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Chicago: Chapman Bros., Publishers


JAMES B. THOMPSON. This gentleman is one of that class of substantial citizens who have done so much in opening up the new West, and who have expended the best years of life to that end, and now have retired from the active duties and driving cares to enjoy the rest and comparative quiet that they have earned by the years spent in unceasing rush of life.

Mr. Thompson is a native of Brown County, Ohio, but was reared to manhood and married in Hamilton County. He counts the years of his life from the 17th of September, 1810. His father was Bernard Thompson, whose wife previous to her marriage, bore the name of Mary Phillips. Both were natives of the Buckeye State, and were married in Brown County.

The grandfather of our subject also bore the cognomen of Bernard Thompson. He, with his wife, whose maiden name was Sarah Bing, was born in Maryland. He was the owner of a mill on the Brandywine River, and quite above the average in his prosperity. During the War of the Revolution, and, again, that of 1812, he served on behalf of his country. His son, Bernard Jr., also served in the War of 1812 for a period of six months. Mr. Thompson received a land warrant, and upon it obtained eighty acres of land in this county. He came to Morgan County in 1834, and settled in the western part, continuing his residence there until his death, in 1865. He sustained the loss of his wife prior to his western removal, in 1831.

Bernard Thompson, Jr., to whom reference was made above, was the father of ten children, of whom but two are now living, namely: Andrew J. and our subject - both of this county. The latter gentleman spent his boyhood and youth on his father's farm, and, after receiving the best education the common schools of the time afforded, became his father's helper in its operation, continuing thus until he had attained his majority. In those days the State of Ohio was not as it is today, all the circumstances and surroundings going to show that it was a new and undeveloped country, and those who resided within its borders were in very truth pioneers, with all the freedom and opportunity that such a position affords, but at the same time living a life filled day in and day out with its inconveniences, difficulties and hardships. Among the latter most assuredly must be reckoned that of the educational institution of that day, which, from floor to ceiling and from wall to wall, was one constant reminder of frontier life.

Among the settlers in Clermont County, of the above State, were Collins and Sarah (Taylor) McGuire. They were both natives of the Keystone State, and had brought with them many of the characteristics of that people. They had made for themselves a home and farm in the new country and were prospering. Previous to leaving Pennsylvania, there had been born to them a daughter, Mary, who, as she came to more mature years, revealed a womanliness and happiness of disposition that attracted numerous admirers, even in a new and comparatively undeveloped country - among others, our subject. Every arrangement being completed, they were married in May, 1834.

In October of the same year Mr. Thompson came to Illinois, and settled in this county, about three miles north of Jacksonville. For four years he rented a farm there, and then removed to Greene County, where he was similarly occupied. Returning to Bethel, in this county, he went into business as a blacksmith, and continued thus engaged for three years. Previously he had purchased 120 acres of new land, which lay about three miles west of Bethel; and also took forty acres of Government land. Subsequently he purchased 160 acres more - a total of 320 acres. As the first purchase was entirely unimproved, he proceeded to put a small frame cottage of two rooms upon it, and set to work to bring about a better order of things. One drawback to the position was the fact that the nearest market was Meredosia, on the Illinois River. In after years, when civilization had come nearer to his farm, he was enabled to make many improvements that had been long contemplated, and became one of the largest grain and stock-raisers of the district.

Mr. Thompson has reared a family of six children, and has been rejoiced to see them one by one enter into honorable positions in life. Their names are as follows: Clark M., Mary J., Sarah, Ella E., Perry C., and Owen P. Clark, who is now a resident of Scott County and engaged in school teaching, was married, in 1878, to Miss Verenda Pratt, and they are the parents of three children, viz: Maud, Guy and Blanche; Mary is happily married to John T. Crawford, a prosperous ranchman of Colorado, and their family circle includes eight children, whose names are as follows: Zelica, Dill O., Leora, James, John, Ruth, Mary and Julia; Sarah is Mrs. A. A. McPherson, and lives in Kansas - her family circle includes five children: Alpha E., Etta, Valeria, Ross and Owen. Perry is one of the physicians of Jacksonville, and Owen, an accomplished lawyer and Judge of Morgan County.

Mrs. James B. Thompson died on the 31st of January, 1881. She was a member of the Protestant Methodist Church, as is our subject. They were prominent in bringing about the organization and building of the Church of Bethel, her husband being elected one of the Trustees. They took an active part also in promoting the work at Meredosia, and their efforts were rewarded by seeing similar progress in that place.

The subject of our sketch removed to Jacksonville in 1884, where he has made his home ever since. In matters political he is allied with the Democratic party, and has always taken great interest in promoting the advancement of their cause. He is a citizen valued in the community because of his high personal character, his integrity and efficiency as a business man, and the social status he is privileged to enjoy by reason of the large measure of success that has attended him through life.

1889 Index
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