Closs Thompson of PA, VA, NC & KY: Pruning the Family Tree

It’s time to prune the family tree. My theory about Thomas, Lawrence, John and Closs Thompson possibly being brothers was an unproven possibility. However, with Robert Ramsey’s excellent book, Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest North Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762 ( a well documented classic on the Scots-Irish who migrated to the North Carolina frontier beginning in the 1740s), I have learned an extremely important fact about Closs Thompson.

Closs Thompson is listed in Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808 by Ralph B. Strassburger and William J. Hinke (Norristown: Pennsylvania German Society, 1934; reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co. and Picton Press).

First, there are some who believe that a Closs Thompson, born c1668 in the Palatinate area of Germany and who died in 1740, reportedly Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is linked to this Closs Thompson and Lawrence Thompson, born c1712. HOWEVER, I have not found online information that provides any type of documentation!

The ftDNA Thompson Surname Group includes Closs Thompson, born c1668, and Thomas Thompson, who died 1796, North Carolina, as an almost perfect match at 36/37 markers on Y-DNA, so there must be a family connection, ASSUMING that the person who claims Closs Thompson, born 1668, has accurately documented his line. If he has incorrectly linked his ancestor to Closs with no proof, then Closs is just a name on the paper.

I discovered a digital book online, free on FamilySearch – Descendants of Closs Thompson Sr. and Jane Jones Lee: a study of the Thompson family and the related families of Randolph, Burford, Baldwin, Sander, Adams, Proffer, Looney, Loos by Frankie Burford Randolph and Jean Proffer Adams, Long Beach, California, 1992.

Finding this book online has given me a work-around since Jane Buchanan’s book, Thomas Thompson and Ann Finney of Colonial Pennsylvania and North Carolina, is out of reach until the pandemic is over.

Compilers of the Closs Thompson book acknowledge not having to re-invent the wheel since Mrs. Buchanan included Closs Thompson in her book. From the wording in Closs’s book, it appears that the compilers accepted Buchanan’s work without changes.

Therefore, I will share their family sketch and add my research notes in blue, when it adds to Closs’s story.

Nicklaus “Thommen” (aka Closs Thompson) sailed from Rotterdam to Philadelphia on the Princess Augusta in 1736. He was aged 24 years according to the passenger list and born perhaps in the Netherlands or a German speaking area of Europe.

Here is where I’d like to propose a theory, thinking outside of the traditional Closs Thompson box of info found online.

I think there is a missing generation!

I think that Nicklaus (Closs) Thompson who arrived in Philadelphia in 1736 might be the FATHER of the Closs Thompson who married in Rowan County, North Carolina in 1759.

Here is my reasoning:

  1. Pennsylvania has scant vital records in this time period. It doesn’t seem likely that a man who was 24 in 1736 waited until 1759 to marry and have a family.
  2. Closs Jr., son of the man who married, stated that his father was of German and Scot descent. It isn’t likely that a German man who left Rotterdam for the colonies in 1736 had a parent from Scotland.
  3. The German-Scot descent would fit perfectly if Nicklaus Thompson (Closs) of 1736 married a Scots-Irish woman after he arrived in Philadelphia. That would account for a grandson describing his ethnic heritage.
  4. It would also account for Closs’s close relationship to Thomas and Lawrence Thompson – particularly if Closs’s wife was a Finney, Logan or Lawrence, which is why I think Thomas, Lawrence, John and Closs all had sons named Lawrence.
  5. I believe that Closs Thompson who was named as a marker on 28 August 1751 for the land survey of John Thompson was likely Closs the 1736 immigrant. Whether he was a brother or in-law to John Thompson, I don’t know.
  6. I have no idea when Closs Thompson, the immigrant, died, except that it was sometime after 1751, possibly in Frederick County, Virginia or soon after moving to North Carolina. It might even have been his death in Virginia that precipitated the move south.

Closs Thompson, born c1737, probably in Pennsylvania and son of Closs Sr., the immigrant, married Jane Jones, widow of Mr. Lee and mother of two small children – James and Nancy Lee, 17 October 1759, Rowan County, North Carolina.

Another reason I believe there is a missing generation is because the bondsman for Closs and Jane Jones was none other than the famed Daniel Boone. Daniel was born in 1734. If this Closs was born c1712, I doubt that he would be asking a man more than 20 years younger than himself to be his bondsman. It makes much more sense that Closs was a friend, contemporary and close in age to Daniel Boone.

Closs Thompson (who married Jane Jones Lee) received a land grant of 564 acres in Rowan County, North Carolina on 21 December 1761. He entered a further 200 acres of land on 22 March 1780.

However, Closs decided to leave Rowan County and move two counties over to Wilkes County, North Carolina, where he purchased two pieces of land from Benjamin Cleveland and William Humphries in 1783 and 1784, Respectively, and received a state land grant in 1787.

The family wasn’t to remain long in Wilkes County, as the October 1788 court term noted the final entry for sale of land by Closs (X) Thompson Sr. to Nathaniel Vannoy. Witnesses were Thomas Wade, Thomas Owens and Closs Thompson Jr. The sale actually took place late in 1786.

The Lyman C. Draper Manuscript Collection, Kentucky Papers 13, Campbell County, Kentucky, pp. 48-51, contain an 1842 interview with Mrs. General Webb, who stated she traveled from North Carolina to the Bluegrass area of Kentucky in 1787 with her parents and grandparents in a group led by Closs and Jane Thompson, along with their four sons and two daughters.

Tax records of Fayette County, Kentucky include Closs Sr., Closs Jr. and Lawrence Thompson in 1787 and 1788. By 1788, only one Closs is taxed and the family is gone before 1790.

However, in 1790, Closs Thompson Sr. and Closs Thompson Jr., along with John Thompson and Lawrence Thompson are found on the tax lists of Madison County, Kentucky.

I have found online sources for dates and places of death for Closs Thompson that are mostly attributed to counties that hadn’t yet come into existence.

The last verified record for Closs, husband of Jane, is the 1790 tax list. Closs Jr. moved on to Campbell County, Kentucky, where he appears on the 1795 tax list. However, his whereabouts from 1791-1794 are unknown.

Campbell County, Kentucky was formed in 1795 from portions of Mason, Scott and Harrison Counties, but no Closs Thompson is found on those tax rolls.

Note that descendants of Closs Thompson are eligible to join SAR, S.R., DAR or C.A.R. because Jane (Jones) (Lee) Thompson deposed in 1832 that her son Closs (born c1762) served under Captain Bethuel Riggs (Pension #S17046) and fought at Kings Mountain.

Jane (Jones) (Lee) Thompson was living in Bath County,  Kentucky as of 27 August 1832, when she gave a deposition in support of the Revolutionary War pension application of her son-in-law, Bethuel Riggs, of Ohio.

Children of Mr. Lee and Jane Jones:

  1. James, born c1756; died c1819, Vigo County, Indiana; married Mary Smith, 17 August 1779, Rowan County, North Carolina
  2. Nancy, born c1758; died after 1830, Lincoln County, Missouri; married Bethuel Riggs, a Baptist minister and Revolutionary War pensioner, 15 February 1778, Wilkes County, North Carolina. He was born 13 December 1757, New Jersey; died 25 July 1835, Lincoln County, Missouri.

Children of Closs Thompson and Jane Jones:

  1. Closs, born c1762; died c1817, Franklin County, Indiana; married Rebecca Wilson, 6 September 1787, Wilkes County, North Carolina. Revolutionary War soldier under Captain Bethuel Riggs at Kings Mountain. 9 children
  2. Lawrence, born c1767; died c1825, Fleming County, Kentucky; married Mary Jones, daughter Thomas Jones, c1788, probably in Kentucky. 10 children
  3. Elizabeth, born c1767; married Francis Jones, son of Thomas Jones, c1789, probably in Kentucky. 9 children
  4. Benjamin, born c1769; died 13 December 1853, Cape Girardeau County, Missouri; married Mary Foster, daughter of Jacob Foster, 29 September 1797, Campbell County, Kentucky. He was a Baptist minister. 10 children
  5. Samuel, born c1775; died c1830, Rush County, Indiana; married Lucy Grigg, daughter of Matthew Grigg and Nancy Gibson, 23 September 1800, Campbell County, Kentucky.

Both Thompson books discussed above apparently include a mysterious Joseph Thompson as a child of Closs and Jane, saying little is known about him. There is a Joseph Thompson of Hamilton County, Ohio who deposed for Bethuel Riggs’ pension application in 1832. However, given all the Thompson extended ties, there is no evidence about the parents or siblings of this Joseph Thompson.

One Jane Thompson who married James Lingo, 7 July 1810, Campbell County, Kentucky is also found as a daughter of Closs and Jane. However, with her estimated birth year of 1793, Jane would be too old to be her mother. Perhaps she is a daughter of Closs, born 1762.

That leaves one daughter unaccounted for, but who may be lost to time.

I will take my leave from Closs Thompson here, as he isn’t part of my husband’s direct line, but I hope this might help future researchers learn more about Closs and his family.

One thought on “Closs Thompson of PA, VA, NC & KY: Pruning the Family Tree”

  1. Thanks so much for your efforts. I’m descended from Samuel Thompson, son of Closs and Jane Jones, and I absolutely agree with you about the “missing” generation. The first name Lawrence has indeed been passed down; it’s my eldest uncle’s middle name.

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