Yesterday, I shared ten resources that might help when trying to sort out two or more men of the same name.
Here is a recap of the list:
- Vital Records
- Census Records
- Probate Records
- Land Deeds
- Military Records
- Tax Lists
- Court Minutes & Court Orders
- Google Search
- Families Histories
- Naming Patterns
- Online Family Trees
Not all of these possibilities are applicable to every situation, but most can be helpful in sorting out elusive ancestors.
Keeping mind yesterday’s caveats about needing to research over a period of time AND being mindful of spelling variations, let’s take a close look at my husband’s possible ancestor Lawrence Thompson.
Right off the bat, Lawrence can also be Laurence, Thompson might show up as Tompson, etc., so I will keep a look out for different spellings.
How did I first come across Lawrence Thompson?
Short Answer: By digging
My husband’s 4X great grandfather is Ephraim Thompson. He died in 1847 in Howard County, Missouri, so I can only estimate his birth year, which was between 1770 and 1780 according to census records. Because he first married on 18 October 1798 (Mercer County, Kentucky), I’ve assigned him an estimated birth year of 1776, as he was at least 21 and marrying without parental permission. It’s also midway in the census age range.
Early Howard County records indicated that the family came from Kentucky and FAN club members led me to believe that the Ephraim Thompson who married in Mercer County was the same man living in Howard County, Missouri.
Now for the records – and clues – which are most definitely not in a nice orderly list like found above. I have also excluded some records that I uncovered along the way either because they weren’t pertinent at the time or definitely didn’t pertain to Lawrence Thompson.
Because of the early time period, and some experience with Kentucky records, I began with Mercer County marriage records and tax records for Mercer and Washington Counties, Kentucky.
Mercer County marriage records provided some clues:
Ephraim Thompson & Sarah Curry, 18 October 1798
William Curry, Ephraim’s father-in-law, left an estate that was probated in 1801. One of the appraisers was Joseph Thompson and among the estate records was the notation that William held a note on “Evan Thompson.
Lawrence Thompson sold land to Ephraim in 1804, but no relationship was stated. Witnesses were William Baxter, Edward Briscoe and John Gray. Both Thompsons were residents of Washington County.
Margaret Thompson & Emmer Stalcup, 25 March 1792: “laurence thompson” gave permission for his daughter Margaret to marry “Amer Stalkup.” The couple was married by John Rice.
When Emmer died about 1805, Ephraim Thompson served as the estate administrator.
Evan Thompson & Chloe Bennett (dau Daniel), 25 April 1792 (John Rice married them.)
Grace Thompson & Henry Landes, 25 February 1799, married Washington County, Kentucky and her father, Laurence Thompson, gave permission.
David Thompson & Melinda Neville, 7 December 1796, Mercer County, Kentucky
David died 2 June 1821, Callaway County, Missouri, per probate records (Volume A:13). David is tentatively placed as a son of Laurence Thompson because (1) he is the right age (2) he is on the same removal list as Ephraim from Mercer County by 1798 and (3) he also migrated to Missouri at an early time. Callaway County was set off from Montgomery County in 1820. Then and now Callaway County borders Boone County, where Ephraim Thompson also owned land.
I decided to next look at tax lists. Kentucky counties were quite meticulous in keeping tax lists from their earliest years. I was in luck because tax lists have survived.
There were no Thompsons on the surviving 1789 tax list dated 1789. By 1794, there were seven men – Lawrence, Archibald and David, along with two Thomases and three Williams.
Lawrence Thompson appears on the 1794 rolls with two tithables. The second tithable could well be Ephraim, who was born c1771-1775. Lawrence Thompson disappears from the Mercer County tax roll after 1796 and appears next door in Washington County after that time. A search of land records revealed that he sold two pieces of property, one in 1795 and one in 1797.
Both sales were in the deed index under Lawrence’s name, but both deeds included the name of wife Anne/Anna as the second grantor.
Lawrence Thompson remained on the Washington County tax roll through 1815. He is then gone and, although he owned land at that time, there are no deeds to be found showing the disposal of that land.
There is also no mention of any probate proceedings for Lawrence Thompson.
What next? Because Lawrence Thompson was of an age where he might have fought in the American Revolution, I checked military records.
There were two pensioners by that name. The first was Lawrence Thompson of Shelby County, Kentucky. I eliminated him for a couple of reasons. First, he was in Madison County by 1789 and stayed in that area of Kentucky. Second, he moved in a higher social circle than the Thompsons of Mercer County. Shelby County’s Lawrence was related to Kentucky governor Isaac Shelby by marriage.
The second Lawrence Thompson appears much more promising. His wife was Martha (MNU). In his pension application, he stated that he was in Dunmore, Virginia in 1755 and then moved to Rowan County, North Carolina, serving as a private in the militia. After the war, he removed to Kentucky (place not states), then to Harrison County, Indiana and then finally to Clay County, Indiana, where the old soldier died before March 1841.
Unfortunately, no children’s names are included in the record, nor does it state how many times Lawrence married.
On the positive side, NSDAR has two proven children of Lawrence in the Patriot Index – John Thompson, who married Elizabeth Elsey in Franklin County, Ohio on 23 July 1816 and Fanny Thompson, who married James Booth on 11 February 1805, Washington County, Kentucky. Lawrence gave permission and John Thompson proved the statement!
I have no idea what John Thompson was doing in Franklin County, Ohio in 1816, but Fanny’s marriage in 1805 in Washington County, Kentucky makes it quite certain that Lawrence who died in Clay County, Indiana as a Revolutionary War pensioner was the same man living in Washington County and involved with land transactions with Ephraim Thompson and others.
There is but one “Laurence Thompson” on the Washington County, Kentucky tax rolls in this time period.
In Part 3, we’ll take a look at further clues. So far, I’ve delved into vital records, probate records, tax lists, military records and land deeds.
There is more to come!