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Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 172~


Morris J. Thompson

Morris J. Thompson has for thirty years resided upon his farm on section 31, Fairfield Township. Add to that period seven years and we have the length of time in which he has resided in the county. He was born in Carroll County, Ohio, September, 3, 1829, and is of Scotch descent. His great-grandfather and grandfather were both born in Maryland, the latter being reared on a farm near Baltimore where he married. In an early day he removed to Harrison County, Ohio, then a new country, where he spent the remainder of his life, devoting the greater part of his attention to farming. In religious belief he was a Universalist. The family numbered eight children, of whom Zacariah, father of our subject, was born in Maryland, February 12, 1796.


At the age of twenty-one he accompanied his parents to Ohio, and four years later married Priscilla Albaugh, a lady of Holland descent who was born and reared in Harrison now Carroll County, having never been outside its borders until she accompanied her husband to Iowa. He obtained land from the Government in Fayette County and from the wild prairie developed a good farm, upon which he resided for eleven years and where he died. Many were the hardships and privations endured by the early settlers and to them we owe a debt of gratitude which can never be repaid. All of their salt had to be brought across the mountains and a bushel of wheat would not buy a pound of coffee. Eleven children, however, came to bless the home with their presence.


About 1865 Zachariah Thompson and his wife bade good bye to Ohio and came to Iowa, settling on a farm about one mile from Brush Creek, where the remainder of their lives were spent. Her death occurred in 1874, at the age of sixty-eight and he died in October, 1880, at the age of eighty-four. When a young man Mr. Thompson had learned the carpenter's trade which he followed to some extent in connection with farming but made the latter occupation his chief work in life. He and his wife were members of the Christian Church for a half century, having joined the movement in its beginning. While a young man he was ordained for the ministry and was active in the work and interest of the church, doing much work for the Master. He was a Democrat in politics and an honest, upright citizen, who made the world better for his having lived.


Of the eleven children in the Thompson family, ten grew to mature years. William was one of the early settlers of Smithfield Township, where he still resides; Eli, in Nebraska; Samuel, who died in Ohio in 1864; Morris, our subject; Mrs. Catherine Amos and Alexander, both of Nebraska; Mrs. Martha Allen, of Ringgold Co. Iowa; Allen, a veteran of an Ohio regiment in the late war; Elizabeth, of Ringgold County; and David, a farmer of Fairfield Township.


Looking backward many years we find Morris conning his lessons in a log schoolhouse that is furnished with slab seats, a huge fireplace in one end and desks along the wall. He only attended in the winter season and then was frequently absent on account of the work upon the farm requiring his services. He was early inured to hard work and at the age of seventeen began to learn the smith's trade which he followed until twenty-five years of age when he came to Iowa. He made the trip with his brother Samuel, and the journey was accomplished by means of the railroad, the lakes, the Mississippi, and ox-teams which bore them to their destination. He purchased one hundred and twenty acres of land a short distance east of Taylorville at $3 per acre which exhausted his capital. Here he endured many hardships and privations such as fall to the lot of a pioneer and did much hard work. He was forced to go bare-footed some of the time and often worked out of doors in cold weather without shelter, shoeing oxen. He and his brother walked five miles to cut logs for their house, eating frozen dinners in the woods and when the cabin was built they lived in it from April to Christmas without a window.


Mr. Thompson came to Fayette County in the fall of 1854, and having lived for seven years upon one farm purchased his homestead in 1861. The land was wild and unimproved but he at once began its development and now has two hundred and forty acres under a high state of cultivation, furnished with the necessary buildings and in connection with this he has enough to keep him in his declining years in peace and plenty. Beside farming he engaged in blacksmithing for thirty years.


Mr. Thompson was married in Jefferson County, Ohio, in 1851, to Sarah Jane Brown, a native of that State, who died December 28, 1870. They were the parents of seven children - Othello D., a farmer of Sioux County, Iowa; John A., a prominent citizen of this county and a leading merchant of Brush Creek whose sketch appears elsewhere in this volume; Mrs. Maggie Walrath of Brush Creek; William A., of the same place; Edward, of York, New Brunswick; Annie, wife of Cornelius Little, of Linn County, Iowa; Joseph G. of Brush Creek. On the 30th of June, 1872, in Buchanan County, Iowa, Mr. Thomas <sic> wedded Mrs. Catherine Briney, daughter of Henry M. and Elizabeth (Williams) Holman, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Virginia. They were married in Indiana where the mother died, after which Mr. Holman came to Buchanan County in 1850, with his daughter, then eleven years of age. On attaining to womanhood she became the wife of James L. Briney, and unto them were born three children, all now deceased. By the second marriage there are two children - Morris Everett, born December 1, 1873; and Jessie May, born August 30, 1880.


Mr. and Mrs. Thompson are members of the Christian Church of Brush Creek, with which he has been connected for twenty-eight years, some of that time as Elder. He has done much for its upbuilding, labored untiringly for its interests and given liberally for its support. A Christian life has won him many friends who respect him for his many excellencies of character. As a pioneer settler of the county he has been identified with its history, has seen its growth and progress and watched its development. He used to haul wheat forty miles with an ox-team to the Mississippi River and then receive only forty cents per bushel, but now has a market almost at his door. In political sentiment he is a Republican, having supported that party since casting his first vote for J. C. Fremont.





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