Family Stories

The Search For John L. G. Thompson – Muhlenberg County and Beyond

According to his death certificate, John L. G. Thompson was born in Ohio, verified by every census in which he appears.  Unfortunately, his death certificate lists ‘unknown’ for both father and mother, and he was not listed with parents in any census records, just with his family after his marriage.

September 30, 1860, in Muhlenberg County, John married Nancy Angeline Woodburn, the daughter of James T. and Amelia Higgins Woodburn.  The marriage return says the couple were wed at Pamelia Woodburn’s in the presence of Thomas W. Hay, William Woodburn, Barney Wilkins and Richard Chandler.  The minister was Isaac Malone.  This marriage took place just a few months after the census – where was John Thompson?  In the 1860 census for Muhlenberg County Nancy is living with her mother, Amelia, 49, and siblings Teresa A., 21; Isabelle, 16; America J., 13; and James T., 11.  Her mother’s name is listed as Pamelia and Amelia.

In Otto Rothert’s book, A History of Muhlenberg County, he says John L. G. Thompson was born in Clermont County, Ohio, August 15, 1836, and removed to Muhlenberg in 1858.  There is a John Thompson in the 1860 census, living in the hotel ran by William R. Murdock.  John is 28 and a brick mason, but place of birth listed is Kentucky.  If the census information was given by Mr. Murdock, he might not know Thompson’s place of birth.

Mr. Rothert continues, ‘While visiting in Illinois he enlisted in Company G, Second Illinois Cavalry (Federal).  After the close of the Civil War he returned to his farm in Muhlenberg, and has ever since ranked among the best farmers in the county.’  I believe this is where we understand that even histories written much closer to the time period of events, can have mistakes.  Mr. Rothert’s book was published in 1912.  John L. G. Thompson was still alive at this date.  But in the 1870 census we find the John Thompson family living in Pulaski County, Illinois.  In this census, after the Civil War, John is 32, born in Ohio, a blacksmith; Angeline is 32, born in Kentucky; daughter Sarah is 4, born in Illinois; and daughter Belle, 2, born in Illinois.  Two houses down from John and his family is a William Thompson, 52, born in Ohio and also a blacksmith; wife Nancy is 36, born in Arkansas.  The three children were born in Illinois – Hester, 6; Rosa, 3; and Perry, 5/12.  William could be an older brother or cousin.  I feel sure the two are related.  Instead of ‘visiting’ in Illinois, I believe John and Nancy Angeline moved there for several years.

By 1880 the family had moved back to Muhlenberg County.  Daughter Belle was not listed in the census records and probably died before that date.  A son, John Logan, 9, born in Illinois, is listed.  An interesting fact, Sarah, now 13, is listed as born in Kentucky, but since she was born after the war in 1867, her birth place is likely Illinois.

In the 1900 census Sarah has married, John and Nancy are 63 and 65, have been married for 39 years; Nancy has had six children, two of which are living.

John L. G. Thompson was a private in Company G, 2nd Regiment of the Illinois Cavalry.  This card lists an incorrect date of death – the correct date being March 31, 1919.

This photograph of John Thompson was taken in 1861.  Perhaps just before he left for war?  He wears a sword.  Was this photo taken in front of his home?

This group of Civil War veterans was taken in 1912.  ‘These fifteen veterans attended the soldiers’ reunion held on May 4, 1912, at the home of William H. Smith, near Paradise.  All had fought in the Federal army except Lycurgus T. Reid, who was a Confederate soldier.  Back row, left to right:  W. H. Smith, Samuel Robertson, Ed Williams, G. W. Allen, R. J. Dobbs.  Front Row:  H. C. McCracken, W. M. Lewis, R. W. Casebier, John Coombs, J. N. Durall, Lycurgus T. Reid, Mitchell Mason, L. D. Griggs, E. E. C. Shull, John L. G. Thompson.’  Notice there was no distinction between north and south when it came to reunions.

The Record, Greenville, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky

Thursday, May 9, 1912

Old Vets and Friends Have Good Time

Co. H, of the 11th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, held its semi annual reunion at the home of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Smith, near Paradise, last Saturday.  This company has heretofore met at the home of one of its members, and its reunions were attended by many of the old veterans who are members of other companies, Federal and Confederate.  At their last reunion they were the guests of a member of Co. G, 11th, Kentucky Infantry.  The meeting was a grand success in every respect.  Besides fourteen old Federal soldiers and one Confederate veteran there were present about eighty other guests, including the Rockport cornet band.  An elaborate dinner and supper were served to the crowd.  Speeches were delivered by L. Reid, H. C. McCracken, Otto A. Rothert and L. D. Griggs.

All the old Federal soldiers present had served under Gen. Don Carlos Buell during the beginning of the war, and those who were able to do so walked over Airdrie Hill, viewed the ruins of the Buell home and also visited the ruins of the Airdrie furnace.  Every old veteran present declared this was the most interesting reunion ever held in the county.

The four members of Co. H. present were:  H. C. McCracken, John Coombs, J. N. Durall and W. M. Lewis.  The other old Federal soldiers were:  G. W. Allen, Sam Robertson, D. E. Grant, R. W. Casebier, R. J. Dobbs and William H. Smith, of the 11th Ky. Inft., E. C. Shull, 26th Ky. Inft., M. Mason, 35th Ky. Inft.: John L. G. Thompson, 2nd Ill. Cav.; J. D. Griggs, 25th Ind. Inft.  The Confederate veteran present was L. Reid, who was a member of Co. C. 9th. Ky. Inft.

The next reunion will take place the first Saturday in October at the home of one of the members of Co. H. as heretofore, all old soldiers will be welcome.

The 1910 census was the last for John and Nancy.  They did celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary September 30, 1910.  Nancy died February 25, 1912, of pneumonia.  John died March 31, 1919, at the age of 83.  They are buried in Nelson Creek Cemetery, in the Nelson area of Muhlenberg County.

Daughter Sarah Amelia married Edwin Howerton.  According to her obituary in 1951, she was 85, and died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Pearl Lewis.  Other survivors were two sons, Otto and Paul Howerton; and a brother, Logan Thompson of Salmon, Idaho.

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