Recap: The Extended Thompson Family of PA, NC, KY, TN & IN

It is time for a recap of the facts and clues that I’ve uncovered about the Thompson family. The amount of information I’ve been finding about this family and their FAN club appears, on the surface perhaps, to have been a BSO (bright, shiny object) that pulled me off track while trying to answer my research question regarding the father of Ephraim Thompson.

In reality, it wasn’t a BSO at all. It was very necessary to follow the record trail which led here, there and everywhere in the hunt for Lawrence Thompson.

Today, I will discuss the various Lawrence Thompsons with much of the extraneous detail omitted.

Sorting out men of the same name means casting a wide net for information. In the case of this Thompson family, various members of the clan lived in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee and that was just in the 1700s!

Caught in my net, however, were multiple Lawrence Thompsons and a huge set of Thompson relatives, the earliest of whom were likely brothers and/or cousins to each other.

While I still need to prove how those first Thompsons are related, given the fact that they migrated hundreds of miles together – more than once – and married into the same families over and over, I’d be quite shocked to discover that they were all just random unrelated Thompsons who happened to find each other in Pennsylvania!

I began with one Lawrence Thompson living in Mercer County, Kentucky in the 1790s. I suspected that he might be the father of my husband’s Ephraim Thompson, born in the 1770s, for three reasons.

First, he appeared to be older than Ephraim because no marriage record was found for him in Kentucky, while Ephraim’s was.

Second, Lawrence and Ephraim both dropped off the Mercer County tax rolls and appeared on those of Washington County at the same time. The move wasn’t due to a change in county boundaries.

Third, Lawrence Thompson sold land to Ephraim Thompson, although no relationship was stated, proved both in June 1803 and again in September 1804.

Lawrence Thompson last appears in Kentucky records in the 1810 Washington County census with a male over 45 (himself), female over 45, female aged 26-45 and two males 10-16. More on this family in a bit.

Ephraim Thompson is on the same 1810 census. However, that census taker alphabetized and grouped the surnames, so checking the neighborhood isn’t a possibility.

However, Lawrence and Ephraim Thompson clearly knew one another.

Naming patterns in Ephraim’s children didn’t provide much in the way of clues – Annie, Sarah, Elmore, Elias and Hannah, which are the names of his known children. (I did find Randall Elmore of Orange County, North Carolina in the 1790 census, but a quick check of the family revealed no obvious ties to any Thompson.)

There are also two books, one on the family of Thomas and Ann (Finney) Thompson and another on the family of Closs Thompson, that I really want to read, but the closest copies are in the Family History Library in Salt Lake, so that won’t be happening any time soon.

However, aside from family history books and naming patterns, the other resource strategies I suggested – Vital Records, Censuses, Probate Records, Land Deeds, Military Records, Tax lists, Court Records, Google searches and Online Family Trees turned out to be excellent CLUE catchers!

By digging through both primary records and, for lack of a better word, clues, I have been able to assemble a working model of the families of:

  1. Thomas & Ann (Finney) Thompson
  2. Lawrence & (1) Gertrude (MNU -but could she be an Elmore?) (2) Sarah Finney
  3. Closs Thompson & Jane Jones
  4. John Thompson & Priscilla (MNU)

These four men are said to be brothers, BUT while I haven’t found any evidence to contradict this assumption, I haven’t found proof yet, either. What can be proven with land records is that all four migrated from the same are of Pennsylvania to the Orange, Rowan and Caswell Counties area of North Carolina about the same time – around the 1750s.

For the moment, let’s assume they are brothers. This is how the family tree shakes out. NOTE: Names and dates in RED are unproven or estimates. Names and dates in BLUE have documentation.

Unknown Thompson married Unknown Wife, c1710


Lawrence, born c1712; died before 26 October 1790, Sumner County, TN, where he left a will naming his children; married (1) Gertrude, c1735, probably Berks County, Pennsylvania (2) Sarah Finney.

Child of Lawrence and Gertrude:
Elizabeth, baptized 22 August 1736, St. Gabriel Episcopal Church, Amity, Berks, Pennsylvania; died before her father, as she is not in his will

Children of Lawrence and Sarah Finney (Birth order uncertain):
1. Mary, born c1742; died after 26 October 1790; married William Whitsett
2. Sarah, born c1745; died after 26 October 1790; married John Whitsett, c1767
3. Sybilla, born c1747, probably Pennsylvania; died after 26 October 1790, probably Davidson County, Tennessee; married Hugh Tinnen, c1768. He was born c1745, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; died 20 December 1794, Davidson County, Tennessee.
4. Lawrence, born c1748; married Ann Logue
5. Joseph, born c1750, probably Pennsylvania; died after 26 October 1790
6. Azariah, born c1760; died 1797, Sumner County, Tennessee; married Catherine Allison, 4 September 1784, Orange County, North Carolina

Thomas, born c1713; died before February 1796, Orange County, North Carolina, where he left a will naming wife Ann, but only the two children still living nearby – Abraham and Samuel; married Ann Finney, c1738, probably Pennsylvania

