John Thompson is the oldest son of Andrew and Ann Thompson of Wythe County Virginia. He was born in 1775/1776. John's position in the family is supported by [Harris, 1976 notes] and by the probate records of Andrew Sr. Census records provide a birth date range of 1770-1775, however, as Myrl Thompson points out in his time line (Chapter 2), John was most certainly born between 1775, when his parents married, and 1777, when his father was taken prisoner.
The conclusion reached in Chapter 1 was that study of 1810, 1820, 1830 and 1840 censuses reveals a single John Thompson who meets the age and birth order of our John. The other Johns are assumed to be his son and nephews.
John was married twice, first ca. 1805 to an unknown woman, and second on 10 Aug 1815 to Mary (Walker) Montgomery, the widow of John Montgomery.
Very little is known about the first wife. Their marriage is assumed to be about 1804, since there are two small children at home in 1810, but could have been as early as 1800. The census indicates the wife is 16-26 in 1810. Therefore, she would be 10-20 in 1804. In 1800, she would be 6-16. So it is possible their marriage is as early as 1800. This first wife died between 1810 (where she appears in the census) and 1815 when John remarried.
John's second wife, Mary Walker, born 1780/1790, was the daughter of Adam Walker. They married 10 Aug 1815 [Wythe Marriage Registry, pg 9]. Mary is assumed to have preceded John in death, since she is not mentioned in his will. This places her death between 1840 and 1848.
John died in Oct/Nov 1848. His will is dated 14 Oct 1848, and presented 13 Nov 1848. [Wythe Will Book #6].
The children of John are (as will now be
|Andrew Thompson||1800/1808||1850 Wythe Census|
|Preston Thompson||1808||1850 Wythe Census|
|Crockett Thompson||1812||md. 23 Jan 1834 to Nancy Fannon by Bruce|
|Nancy Thompson||1810/1815||1850 & 1860 Census|
|John Thompson Jr.||1816/1820||1850 & 1860 Census|
|Matilda Thompson||1823||md. 5 Mar 1844 to Harvey Thompson by Bruce bond by John Thompson|
The will of John Thompson (transcription provided at the end of this chapter) provides names for eight children, in the following order: Nancy Thompson, John Thompson Jr., Briant Thompson, Andrew Thompson, Preston Thompson, Crockett Thompson, Matilda Thompson, Elizabeth Thompson
Reconstruction of John's family structure is immediately complicated by John's second marriage to a widow. The ballooning of the number of children living with John in 1820 suggests that there are children of the first marriage, step-children coming with the second marriage, and new children from the second marriage. There is further confusion caused by the apparent death or disappearance of some children between the 1830 census and the 1840 census.
The will of John provides little help, here. The structure of the will takes care of most important business first, rather than by birth order, as is often the case. In this will, the children could be grouped by age, by spouse, or neither. I assume that step-children are not included in the will, both because it doesn't seem to be the practice, and because there are no Montgomery names listed. Indeed, there are more than enough children born to John before and after 1815 to account for all eight children listed in the census. Of course, there is nothing to prevent the legal adoption and name change of children, but I have not observed this custom during that era.
If we try to assume that the will is in basic order, and allow only that John Jr. is listed out of order because he is mentioned in connection with land that is being given to Nancy, we have the following order:
Nancy ThompsonThe key to this family is to find the ages of children! It is also significant that the female children are listed in the will as being Thompsons. This means that they either remained single, which seems to be the case with Nancy, or they married another Thompson, which is the case of Matilda.
John Thompson Jr.
Here is a reconstruction of the family, starting with the surest conclusions and expanding from there:
Matilda Thompson was married to Harvey Thompson, 5 Mar 1844 [Wythe Marriage Registry]. This is clearly the right Matilda, since the marriage record shows bond posted by John Thompson, and Matilda is listed as a Thompson in the will (since she married a Thompson, her name is still Thompson).
