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 • Linn County
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Joseph Thompson
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Birth: Nov. 6, 1823
Kentucky, USA
Death: Feb. 10, 1872
Linn County
Oregon, USA

Joseph Thompson was the son of Leonard Thompson and Elizabeth (last name unknown). The source of that information is a letter-story dictated by his nephew, Albert Newton Thompson. In that letter, it says Joseph, Mary and Mercer's parents were English and "Hollender," but 99 percent American. The Walker history backs this up, but says the father was named John...perhaps John Leonard.

James Franklin Thompson's 1903 biography says Joseph Thompson engaged in farming and stock raising. It also said he was successful and accumulated a good deal of property. That he was prominent in public affairs and indicated he was an influence in building up his community. One newspaper account does show he donated money to help build a bridge. No doubt other items are hidden away in dusty archival files.

If family histories are accurate, his brother, Mercer, was born in Clay County, KY. Joseph was born in in 1823, the little sister, Mary, in 1826; both in Wayne Co., KY.

The indication is the mother died in Wayne Co., but no burial records seem to reflect this. Albert Thompson's letter said they were living in Jefferson Co., KY. at the time of the move. This would place them in the Louisville area, where I did find a part of Rev. John Thompson's family; however not finding ways to link them.

Albert's letter goes on to say that Joseph's family went from there to Jefferson City, Cole Co., MO. This was not so far from Warsaw, Benton Co., MO. and how Joseph became acquainted with Elizabeth Donahge. Her father is listed in the Benton Co. history as a trapper and hunter from Kentucky, and as coming to Benton County in 1834. Albert's story says as much. He said it was when Sally was 10 years old.

The Slickers Wars (Hatfield-McCoy type feuds similar to what they left behind in Kentucky) in Benton County caused many to leave. Hugh Donaghe married Eliza Crowe, widowed daughter of Judge Lindsey. Sally Donaghe married Mercer Thompson. The families moved on to Newton Co., MO. in 1843. Joseph married Elizabeth Donaghe there in 1846.

In 1849, Joseph and his brother were in CA. and while there, they explored some of the mining camps and likely were part of a group of Methodists who went to see the rumored "Columbia River" country. Rumors circulated through the mining camps about the murders of the Columbia River men, and further inquiry told those men lived within traveling distance of the mines, but in a world of lush farming land and rivers full of salmon. A minister living in the camps organized a large party and they went to investigate the possibility, with the hope of bringing the wives and old folks to tend the farms, while they returned to find the gold. And they found out the stories were true, for the most part.

This was enough for Joseph, Mercer and some of their acquaintances. They packed it in and returned to Missouri by ship and steamboat, stopping in New Orleans and buying bibles for the wives and other items as struck their fancy.

In all, it took a year to make all the arrangements, but finally they were organized and outfitted for Oregon.

Names of some of the wagon train members included:
Captain Mercer Thompson
Joseph Thompson
Washington Walker
Rueben Woody
William Yates
William Ross

Many, if not all, of these men had family and extended family traveling with them, so as to make about 100 adults and a good many children. They traveled together and apart as suited the needs of each group. The Walker's in one group and Thompson's in another. But in Nebraska, as was the custom, elections were held and Mercer was elected captain over the entire train.

Mercer and Joseph were the type of brothers sewn together at the hip. So it's not too much of a leap to believe he was Mercer's right hand man. Despite a brush with cholera, they made it through with no loss of life. In Oregon, they filed for Donation Land Claims.

In the next years there was some stock raising and driving freight and large herds of livestock to the various mines, where they realized a dollar a pound; good money for those times. For two years, during the time gold was discovered at Pierce, Idaho, they herded livestock up to Dufar and hauled goods from The Dalles, in by pack train, to the rugged Idaho country around Lewiston, Pierce and that region. In later years, their boys and grandsons made homes in that region and are there today.

In 1860, they were living at Brownsville. By 1870, Joseph was listed in Albany. In 1872, Joseph passed away. In his short few years, he crossed the continent twice, lived through the Kentucky feuds as a boy, the Slickers Wars in Missouri, the Rogue River and Civil War while in Oregon, freighted into the most dangerous mining camps and outsmarted road agents after the Thompson boys cash box.

Mercer went on to be farmer and Methodist preacher. Joseph also farmed, but less is known about his activities. Both were involved in their community.

Joseph, story told, befriended the natives and introduced new medical ideas to them, saving lives.

But despite Mercer and Joseph's medical knowledge and the help of doctors, they weren't able to save Joseph's little son, Edwin, who died in 1868. Joseph followed in 1872.

And there is much more to learn about Joseph. It's tucked away in the dusty archives somewhere in a place called the end of the Oregon trail

Mercer Thompson
Mary "Polly" Thompson

George B. McClellan "Clell" THOMPSON

Family links: 
  Elizabeth Melvina Donaghe Thompson-Nickerson (1826 - ____)
  William Jasper Thompson (1847 - 1931)*
  Melissa Jane THOMPSON Vanostern (1849 - 1883)*
  Hugh Daniel Thompson (1851 - 1876)*
  James Franklin Thompson (1854 - 1913)*
  Martha Caroline Thompson Cason (1856 - 1875)*
  Sarah Phebe THOMPSON Walker (1858 - 1877)*
  John Mercer Thompson (1860 - 1890)*
  George B. Thompson (1862 - 1925)*
  Joseph Alexander Thompson (1864 - 1914)*
  Edwin M Thompson (1866 - 1868)*
  Francis Marion Thompson (1869 - 1880)*
*Calculated relationship
Pleasant Butte Baptist Cemetery
Linn County
Oregon, USA
Maintained by: Rootsandlimbsbranchesand...
Originally Created by: Barbara HARMS Craig
Record added: Jul 10, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 39302758
Joseph Thompson
Added by: Rootsandlimbsbranchesandtwigs
Joseph Thompson
Added by: Rootsandlimbsbranchesandtwigs
Joseph Thompson
Added by: Rootsandlimbsbranchesandtwigs
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My great great grandfather
 Added: Nov. 7, 2013

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