September 25, 2008

Thomson Family Lineage, by June Thomson Sparks

(Thomson Family Tree from 1700's - late 1900's)

From Wence We Came, by June Thomson Sparks

It honestly doesn't matter where our ancestors came from - or how they got here (by boat or on foot) -- or when.  We, like them, are all just names and dates that, when placed on a lineal family tree, hold no greater value than all of the other names and dates posted before or after us.  Most of us cannot remember the names of family members beyond two or three generations.  All of their deeds, good and bad; all of their daily toils and frustrations, all of their sufferings and joys are long forgotten to this world.  We don't know them and they never knew us.  What could it possibly matter whether they came from Ireland or from India?  Who cares whether great-great-great grandfather worked on a farm or in a factory two centuries ago?  Who will care what we do or where we go centuries from now?
It really doesn't matter...and it won't matter...but, then again, it's interesting to know!  All of those names and dates lined up perfectly to form the family you are in right now.  Imagine, had even one of your direct ancestors not met, then you would not be right at this moment reading this document.  It is because they lived and loved that you are able to breathe the air and walk the earth for a given time before stepping back to take your place among the others who did the same, making way for the generations to come.

It is with that knowledge and humble appreciation then that we regard the following information about our particular family tree.

The Thomson Family Tree

First of all, let's talk about our name.  The reason we keep having to spell it for everyone (i.e. "That's Thomson
without the P!) is that it is a very old name, and therefore, subject to corruption, misspellings and abbreviations throughout the years.  Last names come from many sources.  Names like Thomson, Williamson, Peterson, etc. are names derived from parentage.  Tom's son, William's son, Peter's son, etc.  Some people have last names that note where the family was from, such as Meadows, Lake or even de la France.  Others have names that tell what a family did for a living, such as Mills, Baker, or Candlestickmaker (just kidding).  Still, others have last names that tell something about how the family looked or acted.  Names such as Short, Long or Smart.  How the name Thomson is spelled can tell something about where the family is from.  In England, the name originated as Tompson.  In Ireland, it was Thompson.  In Scotland, it was Thomson.  The name at first may have been Thomas-son, the son of Thomas.  Thomson would then be an abbreviation of Thomason, since abbreviations of names through time are common.
Our Thomson family is of Scotch-Irish descent.  A check on the Internet shows that the name Thomson is the fifth top surname in Scotland today.  Who knows how many of those Thomsons are distant cousins or ours!

Glasgow, Scotland, Europe: Pollok House
First Stop: Glasgow, Scotland

Our first known ancestor is William C. Thomson who emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland to Londonderry, Ireland around 1720-29 with his wife and children.  Who knows what prompted this move, however, a glance at history tells us of a huge migration of Scots out of Scotland in the mid-1700s.  The 1707 Treaty of Union of Parliaments could provide a clue.  The treaty formally united England with Scotland to form Great Britain.  Although claimed to have been a peaceful and desired union, it was met with riots in Edinburgh.  The Highlanders never wanted union with England.  It was, in effect, "steamrolled" onto the Scots by Queen Anne, and Scotland's larger neighbor, England, to the south.  In the decades to follow, Scottish clans rose up to fight for independence (see Mel Gibson's "Braveheart").  The time was rife with battles and bloodshed.  Religious persecution was rampant.  Since our ancestry is decidedly protestant, they may have felt uncomfortable with James the First of Scotland and Sixth of England, of Catholic roots.  Our ancestors may have decided to head for more peaceful territory.  As you can see from the map below, Glasgow was only a short distance from all of the commotion going on in Edinburgh.

Next Stop: Londonderry, Ireland 

Title: A lazy day at Cultis LoughPanasonic DMC TZ3

For the next thirty-years, our direct ancestors made their home in Ireland.  Then, in 1771, William's son James (b. 1730 in Ireland), along with James' wife Mary Henry (b. 1736 in Donegal, Ireland; d. 1823) and their Irish born children, William (b. 1761), Jane (b. 1763), Esther (b. 1765), Rosanna (b. March 12, 1767) and Martha (b. 1770) left for America, probably from the port of Belfast, Ireland, which was commonly used by immigrants from Northern Ireland at that time.  Family records say that Mary Henry was a "lovely woman noted for her rich and sweet voice."  Family records also say that the trip to America was "delayed a year due to the birth of Martha."  James also brought with him his sister, Esther and Martha, as well as his brother John.

Third Stop: America!

