Identifying All the Children of Ephraim Thompson of Mercer & Washington Cos. KY and Howard Co. MO

Last month, I wrote a series about identifying the father of Ephraim Thompson, born c1770, probably Orange County, North Carolina and who died in Howard County, Missouri before August 1847.

However, there is still more mystery about Ephraim Thompson. I don’t know his cause of death. It might have been related to his age and on going health issues. I am also aware that northern Missouri had cholera tearing through the area in the summers of 1847 and 1848. It’s possible that Ephraim was the victim of an epidemic.

What facts have I gathered about Ephraim?

He first appears the court minutes of Mercer County, Kentucky in 1793 when he is part of a group of men named to help maintain the road.

In 1796, Ephraim’s name is found on the county tax list.

Ephraim married Sarah Curry, daughter of William, on 18 October 1798, also in Mercer County.

By 1800, he was taxed next door in Washington County. The federal census for that year has been lost.

The last census in which Ephraim Thompson and his family are found in Washington County, Kentucky is the 1810 enumeration.

At that time, there was one male, 26-44 (Ephraim), one female, 26-44 (wife Sarah) plus the following people in the home:

Male, 16-25 (unknown)
Female, 10-16 (daughter Annie)
Female 10-16 (daughter Sarah)
Male under 10 (son Elmore)
Male under 10 (son Elias)
Male under 10 (unknown)
Female under 10 (daughter Hannah)

Is the male aged 16 to 25 Ephraim’s son? I don’t know. There is no evidence that either he or Sarah had a previous marriage.

At this moment, I believe that he probably wasn’t a son of either of them. This unknown young man could have been a younger sibling of Ephraim or Sarah. He might also have been a work hand living with the family.

In any case, in 1817, Ephraim sold his land in Kentucky and left for greener pastures in Howard County, Missouri, where he appears in local records as early as 1818.

Unfortunately, the 1820 Missouri hasn’t survived either, so the next snapshot of Ephraim’s family is the 1830 census of Howard County.

In the household, we find a male, 50-59 (Ephraim), a female, 40-49 (Sarah) and:

Male, 20-29 (Elmore)
Male, 20-29 (Elias)
Female, 20-29 (Hannah)
Female, born 1811-1815 (Rebecca)
Male, born 1811-1815
Male, born 1816-1820 (Ervin)
Female, born 1821-1825

Marriage records are found in Howard County for Annie Thompson, who married James Madison Holland on 27 November 1818 and for Sarah Thompson, who married Samuel W. Scott on 26 February 1821.

Elmore Thompson later married Martha (Patsy) Smith on 25 February 1830 in Boone County, Missouri and Elias married Permelia Smith, c1835, but no marriage record has been found for them.

In 1840, Ephraim’s household seems to be a blended family. We find:

Male, 60-69 (Ephraim)
Female, 60-69 (Sarah)
Male, 20-29 (born 1811-1820) (Ervin)
Female, 20-29 (born 1811-1820)
Female, 15-19 (born 1821-1825)
Male, 10-14 (born 1826-1830)
Male, 5-9 (born 1831-1835)

The male and female highlighted in blue may be the same male and female highlighted in blue in 1830. The youngest two males might possibly be grandsons, children of Ephraim’s son, Elmore, who died in 1840. The female aged 20-29 is a mystery unless Ervin had an early marriage.

From the census, court, and vital records, Ephraim’s life and family can be constructed with some degree of security:

Ephraim Thompson was born c1770, probably in Orange County, North Carolina and most likely the son of Lawrence Thompson and Ann Logue, who removed from Orange County, North Carolina to Sumner County, Tennessee by 1787.

By 1793, Ephraim was living in Mercer County, Kentucky, as he was named as a road hand in court records. Whether he was married previous to his marriage to Sarah Curry  on 18 October 1798 in Mercer County, Kentucky is not known. Given his age and the fact that the 1810 census includes a male aged 16-25, it is possible.


1. Annie, born c1799, Washington County, Kentucky; died before 1830; married James Madison Holland, 27 November 1818, Howard County, Missouri.

2. Sarah, born c1801, Washington County, Kentucky; died after 1850, possibly Howard County, Missouri; married Samuel W. Scott, 26 February 1821, Howard County, Missouri.

