Thompson Family History

Erie County (PA) Genealogy

Family Histories & Biographies

Abel Thompson and Family of Union City

Contributed by Beatrice Leemhuis

Site visitor Beatrice Leemhuis provided the family history below several months ago. She had previously submitted the article to USGenWeb Archives. It is being posted here at this time for greater exposure. Abel Thompson and his family settled in Erie County around 1801-1802. This history covers family members up to about 1850. Any questions or comments concerning this family history should be sent directly to Beatrice Leemhuis .

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According to family tradition the first Thompson to come to America was John Thompson. He is said to have come as a young man . He was a poor boy who sold his time to a man on board the ship until he was of age to pay his passage. The man was a shoe dealer and John learned the trade. He is said to have come on an English ship but it is not known from which country in the British Isles he originated. He may have been English or Scotish or Irish.[1]

Another version says that the first Thompson arrived in America in 1684. Neither of these versions are backed up with facts.

A Henry Thompson was born in England in 1684 A.D. and died in Mansfield Township, Burlington County, New Jersey in 1735. He was married to Elizabeth Hammel, the daughter of John Hammel. Their children were John Thompson (1710-1759), Rebecca, Dinah, and Thomas.

It is known that a John Thompson who lived in New Jersey was born in 1710 and about 1730 married Elizabeth Staples, the daughter of Thomas Staples. They had seven children. These were Henry, Daniel, Uriah, Staples T. , Rachel, Rebecca, and Elizabeth. John died in 1759.

Their son, Henry (about 1731-1760) married Mary Shinn (born 3 Dec 1727) on 31 Aug 1754. She was the daughter of Samuel Shinn. She was a Quaker and her family can be traced back to 1525 in England. Henry was a wheelwright by trade. Their children were: Job, who was born 5 Jul 1755 and who probably died young without any heirs; Abel, who was born 2 Mar 1757; and Sarah, who was born 6 Jan 1759. Sarah married Jacob Ballinger of Burlington Co, N.J. They were said to be very wealthy. She also is said to have weighed over three hundred pounds. She died without any heirs. Abel had been known to say that he never was an uncle.[2]


Abel Thompson was born in Burlington County, New Jersey. He married Jemima Kemp of the same place on 26 Sep 1778. They lived in Great Egg Harbor, New Jersey. Their children were:: Job, Mary, Infant Aron, Abel II, Joel, Caleb, Sarah and Charles Kemp. They lived in New Jersey until they had three or four children. Then they moved to Fayette County, Pennsylvania, near Redstone Creek where he is listed in the U.S. census in 1790. He is said to have been a gunsmith during the Revolutionary War period. They lived there until about 1801-1802 when they moved to Union Mills, Erie County, Pa.( Later called Union City) They lived there the remainder of their lives.

Abel bought 40 acres of land from the Holland Land Company through William Miles in 1801.4 He set up a blacksmith shop near the site of Miles's mills. He and all his sons were mechanics and were very ingenious and they became useful and prominent citizens. Joel, like his father, was a blacksmith. They were also stone cutters and from boulders they found in the woods they made grinders for the new mill. They also carved tombstones from the native stone. Joel carved a special O shaped mark in the stones to indicate his work.

In the early years they also made all the farming and household utensils which were made of iron or steel. They sharpened and repaired the utensils and they made shovels and tongs for every fireplace. They had a set of molds for pewter spoons which they could forge or reforge.[3]

Abel is said to have visited New Jersey after the death of Jemima. He and his son, Charles, made the trip on horseback through the wilderness. Jemima died 15 Nov 1816 at he age of 59 years and 9 months. Jemima and Abel are buried in the Old Thompson Cemetery in Union City, Pa.

After the death of Jemima in 1816 Abel made arrangements for Caleb to live on the farm with him and help with the farm work. However, about 1821 or 1822 Jeduthan Gray, a Baptist preacher, led a group of his relatives and other followers into the county where they began a prosperous settlement. Mr. Gray had a widowed asister named Tamor Ames , the widow of Ben Ames, who had a family of five or six children.

