ANDREW AUSTIN THOMPSON
By Denny Thompson
Andrew Austin Thompson (A A for short) moved his family to the Mauston area in the spring of 1854. He was one of the early settlers to the Lone Rock Valley in Lindina Township; he was 38 years old and spent the rest of his life here. According to records and family recollections, a number of misfortunes stuck this pioneer family. Even their nearby grave sites were destroyed almost a century later.
Mauston was then known as Maughs Mills, and Juneau County hadn't been established yet. This was still part of Adams County. Most likely, they moved up the old Territorial Wagon Road by ox team, now present day Wis. Hwy. 16. This road was often impassable in those days. Records show a group of over 1000 Winnebago Indians living in the area, up until 1870, and probably the family could have related some interesting tales of these previous inhabitants.
A A's father was a veteran of the War of 1812, his name also was Andrew. He, his wife Almeda, and other family members stayed on in the Columbus WI area where A A and his family also lived for a few years in the late 1840s. The old gravestones of Andrew and Almeda still stand in the Columbus Cemetery after over 135 years. Other of his brothers and sisters, he had at least seven, moved on about the same time to settle other parts of Wisconsin and Illinois as public lands opened up for settlement.
In 1836, when he was 20, A A married Almira Moshier, in Collins, New York. She was 18. During the next 26 years they were to have at least 14 children. Only the last five were born in Lindina Twp. According to family records, the last one, a girl named Emily born in 1862. Interestingly, they were to have two daughters named Emily and also two-named Rosetta. After the loss of the first two early in childhood, they renamed the younger girls after their sisters. They were to lose the second two also in childhood during an epidemic.
On record in Mauston, in the Juneau County Courthouse, is a Military Land Warrant No. 6126, signed by the then (1853) U.S. President, Franklin Pierce. It originally granted to Cambert Thatcher, Pvt., in the War of 1812 160 acres "Bounty Land" in the town of Lindina for serving in the military. It's dated March 30th, 1853. For some reason the warrant was returned to the land office, and then reassigned to A.A. No record has been found of A.A serving in the Mexican War, but it's possible that he did, leaving his family with relatives in Columbus. Or likely he just purchased the warrant. Settlers were paying about $1.25 an acre for land at that time, to be homesteaded and developed.
To view this original homestead site today, travel about 4 miles west of Mauston on Hwy. 82. You will see the large rock outcropping (Lone Rock) on the north side of the road and the six or seven blue Harvestore silos located on the Moriarty Farm on the south side.. The original 160 acres had a stream running through it, and was most likely all wooded with white pine before being cleared for cultivation. The old Thompson Cemetery is located just behind Moriartys', and now has an access road to it toward the bluffs to the south. The original homestead, we believe stood just west of the Lone Rock, but across the road that heads north. None of the original Thompson buildings are standing, but some foundation stones are visible from the road on the corner. A smaller house also once on this site is believed to have been occupied by A A's son Western prior to 1902. This house we believe, was moved later, to a site next to Orzo's larger house located on the western corner of the original homestead on Hwy. 82. It is still standing. Ozro purchased 40 acres from his father about 1858 and more, later. About 1/2 mile to the east, a small schoolhouse stood. It was built in 1853. It was falling down and in very bad shape, by 1993, when it was burned down, but many generations of Thompson's attended it even as late as 1924 when my dad Ralph went there for a short time. One of A A's grand daughters, Emma, taught there when she was 17, in 1882. The first teacher is listed as Mary Wood.
Andrew Austin was born in New York in 1816, in the Town of Hamiliton, Madison County. When he was 17, in 1833 the family migrated further west to Concord Township near Lake Erie on the western side of New York. This was common for what was known as descendants of "old stock Americans" or those who descended from early New England settlers in Colonial Times. Many of these people kept moving westward as the new influx of later European Immigrants moved into the more established areas, and probably for the chance to expand their families on new land, and improve their conditions somewhat. Census records show the Andrew Thompson family, including A A's father, mother, and six brothers and sisters living in Hamiliton in 1820 and 1830. In the 1840 Census they were still in Concord Township but by 1844 had migrated to Wisconsin Territory. In 1836 A A married Almira Moshier. She was from Collins NY. Its assumed they lived in the same vicinity as his parents, and went to Wisconsin Territory shortly after his parents, according to the family records of his brother Orlando. Before Wisconsin became a state in 1848, its territory extended further south . McHenry County, where they first settled is now in northern Illinois. Almira's brother William also settled in Lindina Twp. according to Census Records, It's unknown what became of him or his family.
