Strategies for Sorting Men of the Same Name: Lawrence Thompson, Part 4

Congratulations! You’ve made it to Part 4 of my quest to sort out Lawrence Thompsons born in the 1700s. I hope you aren’t too confused. I actually have many more notes about the Thompson family than I’ve shared.

One thing is for certain – this Thompson clan is a big family and their FAN club is telling me that they are all related.

This group came out of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in the late 1750s, migrating to the Rowan/Orange Counties area of North Carolina, which were created in 1753 and 1752, respectively.

The Thompson FAN club includes the allied families of Logue, Finney, Debow, Shelby, Tinnin, Whitsett, Simpson, Scott, Wilkinson and Wilson. There are likely others that I haven’t yet come across.

These families intermarried through multiple generations and left North Carolina to settle in Kentucky and Tennessee in the 1780s. It appears that they didn’t always remain in one cohesive group. Some who went to Mercer County, Kentucky moved to Madison County, Kentucky and lived near other Thompson relatives. Some in Tennessee later removed to Mercer, Madison, Washington and Shelby Counties in Kentucky. They were an extremely mobile group.

The same thing happened with Kentucky family members who later moved on to Indiana and Missouri.

The common thread tying the Thompsons together is finding these collateral families appearing and disappearing at the same time and in the same places as the Thompsons.

I mentioned in Part 1 of this series that it is unlikely to successfully sort out men of the same name in an hour or even a day. I’ve been working on this research question for several weeks now and, although the series is ending, I am still not done with my “reasonably exhaustive search” aka leaving no stone unturned.

However, I have made great progress and think that Ephraim Thompson, Dave’s ancestor, WAS the son of Lawrence Thompson. The surprise is which Lawrence Thompson I think he was.

To recap, I began with one Lawrence Thompson living in Mercer and Washington Counties, Kentucky at the same time as my Ephraim Thompson.

Next, I uncovered two Lawrence Thompsons, both Revolutionary War pensioners.

Lawrence Thompson #1 married Martha (MNU), was born 1755 in Dunmore, Frederick, Virginia, moved to Rowan County, North Carolina (where he served in the war) and then moved on to Kentucky (place not stated) and, finally, Harrison and then Clay County, Indiana, where he died after the 1840 census of Clay County, Indiana, which enumerated him (incorrectly) as 99 years old. He stated that he was 78 years old in 1833! Martha survived him, but there is no data on his family, except for the statement that he had two children – a son and daughter. I think that meant he had two children living nearby – son John D. Thompson and daughter Fanny, wife of James Booth and then Thomas Wheeler.

There is more work to do on this man, as Indiana records are locked on FamilySearch. His pension application also omits any mention of marriages he might have had previous to Martha (said to be McKee, although I haven’t yet found proof.) However, this Lawrence makes no mention of ever having lived in Tennessee, so I think this is a different man than Lawrence Thompson Jr., below, from Sumner County, Tennessee.

Is this the same Lawrence Thompson, son of John Thompson, who married Eleanor Thompson, 8 April 1779 (bond) in Rowan County, North Carolina? I don’t know – maybe, maybe not.

Lawrence Thompson #2, son of Thomas Thompson, married Keziah Hart, probably at Fort Boonesborough, c1780. He was born c1753 and died 21 April 1835, Madison County, Kentucky. Keziah survived him, passing away on 13 February 1837, also in Madison County. His pension file states that her heirs tried to apply for a widow’s pension in her name in the 1840s. It was denied because Keziah died before Congress pass the law allowing widows to apply for their own pensions.

In any case, this Lawrence Thompson is absolutely NOT the father of Ephraim Thompson. Keziah’s brother, Simpson Hart, died in Sumner County, Tennessee and left a will in February 1790. He made bequests to his sister Keziah Thompson’s five children – Richard Lawrence, Sarah Finney, Nathaniel Hart, China Benton and Azariah Thomas with instructions that his brother-in-law Lawrence Thompson be in charge of the lands given to them until they became of age.

Ephraim Thompson was likely born in the 1770s and possibly even in the late 1760s. He is clearly too old to have been their child and he is not mentioned in Simpson Hart’s will.