Abel saw her and fell in love with her at first sight. The first indication that his friends had of this was that he discarded his old slouch hat and bought a bell crown that was then the style. Soon after Tamor moved into the farmhouse and Caleb and his family moved out. .

Tamor was the only doctor in the neighborhood for years. She treated only women. She would ride on horseback whereever she was called and her charge was only one dollar.

Abel and Tamor had two children. These were: Infant daughter,who died young and Robert Gray. Tamor died after Abel and she is presumed to be buried in the Old Thompson Cemetery although no marker has been found.[4]

According to his obituary Abel was left an orphan in New Jersey where he married his wife who was also an orphan. They moved to Fayette County and then to Erie County in 1802. It says that he took part in the Revolutionary War . But this service is not proven although his name is inscribed on the monument for veterans in Waterford, Pa.

Job Thompson came with his parents and his brothers and sisters to Union Township, Erie Co. about 1801. He and Isabelle Swain probably married in Fayette Co. Pa. He was a farmer and a carpenter. He built a shop south of Carroll's Run and put in a turning lathe to go by water. He made wooden bowls and other useful articles, such as spinning wheels.[5]

He resided in LeBoeuf Township. Three of his children married children of Tamor Gray Ames Thompson, who was his stepmother.


1810 Allegheny Co. Pa. (later it became Erie Co. Pa.)

Males: 1 under 10 Females: 1 26-45

1 10-16

1 26-45

1820 LeBoeuf Township, Erie Co. Pa.

Males: 1 under 10 Females: 1 under 10

2 10-16 3 10-16

(1 16-18) 2 16-26

2 16-26 1 26-45

1 26-45 1 45 +

1830 LeBoeuf Township, Erie Co. Pa.

Males: 1 5-10 Females: 1 10-15

1 10-15 1 50-60

1 50-60

1840 LeBoeuf Township, Erie Co. Pa.

Males: 1 30-40 Females: 1 20-30

1 60-70 1 60-70


Mary Thompson married Conrad Kile in 1796. They had eight children. One son, John, was killed by Indians on his way to California .


Abel, Thompson Jr. moved to Mercer County, Pa. He married Caty Boylan on 26 Jan 1809. After her death on 2 Feb 1849 he married his second wife, Sarah Bomer, on 20 Dec 1849. He and Caty had thirteen children

U.S. Census

1810 Allegheny Co. Pa. ( Later Erie Co.)

Males: 1 under 10 Females: 1 10-15

1 16-26 1 16-26


Joel Thompson was a blacksmith. He married first, Margaret Smith who died five days after the birth of her daughter in 1813. She died of Black Rock fever (named after the village of Black Rock, near Buffalo, where soldiers of the War of 1812 were stationed.) [6] She is buried in the Old Thompson Cemetery. Next he married Mary Mulvin and they had thirteen children which included two sets of twins. Joel married his third wife when he was 75 years old. They lived together nearly five years. He was a devoted Christian.[7] He was a soldier under Perry. His sons were carpenters and millwrights. Two sons, Charles and John, were soldiers during the Civil War.[8]


1830 Union Township Erie Co. Pa.

Males: 2 under 5 Females: 1 5-10

2 5-10 1 10-15

1 10-15 1 30-40

1 40-50

1840 LeBoeuf Township Erie Co. Pa.

Males: 1 under 5 Females: 1 5-10

1 5-10 1 15-20

1 10-15 20-30

1 15-20 1 40-50

1 20-30

1 50-60


Caleb Thompson became a farmer but was also a carpenter and joiner. His first wife was Miranda. They had two children. His second wife was Clarissa . They had eight children. Both wives are buried at the Old Thompson Cemetery. He died in Union Township and is buried in the Old Thompson Cemetery.

U.S. Census Caleb Thompson

1830 Union Township, Erie Co. Pa.

Males: 1 under 5 Females; 1 under 5

1 5-10 1 5-10

1 30-40 2 10-15

1 30-40

1840 Union Township, Erie Co. Pa.

Males: 2 5-10 Females: 1 5-10

1 10-15 1 10-15

1 15-20 1 20-30

1 50-60

1850 Union Township, Erie Co. Pa.

Caleb Thompson 60

Clarissa 45









Jeduthan Emerson 23

Rebecca Sturdivant74`


Sarah Thompson married Aaron Boylan and settled in Mercer County, Pa. where they died.