According to various sources, The Thompson families and other emigrants from western New York, left Buffalo and traveled by steamer through the Great Lakes landing at Southport, now called Kenosha WI. Others traveled west by ox team, according to A A's son Ozro. First, they settled inland about 50 miles, to the present day town of Harvard IL., to begin breaking up the sod for farming. A A's brother Orlando contracted with new settlers, to "brake land" with his team of oxen. Orlando remained here farming the rest of his life, while his parents and other family members pushed farther north soon after.
A A and Almira already had two children, Rosetta, and Ozro when they arrived in Harvard in 1844. Soon after they lost Rosetta, tragically. Alta Morgan, a grand daughter of Rosetta's sister Augusta, remembers hearing from her grandma that Rosetta was very ill. In trying to mix up some medicine for her, she was accidentally poisoned. This was the beginning of many sad misfortunes, as they were to lose nine more children of the fourteen, including one son in the Civil War who was 18 when he died. Only three of their children were to have offspring of their own. My gr.gr. grandpa Ozro, 8 children, Augusta, 3 children, and Western 5 children. Besides A A's father's family, it appears that he moved west along with his brother Moses, and sister Mary's [Richards] family. A A had four brothers and three sisters altogether. Besides Orlando, mentioned earlier, who stayed in Illinois, brothers Moses, Isaac, and Chellus all settled in Wisconsin. They were known as "Yankee" settlers, having originated in New England.
These Thompson Families, four generations of them, all migrating at about the same time, were descended from James and Martha Thompson of Pelham Mass. This is now a small town about 60 miles west of Boston. Part of the area has now been flooded to create the Quabbin Reservoir. The original hardscrabble farmsteads have mostly been reclaimed by woodlands. The rocky soil not well suited for crops anyway. Pelham was a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian enclave, records show, which was grudgingly tolerated in Puritan Massachusetts. But it did provide at that time, a buffer, from Indian attacks for the towns east of there. These people lived a strict religious life, seldom associating with folks outside their clan. The Meeting House, or church that James and Martha, attended still stands in Pelham, and records exist of which pew he and his family occupied. The original Land Plats show the Thompson Farm and those of James' sons along the Swift River in the 1750s. In the 1930s most of the Thompson farmland in what was known as "Pelham Hollow" was flooded for the reservoir. Many of the other families in that area can be definitely traced to the Ulster area of Northern Ireland, coming into Boston in many shiploads from 1718- 1720. Because they all traveled in groups including their religious leaders it appears almost certain that James as a boy traveled with his family to New England at that time. Although Thompson's are listed on these ships, no direct connection has been proven yet. A Marriage record, dated 1733, is on record in Watertown, MA for James and Martha, also the birth record of their first son James, nine months later. Martha Watson was listed as from Watertown, and James from nearby Cambridge, MA. Col. Henry Amy, who researched this family in 1964, believed that James, who was born about 1709, his father, and possibly even his grandfather was born in America. I think the evidence points to the later Scotch-Irish Immigration, but we'll keep trying to find out. James was A A's great-great grandfather, in any event. The Scotch-Irish had gone from Scotland to settle Irish Plantations. About 100 years later, their descendants sailed for New England, during colonial times, when times got rough in Ireland.
National Archives records show A A's grandpa, Thomas Thompson serving in the Revolutionary War, as a Private in 1775, with Capt. Hookers Minute Men. He served at various time until 1777, sometimes in his brothers, Capt. John Thompson's Company, also from Pelham.
In 1855, only a year after settling in Lindina, A A suffered a serious mishap, crippling him the rest of his life. Years later, in 1883 a surgeon in Mauston wrote that Andrew A Thompson was physically incapacitated. He told the doctor that he had hurt his back lifting timber 28 years earlier, doing carpenter work. He may have been building his house or barn at the time. Neighbors reported that he suffered greatly from his injuries, and from then on always walked in a "stooped over manner". Records show he had worked as both a carpenter and farmer, but as time went on, could do less and less. This caused the family extra hardship, as A A had to have his sons or others do most of the heavy farm work, his wife, Almira stated she took in boarders, did knitting, and made stockings for income.
They sold parts of the farm, some to son Ozro, and rented out part on shares. By the time of the Civil War, according to pension records, their income over expenses were listed at less then $100 in 1864. Also about this time, their daughter Mariah died. She was 12 or 13 years old. A small homemade memento box she had still exists after all these years. Inside, its only contents are a small folded note from her teacher, telling her she had done well in school. This box and other mementos from this family are in the possession of Alta Morgan, in Stoughton WI. There is also a booklet of "Artistic hair'. It has many pages of braided hair lockets in different designs from members of the Thompson Family and many of their friends living in the area in 1868. Also, she and her husband Roy have wonderfully preserved a rocking chair that Almira most probably treasured to her last days in 1902.
