1. The Thompsons of Wythe and Bland

About 1782, Andrew Thompson and his young family settled in the Walker Valley, a section of current day Bland County (an area of Virginia which belonged to Fincastle, then Montgomery, and later Wythe County before Bland was formed.) For more than three generations, they remained in this local area, separated certainly by the rugged Southwest Virginia mountains, but also perhaps by ancestry, education, income, and other social measurements.

Andrew, his children and grandchildren can be distinguished from other Thompsons in nearby regions because of this locality in the early 1800's. They are the only Thompson lines to remain in Wythe during this period. As will be discussed in Chapter 11, they have no apparent connections to the Thompsons in nearby Tazewell County.

Almost suddenly in the 1860's, the trail of Andrew's descendants becomes muddled and thinned out. Some children marry and move to nearby counties. The county boundaries change making Walker Valley part of Bland County. The Civil War takes its horrible toll on lives and property. But these reasons alone do not explain the rapid thinning of the Thompsons. There must have been migration of much of this family to more distant pastures. Indeed, at least one branch of the family migrated to West Virginia, another to Missouri, and another to Tennessee.

There has been very little published research about these Thompsons. Not only is research sparse, the public records on this family are also somewhat scanty.

In an effort to focus in on this family, in 1991 I made a comparative study of all the records about Thompsons in Wythe known to me. Using the family structure provided by Harris [Harris, 1976 notes] and the probate records of Andrew Sr. [Wythe Will Book #6], I listed all the Thompsons found in Wythe Census records for the 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840 [Douthat, Wythe Settlers], and 1850 censuses [Wythe Census 1850]. This is shown in Table 1, which starts on page 1-5.

From the study, a picture of Andrew and his family begins to emerge. There is a clear parallel between the probate records and the censuses. All of Andrew Sr.'s children are found in the Wythe censuses; very few other Thompsons are found in Wythe until 1860.

We can make the following observations from the study:

1. Comparison of each family at each 10-year census shows the ages and sexes of the children remain consistent. This shows that, regardless of whether they are Andrew's sons, they are the exact same seven families: Andrew Sr., John, Andrew Jr., Francis, Amos, Bryant, Joseph. These names match the six sons listed in Andrew Thompson's probate records. (Also present in the 1810 & 1820 censuses are John Helvey and Charles Havens, the spouses of Mary Thompson and Nancy Thompson, respectively.)

2. Comparison of all other Thompsons in the Wythe area show there are no other Thompsons with the same first names. (The exception here is an Andrew which appears in 1840).

3. The ages of the families clarify which of the two Andrews is father Andrew. This is confirmed by the 1830 census calling him Andrew Thompson, Sr., and the younger is designated as Andrew Thompson, Jr. in 1820. A family relationship is clearly indicated. It further clears some confusion about the Andrew Thompson (who married Joanna Devor) found in the 1850 census aged 42. This Andrew is too young to be Andrew Jr., rather he is quite possibly Andrew III.

4. The study indicates that all 6 of the sons were still alive in 1843 when father Andrew's estate was settled. This is consistent with the recorded probate records which also show all of the sons still living.

5. The ages of the sons are consistent with the ages of the parents. Further, the ages of the two sons remaining home in 1810 match directly with the families of correct name that appear in 1820.

6. The fact that some of the sons do not appear in some years of the Census can be reasonably overlooked since they appear consistently in all the other years. Censuses have been known to miss families, and this appears to be one of those instances.

This strong correlation between the probate records and the censuses leads me to conclude that these are indeed Andrew and his children. It has served as a framework for my research, and is a major foundation of this book. As more information about the family has come to light while producing this book, it has strengthened this conclusion. In contrast, I have found no evidence which shows otherwise.

The children of Andrew settled close to family. This strong locality of the children of Andrew leads me to believe that Andrew Thompson and family may have been the only Thompson line to settle and remain in Wythe County; and that virtually all the other Thompsons in Wythe between 1820 and 1850 are related to him. The early censuses show many grandchildren who are unaccounted for. They must live somewhere. At least some of them must have settled in Wythe, too. Even using all of the known Thompsons in Wythe, there are not enough Thompsons to account for all of Andrew Sr.'s grandchildren.

The singularity of the Thompson line is supported by [Bland History, pg. 160] which states: "There were twenty-seven of the name of Thompson, all descended from Andrew of Revolutionary fame, who were in service in different companies from Bland County in the late [Civil] war." A listing of these Thompsons is given in Chapter 11.

Those few Thompsons who appear in Wythe in 1810 (e.g. Benjamin Thompson) that are not one of Andrew's six sons are too old to be Andrew's descendants. These Thompsons are most likely from the far northern areas of old Wythe, which became Tazewell County, and apparently belong to one of the other Thompson lines found in nearby counties. These other Thompson lines are discussed in Chapter 11.

Figure 1 : Location of Walker Valley in present day Bland County. The area on Walker Creek where Andrew and his children first settled is shown in dashed lines. This area is shown in detail in Figures 3a and 3b.

In light of the strong family ties shown by Andrew's descendants, it is even more puzzling why the branches become so thin by 1860. Myrl Thompson [Thompson, Visit 1994] suggests that the family's greatest possession was the land they lived on. They were closely tied to the land, making an existence by farming and hunting on it. If there wasn't sufficient land, they would have moved to a place where there was. Traditional Irish custom was that land stayed in the family, and was given to one or two children as an inheritance. As an early settler from Ireland, Andrew would have tried to keep the family land in as big pieces as possible. Some of the children may have moved on because there was no land inheritance for them. Others may have waited until after Andrew died in 1843, only then feeling free to sell their land, something which might have offended Andrew while he was alive.

