only one.  He was one of the best known men in Cadiz through many years, during all the years from 1819, when the town was established, until he gave up hotel keeping in about 1832.  Indeed, he had a large acquaintance throughout South-western Kentucky, Cadiz being then the only great thoroughfare leading from northern and central Kentucky to the country west of the Tennessee River.

My father and mother reared a family of nine children, seven sons and two daughters -- the four oldest sons having been born in  Virginia, and your correspondent being the youngest of the family.  My brothers were John C., Thomas S., William C., James, Moses, and Hiram, and my sisters were Adaline and Sarah, all aged in the order named.

John C. Thompson, a plain sedate, moral and industrious man, a farmer by occupation, spent the most of his early manhood in  Logan and Butler counties, where he married a Miss Margaret Hutchinson, a sensible, industrious and amiable lady.  Some years after his marriage, say in about 1830, he removed to Trigg County, and settled on a little farm belonging to my father and situated one mile from Cadiz on the south side of the road leading to Hopkinsville, but remained there only one year or two, when he emigrated to Missouri and settled in Clarke County.  In Missouri he came in contact with slaves and slave labor -- the State being a slave State -- and disliking that, not being a slave owner himself, he transferred to Hancock County, Illinois, on the opposite and east side of the Mississippi River, where he reared a respectable family of children -- being himself honored and respected, and where he continued to reside until his death, some ten years since.

Thomas S. Thompson was a well known citizen of Cadiz through many years.  He was a saddler by trade, but more of a trader by practice.  He dealt more or less in stock, butchered, packed and shipped beef to New Orleans, and sometimes drove cattle to Nashville; and it was when I was a little boy and accompanied him on one of these trips that I first saw Nashville, then a little city, but it looked larger to me (and was more imposing) than London did when thirty years afterwards I saw that greatest city of the world, thus showing the contractedness of the ideas and estimates of the young.

Thomas S. Thompson was an industrious, amiable, honorable, moral and social gentleman, and a member of the Baptist Church.  He married Miss Penelope Bayliss, of Montgomery County, Tennessee, and after a residence in Cadiz for many years he removed in about 1833 to Tennessee and located on the Cumberland river about 12 miles below Clarksville and engaged in farming and continued his residence there until his removal to Louisiana in about 1844.  He located near Farmerville, in Union Parish, and remained there until his death in 1873-- his death being hastened by grief for the loss of his favorite son (a noble young man) [Virgil Thompson] who was killed in battle in one of the Seven Days' fight with McClelland, around Richmond.

His wife and another son, a promising and useful young man, and a widowed daughter, with her two children, survived him, and I think the widow and son are yet living, and upon the old homestead.  The daughter, Augusta Thompson married in Cadiz when quite young, Mr. [Mayes], who lived only a few years.  After his death she accompanied his father's family to Louisiana, and resided with them for several years, when, with her two daughters, (the Misses Mayes, interesting young ladies), she removed to the neighborhood of Dallas, Texas, and soon thereafter died.  One of the daughters then married, and she, with her husband and sister, moved to Dallas, and afterwards, when I met them in about 1878, they removed to Terrell, Texas, where they were residing when I last heard of them.

William C. Thompson was pretty much reared in Cadiz, and resided there until about 1835, when he removed to Missouri, and located at Osceola on the Osage River.  He was a saddler by trade, and for a number of years carried on the saddler's business in Cadiz in copartnership with Thomas S. Thompson, and he also worked at his trade when living in Missouri.  He was an unusually good looking young man, possibly the best looking in his young manhood of all the Thompson family, and was amiable, honorable and then moral.  He married in 1828 or 1830 Miss Lucy Daniel, a sister or niece of George Daniel, one of the first sheriffs of Trigg county, who was thought to have been one of the handsomest young ladies in the county at that time, and in her day.  His family accompanied him to Missouri, but about two years after going there his wife died, leaving four children, all daughters, and these he soon thereafter took back to Kentucky and to Cadiz and placed with my mother, who reared them.  He remained in Missouri until about 1843, when he returned to Cadiz and remained there until his death in about 1869.  He was a generous man and warmhearted young man, unobtrusive in his manners, but smartly lacking in energy, and was not, I think, a success in any line of business he ever pursued -- dying poor.

Moses Thompson was a man of more industry and, I may say, of pluck and push than any member of the Thompson family.  By pursuing his trade, that of a tanner, which he carried on extensively, without any variation and using industry, he soon built himself up -- beginning without a dollar, to comparative independence.  He, on starting out in life, then quite a young man, bought of Levi Harlan, on time, a tract of land lying three
miles south of Cadiz, upon which there was a tan-yard, and going industriously to work at his trade he soon paid for it; and from that time on 'till his death (continuing to reside on the same place) he was accumulative and financially independent.

In about 1828-30 he married Miss Clarissa Smith, a sensible, practical, energetic and economical and most worthy woman, a sister of John Wharton and Jonathan and Firman Smith, and this marriage proved a most happy one.  They both pulled at the same end of the string in all matters connected with their social and pecuniary interest, and so far as I know and believe no discord or dissension ever characterized their married life.  There was scarcely a family in the county more given to hospitality, or one who entertained more people than they did, and none who lived better.

Moses Thompson was a man of prepossessing countenance, and of pleasant address, though plain in dress and address.  He was amiable and moral, and had the friendship of all who knew him.  He and Wayman Crow, of St. Louis, were warm, personal friends, and whenever he visited St. Louis, which he did frequently did, selling his leather in that market, he was always the guest of that distinguished merchant.  The sons and daughters were left an example by both father and mother, who have both died in the last few years, worthy of imitation, and if they have followed in their footsteps, they will place the world under obligation for their having lived, for they will have been useful, honorable, and virtuous citizens.  They are so well known to the present citizens of Cadiz (better than to myself) that I shall not speak of them beyond to say that Jonathan, the oldest son, I learn is living in Nebraska or Iowa, and is in poor health; and that Lou [Louisa C.], the second daughter, who married Mr. [James] Gaines, has been dead for some years.

Amongst other characteristics of Moses Thompson I remember that he was a splendid shot or marksman.  As a still hunter for deer and wild turkey, both of which were numerous in the county in close proximity to his tan-yard, particularly south of it, in early times he was one of the most successful I ever knew.  He rarely went in search of a deer that he did not bring one home with him.  It was only when his old flint lock rifle snapped-- there were no percussion in those days-- that he failed to kill or wound a deer when he took aim.

In my early days, when I was a very little fellow, and he was a young bachelor, I spent many a week, between Monday and Saturday when not in school, with him at his tan-yard, and rarely was his table spread without having game of some kind upon it, and yet he did not neglect his business or use valuable time in hunting.  He got many a good day's work out of me when with him, grinding tan bark, or in the forest stacking bark in the spring of the year, as it was stripped from the oak trees, which he felled.

Noah W. Rothrock, of whom I have before made mention, deserves a more extended notice.  I have spoken of him first as a clerk in the store of Spotswood Wilkinson, afterwards as a partner of the mercantile house of Landes, Rothrock, and Baker, and lastly as a partner of James H. Carson in the goods business of a little place called New York on the Cumberland River some twelve miles below Clarksville, Tennessee.  He was from Greenville, Kentucky, and was, I think, trained to business by James Weir, a veteran merchant of Greenville, who was one of the best known and most successful merchants of early times in the Green River country.  Mr. Rothrock went to Cadiz in about 1833, and in 1834 married my youngest sister, Sarah Thompson, afterwards Mrs. Stanley Thomas, and in 1838 died in Cadiz of consumption, after nearly a year's confinement to his bed.  Two children were the result of this marriage.  One daughter, Emily, an amiable and sweet girl, who afterwards married Mark Smith and died in Cadiz in about 1860; and a son, John, a kind-hearted boy, who grew to manhood and died in Cadiz in about 1861 -- I having taken him with me to Louisiana in his boyhood and had him educated, after which he returned to Kentucky.

Mr. Rothrock was a man of many peculiarities.  He had a large amount of personal pride.  He dressed well, in exceeding good taste, and was neat and cleanly in person.  He was polished in manners but cold and distant.  He was a decided critic and had but few associates, because very few came up to his standard of social and intellectual worth.  He was moral and strictly honest.  He boasted on his accomplishment as a scribe, and his qualifications as a bookkeeper.  He was a thorough accountant, and his chirography was superior.  He, too, was something of a literary character, at least was very fond of reading, and read a great deal -- would rather read than sell goods when a merchant.  He was a great admirer of the English poets and English historians, and thought there were none equal to Hume and McCaulay.  He had certainly fine literary works and spent much money for costly standard works.

Family Group Sheets



Thomas S. THOMPSON & Penelope BAYLISS


Moses Steele THOMPSON & Clarissa H. SMITH

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