The 1850 Wythe County Census shows [Douthat, Wythe Settlers, pg 146]:
Family 1584 THOMPSON, Harvey 29 M laborer; Matilda 27 F; Levi 5 M; John 3 M; Pheby 1 F.This is clearly the correct Harvey and Matilda. This will be reinforced by other children in a moment. From this we know Matilda's birth, 1823. We also know conclusively (since she was born after 1815) that she is a child of Mary (Walker-Montgomery) Thompson.
Harvey may have been a son of Francis and Phoebe Thompson. This possibility is discussed in Chapter 5.
John Jr. & Nancy
John Sr.'s will [Op. Cit.] provides a valuable piece of information about both John Jr., and Nancy. The will bequeaths John's 41 acres of land to Nancy, but notes that John Jr. is currently residing on it.
The 1850 Wythe County Census has a Family 1585, that neatly matches the information in the will. There is a John Thompson (age 30) living with a Frances (age 19) and a Nancy (age 35) [Douthat, Wythe Settlers, pg 146].
Family 1585 THOMPSON, John 30 M; Frances 19 F; Nancy 35.In the census, Nancy is specifically out of order, showing she is not the spouse of John. Since Frances is not mentioned in John's will, and is too young to be a step-sister from the early John Montgomery family, she must be a wife. (There is an outside chance that she is Frances J. Thompson, daughter of Francis Thompson. That Frances, who married Hiram Groseclose in 1854, can't seem to be found in the 1850 census with her father. I have always assumed it was something to do with names, such as J. standing for Jane or that Frances was hired out. She would have been 14 in 1850 according to her marriage record. It is possible that she was living with John Jr. in 1850, he being her cousin. However, there is a five year difference between the ages that must also be explained.)
The evidence of an older Nancy living with an apparent brother John is quite convincing of itself, but even greater proof comes by observing that this family lives right next door to sister Matilda. Even better, two houses away lives Andrew Kitts, a witness on John Sr.'s will.
From this, we calculate the birth year of John Jr. to be 1820, and that of Nancy to be 1815. We also conclude that John Jr. is definitely a child of Mary, and that Nancy could be of either marriage.
In the 1860 census, we again find a Nancy living with a John Thompson:
Family 1257 THOMPSON, John L. 44 M; Nancy 60 F;However, in 10 years John has aged 14 years and Nancy 25. One might discard this as a different John and Nancy just based on the ages, however the combination of an older Nancy living with a younger John fits so exactly that one has to wonder. There are no other examples in 1850 of a Nancy living with a John. I have observed other examples where ages were 5 years off census to census (e.g. Archibald and Mary Thompson, son and daughter of Andrew Jr.; compare 1850 and 1860 censuses). So probably this is the same John and Nancy Thompson, but some part of the age data is not accurate. In particular, for Nancy to be 60, she would have been born in 1800, before any of John's other children. Yet there are no female children listed at all with John in the 1810 census. I estimate, at the outside, Nancy is 50 in 1860.
This second record of John and Nancy makes John's birth year range from 1816/1820. He is still definitely a child of the second marriage. Nancy's birth year now has a range from 1810/1815. This increases the likelihood that she was born to the first spouse.
While we're looking at John Jr. & sister Nancy, there is one other record that should be mentioned. In the 1850 census, there is another John Thompson [Douthat, Wythe Settlers, pg 145].
Family 1566, John 21 M; Elizabeth 34 F; Mahits SPRINKLE 8 F; Stephen SPRINKLE 6 M;This John is interesting because he is so young and there is an Elizabeth living with him. Our John had a sister Elizabeth, whom we have not yet identified. Elizabeth could have been living with John. However, it seems obvious that this John has married a widow Elizabeth Sprinkle, and this is proven by a marriage record of a John Thompson marrying an Elizabeth Sprinkle 13 Sep 1849. If this was our John and our Elizabeth, he would be marrying his sister. Even more so, if we accept this, then we must find some other Nancy Thompson to fit the bill in 1850. No, the evidence is much more conclusive that the John with Nancy living with him (family 1585) is John Jr.
