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Past and Present of Vermilion Co


Lewis M. Thompson


            From the days of his infancy down to the present Lewis R. Thompson was a resident of Vermilion county.  This covers the period of a boyhood spent amid frontier conditions, the period of mature manhood devoted to agricultural pursuits when the county had become possessed of modem improvements and the comforts of civilization and the period of the later-day progress in which he is now living retired from further labor-a man of seventy-four

years, respected and honored because of a life of industry, integrity and uprightness.  Mr. Thompson was born in Dearborn county, Indiana, in 1829, a son of John and Esther (Payne) Thompson. The father was born in Erie county, Pennsylvania, in 1797, and was of Irish descent. In his early life he engaged in teaching school and was a well informed man. but during the greater part of his business career he made farming his principal occupation. Although to some extent he dealt in real estate. About 1823, in Dearborn county. Indiana.

he married Esther Payne. And in 1830 they came to this county settling near Danville, where Mr. Thompson became the owner of three hundred acres of land, a part of which he secured from the government.   This was all unbroken, not a furrow having been turned upon the tract.  And his labors brought the price under a high state of cultivation transforming it into a valuable farm.   The first house on the place was a log cabin. Which was occupied with the family until 1844, and then a two story frame structure was erected.   It stood until 1902 when a handsome residence was built by a son of our subject.  This land has been in possession of the family continuously since 1830. John Thompson was a man of more than ordinary capabilities and he took an active part in the early settlement and development of the county.  He also acquired considerable property, his labors being rewarded by it success.  In politics he was a Whig and at one time served as county commissioner.  He was also one of the charter members of the Danville Lodge of Masons and filled many offices therein.  Both he and his wife attended the Methodist church.  He died in 1861 at the age of

sixty-five years, and her death occurred in Danville, in 1899, at the advanced age of ninety-three years. Both were laid to rest in the Danville cemetery. They were the parents of twelve children, of whom.  Four died in infancy, while eight reached years of maturity   namely: Melissa, Martha, Lewis, S. D., and Philander. Mary, Harriet and John, and of these four are now living.

            In the district schools of Vermilion County Lewis M. Thompson was educated and amid the scenes of pioneer life he was reared.  He assisted his father in the work of the home farm up to the time of his marriage, which occurred, on August 17, I 848, and Miss Judith Ann Burroughs becoming his wife.  She was a native of Ripley County, Indiana, and by her marriage became the mother of eight children. Viola, the eldest, is the wife of W.  Chamberlain, who is a professor in the schools of Chicago; Mary A. is the wife of Hon. Charles A. Allen. J. G. Thompson who was graduated in the law department of the State University of Michigan, in the class of 1851, became identified in practice with IV. R. Lawrence. He was appointed and served for one term

as prosecuting attorney and on the expiration of time service was elected county judge, when only twenty-seven years of age.  Later he was appointed assistant United States attorney general by President Tinley and has since remained in that position, which his legal learning and marked

ability well qualify him to fill. Esther is the wife of A. P. Green, a leading business man of Attica.  Lena is the wife of A. E. Ray, a prominent shoe dealer of Attica.  Harriet is the wife of J. W. Morro a prominent druggist of Danville. The other children have passed away, and the mother is also deceased. In 1891 Mr. Thompson was again married his second union being with Mrs. Belle Bales, a daughter of John Newlin, a pioneer of this county, who resided near Georgetown.  He was a saddler and followed his trade for many years. He also served as postmaster and justice of the peace through a long period and was an influential citizen of locality.  A native of South Carolina, Born in 1813, he came to Danville in 1830 and was therefore one of the early settlers. For his first wife he married Asenath Henderson and his second wife was Verona Newlin, who became the mother of Mrs. Thompson. He was also married a third time. The parents of Mrs. Thompson were earnest Christian people and the father belonged to the Society of Friends or Quakers and the in mother to the Methodist church. His death occurred in Danville, in 1879 when he was seventy-five years of age. The daughter, Belle, was first married to C. P. Bales, and they had two children: LeRoy, who is head nurse in the Insane Hospital at Kankakee. Illinois: and Elwood, an operator on the Chicago Eastern Illinois Railroad.

            Mr. Thompson made his first purchase of land in 1848. Becoming owner of a tract

of one hundred  and sixty acres near Rossville.   This was all raw and unimproved, but he placed it under a high state of cultivation erected excellent buildings and reared his children upon the farm which he there developed. At one time he owned seven hundred acres constituting a very valuable property but during the financial panic of 1873 because of his endorsement of paper for others, he suffered a loss of ten thousand dollars. He now has about one hundred acres in Vermilion County and a half section in Fulton County. Indiana and he likewise own property in Rossville where he is now living retired.  Mr. Thompson is a charter member of Rossville Lodge,

I. 0. 0. F., this was organized in 1858.  In his political views he is a Republican and in religious faith his wife is a Methodist.  He has served as assessor, collector and in other township offices, and has ever been observant of his duties of citizenship, fully meeting every obligation which thus devolves upon him and putting forth effective effort for the welfare and progress of the county which has been his home through more than three score years and ten.  He is to-day one of the oldest settlers of this locality and his mind carries the impress of the early annals of this section of the state as well as the history of its later-day progress and improvement.