WILLIAM THOMPSON, a farmer and stock raiser of Randolph Township, owns one of the finest farm homesteads in
McLean County. It comprises 392 acres, and occupies a part of sections 11, 12, 14 and 22, the residence being on
section 11. The family history of our subject is as follows: his father, George K. Thompson, was one of the older
sons of William Thompson, Sr., and the father of the latter was a citizen of Virginia. The family is supposed to
have come from Scottish ancestry.
The great-grandfather of our subject and his sons were well-to-do farmers and slave-holders, who had been taught to believe in the rectitude of the peculiar institution. The grandfather lived and died in Monroe County, W. Va., having been a poor man, but an honest, law-abiding citizen. His wife was formerly Miss Elizabeth King, also a native of West Virginia, who spent her entire life in her native State.
Of their six children, George K., the father of our subject, was the eldest son and third child. His boyhood and youth were spent upon his father's farm, and after reaching years of manhood he was united in marriage with Miss Anstis Collison, who was born and reared in Greenbrier County, W. Va., where her marriage took place. After the birth of a son, whom they named Franklin, they came to Butler County, Ohio, being among the earliest settlers of that region, making their home in the timber. In the fall of 1831, the little family having in the meantime been increased in size by the birth of our subject and Mary O., the parents with their three young children left Ohio and came to Illinois, making their first settlement in Peoria County.
The following year, after the birth of a daughter, Elizabeth, they came to Randolph Township and settled near a grove of the same name, and on the farm which is now owned by our subject, William Thompson. They arrived here on the 5th of July, and on the 27th of August they met with a sore affliction in the death of the husband and father, leaving the mother with four small children dependent upon her. Of these all are now living, married, and comfortably settled in homes of their own.
The mother of our subject remained a widow for two and one-half years, and then became the wife of Mathew Coverdale. The mother and stepfather are both living, and make their home with our subject. The former, who is now seventy-seven years of age, received a severe fall two years ago, which has rendered her a cripple since that time. Mr. Coverdale is a native of New Jersey, whence he removed to Ohio and from there to Illinois, having also lived for some years in the State of Indiana.
William Thompson was only about two and one-half years old when his father died. He afterward made his home with his mother and stepfather until he attained his majority. He then engaged in farming on his own account, and three years later was married, in Randolph Township, to Miss Cassandra French, who was born at Athens, Belmont Co., Ohio, March 16, 1836. She came with her parents to Illinois in her girlhood, and remained with them in this township until her marriage. A few weeks after this event the father sickened and died, the mother having died when Cassandra was five years old. Of this marriage of our subject there were born two children: Oliver C. married Miss Mary Gard, and they live in Ida County, Iowa; he has been County Surveyor several terms and is now a land agent. Minerva became the wife of Henry Talbert, and they reside on a farm in Morrison County, Kan. [ed., Morris County] Mrs. Cassandra Thompson departed this life at the home of her husband in Story County, Iowa, in 1856.
Mr. Thompson was the second time married, in Boone County, Iowa, March 4, 1858, to Miss Mary M. Jones. This lady is a native of Wayne County, Ohio, born Aug. 31, 1835. Her parents were Thomas and Jane (Culbertson) Jones, natives respectively of Fayette and Westmoreland Counties, Pa. The father was of Welsh descent and reared in Pennsylvania, and the mother was of Irish ancestry. They were married in Wayne County, Ohio, where they lived for many years and reared their family.
In 1855 they emigrated to Story County, Iowa, where the parents passed the remainder of their days, the father living to the ripe old age of eighty-two years, and the mother dying when fifty-six. Mrs. Thompson was the first daughter and fourth child of the family, and was twenty years old when her parents removed to Iowa. By her marriage with our subject she has become the mother of nine children, two now deceased. The record is as follows: Anstis married William H. Stewart, a farmer of Randolph Township; Mary J. became the wife of J. C. Wakefield, and they live on a farm near Heyworth; Martha E., Mrs. James L. Pumphrey, lives in Bloomington City, and her husband is now a student at Wesleyan University [ed., Illinois Wesleyan University]; George K. is attending the Evergreen City Business College; Daniel W., Ed., Edith and Nellie are living with their parents at home.
Mrs. Thompson is a member in good standing of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Politically our subject is a Democrat. He has served two terms as a Justice of the Peace, one in Iowa, and for one term has been Clerk of the Circuit Court in Iowa.
After coming West Mr. Thompson resided in Story County, Iowa, for a period of fifteen years, during which time his first wife died, and he was the second time married. He returned to his present home in 1866, which place has since been his permanent abode.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 728. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.