The most obvious choice for Preston Thompson is the Preston who lives right next door to Matilda, John Jr., and Nancy in 1850 [Ibid., pg 146]. To my knowledge, this is the only Preston Thompson in Wythe in the time frame of the 1848 date of John Sr.'s will.
Family 1586 THOMPSON, Preston 42 M laborer; Sarah 52 F; Lockard (?) 10 M; Henry 8M.However, Preston's age is 42, making his birth date 1808. Preston would then be one of the children listed in the 1810 census, and a child of the first marriage.
This conclusion has serious effects on our reasoning from this point on, because it means that the order in which children are listed in the will is not age based; nor can it be marriage based since Preston (from the first marriage) is listed in between John Jr. and Matilda (who are from the second marriage). In other words, if we accept this Preston as our Preston, then we can assume nothing about the order of children in this will. This makes it very difficult to lock in on the correct Andrew Thompson.
Even so, the name Preston is sufficiently unique in Wythe, that this seems to be the only conclusion.
Preston is not found in the 1840 census.
There is only one choice for Crockett Thompson, that is family 1310 in the Wythe County 1850 Census [Wythe Census 1850, pg 637, family 1310]:
1310 THOMPSON, Crockett 38 M Farmer; Mercy 40 F; Matilda 16 F; George 14 M; Minerva 12 F; John 10 M; Caroline 8 F; James 6 M; Henry 4 M.This makes Crockett's birth year 1812, and a child of the first wife. Once again, it shows John's will to be in no particular order, since Crockett is between John Jr. (b. 1816/1820) and Matilda (b. 1823). Crockett married Nancy Fannon 23 Jan 1834. .
Crockett is also found on the 1840 Census. Here it seems clear Crockett has no older children than Matilda.
Note: I had originally read the census showing the spouse as "Mercy", but Crockett was married to Nancy Fannon. I will have to recheck the original records and see if I misread "Nancy" as "Mercy". Anyone who gets there first, let me know ;-) Thanks to Wilma C. for this one.
So far, I have only found records of two Briants (or Bryants) in Wythe.
1. Bryant Thompson, son of Andrew Sr. b. 1797, md. Barbara. Family 1623 in the 1850 census.Neither of these can be used as Briant, the son of John. Bryant (1) is certainly the son of Andrew Sr., as mentioned in the will. Bryant Jr., must have a father named Bryant.
2. Bryant Thompson Jr., who lives next to Bryant (1). Almost certainly son of Bryant (1) because of the Jr. and the proximity to his father.
Jenneane Blair points out [Letter 2/5/96] that there are cases where Jr. and Sr. are used for older and younger, not just a father/son relationship. For example, an older uncle and a son.
The Briant we are looking for has perhaps moved to another county, or was missed somehow by the census. He is not found in the 1830, 1840, or 1850 census. Yet, he is apparently still alive in 1848 at the time of his father's will. He could have been living at home or he could be in a separate county, or he could have passed away between 1848 and 1850.
There are two Andrew Thompsons of Wythe County who could be the son of John. All other Andrews are the wrong age, or clearly belong to another family.
Andrew (1808) and Joanna Devor
Andrew Thompson (b. 1808) and his wife
Joanna are found in the 1850 Wythe Census. [Wythe Census
1850, page 560, family 789]. Douthat has the same family, but records
the wife's name as Jamima [Douthat, Wythe Settlers, pg 101].
|789||Andrew Thompson||42 M|
The second Andrew is 50 years old with the occupation of clerk in the 1850 Census [Wythe Census 1850, pg 448, family 12]. The name is a little hard to read. Douthat transcribes the name as Birdine [Douthat, Wythe Settlers, pg 55, family 2]. He is also found in the 1840 census, with age listed as 40-50. Apparently he never married.
