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Abraham ‘Abram’ Thompson (1812-1872)
(Brother of Charles Blancher Thompson)

Born January 27, 1814 ~ Niscayuna, NY
Died February 27, 1895 ~ Philadelphia, PA

 February 10, 22, 27; April 11; May 6, 7, 2007

From our early Thompson family tree we find an Abram ‘Abraham’ (1787-1842). He was born on the eastern side of the Hudson River at Clinton, Dutchess County, New York. He died in Warren city, PA on 13 May 1842.

So when Abraham (1812) was born, Abraham (1787), his uncle, was still alive.

At present we do not know the itinerary of Abraham (1787) but there is a good chance that they met in Warren city, PA. Warren city is located on the Allegheny River in northwest Pennsylvania. (Note: Warren is a city in Warren County so to put city after the name helps to identify the location.)

In 1832 in the Schenectady, New York area Charles Blancher Thompson (CBT) is “persuaded at the age of eighteen to enter as a probationer in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and received baptism therein.” It is a good guess that Abraham (1812), his brother, was influential in that decision because by Thompson family tradition and US Federal Censuses, Abraham (1812) was an ordained minister of that church.

There is a documentary gap for Abraham (1812) between Niskayuna, New York and Perry Township, Gallia County, Ohio. One has to rely on history and geography to fill in the gap. The Methodist Episcopal Church in history is noted for its itinerate preachers called “Circuit Riders”. That is to say their preachers on horseback would go from place to place to evangelize communities. They might pastor one or more congregations whether in a home or in a structure built for that purpose. At this point in time Abraham (1812) seems to be unmarried and would be ideal for this type of ministry.

In those days with the lack of good roads, the rivers would be the best choice for transporting goods and people. When looking at today’s map and trying to understand those days I am amazed at the distance from Schenectady to Warren, PA. After a road trip the Allegheny River can be ‘picked up’ at Allegany, New York. (Note spelling is different). A ride down river would get one to Warren.

Communication between individuals in those days would be primitive to us today in light of our mail service and computers. Any letters between towns and cities would be addressed to General Delivery. At a Post Office the letter would be ‘pigeon-holed’ by alphabetical order behind the clerk’s counter. The letter might set there for days unless someone passes the word that it was there. Friends or relatives might ‘drop off’ a note or letter to a person’s house while enroute to their destination. Location of friends and relatives would be given orally, like, “When you get to------, look him up.” In small towns it was a matter of asking around. Happy is the person who has been told exactly where to find the 2 individual of his search.

Meanwhile, at Warren, Pa and even before, questions come to my mind. Again, in those days, who or what prompted the young Abraham to make such long journeys? Had other preachers made this trip and asked for help? Was it news of migration that prompted direction from a Bishop, or individual initiative?

The easy route south and west was on the Allegheny River which met up with the Monongahela River at Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River. The approximate 120 mile twisting river ride would include many stops along the way. However, one would not consider it a tourist ride but one of ‘stop-’n- go’ through the years, and always on the look out for ‘snags’ and sandbars.

In the 1850 US Federal Census for Ohio young Abraham is in the Township Perry of Gallia County near the large city of Gallipolis along the Ohio River.

QST note: Today this Perry still carries the name Township whereas the Perry northeast of Cleveland near Lake Erie is deemed a city. To confuse the issue more, there is a Perry Township in Lake County, one in Stark County in which is the large city of Massillon west of Canton. To the west there is the one in Wood County south of Toledo. Farther south in Allen County, Logan County and Montgomery County, west and southwest of Dayton are others. Back to the east, Tuscarawas County also pays tribute to Commodore Oliver Hazard PERRY who was victorious on Lake Erie during the War of 1812 by naming one of its townships Perry. Between the cities of Lancaster and Zanesville Perry is elevated to the status of County. But the place that interests us is southward in Gallia County near Gallipolia along the Ohio River. The US Postal Service has their Zip Code to help the confused.

From the 1850 Census we can find that Abraham was ministering to a farming community about 15 miles upland from the city of Gallipolis in southern Ohio along the Ohio River. The area had assorted  occupations that catered to farmers. There is recorded nine blacksmiths, seven cabinet makers, three physicians, carpenters, wagon makers, merchants, chair maker, clerks, tavern keeper, shoemakers, stone cutter brick mason, cooper, miller, teamster, many laborers, and abundance of farmers and only one minister (MEPC). It appears that Abraham was the only resident minister in the area..