The new Americans settled in Conococheaugue, Franklin County, Pennsylvania.  In their new home, two more siblings arrived, John (b. Nov. 11, 1772) and Alexander (b. April 23, 1775).  The group didn't stay long.  Just five years later, James moved his growing family to Derry Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania where his remaining children, James Henry (b. April 2, 1778) and Mary (b. May, 1780) were born.  James Sr. was a farmer and an elder in the presbyterian church in Ireland, Pennsylvania and later, Kentucky.  Through his efforts, the Salem church was organized in 1786 in Pennsylvania near his home.  I imagine Mary Henry sang in the choir.  I discovered as I read through our family notebooks that our clan was rather a holy crowd.  More than thirty of our ancestors prior to 1925 became ministers in the presbyterian church.  Today, several of our relatives are also ministers in the Christian faith.  Apparently, it's in the blood, or I should say, the soul!

Stock Photo - 'cannons at the  revolutionary  war national park  at sunrise,  valley.  fotosearch - search  stock photos,  pictures, images,  and photo clipart

By this time in history, The American Revolutionary War had begun and was reaching out to the frontier when James established his family is Westmoreland County.  His grandfather may have left Scotland to avoid bloodshed, but the British came to fight them in their new land. James and his teenage son, William, joined the Pennsylvania Frontier Rangers (1778-1783), a group formed to protect inhabitants from raids by indians who were taking advantage of the war with the British in the east.  The historical society in Derry, Pennsylvania has a historic passage on its website that describes the area this way: "It's location was one that was exposed to the raids and plunderings of the Indians from the earliest times down to but a short period before the Revolution.  The old military road which ran directly through it, the old trails along the streams where the savages passed, the heavy woods to the north of the county, and the river to the north which formed a borderline of civilization and settlement -- these make its location one of extreme danger when there was danger at all."  Perhaps the situation proved too much for our clan since after the war, James moved his family to Nicholas County, Kentucky in about 1793, where he remained until his death in 1817.  Mary was buried beside him in 1823.

Our direct lineage continues through William Thomson (b. 1761 in Ireland; d. March 15, 1822), eldest son, who married Sally McConaughy (b. June 3, 1756 in Pennsylvania; d. May 29, 1835) in about 1787.  The McConaughy's were also of Scotch-Irish descent who came to America in 1733.  Sally's brother, Robert M. McConaughy, married William's younger sister, Jane Thomson.  Robert and Jane started a family line that led to Reverend Nathaniel McConaughy who authored the spectacular Thomson Family Tree in 1890 that is displayed at the top of this blog.   
Sally, William, Robert and Jane probably knew each other growing up in Pennsylvania.  James Thomson helped found Salem Church.  William and Robert were both about the same age and both elders of the church.  I'm sure there's a real love story in there somewhere...with the guys marrying each other's sisters.  Robert and Jane McConaughy remained in Pennsylvania and had nine children.  The couple is buried at the Old Salem Church, which today still stands.
William and Sally moved with James Sr. to Nicholas County, considered the "Bluegrass Region" of Kentucky, where William was, like his father, a farmer and a county surveyor.  They had five boys: Robert, John, William Henry, Samuel and James.
Here's an interesting footnote from our family books: "While wading through the woods one day, the elder William Thomson contracted rheumatism and for the last fourteen-years of life, was confined to his bed.  However, he retained his position as County Judge and held court at bedside!"  He died on March 15, 1822.  Thereafter, Sally moved on to Decatur County, Indiana in 1827 where, for what reason I do not know, all of her children had moved!  She lived there with her children until her death on August 29, 1835.
Our lineage continues through William and Sally's son, John Thomson (b. March 26, 1796 in Nicholas County, PA; d. Feb. 3, 1856)).  John married a woman named Spicy G. Hamilton on November 11, 1821 and settled four miles northwest of Greensburg.