John's Andrew and Andrew's Andrew
Andrew Thompson Jr.'s family also needs an Andrew, as will be seen in the next chapter. Not only must the Andrew we select fit well into John's family, the one that is left should fit into Andrew Jr.'s family. We assume that John's Andrew and Andrew Jr.'s Andrew both remained in the Wythe area -- this gives us two Andrews to find. The two Andrews mentioned are not connected to any family, and if they fit in, make an obvious choice to fill the open family positions. Both John's Andrew and Andrew Jr.'s Andrew were alive for their father's probate actions in 1848 and 1856, respectively, so unless they moved from the county, we should be able to account for them.
For John's family, Andrew (1808) is an easy fit. His 1808 birth nicely fits one of the available males aged 0-10 in 1810 and 10-16 in 1820. The 1840 and 1850 census show John living only 17 families away from James Devor, the father of Joanna, whom Andrew (1808) married.
Andrew (1800) is a harder fit for John's family. His 1800 birth means his mother was 16 when he was born, assuming the census data is correct. There have certainly been many mothers at age 16, and John was certainly old enough, too -- he would have been 24. However, there is no male at home in 1820 of the correct age, nor is there an available Andrew in the 1820 which would show him moving away from home. On the positive side, Scottish tradition holds that the first male child is named for the father's father, the second for the mother's father, and the third male child for the father. Even though the Thompsons are Irish, the tradition may also carry here. Andrew (1800) would have been the oldest of John's children, and could indeed have been named after John's father; John Jr. could have been the third male child and named after John, though it appears that John Jr. was actually the fifth male child of John. (Whether or not this tradition was followed by John, it is clear the other children of Andrew Sr. did not. Amos and Bryant each have Andrews, but they are eighth and second child, respectively.)
For Andrew's family, Andrew (1808) is another easy fit. John also has open male positions aged 0-10 in 1810 and 10-16 in 1820. A perfect fit. Andrew Jr. also lives relatively close to James Devor, (53 families), although not as close as John. This fact made less meaningful by the marriage of James Devor's daughter Anna to Josiah M. Thompson, the son of Amos. Amos lived significantly farther away than either John or Andrew Jr. from James Devor. Andrew (1808) would have been the third child of Andrew Jr., putting him in line for being named after his father.
Andrew (1800) is a harder fit for Andrew Jr.'s family than Andrew (1808). The 1800 birth is not a problem from the standpoint of Andrew Jr. and his wife, since William was born in 1799. There is an available slot in the 1810 census for a male child 0-10. However, there is only one 16-26 year old slot available in 1820. William must either fill that or have moved away from home in 1820. Yet, William does not appear on his own in a census until 1830 (see Chapter 4), which makes sense since he appears to have married about 1829. With no evidence that William had moved from home in 1820, there is no slot open for Andrew (1800).
In summary, Andrew (1808) fits better in both families than Andrew (1800), but Andrew (1800) cannot be ruled out from either family. Perhaps future research will turn up evidence to link one of the Andrews, and then we can make conclusions about the other. For now, the mystery is unsolved. Even so, I lean towards Andrew (1808) being the son of Andrew Jr., based on a circumstantial piece of evidence I will discuss in the next Chapter. Because of this, I currently lean toward Andrew (1800) being the son of John.
Elizabeth was either single in 1848, or married to a Thompson. There is no proof either way, so I assume single. The only Elizabeth married to a Thompson was the widow Elizabeth Sprinkle (b. 1816) discussed above. She would have had to marry another John Thompson b. 1829. Either our Elizabeth was single at the time of the will, then married in the next two years, or she could have married a Sprinkle. There is no way to tell. However, she was not present for the 1810 census. She was not the female at home in 1840 (because that one must be Matilda), so in 1840, she was older than 20. Therefore, her birth is 1810/1820. Therefore, she is most likely one of the young females in the household in 1820 census. It is more likely that she was born to the second wife, Mary. If she happened to have married ca. 1849 the year after her father's death and the year before the 1850 census, she could be any Elizabeth in the census.