The Elvick Family History Book mentioned a cholera outbreak in  July 1849 in the neighboring townships of Harrison and Walnut which was limited to those counties. It mentions the loss of Frederick Bickel who lived there. Some of the Bickels who were formerly Lutherans became Methodists because there was no Lutheran Church nearby.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was very active throughout the US. “Circuit riders, many of whom were laymen, traveled by horseback to preach the gospel and establish churches until there was scarcely any crossroad community in the United States without a Methodist presence.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia also shows a map of Methodist Episcopal Churches concentrated in southeast Ohio in 1850.

History: The Methodist Episcopal Church was officially organized at the Baltimore Christmas Conference in 1784. It, like many churches, was a reaction to the Church of England or Anglican Church. “By the 1770’s,---they had their own chapels. In addition to salaried circuit riders (who were paid just over one-quarter what salaried Congregationalist ministers earned at the time), there were also unsalaried local ministers who held full-time jobs outside the church, class leaders who conducted weekly small groups where members were mutually accountable for their practice of Christian piety, and stewards who often undertook administrative duties.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

More history: “The earliest Episcopal Methodists in North America were often drawn from the middle-class trades, women were more numerous among members than men, and adherents outnumbered official members by as many as five-to-one. Adherents, unlike members, were not publicly accountable for their Christian life and therefore did not usually attend weekly class meetings. Meetings and services were often characterized by extremely emotional and demonstrative styles of worship that were often condemned by contemporary Congregationalists. It was also very common for exhortations, testimonials and personal conversion narratives distinguishable from sermons because exhorters did not “take a text” from the Bible--to be publicly delivered by both women and slaves. Some of the earliest class leaders were also women. The church split over the question of slavery in 1844 with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South being formed in the southern states.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What prompted Abraham and his family to move to Kansas is unknown. In the 1860 Kansas Territory US Federal Census (July 9th) we find our Abraham W. Thompson-40 with his wife, Elizabeth-36, and four children (Louisa-10, William A.-7, Charles R.- 5, & Dora-2) in the town of IOLA in the County of Allen in eastern part of the state near the Neosho River. Note: What is lacking is Mary Koontz who would be 58.

With the age of Dora being 2 and born in Ohio we can figure that the Thompsons arrived in the area about 1859. From the 1870 MO US Federal Census in Moundville, Missouri Salina is recorded as 8 years old born in Kansas which would put them there in 1862. More accurately the following puts the family in Kansas earlier. “In 1856, Rev. C. R. Rice, of the Methodist Episcopal Church Society, preached in the neighborhood of Humboldt, and was followed in 1857 by Rev. Mr. Thompson. (KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS, William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, ALLEN COUNTY, Part 4” ) So by calculation they were in the area for at least five years.

When one considers the distance between Gallipolis, Ohio and IOLA Kansas it is amazing that they made the journey in their time. Again comes up the question of, ‘Who sent them and why?” Let alone ‘how’ they got from point A to point B. Looking at the map the rivers of the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri would be the easiest way to get to Kansas. Looks like a river route of 800 plus miles. At Kansas City, MO / KS an overland trip of approximate 120 miles would get them to Iola KS. If they made the trip by boat a stop over at St. Louis, MO would be in order.

Question: Did Abraham know Daniel S., Charles, his brother, and CBT with his family were in St. Louis, or was it unfortunate that they were ‘so close but so far’ Or was it a case where all three brothers met together for the first time since the days of Niskayuna, NY.?

From the Allen County sections of the 1912 book, Kansas:  Cyclopedia of State History we get insight into the times in which Abraham lived before going east to Missouri. When Abraham & family arrived in IOLA, Kansas there were no railroads in Allen County.

“The first church in the county was that of the United Brethren in Humboldt which was begun in 1859 and completed the following year” For some years this church was used as a union church by all denominations and also as a schoolhouse.”

Abraham’s congregation was among the many who were hit by the ‘great drought ‘.

