When I first started looking into our family tree several years ago, I expected to make great strides in defining the Thompson line. My grandfather was still alive at that time, as were several others of his generation, and the Thompson’s of New England, where I was born, are well documented. Thompson would be the easy branch of the tree.
I was Wrong.
Charles H Thompson
My grandfather was Raymond Brooks Thompson. He was born in Abington, MA to Frank Verling Thompson and Hittie Frances Brooks. These are facts I have been able to confirm rather reliably based on both word of mouth, family photographs, and census records.
Frank Verling Thompson’s father was Charles H Thompson. I “know” this based on my grandfather’s stories.
“Know”? Frank’s father died while Frank was a child, so my grandfather only knew what he had heard growing up. These are the things I heard about my G-GF and GG-GF:
- Frank was born in Chicago
- Frank’s mother was Sarah Raymond, my GF’s namesake
- Frank had a sister, Mildred
- Frank’s father was Charles H Thompson
- Charles H Thompson had a mail order farm equipment business that he lost in “the” fire. In Boston? Chicago?
- Frank had a half brother he had never met living in Chicago
These were the clues I had to work from, mostly information I had gotten from talking with my grandfather, and from a typed family history he had put together at some time in the past. So I set to work, and found…nothing.
It’s easier to find Waldo..
I have searched the internet for years looking for clues to my GG-Grandparents. My first stroke of luck was a few years ago when someone sent me a page from the 1900 Census showing a Sarah Thompson living with her young children, Frank and Mildred, and her brother, George Raymond. She is listed as a Widow. (Damn!)
Further research into previous years’ census records showed that Sarah lived with her family at least until June 1880, well into adult hood. I also learned her middle name was Jane, and I have reason to believe she moved to Abington when her son did, though my evidence is shaky on this point.
Thank You, Massachusetts!
Last month, I searched the MA State Archives online, and found a birth record for Mildred Raymond Thompson. I ordered the birth record, and confirmed that she was born in December 1892 as other evidence had indicated, and that her father’s name was (TADA!) Charles H Thompson.
Now, it might sound like I learned nothing new, but I did: I now had public record to support the assertion that my GG-GF was Charles H Thompson, married to Sarah Raymond. Until then, it was all hearsay. I also have the address where they were living, and an indication that both Charles and Sarah were born in MA.
What We Know
So what do we “know”?
- There is strong evidence to support that Charles H Thompson was the father of Frank and Mildred Thompson
- Charles was born in MA, possibly Springfield.
- Charles and Sarah were PROBABLY married; the date of their marriage was sometime between June 1880, the date of the 1880 census, and June 1891, the date of Frank’s birth.
- They could have married in IL, where Frank was born, or in MA, where Mildred was born. (OK, they could have married anywhere, but this is a place to start.)
- Charles was still alive in December 1892, when Mildred was born, but likely died by June 1900, the date of the 1900 census.
- Charles was a traveling salesman in December 1892
What we DON’T know, is anything about Charles prior to Frank’s birth, or after Mildred’s. There are MANY Charles Thompson’s living in both MA and IL between 1850 and 1900, and unfortunately the 1890 census, which could have filled in some gaps, were destroyed by clerical error in the 1930’s. I haven’t confirmed anything about his business, his first marriage(?) or Frank’s reported half brother. I have some suspects, but that’s for later.
Where I got lucky with Sarah because she was living with her brother, I have had no such luck with Charles. I hope to share some of my efforts to find Charles in future installments of Has Anyone Seen My GG-GF?