Old Greensburg Photo

John and Spicy were among the original pioneers of "23" who settled in the area shortly after Indiana became a state and the Indian problem had been eliminated by the Treaty of St. Mary's, Ohio, which was signed in 1819 with the Delaware Indians.  Decatur County was part of the "new purchase" and was formed in 1822, being named for Commodore Stephen Decatur, a naval hero of the War of 1812.
Although John had been bred on a farm, in about 1827, in company with his brother-in-law, Elijah Mitchell, he introduced the first wood carding machine in this country. It was on the site of the residence of his brother-in-law, Robert A. Hamilton.  He continued in the business until 1835.  At that time, he began the publication of the Greensburg Chronical (later, the Standard) continuing it until 1843 when he turned it over to his son, Orville.
According to family documents, in 1829, John was elected sheriff of Decatur and was re-elected in 1831, receiving 870 votes to 92 cast for his opponent.  In 1833, he was a candidate for the state legislature, but was defeated, some say, because of being a member of the temperance society.  In 1839, he was elected Associate Judge of the Circuit Court serving four years, and in 1843, Judge of the Probate Court for a term of six years.  The remaining years before his death on February 3, 1856, he was engaged in the family grocery and drug business.  For the last 23-years of his life, he was a ruling elder of the Greensburg Presbyterian Church and was a frequent delegate to the presbyterian synods.  The Thomson Family Tree describes John Thomson as "a man prominent in social and political life."
The couple had ten children, six of whom died in early infancy.  Of the others: Orville, Rosanna, Camilla and Origen survived to maturity.  Spicy died at the age of 36 on December 22, 1838.  Our lineage is linked to John's second wife, Mrs. Catherine Gillespie (nee Hopkins) the widow of Dr. Jesse Gillespie, and Spicy's cousin.  They married on June 27, 1839.  There were two sons born of this marriage: Milton M. and Jesse M.

Jesse M. Thomson

Our family line continues through the youngest child, Jesse M. Thomson (b. November 1, 1842 in Greensburg, Indiana; d. 1919, Greensburg, IN.).   He married Annie Phillips (b. August 6, 1844 in Paris, Kentucky; d. 1930)  They made their home in Greensburg, Indiana and were the parents of three children: Frank Milton, Myrta Hall and Orion Kemper (Dr. O.K. Thomson) pictured at right.
Jesse Thomson was a partner in Thomson and Corbett, general hardware dealers in Greensburg.  This was the largest store of its kind in the area and sold farm implements up and down the Ohio River.  He was also clerk of Decatur County and later Court Crier of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.  He was buried in Greensburg in 1919, and his wife was laid to rest beside him in 1930.

Frank Milton Thomson

Our direct ancestor was Frank Milton Thomson (b. November 15, 1868, Greensburg, IN; d. October 14, 1930, Greensburg, IN.) who married Martha "Mattie" Stevens Miller (b. July 6, 1870 in Greensburg; d. August 26, 1947) on August 28m 1895.  Their children were Mary Louise, Robert Miller, John Phillips, Annette, Myrta and Jesse Jr.  From 1887 to 1891, Frank was deputy clerk of the Circuit Court of Decatur County.  In May, 1902, he was elected councilman and in 1904, Mayor of Greensburg on the Republican ticket, receiving the largest majority ever given to anyone for that position up until this time.  He was re-elected on November 7, 1905, along with the entire republican ticket and served as mayor until January 3, 1910.  His wife, Martha, was the daughter of Indiana Supreme Court Justice, John Donnell Miller, who served as post master general during the Civil War with the Indiana Volunteers.  Many of his letters home to his mother and brother were saved and are in the possession of my father.

When Frank's father, Jesse, decided to move to Cincinnati, Ohio, (where many of the Thomson clan had moved by that time) he turned over his interest in Thomson and Corbett to Frank, in order to save the business.  Frank moved to Indianapolis with his family and was an auditor with Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company for several years.  He died on October 14, 1930, and his wife, Martha, passed away on August 26, 1947.

Robert "Bob" Miller Thomson

Robert Miller Thomson is next up in our direct family lineage.  He was born on September 20, 1897 in Greensburg.  He entered World War I at the age of eighteen.  After a short time in Camp Shelby, Mississippi, he was sent to France just before the armistace was signed.  He served with the 38th and 28th Infantry Divisions, played a cornet in the 151st US Infantry Band and was Sergeant Bugler of the regiment.  He came home as the band leader of the 103rd Engineers of the Keystone Division.  He attended Purdue University, and then transfered to Indiana Law School.  After practicing law in Indianapolis a short time, he moved to Miami, Florida and was the third attorney to set up shop on Miami Beach with an office at Washington and 5th Street.  About a year later, he sent a letter to a woman he had met on a blind date back in Indianapolis asking her to join him in Florida.  Lucy Mae Barnes (b. January 9, 1905 in Greensburg; d. June 7, 1974 in Coral Gables, Fl.) arrived on a train with the understanding that his letter was a proposal for marriage.  So, he married her that day and they went on to a marriage lasting forty-six years until his death.  Robert's dad helped him get a job with the First National Bank of Chicago, which along with a couple of other midwestern banks, was financing much of the South Florida building boom of those days.  When financing dried up following a disastrous hurricane in the mid-1930's, the bank relocated Robert to a branch in Arlington, Illinois, but he moved back to Miami in 1937 with the help of a financial partner and acquired more then 28,000 acres of land mostly in the Everglades north of Tamiami Trail and west of Krome Avenue to the county line.  This turned into a three-million dollar investment years later, which Robert "Bob" and Lucy used for travel money later in life to explore the world.  