Lawrence Thompson #3 is one I had written off, as he was born c1712 and was living in Sumner County, Tennessee when he died, leaving a will dated 26 October 1790, proved in January 1791. FAN club connections lead me to believe this Lawrence was probably the brother of Thomas Thompson who married Ann Finney (who were the parents of Lawrence Thompson, Rev. War pensioner who died in 1835 in Madison County, Kentucky.)

Although no documentation is provided on FamilySearch family tree, this Lawrence is said to have married Sarah Finney in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, c1734.

In any case, Lawrence’s wife predeceased him, as she is not named in his will. His heirs were daughter Sarah Whitsett (married John Whitsett), granddaughter Sarah Whitsett, granddaughter Sarah Thompson (father not named), daughter Isabella Tinnin (married Hugh Tinnin), daughter Mary Whitsett (married Lewis Whitsett, 1 August 1785, Orange County, North Carolina), son Azariah and son LAWRENCE. A Joseph Thompson, relationship not stated, received $10, which was the amount of the debt that Joseph owed Lawrence Sr. Joseph also appears to be a son of this Lawrence.

Lawrence Sr. stipulated in his will that his son Lawrence was to be “discharged from his portion of my estate.” I don’t know if that means he was to receive nothing or if it meant that Lawrence Jr. had received his fair share during his father’s lifetime.

Either way, there is now Lawrence Thompson #4 to consider in this picture.

This discovery sent me scurrying to the Sumner County, Tennessee tax records. In 1789, I found John, Lawrence, Lawrence Jr. and Azariah all listed. Lawrence Jr. was taxed for 3 polls, which would be himself plus 2 males over the age of 16. He had a son who could fit the age of my Ephraim Thompson.

Next, I did an online search for possible new information about this Lawrence Thompson and Sarah Finney. A couple of surname forums posted some interesting new clues.

Lawrence Thompson Sr. supposedly married one Ann Logue (no date given.) Ephraim Thompson’s oldest known daughter was Annie Thompson. That proves nothing EXCEPT Ann Logue had a brother named EPHRAIM. Ann and Ephraim were children of John Logue, who was the son of an Ephraim Logue, who died in Delaware in 1751.

There are no other Thompsons that I have come across who are named Ephraim. Remember those naming patterns?

Back to the tax lists – I found it curious that although Lawrence and Ephraim Thompson are both on the Mercer County, Kentucky tax list in 1796 and then next appear in Washington County, Kentucky, they weren’t on any earlier tax lists in Mercer County (1789 and 1794 are extant.)

Just as curious is the fact that Lawrence Thompson Jr. ONLY appears on the 1789 tax list of Sumner County, Tennessee. If he is Ephraim’s father, Ephraim was one of the 3 polls for which his father was charged that year.

Right now, I don’t believe that Lawrence who died after 1840 is Lawrence Jr. from Sumner County, Tennessee, although it isn’t impossible. I need to access records from Harrison and Clay Counties, Indiana to see if any new clues turn up.

I also need to scour Sumner County, Tennessee records more thoroughly. There are no land deeds found there for Lawrence and the court records are locked so I need to get to a family history center when they open. However, Lawrence Jr. is looking like a good candidate to be the father of Ephraim Thompson.

The Logue family connection accounts for Ephraim’s name coming into the Thompson family and there are no records (yet) showing a Lawrence in Sumner County at the same time as Lawrence in Mercer County.

There is also a book I would love to get my hands on – Thomas Thompson and Ann Finney of Colonial Pennsylvania and North Carolina, by Jane Gray Buchanan, 1987. It is described as “excellent” and the closest copy to me is at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Oh well, the pandemic will eventually come to an end!

I had planned to conclude this series in 4 parts, but did not expect the flood of information that surfaced about the Thompsons and their FAN club.





3 thoughts on “Strategies for Sorting Men of the Same Name: Lawrence Thompson, Part 4”

  1. I have a Thomas Thompson with a brothers Abraham & John Thompson that I fully believe belong to this family. They first appear in 1796 in Bourbon County, Kentucky. DNA points back to North Carolina and Abraham’s children says that he was born in Virginia. Your research has given me more info to add to quest to find out their parents. Thank you!

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