Thompson Family Albums

2007 Reunion

2006 Reunion

Some Recent History

This family descended from a line of colonial pioneers who landed in

Virginia and moved successively to North Carolina and then westward.

The earliest ancestor with the Thompson name so far

identified in this particular family's direct line was Moses

Thompson, who took a Cherokee woman as his wife in

the early 1800s. Although the wife's name has been lost

to history, she bore Moses four children.

The first child, John M. Thompson, was born in

Fleming County, Kentucky, in 1810. He grew up in that

part of Kentucky some 70 miles (a journey of several

days) southeast of the growing "Queen City of the

West", Cincinnati, Ohio. When John was old enough to

strike out on his own, he married his Fleming County

sweetheart, Sarah (Sally) Pattison. John was 18 and

Sally 17 at the time of the marriage.

John and Sally moved north, crossing the Ohio

River into the young state of Indiana, and eventually

settled in Orange Township, Rush County. They had 10

children (eight of whom survived to adulthood) over a

span of 20 years as a hard-working farm family known

for its generosity to neighbors.

John and Sally's ninth child, William Melvin (Mel)

Thompson (b. 1847) moved to Grant County, Indiana,

after the Civil War and homesteaded some 240 acres

there in Liberty Township southwest of Marion. It was

from Mel and his wife, the former Sarah Whitinger (who

grew up in Rush County as one of the Thompsons' neighbors) that the

northern branch of the clan descended. Mel and Sarah Thompson

raised three children to adulthood – Jimmy (James Estes), Day (Claud

Day) and Sid (Leota Elizabeth). 

The Thompson family which sprang from Rush County roots has

gathered for an annual reunion 109 times in an unbroken sequence

beginning when Teddy Roosevelt was president of the 45 United

States. The first get-together of Thompson parents, grandparents,

brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins was held on New Year's

Day, 1902, at the Rush County home of Hester Thompson Ross, the

fourth child of John and Sally Thompson. Sadly, Hester had less than

two months to live after hosting that first reunion. She died in mid-

February, 1902, at the age of 67.

From 1902 through 1916, the reunion was held on a winter

holiday, when farming chores were at a slower pace. In 1917 the

Thompson conclave was switched to an end-of-summer schedule, and

its timing remained fixed on the second Sunday of every September for

70 years.

Horse-powered transportation was the mode in the early 20th

Century, and it was an arduous journey for the Grant County

Thompsons to make their way south for family visits in the early years.

By the time of World War I, automobiles were easing travel for the well-

to-do and adventurous, but the Grant County Thompsons had no such

fancy and costly contraptions in those years. The annual reunions

remained in Rush County, where most of the Thompson cousins lived,

until 1941. In that year the northern branch of the family finally enjoyed

the get-together without a long road trip as the gathering took place at

the home of Bill and Gladys Thompson in Converse, Indiana, at the

eastern edge of Miami County.

The reunion returned to Rush County for nine years. During the

years of World War II, gasoline rationing curtailed the ability of the

northern branch of the family to visit their Rush County cousins. And

even though the 1951 gathering was at the home of Carl and Carma

Thompson Smith near Sims in southwestern Grant County, it was not

until the 1960s that the Thompsons began to hold their annual

gatherings more and more frequently in Grant, Miami and Wabash

counties.

The venue in recent years has been exclusively in this more

northern neighborhood. The last Rush County gathering was in 1978

at the home of Richard and Jalna Kellam. Richard is the great-

grandson of Hester Ross, the hostess of that first Thompson reunion

so long ago.

Eighteen of the last 19 reunions have been held in Wabash

County. Oddly enough, even though the annual reunion has stayed in

Indiana, the only descendants with the Thompson surname from this

bloodline reside in Illinois.

In recent years it has been traditional that the oldest descendant

named Thompson serves as president of the reunion. The current

president is Jerry A. Thompson of Geneva, Illinois.

The 107th annual Thompson Reunion is scheduled for 24 August

2008 in Wabash, Indiana.

 

Photos, notes and stories of a

close-knit midwestern family

who have unfailingly held an

annual reunion for more than

a century.

— by Brian Bragg

The curator of this Website is eager to include more photos in these family albums and on the genealogy pages. If you have some pictures of related individuals or families, or photos or videos of activities or events, or even audio recordings of family members, please contact me here so we can arrange to post those items online for everyone‘s enjoyment.


 

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(79k pdf file)

 

Family Photos