The following chapters will detail what we know of the first three generations: Andrew, his children and grandchildren. A chapter is devoted to Andrew and each of his eight children. Chapter 11 discusses other Thompsons in the area, and the probabilities of their ties to this family. A listing of all currently known descendants is found in Appendix B.

Table 1: Comparison of Thompsons in Wythe County, Virginia. 1810-1850

1810 1820 1830 1840 1850
=============== =============== =============== =============== ==================
Andrew Thompson Andrew Thompson Andrew Thompson, Sr. Andrew Thompson  
M 45+ M 45+ M 70-80 M 80-90 (died 1843)
F 45+ F 45+ F 70-80    
M 16-26 (Joseph)        
M 10-16 (Bryant)        
John Thompson John Thompson John Thompson John Thompson John Thompson
M 26-45 M 45+ M 50-60 M 60-70 (died 1848)
F 16-26 F 26-45 F 40-50 F 60-70  
M 0-10 M 10-16 M 20-30 M 15-20  
M 0-10 M 10-16 F 20-30 F 15-20  
M 0-10 M 10-16 M 15-20 M 10-15  
  M 10-16 M 15-20    
  F 10-16 M 10-15    
  M 0-10 F 10-15    
  M 0-10 M 5-10    
  F 0-10 M 5-10    
  F 0-10 F 5-10    
  F 0-10 F 5-10    
Andrew Thompson Andrew Thompson, Jr. Andrew Thompson Andrew Thompson Andrew Thompson
M 26-45 M 26-45 M 26-45 M 60-70 M 70 Andrew Thompson
F 26-45 F 26-45 F 26-45   M 37 Archibald
M 10-16 M 16-26 M 20-30   F 30 Polly
M 0-10 M 10-16 M 20-30   F 9 Darthula
F 0-10 F 10-16 F 20-30 F 30-40 F 7 Lizie
F 0-10 F 10-16 F 20-30   M 5 Winton
M 0-10 M 10-16 M 15-20 M 20-30 F 3 Ludena
F 0-10 F 0-10 F 10-15 F 20-30 M 1 Henry
  M 0-10 M 15-20   F 40 Mary Thompson
  M 0-10 M 10-15    
Francis Thompson ? Francis Thompson Francis Thompson Francis Thompson
M 26-45   M 40-50 M 50-60 M 57 Francis
F 16-26   F 30-40 F 40-50 F 53 Phebe
M 0-10   F 10-15 ??  
F 0-10   M 5-10 M 15-20  
    M 0- 5 M 10-15 ?  
    M 0- 5 M 10-15 ? M 22 Alexander
    F 5-10 F 5-10  
    F 5-10 F 5-10 F 20 Polly Wilson
    F 0- 5 F 0-5 F 13 Jane
    F 0- 5 F 0-5 F 11 Agness
        M 8 James
    F 70-80 F 80-90 F 99 Chapple
Amos Thompson Amos Thompson Amos Thompson Amos Thompson Amos Thompson
M 16-26 M 26-45 M 40-50 M 50-60 M 64 Amos Thompson
F 16-26 F 26-45 F 40-50 F 50-60 F 63 Mary
M 0-10 M 0-10 M 20-30   F 26 Ann
  M 0-10 M 15-20   M 20 Harvy
  M 0-10 M 15-20   M 23 Andrew Thompson
  M 0-10 M 15-20   F 20 Sarah
  M 0-10 M 15-20   M 38 Joshua Thompson
    M 10-15   F 15 Mary
  F 45+ M 10-15   F 13 Elizabeth
    M 5-10 M 15-20 F 11 Sarah
    F 5-10 F 10-15 M 9 Albert
    M 0- 5 M 10-15 F 7 Caroline
      M 5-10 M 5 Geser
        F 3 Easter
  Bryant Thompson Bryant Thompson Bryant Thompson Bryant Thompson
  M 16-26 M 30-40 M 40-50 M 53 Bryant
  F 16-26 F 30-40 F 40-50 F 52 Barbara
  M 0-10 ?    
    F 5-10    
    F 5-10 F 15-20  
    F 0- 5    
    F 0- 5 F 10-15  
    F 0- 5 F 5-10 F 19 Louisa
    F 0- 5   F 15 Julie Ann
    M 0- 5   M 12 Ephraim
        M 17 Andrew
        M 26 Bryant Jr.
  Joseph Thompson ? Joseph Thompson ?
  M 26-45   M 40-50  
  F 16-26   F 40-50  
  M 0-10      
  F 0-10      
      M 15-20  
      M 15-20  
      F 15-20  
      F 10-15  
      M 5-10  
      F 5-10  
      M 0- 5  
      F 0- 5  
1810 OTHER 1820 OTHER 1830 OTHER 1840 OTHER 1850 OTHER
Alexander T. (16-26) Alexander T. (26-45)      
Benjamin T. (26-45)        
Suzanna T. (45+)        
William T. (26-45) William T. (45+)      
    William T. (20-30) William T. (30-40)  
      Abner T.(30-40)  
      Senah T.(20-30)  
      Francis T. (20-30)  
      Andrew T. (40-50)  
      Crocket T. (20-30) Crocket T. 38 (s. John)
      George T. (20-30) George T. 38
        Andrew T. 42
        Patton T. 35
        John T. 21
        Josiah T. 39 (s. Amos)
        John T. 30
        Preston T. 42 (s. John)
        James T.35
        Abner T.40
        Harvey T.
        Easter T.
        Thomas T.
        Wesley T.
        William T.
        Andrew T.

Copyright Brian J. Cragun, 1994, 1997. All rights reserved.