A native of Yorkshire, England, the subject of this sketch was born July 15, 1829, and is the son of John and Mary (Coates) Thompson, who spent their entire lives in their native England. The father was engaged in the boot and shoe business, and the parental household included fourteen children, all of whom lived to be men and women, but it is a sad and singular fact that of this large family Alfred C. is the only one living. The father departed this life when about ninety-five years of age, and the mother at the age of ninety. The brothers and sisters mostly remained in England during their lifetime.
Mr. Thompson was brought to America by a paternal uncle, when a little lad eight years of age. They settled in Philadelphia, and that same year the uncle died, leaving no family, and the boy was thrown upon his own resources without friends or money. Young as he was, however, he proved equal to the emergency, and scorned to accept charity. He ran errands for five cents, keeping an eye continually to business, and first made his bed in a livery stable. After a time, as his honesty became apparent, he was allowed a buffalo robe on the office floor. He felt quite rich when he had made twenty-five cents a day.
In due time young Thompson secured a steady job in the sheriff's office, sweeping out, operating as errand boy, and making himself generally useful. When fourteen years of age, still continuing in the Quaker City, he began his apprenticeship as a machinist, serving three years. He worked two years as a journeyman in Philadelphia, then, desirous of a change of location, made his way to Belvidere, N. J., where he worked a year, then started for the West. After reaching the state of Indiana he located in Lafayette, and found employment in the gas works at that point. A year later he was in Detroit, Mich., operating as foreman in the machine shops of Johnson & Mayne.
Mr. Thompson was employed by the above firm a period of three years, then going south into Kentucky was given charge of the extensive smelting works in Bullitt County. Thence a year later he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he secured a position in the gas factory, and during his stay there constructed the Telescope Gas Holder, which attracted considerable attention among the craft. In the fall of 1853 we find him again locating in the West, with headquarters at Chicago, and in employment on the lakes as engineer. In the fall of 1858 he was engaged as a gas fitter in Peoria, Ill., where he established a thriving business, adding foundry work, steam-fitting and machine shops, and giving employment to forty men. Here he transacted an extensive business until the fall of 1875, when he sold out, and coming to Jacksonville embarked in the enterprise which has here proved likewise successful.
Mr. Thompson while a resident of Detroit, Mich., was married, July 4, 1853, to Miss Eleanor Trusler. Mrs. Thompson was born in August, 1828, in Bath, England, and was the daughter of John and Jane Trusler, who were natives of England, and are now deceased. Her father's family included twelve children, seven now living, and mostly residents of Canada and the United States. Of her union with our subject there were born one son and three daughters, three living: Mary J., Mrs. Hickliable, of Kansas, is the mother of four children; Martha J., Mrs. Runkel, is a resident of Jacksonville, and the mother of four children - Alfred, Eleanor, Fritz, and one deceased; Alfaretta C., Mrs. Howe, of Jacksonville, is the mother of one child, a daughter, Myrtle. Mrs. Eleanor Thompson departed this life at her home in Pekin, Ill., in September, 1873.
Our subject contracted a second marriage, March 1, 1873, with Miss Edith Smith, at that time a resident of Pekin, Ill. This lady was born about August, 1847, and is the daughter of Arnold and Jeanette Smith, who were natives of New England, and are now living in Kansas. This marriage has resulted in the birth of five children - Eleanor, Emeline, Alfred C., John A., and Edward C., deceased. The family residence is pleasantly situated on East College avenue, No. 604, and with its surroundings forms one of the attractive homes of the city. Mr. Thompson, socially, belongs to the I. O. O. F., and politically, is a stanch adherent of the Democratic party. As a self-made man he has built up for himself an admirable record, and illustrated in his career the result of perseverance and industry in a marked degree.