Sometimes, I think it is just serendipity! I’ve recently spent weeks on the Thompson clan and had to search many different ways to try to uncover the children of Ephraim who were born after 1810.
I wasn’t too hopeful of success, but I’ve found all – I think – but for one son and daughter.
Ervin Thompson, subject of today’s family sketch, was a complete surprise. I had never seen his name anywhere and would have ignored him except for one very important detail.
I tried many different keywords when searching for more information that might relate to my Ephraim Thompson and Sarah Curry.
Look what popped up for one of them:
This is a marriage record for one Ervin Thompson, aged 52 years, to Harriet C(harlotte) (Clark) Vessel, 30 years old, on 26 February 1870 in Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska.
This wouldn’t have mean anything to me EXCEPT that the bride and groom were required to provide the names of their parents and look who Ervin named – Ephraim and Sarah “Currey.”
Source: FamilySearch Memories
Ervin was also born in Missouri and, being 52 years old in 1870, he was born c1818, soon after the family settled in Howard County.
This led me on another not-so-easy chase for information about Ervin. The big websites don’t have all of Ervin’s records linked together, so it meant another couple of days of experimenting with searches.
Ervin Thompson was born c1818, Howard County, Missouri. He died on died 4 May 1884 in Harrison County, Iowa.
If it weren’t for finding his marriage record to Harriet, I never, ever would have found him.
You see, Ervin was long gone from Missouri by 1850. He was enumerated in that census in Travis County, Texas with wife Mahala (Mussett) and their children.
Why was he so hard to find? Well, for starters, he was enumerated as Ivy Thompson and his wife as Wakaby! I think this was one of those record sets not indexed by a native English speaker because I would read his wife’s name as Mahaly.
Mahala Mussett was born c1814 in Ohio and married (1) Michael Costley on 18 January 1927, Washington County, Missouri. She is consistently several years older than Ervin in the few records in which they are found together.
The marriage date for Ervin and Mahala – 1839 in Coryell County – is not accurate as the county wasn’t even formed until 1852. The earliest parent county, Milam, doesn’t seem to have a record for them either.
It is possible that Mahala and Ervin never married, as I found an interesting tidbit about her first husband, Michael Costley:
W. E. Costley was born December 25, 1832 in Austin County, Texas to Michael Costley and Elizabeth Reed. A second son, James, was b. 1835. Michael was killed November 16 1837 by W.R.D. Spieght, the first District Clerk of Nacogdoches, Texas who didn’t approve of the fact that Costley was still married to Mahala Mussett, his first wife. A huge battle ensued over the thousands of acres of land that Michael owned and who had a right to it. After Michael’s death, Elizabeth married two more times.
By 1850, Michael had died and the Thompsons are found in Travis County, Texas with the following children:
- Sennit, born c1840, Arkansas
- Eliza, born c1842, Arkansas
- Tyre, born c1844, Texas
- James, born c1846, Texas
- Mary, born c1847, Texas
- Susan, born c1849, Texas
Sennit, or Sennet, is a name found in the Mussett family. Tyre is also a Mussett name. Notice that they were born in Arkansas.
No marriage record has been found anywhere for Ervin and Mahalia – not in Arkansas, nor Missouri, nor Texas.
The family had moved to Coryell County, Texas by 1860.
Sennit was no longer in the home and I haven’t found him in any other records. He may have had a different first name or he may have died young. He would have only been 20 years old in 1860, so he might have died.
Ervin was 43 years old, so born c1817, Missouri. Mahala was 46 years old, so born c1814, Ohio.
Children, all born in Texas:
- Tira (I think this is Tyre), born c1845, noted as crippled
- James, born 1846
- Mary, born 1847
- Susan, born 1851
- Thomas, born 1854
Also in the home are two farmhands, who are very important supporting evidence connecting Ervin to Ephraim. James Copeland and C.P. Alexander, both 25 years old and both born in Missouri are more than just boarders. James is the son of Ervin’s sister, Rebecca, and C(ommodore) P(erry) Alexander is the son of Ervin’s sister, Hannah.
