Tuesday 5 July 2016

Moving 8 – The Thompson Family

In previous posts I have covered the migration routes of most of my family lines. This latest one concerns the travels of my Thompson ancestors, at least what we know about them. A lot of the information about this branch comes from work done by a cousin. She traced them back to Ontario where my great-grandfather, Newton Isaac Thompson was born – Haldimand County, Dunville, Ontario to be precise.

We don’t have a birth record for Newton or a death record for that matter. He died in Seaview, Washington, in 1937. We do have lots of other documents and censuses that establish the places of his birth and death.

What is of interest in this line is that Newton’s father was born in New York. That is shown on his death certificate issued in North Dakota in 1908. He is identified on most documents as John T. Thompson. Another cousin recently told me his middle name was Tannehill which we have yet to confirm. She has quite a bit of information about him which has come down from one of his daughters. The 1900 US census shows his birth place as “New York” and that of both his parents as “England.”

My cousin told me that John T. was from Cherry Valley, Otsego County, New York. Unfortunately she cannot remember where she found that reference. There are a few men named John Thompson on the 1830 US census in Cherry Valley any of whom might be the father of John T. So we are an impasse on tracing where the family actually came from.

A new road had opened up through northern New York in the late 1700s, called the Genesee Road. In 1825 the Erie Canal was under construction generally along the same route. Both facilitated the migration of families into the northern US and into Canada. No doubt John T. took advantage of the new opportunities available in Canada just beyond the end of the Genesee.

John T. married Elizabeth Emerson in 1848 in Niagara, Ontario. Elizabeth was born in Bottesford, Leiscester, England in 1832 and come to Canada with her parents, George and Mary (Tyler) Emerson in 1835. That immigration date is shown on a memorial in the Diltz Road Cemetery, Haldimand. John T. and Elizabeth had six children together before she died in 1965. He married Nancy van der Vere shortly after and the went on to have another 11 children, five in Ontario and six in North Dakota where they had moved in 1878. Like the Anderson family (post 29 March 2016) the Thompsons also wanted to take advantage of new lands opening up in the norther US. They likely travelled to their new home on the recently constructed railway.

Most of the Thompson family, including my great-grandfather, Newton, moved to North Dakota. That is where he met my great-grandmother, Margaret Mary Anderson and where they were married in 1884. All of their seven children were born near Mapleton.

In 1910, the Newton Thompson family were struck with the wanderlust again. This time they opted to take advantage of land being made available in Alberta. He and his son, Charlie, moved up in 1910 and got the farm started. The rest of the family, wife Margaret and daughters Maud, Ethel, Carrie and Mae, arrived early the next year. They all appear on the 1911 Canada census taken on June 7th and 8th.

Grandmother Carrie Jane Thompson met grandfather James Pearson Shepheard at Keoma, Alberta. “Jimmy” had arrived in the province in 1909, from England. I wrote about them in a blogpost dated 22 April 2014.

In about 60 years, Thompson family members had come from New York to Ontario to North Dakota to Alberta. Within a few years they would join up with the Miller family, through my grandfather James Pearson Shepheard, to form the final link to me.

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated