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Elder Thomas THOMPSON of Missouri
Source:  T.P. Haley.  1888.  Historical and Biographical Sketches of the Early Churches and Pioneer Preachers of the Christian Church in Missouri.  Christian Publ. Co., St. Louis, MO.  (Photocopies of excerpt courtesy of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, Nashville, TN.)
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ELDER THOMAS THOMPSON

The next preacher whom I remember as an occasional visitor at Antioch was Thomas Thompson.  I have not the data for a biographical sketch of this pioneer.  He was perhaps some years older than Allen Wright, but commenced his ministry about the same time.  One of his co-laborers says he was from the Baptists.

He resided then in Boone county, and subse-

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quently in Monroe.  He was, as I remember him, a large man, weighing perhaps two hundred and twenty-five pounds, about five feet ten inches in height.  His voice was strong and clear, his style conversational.  He was remarkable for his great familiarity with the holy Scriptures.  It was said that he had committed to memory every line of the New Testament and was thoroughly versed in the Old.  He never opened the book when he recited his text, which was always an entire chapter, but repeated it from memory.  His sermons were commentaries on the text, and exceedingly instructive.  He was not, I think, regarded as a successful evangelist, and yet he  baptized a great many persons and his converts were always well instructed, not simply in regard to the plan of salvation, but in the practical duties of Christian life.

I remember an anecdote which he used to relate with much zest, of one of his servants, an old negro man.  There had been a revival among the Methodist brethren in his vicinity.  After the meeting the converts were to be baptized.  They met at the water's edge.  Some were immersed, some "sprinkled" and some "poured."  The old man watched the immersion with great interest and solemnity, but when the sprinkling and pouring process began, he exclaimed, "Humph!  Dat's mighty foolish; my old massa will have all dat to do over again," and he did, for many who were

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sprinkled or poured were afterwards immersed.  It may not be, and doubtless will not be, regarded as an argument in favor of immersion as the only scriptural baptism, but it is nevertheless true, that in my ministry of more than thirty years, I have known many persons who had received sprinkling for baptism, some in infancy, some in adult age, who afterwards became dissatisfied and were immersed, but I have never known one who had been immersed who subsequently became dissatisfied with his baptism as to the mode.

About the year 1840 brother Thompson moved from Monroe county and settled in the north part of Grundy county.  A fellow -laborer says of him at that time:  "He was an able man in the gospel, was truly a man of faith, and forcibly reminded me of the lamented brother Benjamin Franklin."  He and his son-in-law, William Reed, Jr., and John S. Allen, of Bethany, Harrison county, evangelized the Grand River country from 1844 to 1849, subsisting in part, much of the time, as brother Allen humorously tells it, on "crab apples and hazelnuts."  They drank rye coffee sweetened with "long sweetening" (meaning honey).  Brother Allen, who tells a story well, relates an amusing anecdote of brother Thompson.

He was accustomed to preach sermons of great length.  On one occasion when he had preached a sermon of unusual length, he closed by saying he had "barely hinted at the subject."  Where upon

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brother Allen arose and gravely remarked:  "Whereas, the subject which our brother has had under consideration is one of great interest, and as he has only had time to 'barely hint at the subject,' I move that we meet to-morrow morning at 9 o'clock, bring our dinners and spend the day and give the brother time to complete the discourse."

Of course the audience saw the point and roared with laughter, but the preachers were too much devoted to each other to allow this practical joke to separate them or alienate them eve for an hour.  Whether or not it had the effect to shorten brother Thompson's sermons I never learned.

Brother Thompson moved from the Grand River country to the gold fields of California in the great emigration of 1849.  He was the first Christian preacher on the Pacific coast, and organized several of the principal churches in that far off State.

When I was in California, in 1872-3, there was no name among our people mentioned more frequently or remembered more affectionately than that of "Uncle Tommy Thompson," as he was familiarly called there.  He finally settled in the lovely valley of Santa Clara, about midway between the cities of Santa Clara and San Jose.  Those who have passed along the "Alla Meda," over spread as it is with weeping willow branches, passed within a few rods of the house in which this grand old hero passed the evening of his days, and in which he "turned his face to the wall and slipped away to God."  His family, except one daughter, Mrs. Reed, of Mercer county, followed him to California and are among the most respected citizens of that wonderful State.  One son-in-law, brother James Anderson, was in 1873 a prosperous merchant and an acceptable preacher, living at Ukiah, in Mendocino county.  His stepson, the Hon. Thomas H. Laine, of Santa Clara and San Jose (for he worships in one town and practices his profession, that of the law, it the other) is regarded as the orator of Southern California.  When I was there the two most brilliant orators of the State were Wirt Pendergrast and Thomas H. Laine, one the son of a Christian preacher and the other a step-son.  Would that these brilliant talents had been consecrated to the gospel ministry which their fathers loved so well.

Brother John S. Allen, writing of the labors of Elder Thompson in Missouri, says:  "In 1844, Thomas Thompson and the writer were chosen by the churches in the Grand River country to travel as evangelists in the several counties.  Our field embraced the Grand River country, including Gentry, Daviess, Livingston, Grundy, and as far east as Lynn county.  Mercer and this (Harrison) county were then territory, not organized counties, as was Gentry also.  The country being so sparsely settled, our rides were often long and

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wearisome, but we took great pleasure in out meetings, in seeing many of our fellow citizens bow to the authority of the gospel.  At Linneus, Chillicothe, Gallatin and Trenton we held many successful meetings and planted the cause of primitive Christianity in the Grand River country.  Our salaries were never computed.  The brethren would sometimes give us fifty cents or a dollar, or a present of some sort.  It was not the almighty dollar that caused us in those days to make the sacrifice and do the work we did, but were were prompted by our love for the cause and a great desire to establish it in this then new country.
Family Group Sheet of Thomas THOMPSON
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