We’ve now reached the Civil War time frame. Ephraim Thompson enlisted as a private in the Company for the 2nd Frontier District for Coryell County on 30 January 1864 in Gatesville, Texas and served until 31 May 1864. His age is given as 46 years old.
At some point in the 1860s, Mahala was again abandoned by a husband. I have not been able to find her in the 1870 census, even though she appears on the Coryell County tax rolls until 1873, with her estate listed in 1874. Nor can I find youngest child Thomas Benton Thompson in 1870.
Mahala died on 3 July 1873 and is buried at Copperas Cove Cemetery. Her gravestone clearly identifies her as the wife of Ervin Thompson.
That leaves open the question of whether Ervin and Mahala separated and/or divorced or if he just disappeared one day and never came back home.
By 1870, as we already know, Ervin had married Hattie Vessel, who was 22 years younger than him. They were living in Omaha at the time of the census with three children, who were Harriet’s by a previous marriage to Thomas Vessel:
1. Josephine, born 1858, Georgia
2. John, born 1860, Georgia
3. Cora, born 1862, Georgia
The 1880 census found the Thompsons living in Rockford, Pottawattamie County, Iowa with a second set of Thompson children, all born in Iowa:
- Ervin H., born 1871
- George M., born 1875
- Robert T., born 1877
- Myrtle, born 1879
John and Cora, now correctly identified as Vessel children and stepchildren of Ervin, were also still at home.
Ervin Thompson died on 4 May 1884 and is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery, Harrison County, Iowa. Harriet survived him by many years, passing away on 19 March 1905. She is buried with Ervin.
What became of all of Ervin’s children?
- Sennit, born c1840, Arkansas; died after 1850; no further record.
- Eliza, born c1842, Arkansas; died after 1850; no further record.
- Tira (I think this is Tyre M.), born c1845, noted as crippled; died after 1871, when he appears on the tax roll of Coryell County, Texas. No further record.
- James Ervin, born 2 November 1846, Texas; died 23 July 1919, Coryell County, Texas; married (1) Sarah Coulston, 26 May 1870, Coryell County, Texas (2) Martha Simpson, 15 August 1872, Coryell County, Texas. They were the parents of seven children.
- Mary Jane, born December 1847/48; died 27 March 1913, Tom Green County, Texas; married (1) Preston Chandler, 26 January 1866, Coryell County, Texas (2) Pinkney Eli Beeson, 19 April 1883, Coryell County, Texas and who died 22 January 1896, Tom Green County, Texas. She was the mother of four children, one with Preston Chandler and three with Pink Beeson.
- Susan, born 1851, Texas; died after 1880; married Thomas Walters, 21 September 1868, Coryell County, Texas. They were the parents of at least three children.
- Thomas Benton, born 25 November 1853, Texas; died 21 June 1918, Tom Green County, Texas; married Lillian Texas Hollingsworth, 1 May 1889, Coryell County, Texas. They were the parents of four sons.
- Ervin Hill, born 14 December 1870, Douglas County, Nebraska; died 25 February 1949, Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie, Iowa; married Aurenia Cornelia Fosdick, 25 January 1905, Harrison County, Iowa. They were the parents of eleven children.
- George Milam, born 13 May 1875, Iowa; died 6 January 1963, Harrison County, Iowa; married Samantha Lovinia Berry, 18 September 1906, Pottawattamie County, Iowa. Samantha married (1) Henry Case, 16 September 1890, Harrison County, Iowa. They were the parents of three children.
- Robert Travis, born 5 June 1877, Iowa; died 29 September 1966, Harrison County, Iowa; married Clara Ardilla Skelton, 6 December 1899, Harrison County, Iowa. They were the parents of three children.
- May Myrtle, born 8 April 1880, Floyd County, Iowa; died 26 July 1952, Pueblo County, Colorado; married (1) Charles E. Richards, 4 February 1896, Pottawattamie County, Iowa (2) James Felix Mizell, 5 April 1919, Pueblo County, Colorado. May had seven children with Charles Richards and two children with James Mizell.
If you are a descendant of Ervin Thompson, I’d love to hear from you to learn more about his life.