Friday, November 28, 2014


© Kathy Duncan, 2014

According to family tradition, Solomon Thompson who lived variously in Kershaw, Fairfield, and Lancaster Counties, South Carolina, was married to Arcenia/Arsenia Williams. He had three known children: a son, Elizabeth Ann Rebecca (Thompson) Kelley, and Henrietta Southerland (Thompson) Floyd. I am uncertain at this point as to whether Arcenia is the mother of all of his children since it turns out that the eldest son is about twelve years older than his next youngest sister, Eliza. If you are researching this family, then you may have come across information that the son was named Eli or Elia or Elias or maybe even Ellis. This is an error. In fact, it is an error that I created, and I would like to correct it with this post.

This error was created because Solomon's son is only a nameless tick mark on the 1840 census:

1840 - Kershaw Co., SC p. 375:

Sallomon Thompson 0100001 - 00002
1 male 5 - 10: a son
1 male 40 - 50: Solomon Thompson
2 females 20 - 30: wife of Solomon Thompson and another female
He is out of Solomon's household by 1850:

30 Sept 1850, Fairfield County SC, p. 258:

Solomon Thompson 36 M W Planter b. Fairfield Co., SC
Sarah ---- 30 F W b. Fairfield Co., SC
Elizabeth ---- 6 F W b. Fairfield Co., SC

He also is not present in the household in 1860:

31 July 1860, Fairfield, Fairfield District, SC, p. 233:

586 - 586
Solomon Thompson  53 M Overseer $0 - $1,025 b. SC
Esceni 50 F b. SC
Eliza 15 F b. SC
Henriette 7 F b. SC

Additionally, he is not identified through any "routine" genealogical sources that I know of--will or probate of his father or other family member. However, he wrote a letter to his sister, my great-great grandmother Eliza (Thompson) Kelley, which he signed with a swirl. In my defense, it does look like it could be Elia or some other variation on that name. Doesn't it?? That mistake, though, led me astray for years and resulted in my theory that his name was Eli becoming an unfortunate "fact" that has proliferated throughout the internet.

Click on image to enlarge.

Transcript of the letter:

Wadesborough, N.C.
Nov 25th 1867

Dear Sister
I received your letter some time ago, but as usual I have delayed writing until I fear you are out of patience, and have concluded that I do not care about hearing from you. I think I was the poorest hand to write a letter of any one I know except my wife. I write to no one except on business save father and mother, and I do not write to them as often as I should. I have written twice to them of late and can get no reply. I am very anxious to hear from them. I would go by if I had time as I go to Conference. I will leave next week. I suppose we will return to this circuit again though I am certain yet I like the people very well and they say I must come back. How do you like your new home. I hope you are doing well. I hope you made a good crop. This has been another bad crop year with us. I do not know whether father will try to hold on to his land or not. I wish those men who owe him would pay, that he might be able to buy him a home. It is shameful that they are to get his money and labors for nothing. I suppose there is no help for it as there is no way to make a man pay his debts now. Father thinking and hoping that you and Pink would move up to his country. I would be glad as they seem to be so bound up with you all. And you have another boy. Raising soldiers for the next war. I would like to know on which side he will fight though from the metal of his daddy, I might guess. But God save us from another war.

I suspect this little Kelly no. 2 will be a notable fellow if we are to judge from his name. Raise him to be a preacher. I must close. Kind regards to your clever “better half.” Write to me at Wadesborough as before.

Your only brother,
E [frustrating indecipherable swirl] Thompson

"Little Kelly no. 2" would have been Eliza and Pink Kelly's son William Haskell Kelley.

The only other primary document is a note written by Henrietta Southerland (Thompson) Floyd to Eliza (Thompson) Kelley on the occasion of their brother's death. In that note, their brother is only identified as "Buddy." While it is charming to know his nickname, it did not get me far in correctly identifying him. Having his death date, however, turned out to be extremely helpful.

Transcript:  Dear Sister we are all well Ma and Father are well Father will be after you soon. Sister Buddy is dead he died the 5 of April his wife has wrote to them twice since he died James is gone to Camden after the _______. I will go to Fathers to live.
April 30, 1877 H.S. Floyd

Years later, after more experience researching, I went back to the 1867 letter. It was evident from the letter that Eliza's brother was a minister in Wadesborough, North Carolina. The only possibility I turned up in Wadsborough, NC in that time period was Rev. E. W. Thompson, a Methodist minister. Looking again at his signature, it appeared more to be an E. W. than Eli.

Click image to enlarge.

Rev. E. W. Thompson seemed like a reasonable fit since my grandmother's family had been Methodists. However, I could not get any further without knowing what the "E" stood for. More years ticked by. Then there was an internet explosion of information. I found an abstract for the obituary of Rev. E. W. Thompson and the death date was a close match. I also found an abstract for an obituary for his wife Jennie C. Thompson, widow of Rev. E. W. Thompson. Having her first name enabled me to find them on the 1860 census, where his name appears as Eugene Thompson. Then the flood gates opened. As the years rolled by, I have found more and more, including his place of death and a photograph.