In 1886 Almira listed for government records those living in her family, in 1862. Besides herself, and A A she listed: Orzo 21, Wallace 15, Walter 15, Mariah 8, Augusta, 7, Western 5, George 3, and Emily 1. So by then they had already lost 6 of their offspring, and it wasn't long before more tragedy hit.
Walter and Wallace were identical twins. Neighbors reported later that they could not tell them apart. Records show that Walter enlisted in the Civil War at Milwaukee in February 1864 as a Private. Several letters he wrote home indicated that he liked being a soldier, "better than farming", but like most soldiers, complained bitterly about the food. He got as far south as New Orleans, but by September of the same year, he was dead, most likely from disease. He had written a few weeks earlier from Vicksburg, saying that he probably would be home to help with fall plowing. Indications from his pension records are, that he most likely died on a steamship coming back up the Mississippi River. Army records say he was furloughed with chronic diarrhea, and trying to make it home. Most likely his body was put in the river between Vicksburg and Cairo, IL. In his letters, which still exist in The National Archives he expressed wonder at the huge plantations he saw in the south, and asked that his brothers Ozro and Alfred write to him. This is confusing, as according to the above information from Almira, and the 1860 Census, Alfred is not listed as living with the family. He may have been with relatives if he was still alive. Walter's twin brother, Wallace lived until 1915. According to his obituary, he died, of shock, following surgery on his kitchen table. He had just had his leg amputated, at home, in Mauston.
Because of A A's injuries, Walter had worked on his parents farm, his brothers farm and neighbors, cutting cord wood and fence rails to aid in family expenses. His letters also indicated that he sent Army pay home. In 1882 Almira filed for a Civil War Pension, based on his support. Even then the government moved slow, but it was finally granted in 1886, two years before A A died, but she was able to collect on it until she died of a cold, and "old age" in 1902, according to her death certificate. It's fortunate for us that she did file, because from those records we learn quite a bit about this family. Neighboring settlers and relatives filed letters and affidavits with the government in support of Almira's petition, stating how long they'd known the Thompson's and about their finances. Some of their neighbors had settled there as early as 1852. The area must have been heavily wooded then as one neighbor, a Mr. Valleau complained of his child being killed by a bear in the spring, and his hay burned in the fall. Also of fires raging in the woods nearby. Another, William Russell, who settled there in 1855 wrote of "10 Sabbath Keepers" in the area. He was referring to Seven Day Adventists. We believe A A and Almira were SDA, as many of his descendants most certainly were. Lindina Township filled up very rapidly in the 1850s and became one of Juneau Counties most prosperous areas by 1900, when it started to decline.
Concerning the family finances, son Ozro who already was farming his own land, and using his oxen to break others land, wrote the following about his parents. In 1864 A A owned "one yoke oxen, worth about $50. , two cows $30., about 10 sheep $15-$20., some pigs of no particular value, a wagon worth about $10., farming tools $10., and no personal property except household furniture of but little value, perhaps $75." Ozro then stated that the farm was worth about $900., which was encumbered for about $100. It's probable that for government purposes, Ozro may have understated their assets a little. Actually the 1860 census lists Their farm value at $1500. and $400 for personal property. This was good appreciation since settlement, but they may have lost or sold some assets by 1864. Other neighbors listed in the pension records, were M. Strong, William Ward, E.J. Cole, G.N. Trumble, A. Crowles, and the Mr. Valleau mentioned above. Another was Catherine Thompson, who was not originally related to our Thompson's but came to be. In 1860, Ozro married Elizabeth Garty, who was Catherine's daughter from an earlier marriage to John Garty. John had been a veteran of the War of 1812 and Catherine also received a pension according to records. Ozro and Elizabeth had at least eight children, including my great grandfather Harvey Adelbert (Del) Thompson born in 1867. Catherine and her second husband Josiah Thompson, who is not related as far as we know are buried in Mauston on Ozro's plot.
Of A A's four younger brothers who settled in Wisconsin, one of them Chellus, also lived in the area. He had also enlisted in the Army, at age 38, toward the end of the Civil War. He was hospitalized in the south but returned in 1865. His wife died shortly after, and he remarried. In 1875, according to family lore, he was killed by a horse on what is now Hwy. 82. He left four or five children, and is buried (probably with first wife) in the Thompson Cemetery, Lindina, according to the memory of Alta Morgan.