3. Elmore, born c1805, Washington County, Kentucky; died before 13 September 1840, Howard County, Missouri; married Martha (Patsey) Smith, 25 February 1830, Boone County, Missouri.

4. Elias, born 6 October 1808/09, Washington County, Kentucky; died 23 April 1877, Howard County, Missouri; married Permelia Smith, c1835. Ann Smith lived with the family in 1850 and is apparently the source for Permelia’s maiden name.

5. Hannah, born c1810, Washington County, Kentucky; died after 1870, probably Howard County, Missouri; married William Alexander, 10 January 1833, Boone County, Missouri. Their son, Commodore Perry Alexander lived with his uncle, Ervin Thompson, in Cow House, Coryell, Texas in 1860.

6. Rebecca, born 18 June 1811/13, Washington County, Kentucky; died 2 December 1877, Boone County, Missouri; married (1) James Copeland, 31 October 1831, Howard County, Missouri (2) Calvin A. Thornton, 24 February 1844, Boone County, Missouri. Rebecca’s son, James Copeland, lived with his uncle, Ervin Thompson, in Cow House, Coryell, Texas in 1860.

7. Son, born 1811-1815, Washington County, Kentucky; died after 1830, probably Howard County, Missouri if he died young.

8. Ervin, born c1818, Howard County, Missouri; died 4 May 1884, Harrison County, Iowa; married (1) Mahala Mussett, c1839, possibly Missouri or Texas. Mahala was born c1814, Ohio; died after 1860 (2) Harriet Charlotte Vessel, 26 February 1870, Douglas County, Nebraska. This marriage record names his parents as Ephraim Thompson and Sarah Curry.

9. Daughter, born 1821-1825, Howard County, Missouri; died after 1840, probably Howard County, Missouri if she died young.

Ephraim’s wife, Sarah, died between the 1840 census and 1842 as Ephraim married (2) Isabella Dorcas W. Jones, 21 December 1842, Boone County, Missouri.

Ephraim died before August 1847 and, in 1850, Isabella was living in her parents’ household in Boone County. With her is 3 year old David Thompson, born Missouri.

Next door to Jones family is Robert T. Slate, 30 years old, and born in Tennessee. He is living alone.

In 1860, Robert, born 1820, and Isabella Slate, born 1822,  are living in Cole County, Missouri.  With them, all born in Missouri are:

Slate, William P., born 1847
Slate, Catherine, born 1853
Slate, Robert J., born 1855
Slate, Nancy, born 1857
Slate, James G. born February 1860

Here’s the question – Nothing further can be found about William P. Slate, but he was born in 1847, as was David Thompson. Nothing further can be found on David, either. Is this the same child, who perhaps was renamed William?

This child is of an age to have served and perhaps died in the Civil War.

In 1870, the family is still in Cole County, although Kate, Nancy and JOHN (not James G.), aged 10, are the only children still at home.

By 1880, Robert had died and Isabella was at home with children Joseph (Robert Joseph??), born 1856, Nancy and John, living once again in Boone County, Missouri.

Isabella died on 6 January 1894 and is buried in Boone County, Missouri. She is buried with Robert, whose gravestone dates say he was born 10 November 1819 and died on 9 December 1871.

I’ve found no further trace of either David Thompson. However, William P. THOMPSON (not Slate) is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Boone County, the same cemetery where Robert and Isabella are laid to rest.

This William was born 6 December 1846 and died 26 December 1899. He married Mary Frances Coonce, c1880, probably in Boone County. They were the parents of George E., born December 1881 and died January 1882, Bertha A., born January 1884, Cornelia B., born 1891 and died 1893, and Lillian Pauline, born 12 September 1892, died 19 October 1985, married James Henry Bloomer. and Myra, born June 1896.

I believe that David and William P. Thompson are the same person. For whatever reason, his parents chose to rename him.

Unless new clues appear, it is unlikely that the unidentified son and daughter of Ephraim Thompson will ever be known. Ephraim owned land in Livingston, Boone and Howard Counties. There are many Thompsons who married there in the correct time period, but so far, nothing has jumped out to make me think any of those people are a child of Ephraim.



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