Children of Thomas and Ann Finney (Birth order uncertain):
1. Joseph, born c1740; married Sarah (MNU)
2. Thomas, born c1744, Pennsylvania; died after 13 July 1819, Bedford County, Tennessee; married Margaret Logue
3. Rebekah, born c1746, married James Tinnen, c1768
4. Samuel, born 23 June 1750, Bucks County, Pennsylvania; died 24 October 1837, Orange County, North Carolina; married Elizabeth Debow, c1785
5. Lawrence, born December 1752, Orange County, North Carolina; died 1835, Madison County, Kentucky; married Keziah Hart, c1778. This Lawrence Thompson, identified as son of Thomas Thompson, was bondsman for Lawrence Thompson, son of John Thompson, when he married Eleanor Thompson, 1779, Rowan County, North Carolina.
6. John
7. Abraham, born c1760, died before December 1805, Smith County, Tennessee; married Sarah Debow
8. Ellen, born c1762; married Benjamin Debow, 14 June 1783, Orange County, North Carolina. Abraham Thompson was bondsman.

John, born c1718; died before 29 January 1793, Mercer County, Kentucky, when his will was proved; married Priscilla (MNU), who died after 1796. He only named sons John and Evan and wife Priscilla.

Children of John and Priscilla:
1. John, died after 29 January 1793
2.Lawrence, born 1755, Dunmore, Virginia (now Shenandoah County); died after 1840, Clay County, Indiana; married (1) Eleanor Thompson, 8 April 1779, Rowan County, North Carolina (2) Martha (MNU). Lawrence Thompson, son of Thomas, was his bondsman. The groom was identified as the son of John Thompson.
3.  Evan, born 27 August 1763, Rowan County, North Carolina; died 28 May 1834, Shelby County, Kentucky; married Chloe Bennett, 25 April 1792, Mercer County, Kentucky.
4. Ann, born c1765; married John Robison, 20 December 1783, Lincoln County, Kentucky. John Thompson gave permission.

Closs, born c1730; died after 1790; married Jane Jones. Little is known about Closs’s family. His place of death is unsure, as is the year. He is last found on the 1790 tax list of Madison County, Kentucky. Closs Jr. is on the same list.

Children of Closs and Jane:
1. Closs, born c1763; died after 23 October 1817, Franklin County, Indiana; married Rebeckah Wilson
2. Lawrence, born c1765; married Mary Jones, c1789
3. Benjamin, born c1769
4. Samuel, born c1775

As you can see, there is quite a bit of work to do to change the red information to blue proven facts.

There are several odds and ends in land records that tie these families together. In 1751, Closs Thompson was the marker for land of John Thompson, in Frederick County, Virginia. John’s son, Lawrence, stated he was born in Dunmore, Virginia in 1755, which was part of Frederick County at that time.

Thomas Thompson and Ann Finney moved to Orange County, North Carolina about 1750.

What progress have I made with my original research question:
Is Lawrence Thompson the father of Ephraim Thompson?

After having multiple Lawrence Thompsons turn up during my digging expedition, at this moment, all the present clues point to Ephraim’s line being:

  1. Lawrence Thompson, born c1712, who married (1) Gertrude and (2) Sarah Finney.
  2. Lawrence Thompson, born c1748; died after 1810, possibly Washington County, Kentucky; married Ann Logue
  3. Ephraim Thompson, born c1770; died before August 1847, Howard County, Missouri; married (1) Sarah Curry, born 1770-1780; died after 1840, probably Howard County, Missouri (2) Isabella Dorcas W. Jones, 21 December 1842, Boone County, Missouri. She was born c1822; died 6 January 1894, Boone County, Missouri.

The main reason for this conclusion is that only Lawrence, the son of Lawrence Thompson born c1712, has a son who could have been born as early as the late 1760s or very early 1770s. Lawrence Sr., born in 1712, most definitely could have had a son born around 1770, but Lawrence Sr. helpfully left a will naming his children. No Ephraim to be found in it!

Although I haven’t mentioned them in this series, there are also more potential leaves to bloom on the family tree through both the Finney and the Logue families. However, until the FHL reopens, there won’t be any progress made on that front.

I warned everyone at the beginning, that this would be quite a ride and it has been.

I’ve had questions about my methodology – the nuts and bolts – while researching this family, so there will be one more post describing how I went about it. However, it will focus on the bread crumb trail that led to various records, NOT on the Thompson family themselves.





2 thoughts on “Recap: The Extended Thompson Family of PA, NC, KY, TN & IN”

  1. Hi,
    In Jane Buchanan book. Jane has Children of Lawrence and Anne (Logue) Thompson.
    Ephraim married Sarah (Sallie) Curry. Ephraim birth 1765-1784
    Sept 11, 1817 Ephraim and Sarah sold their land 110 A in Washington Co, KY. moved west. They have not been located in later records.

  2. Hi,
    Jane Buchanan Book has Closs Thompson and Jane (Jones) Lee
    Jane was a young widow with two children.
    Closs Sr. abt 1730 died about 1796/6-10-1802 Campbeel Co, KY.
    Benjamin 1769-1853 m Mary Foster 1778-1862
    Samuel died abt. 1830 m Lucy Grigg
    Elizabeth married a Francis Jones

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