Disaster also struck A A and Almira again about 1869, when an epidemic spread through the Lone Rock Valley, and probably elsewhere too. It's not recorded, but three or possibly four, of their younger children all perished at the same time. They were, George, Anna, Emily (2nd) and possibly Mariah. Daughter Augusta, who survived it, told of A A making the wooden caskets, and the family carrying the children across the road to the old cemetery. If any markers existed, they were destroyed in the 1950s when the cemetery was plowed up. In 1875, their son Western married Annie (May) Hamiliton, but they stayed close to his parents, probably to help, because of A A's disability. After the folks were gone, then true to his name, Western migrated west with his family, settling about 125 away on a farm near Racine, MN., in 1902.
Western and family members continued to return in order to visit relatives in the area, and are remembered by his descendants, helping to maintain the small cemetery behind the present day Moriarty Farm where his family was buried. There are no records of these burials today, however other family descendants, Selma Newkirk, Myrtle Bires, and others recall flags being placed there on graves up until the 1930s on Memorial Day. The cemetery does show up on land plats, over the years (school section 16) as a cemetery, and has been excepted from tax rolls. In 1990 The Wis. State Historical Society, cataloged it as an archeological site, and called it The Thompson Cemetery, in order to help preserve it. It is most certainly the burial place of Andrew Austin Thompson , wife Almira, many of their children, and A A's brother Chellus. Other pioneer families from the area most certainly are in there as well. It's hoped some day more records will surface. Recently the old cemetery has been partially restored, and access gained to it, from Hwy. 82. Former Lindina Town Chairman, Ken Ruf, and several of us, descendants, worked on it. In 1993, we installed replacement gravestone markers for AA and Almira, also markers for his son Walter, and brother Chellus who were Civil war Vets. The original sites of their graves within the fenced 1/2 acre are unknown. The gravesite of A A's brother Isaac suffered a similar fate, when flooding of the Chippewa River, reportedly washed part of the cemetery away, near Spring Brook, Dunn County WI.
Religion appears to have been a very influencing factor in many of the earlier Thompson lives. Mormon records show that A A's cousins in Illinois were united with them early on, and made the western migrations from Nauvoo, then Council Bluffs, IA, and eventually to the Salt Lake UT area. One of them James Lewis Thompson relates in his diary, how he became part of the Mormon Battalion, formed in Missouri in 1846 to fight in the Mexican War. They marched all the way to California, but found few Mexicans to fight. They did fight starvation and exposure, marching back thousands of miles barefoot, he mentions sleeping under logs, where possible for cover. The Mormon Battalion was formed to appease the U S Government, as many felt the government should outlaw the Mormons at that time. It's probable that the related Thompson Families had already joined the LDS movements in New York, as Census records show them living in towns founded by Joseph Smith, then, following his murder in 1846, they followed Brigham Young to Utah, where many, many, descendants still live.
It's not known when A A joined with the Seventh Day Adventists, but the area they settled in Lindina had an enclave of families who were known SDA leaders. We do know his sons Ozro, and Wallace, also daughter Augusta were lifelong members. In fact, Ozro's daughters were sent to SDA Colleges in Illinois, and Nebraska to be trained as missionaries and became extremely dedicated in their work. Emma left a diary, still in existence, documenting her continued travels through Wisconsin in 1892, and then authored several books about her missionary work in China. She married Jacob Anderson, one of the Wisconsin leaders of the SDA Conference. Gertrude lost her life in China in 1912, and Ida served there as well. The Adventists held large Tent revivals in the Mauston area from time to time, according to old newspaper articles.
The above information is an attempt to record some of the info I have gathered since the 1970s when my grandfather Arthur Ozro Thompson died, and it seemed interesting trying to find out things about his and our ancestors. I sure appreciate any help, corrections, or additional data anyone would have, including old photos, to copy.
Information Sources: Amy Manuscript 1964, Pelham History 1898, McHenry Co. IL History 1885, Juneau Co. First 100 Years, Nat. Archives, Juneau Co. Vital Records, Merton Eberlein, Mauston, WI, Larry Onsager, Kirksville, MO and others.
Family Descendent sources: Selma Newkirk, Ft. Wayne, IN Alta Morgan, Stoughton WI, Velma Walker, Pleasant Grove, MN, Geo. Andrews, Alexandria, VA, Ralph Thompson, Sullivan WI, Jim Thompson, Mauston, WI, Myrtle Bires, Mauston, WI, and many others through-out the country, Thank you! Cemetery Restoration work: Darrell & Rodney Wilson, Jim P. Thompson, their sons and my sons, Bryan and Ryan, all helped, Thanks.
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