Detail of John Thompson Families
in 1810 - 1850 Censuses
|John T.||John T.||John T.||John T.|
|M 26-45||M 45+||M 50-60||M 60-70||(died )|
|F 16-26||F 26-45||F 40-50||F 60-70||(died)|
|M 0-10||M 10-16||Andrew 42|
|M 0-10||M 10-16||Preston 42|
|M 0-10||M 10-16||M 20-30|
|M 10-16||M 15-20|
|F 10-16||F 20-30||? Nancy 35/40|
|M 0-10||M 15-20||Crockett 38|
|F 0-10||F 10-15||? Nancy 35/40|
|M 0-10||M 10-15||John Jr. 30/34|
|F 0-10||F 5-10||? Elizabeth|
|M 5-10||M 15-20||? Briant|
|F 5-10||F 15-20||Matilda 27|
|M 5-10||M 10-15|
We know of three children alive in 1810; so far we have only identified Preston (b. 1808) and Andrew (b. 1800/1808) to be two of them. There is at least one other male child (b. 1804-1810). Most definitely all children of the first wife.
There are four children under the age of 10 in 1830, all of whom were definitely children of the second wife. One female is Matilda. The other one might be Elizabeth. One male could be Briant. That leaves one male unaccounted for. (Even if Briant is the missing child from the 1810 census, we then have two males to be accounted for in the 1830 census.)
Since we don't know how many children came with Mary (Walker) Montgomery, we cannot make strong predictions about the other children.
Questions and Research
1. Can we find information about the John
and Mary (Walker) Family to shed light on children appearing in the 1820
& 1830 census.
2. Need to recheck the 1850 Wythe census for the name of the wife of Crockett Thompson.
Transcript of John Thompson Will, Wythe County Will Book, 034224, 14 Oct 1848.
I John Thompson of Wythe County do hereby make my last will and testament in manner and form that is to say first I desire that all the perishable part of my estate immediately be sold after my death and out of the monies arising there from all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid. I will and bequeath to my daughter Nancy Thompson a tract of land containing 41 acres where John Thompson Jr. now resides. I will to my daughter Nancy and my son Briant Thompson all my household & kitchen furniture to be divided equally between them. I will to my son Andrew Thompson fifteen dollars in cash. I will to my son John Thompson Jr. fifteen dollars. I will to my son Preston Thompson fifteen dollars. I will to my son Crockett Thompson fifteen Dollars. I desire that my daughter Matilda Thompson have fifteen dollars. I will to my daughter Elizabeth Thompson five dollars. I gave to my son Briant Thompson my rifle gun in consideration of what he has received. I will to my grand son Asa Thompson fifteen dollars should there be a remainder left after each legatee has received what I have given them I will and desire that the same be equally divided amongst all the above named legatees. And lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my friend Geo. Bogle Executor of this my last will and testament. I hereby revoke all other former wills or testaments by me heretofore made in witness whereof. I have hereunto set my hand and affix my seal this 14th day of October 1848.
Witnesses John Wilkinson, L. D. Bogle, Andrew Kitts
John Thompson's X (seal)
Virginia. At a Court held for Wythe County at the Courthouse on Monday 13 November 1848.
This the last will and testament of John Thompson decd. was presented in Court proved by the oaths of L. D. Bogle and Andrew Kitts subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded. And on the motion of George Bogle the executor therein named who took the oath prescribed by law and together with Lorenzo D. Bogle, William Hearn & Michael Wohlford his securities witness into and acknowledged a bond in the sum of $1000. Certified as the law decrees certificate is granted him for obtaining a probate of the said will in due form.
(Difficult to read words in italics.)
© Copyright Brian J. Cragun, 1994, 1997. All rights reserved.