History: ”During the winter of 1859-60, there was little snow and the hot winds of the following summer swept over the dry, parched earth, burning all vegetation except in occasional valleys and ravines where a partial crop was raised. The population of the county was about 3,000. and with such a scanty crop, the prospect of starvation seemed imminent. Most people had come into the county within two years and had not fairly opened their farms. Many of the settlers, with starvation and hardship before them, returned to the east.”

With the record that Salinas Thompson was born in Kansas in 1862 it establishes the fact that Abraham & family stayed. The years before and after the US Federal Census of 1860 put the Abraham Thompson family “between a rock and a hard place”.

History: The antislavery “free state’ of Kansas was pitting its efforts against the pro-slavery state of Missouri. Those from Kansas who marauded in Missouri were called ‘Jayhawkers’= the origin of this term is unclear. Those from Missouri who marauded in Kansas were called ‘Bushwackers, a term used for those who hid in bushes and surprise the enemy.

The eastern Kansas state line with Missouri was the imaginary battle line. IOLA in Kansas was about 35 miles west of the state line. So up to the start of the Civil War and after, IOLA was a potential target for a raid or a reprisal raid. Lawrence, Kansas which is 75 miles north and equal distance to the state line endured another devastating raid on August 21, 1863 by the confederate ‘Bushwakers’ lead by William Clark Quantrill. “Another” sacking raid to Lawrence was done years earlier on May 21, 1856 by Missourians lead by Sheriff Samuel Jones. To retaliate this raid John Brown of future Harper’s Ferry attack fame lead a group to Pottawatomie Creek at Osawatomie, Kansas and killed 5 pro-slavers. This occurred about 45 miles above IOLA. If a town or farmer in Missouri was against slavery they were a target for a raid by the ‘Bushwakers’ even though they were Missourians. So the battle line was flexible.

Yes, the news of the start of the Civil War on April 12, 1861 reached IOLA and “nearly all the able bodied men hastened to enlist in the army. The IOLA battalion was formed that year”. While the battalion was away from the area with Union General Lane, Missouri guerrillas and hostile Indians from the Indian Territory (Cherokee & Osage half-breed ) on September 8, 1861 captured the town of Humboldt just 8 miles south of IOLA. Later on October 14, 1861 the town was again captured and set on fire by the Confederate cavalry that did it in retaliation for Union General Lane’s burning of Osceola, Missouri.

A military post was established at Humboldt and all was quiet until 1864 when Price raided the town.

So Civil War battles were being conducted on both sides of the Kansas / Missouri state lines with IOLA being forty miles west of it. No battles or raids are recorded for this town.

The war came to an end on April 1865.

History: The 1887 Vernon County history states that at the close of the Civil War only one building was left standing between Ft. Scott, Kansas and Drywood.

It is unknown when the Abraham family left Kansas but we find them east across the Kansas / Missouri state in the town of Moundville, MO for the 1870 U.S. Federal Census in the county of Vernon. Abraham is listed at the age of 57 as a FARMER with his wife and five children. There was no Methodist Episcopal Church building  in Moundville until late 1883 after Abraham had died.. Years later Moundville had two Methodist Churches: one at the north end and one at the south end.

Abraham remained in Moundville until he ‘entered his rest’ on Nov. 21, 1872 at the age of almost 60. He was buried in the cemetery beside the McKill Chapel southwest of Bronaugh, Missouri, just five miles south of Moundville.

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McKill Chapel & Cemetery southwest of Bronaugh, Missouri

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His wife Elizabeth later died on March 6, 1888 and was buried beside him. Her mother Mary A. Koontz (Jan 28, 1796-Sep.7, 1877) is buried next to her.

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And so ends one of two religious sons of Quaker parents who took different paths down life’s road.

“Moundville, Missouri, 1860-1910” by Lydon N. Irwin, Ph.D

“Kansas Jayhawking Raids into Western Missouri in 1861” by Albert Castel

“Bushwhackers! on line: Yahoo Encyclopedia of American History JaWan & Nancy Thompson <> (not related)

Written by Quintin S. Thompson, great-grand nephew of Abraham W. Thompson May 2007

The documents are direct quotes and should not be taken and used as one's own work without identifying the source.

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Updated: 16 Jan 2017 12:51 PM