Lucy Mae Barnes Thomson

Lucy was a prolific artist whose medium was oil and whose subject matter was primarily land and seascapes, or religious themes.  Many of her oil painting still hang in her son, John Thomson's law office in Coral Gables.  Her main interest was music and she was a life member of the South Miami Music Club.  She taught sunday school for more than 25-years.  She and Bob were founding members of the Miami Shores Presbyterian Church and of Granada Presbyterian Church, among others, continuing the family tradition, it appears, of starting churches.  They always took a leadership role in the churches they attended.  
Bob and Lucy had two children, Florida Mae (name later changed to Mary Louise (b. May 26, 1927) and John Miller (b. September 9, 1931).  The picture on the left is of Lucy holding John as an infant.  Bob Thomson practiced law until his retirement in 1964. He suffered from Parkinson's disease until his death two years after Lucy.

John Miller Thomson

Our lineage continues through John Miller Thomson, also known as Jack Thomson.  He graduated from Miami Senior High School in 1949, attended the University of Florida and the University of Miami, graduating with a B.B.A. degree in accounting in 1953.  That same year, he married New York transplant, Dorothy June Hayward (b. June 24, 1932 in Shrub Oak, New York) on November 29, 1953.  Shortly after the ceremony, he was drafted into the army and served until January, 1956, primarily at Forth Jackson, South Carolina, with the 101st Airborne Division Headquarters Company.  After discharge from the service, he returned to the University of Miami on the GI Bill, where he graduated from law school in February, 1959 with a LLB degree, later converted to a JD degree.
Jack had planned to practice law in Havana, Cuba, but Castro cut this opportunity short.  After practicing law in Miami with his father under the firm name, Thomson & Thomson, he went on to other law firms in South Florida including those of Charles Papy, Jr. and Holiday & Gardner, and worked as General Counsel at various real estate investment firms including Meridian Housing and Development Company and Newport Development Company.  He then went on to form the law firm, Tobin & Thomson in 1976, and for the next fifteen-years concentrated on personal injury litigation while continuing in real estate practice and learning real estate planning, probate and trusts.  Since 1991, he has been a solo practitioner in the real estate and estate planning specialties.

Dorothy Hayward Thomson

Dorothy Thomson embarked on a political career by running for Coral Gables Commissioner in 1979.  She won, beating out five other candidates including the president of the Chamber of Commerce and a retired police chief.  She was elected to a two-year term and re-elected to a four-year term in 1981, winning in all the voting precincts.  In 1985, she was elected mayor, becoming the first lady mayor of the City of Coral Gables.  She held this post for one term, and went on to work for Florida Governor Martinez, who appointed her to various state committees.  A few years later, she returned to local politics, serving two more terms as city commissioner from 1993 - 2001.  She considers her greatest political achievement to be the saving of the Biltmore Hotel from destruction.  She also founded the Coral Gables Citizens Crime Watch.  She received the Good Government Award from the Coral Gables Jaycees and was awarded a life membership in the Junior Orange Bowl, as well as numberous other awards and recognition for outstanding service to the community of Coral Gables.  
Despite all of her accomplishments, Dorothy regretted not getting a college degree, so went back to school in the mid-70's, earning a degree from the University of Miami in December, 2008.
While Dorothy's mother came from a newly immigrated Swedish family -- arriving through Ellis Island -- her father's family was mostly English.  The Hayward family tree goes back to the beginnings of colonial time with well established roots in the colony of Massachusetts, including Salem, Massachusetts during the time of the infamous witch hunts.  That part of her family history has yet to be explored!
Jack and Dorothy had four children: Janice Eileen (b. August 19, 1957), Joanne Elaine (b. May 28, 1959), June Elizabeth (b. June 10, 1961) and Robert Hayward Eugene (b. April 16, 1966).  As they say, "Three JETs and a RHET."  All were born at Coral Gables Hospital and grew up in Coral Gables.  The three daughters have spread out across the country, raising families and pursuing careers far from home.  Robert Thomson is the only one who remained in Miami where he is a  Coral Gables police officer.  He is married to Kimberly Beck with whom he has three children: Brielle, Bryce and Brenton - "The Brrrrs."