They had sixteen children, including a set of twins.


Charles Kemp Thompson was probably born in Fayette Co. Pa. About 1820 he married Anna Capron[9] who had come with her family from New York state about 1818. They had ten children. He liked to hunt deer and tell of his exploits. He was a shoemaker. Two sons of Charles died in Confederate prisons during the Civil War. [10]

.They apparently moved to Ohio between 1836 and 1839 when a child was born in Ohio. They then apparently moved on to Illinois and Wisconsin where other children were born. He was a shoemaker . He also liked to hunt deer and tell of his exploits. He is said to have moved far west about 1835. He married Anna Capron in 1820. They had ten children. Two sons of Charles died in Confederate prisons during the Civil War. [11]

U.S. Census

1820 UnionTownship, Erie Co. Pa.

Males: 1 26-45 Females: 1 26- 45

1830 Union Township, Erie Co. Pa.

Males: 1 5-10 Females: 2 under 5

1 30-40 1 5-10

1 20-30


Robert Gray Thompson married Eliza Yager. They had several children. They lived near Williamsport, Pa. and he died in Girard, Kansas. As a child he was small of stature and somewhat comical in his actions. He lived in Union Township until he was about twenty five. He was known by the nickname "Wicker Bob".[12]

U.S. Census Abel Thompson

1790 Fayette Co. Pa.


1 male over 16 4 males under 16 2 females


1810 Erie Co. Pa.


Males: 1 under 10 Females: 1 under 10

1 10-16 1 10-16

2 16-20 1 45+

1 45+

1820 Erie Co. Pa.

Male: 1 45+ agriculture

1830 Erie Co. Pa.

Males: 1 under 5 Females: 1 10-15

1 15-20 1 50-60

1 70-80


Abel Thompson's will, dated 20 Feb 1834 and proved 10 Oct 1840, is on file at the Erie co. Court House. Tamor Thompson and Charles Kemp Thompson were appointed executors of the estate but Tamor renounced her right. Witnesses to the will were Ebenezeer Thomas and Hugh Wilson. Robert Gray and Richard Shreve were the appraisers of the estate. The inventory included " one yong horse, one brindke cow, one red sow, one spotted cow, one blue cow, thirteen sheep, blacksmith tools, four young hogs, clock, large chest, lot of old books, nine old chairs, two old candle stands, old brass kettle, one large mittle kettle, coffee mill and flat iron, one shot gun, six crocks, one stone churn, one looking glass, one old plough, spade and hoe, one old sythe" among other things. the total value was $304.80. Tamor received the use of his real estate. After her death it was to go to Robert Gray.[13]


[1] Letter by Cynthia Thompson Davison about 1924.

[2] Information from Ada Thompson Hill through Katharine Hill.

[3] Ibid.

[4] David Wilson, "History of the Settlement of Union Township," Keystone Kuzzins XVII (1881)

[5] David Wilson, "History of the Settlement of Union Township," Keystone Kuzzins XVII (1881): 26.

[6] "History of the Settlement of Union Township" Vol. XVII, p. 27.

[7] Records of Ada Thompson Hill

[8] John Jordan, "Thompson," Genealogical and Personal History of Western Pennsylvania, N.Y. Lewis Hist. Pub. Co. 1915 ed.: Vol. II , p. 1665.

[9] Latter Day Saints ,I.G.I. computer program

[10] Warner-Beers, "John W. Thompson," History of Erie County, 1884 ed.: 181.

[11] Warner-Beers, "John W. Thompson," History of Erie County, 1884 ed.: 181.

[12] David Wilson, "History of the Settlement of Union Township," Keystone Kuzzins Vol. XVII (1881): p. 29..

[13] Erie County Court House, Microfisch #14141. Will book A, pp. 223-225.


This page was last updated on  Sunday, April 18, 2004 .

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