Allow me to present the life of Rev. Eugene William Thompson, son of Solomon R. Thompson, and brother to Eliza Ann Rebecca (Thompson) Kelley and Henrietta Southerland (Thompson) Floyd~~~

In 1850 Eugene W. Thompson appears to be boarding with the Sutherland family. He is going by what is evidently his middle name, William:

13 Aug 1850, Kershaw Co., SC, p. 88:

260 - 260
J.F. Sutherland 35 M Cabinet Maker b. NY
Henrietta Sutherland 30 F b. NY
Wm. Thompson 17 M Apprentice b. SC
Jesse Nelson 17 M Apprentice b. SC
W.J. Gaston 25 M Lawyer b. SC
Sarah Gaston 18 F b. SC
Hannah Valentine 70 F b. NY
Jack ______
Church Vaughan 24 M b. SC
Robt. Broomfield
Sarah 2 F B

Evidently, Solomon and Arsenia Thompson named their youngest daughter after the Henrietta Sutherland that Eugene William Thompson boarded with during this period. I have discovered no family connection between the Sutherlands and Thompsons.

Rev. E.W. Thompson married Jane C. Lowe, daughter of Sheriff Isaac and Nancy (Kincaid) Lowe, of Lincoln County, North Carolina on 28 December 1858. Her name alternately appears as Jennie.

6 July 1860, Town of Concord West Sect., Cabarrus County, NC

467 - 426
Eugene Thompson 27 M Methodist Minister $0-$600 b. SC
Jane ---- 24 F b. NC
Martha ---- 2/12 F b. NC

The Thompson's first born child only lived a few months:

Burial, Old Luthern Church Graveyard, Corban St., Concord, Cabarrus Co., NC; “Martha Tallula/ dau of /Rev. E.W. and J.C. Thompson/ Born May 8th/ Died Aug. 21th 1860/Suffer little children…unto me and…not for…kingdom of Heaven”

E. W. Thompson was the minister of the Concord Methodist Church, Concord, Cabarrus County, North Carolina in 1860 when the new church was being built.
[Source: "Methodism in Cabarrus" by Bill Furr, Cabarrus County, NCGenWeb]

When the Civil War began, Rev. Eugene W. Thompson joined the Confederate cause:

Eugene W. Thompson of Lincoln Co., NC was commissioned Chaplain of the 43rd Regiment, North Carolina, on 2 October 1862.

On 16 September 1862, Rev. E.W. Thompson paid $30 to become a life member of the Bible Society of the Confederate States of America.
[Source: State Bible Convention of South Carolina, 1862, Columbia, SC]

Over a seventeen day period from February 5 to February 22, 1864, twenty-two men were hanged in Kinston, North Carolina for desertion.  Most of them were from the 8th Battalion North Carolina Partisan Rangers. On February 14, "Rev. Mr. Thompson, Chaplain of the 43rd" along with two other ministers assisted Rev. John Paris, Chaplain of the 54th Reg. N.C.T. in visiting with the thirteen prisoners who were hanged the following day, Monday, February 15. Of these thirteen, eight were baptized. After that day the remaining prisoners only received visits from Rev. Paris with the exception  of "one in the afternoon, at my [Rev. Paris's] request, from Rev. Mr. Thompson."
[Source: Letter written by Rev. John Paris, 22 Feb. 1864, Kinston, NC reprinted in United States Congressional Serial Set, vol. 1263]

On November 7, 1864, E.W. Thompson wrote a letter of condolence to William Wills on the occasion of his son George Wills's death. As chaplain, he would have written many such letters. He noted that George Wills's "amiable and gentle disposition--his zeal in his country's cause--his fidelity in the discharge of his duties as an officer; together with his well ordered life as Church member all united to make me love him, and to impress me with his same excellence as a gentleman, his fidelity as a patriot, his superior qualities as a soldier and more than all his genuine piety as a Christian."
[Source: Redeeming the Southern Family: Evangelical Women and Domestic Devotion in the Antebellum South, 2011, by Scott Stephan]

Just before Christmas of 1864, Chaplain Eugene W. Thompson wrote from the Petersburg Campaign about his fear of what would happen if the Confederates lost:

"I sometimes look at subjugation and I tell you it is appalling. It is to have our fair fields confiscated; it is to have our beloved church desecrated, our innocent women to be the prey to brutal lust, our cherished institutions ruined, our whole country wasted and forever spoiled, and our population to a state of poverty, degradation and vasselage unknown before in the history of the world. Are we ready for such a fate as this. Will we submit to it? If it is Heaven's decree I submit, if not I think I am honest when I say I am ready to risk my life to prevent it."
[Source: The Final Battles of the Petersburg Campaign: Breaking the Backbone of the Rebellion by A. Wilson Greene]

Mostly, Rev. E. W. Thompson was remember fondly by the men he ministered to during the war years. A case in point was Leonidas L. Polk:

"Rev. E. W. Thompson, our beloved and indefatigable Chaplain, whose name can never be mentioned by a member of our Regiment except with emotions of the sincerest esteem, if not affection, was untiring in his fidelity to the religious duties of his position. He rarely omitted an opportunity for Divine service, even if presented three times per day. In the camp, of bivouac, on the march, and especially in the hospital, or field infirmary, were his valuable, faithful services appreciated, and we but declare what we believe to have been the universal sentiment of the Regiment, when we say that no more faithful, zealous and efficient Chaplain could have been found in the army of North Virginia."
[Source: The 43rd NC Regiment During the War, "Whiffs from My Old Camp Pipe" by Leonidas L. Polk of the Weekly Ansonian (Polkton, NC) Beginning April 1876]

10 June 1870, Ward 4, Charlotte City, Mecklenburg County, NC:

108 - 108
Thompson, Eugene W. 36 M W Minister $0 - $300 b. SC
----Jennie C. 34 F W Keeping house b. NC
----Julian F. 6 M W b. NC
Sturdevant, Ellen 30 F M Domestic servant b. NC
----John 3 M M b. NC
Washington, Stephen 20 M B Sexton b. NC

-Married: In this city, on the 18th inst., by Rev. Mr. Thompson, Mr. T. F. Holton and Miss Sallie Moyer.
[Thursday, July 28, 1870, THE SOUTHERN HOME (Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, NC]

On 8 April 1874, Rev. E.W. Thompson, Minister of the Gospel, married Minnie McNabb and Abram Gainey in Cumberland County, North Carolina.
[Source: Marriage Register, Cumberland County, NC, June 16, 1808 to 1952, transcribed by Larry and Juanita McClintock]

By 1877, Rev. E.W. Thompson was in poor health and was living in Morganton, North Carolina

Eugene W. Thompson
We are pleased to learn that Rev. E.W. Thompson, of the North Carolina M. E. Conference, has become a citizen of our town. He has formed a copartnership with our very popular young merchant, Mr. L. A. Brittain, and they will add dry goods, hats, shoes, &c. to their stock of groceries, confections, etc. We predict for this firm a very large share of the patronage of this country. It is to be regretted that the failure of Mr. Thompson's health has forced him for the present to quit active service as a minister, in which field he was so deservedly popular. He is now unable to get out to attend to his new business. Morganton is to be congratulated on securing him as a citizen, and we hope his selection of this healthy region may be the means of restoring his health. - Morganton Blade
[Source: The Charlotte Democrat; Charlotte, NC; 12 Jan 1877]

We regret to learn that Rev. E.W. Thompson is still in very feeble health. We were greatly in hopes we could report an improvement in his condition, but he is yet confined to his house, with no change to cheer his friend. -Morganton Blade.
[Source: The Charlotte Democrat; Charlotte, NC; 16 Mar 1877]

Rev. E. W. Thompson, a Methodist divine, well known to the people of this community, died recently of consumption, so we learn from an exchange.
[Source: The Pee Dee Herald; 21 Mar 1877]

NOT DEAD - It will be seen by the following paragraph copied from the Morganton Blade of the 31st March that Rev. E.W. Thompson (once the pastor of the Methodist Church in this city) is not dead as recently reported:
"Rev. E. W. Thompson's health, we regret to say, has not improved since our last report, but we hope with the pleasant weather we are apt to have in April, he will be sufficiently restored to again cheer his friends with a prospect of his final recovery."
[Source: The Charlotte Democrat; Charlotte, NC; 6 April 1877]

Rev. E.W. Thompson of the N.C. Conference, died at Morganton on the 4th inst. His death has been prematurely announced in some papers. He was a native of South Carolina and a gentleman of profound piety.
[Source: The Charlotte Democrat; Charlotte, NC; 13 April 1877]

Died - In Morganton, on the 4th inst., after long suffering, Rev. E.W. Thompson, of the N. C. Conference. He was a good man.
[Source: The Charlotte Democrat; Charlotte, NM; 13 April 1877]

North Carolina Methodist Conference - Forty-First Annual Session
The hour for special order, the memorial service, having arrived, Rev. W. S. Black, chairman of the committee on memoirs, read, as the report of the committee, a touching and eloquent obituary on Rev. E. W. Thompson, by Dr. Dixon, which they adopted. Had we the space to give it, the reader would be well repaid. The chairman evinced very deep emotion as he read. After the reading very feeling remarks were made by the friend of the deceased (Rev. J.S. Nelson) whose voice husky and eyes tearful as he spoke of the many virtues and manly character of his departed friend "whom he loved as his mother's own son."

Appropriate remarks were also made by L.W. Crawford, H.T. Hudson, L. Shell, S.V. Hoyle and V.A. Sharpe. Rev. J. A. Cunningham also read as appropriate to the occasion the resolution of the Joint Board of Finance.

Rev. A.W. Mangum also bore testimony to the virtues of the deceased, and in the course of his remarks most pathetically asked if our Father had a controversy with us, that He should thus in quick succession take from us our brightest and best in the full bloom of a glorious manhood. Thompson, Munsey, Duncan, and the unsurpassed and beloved Marvin.

The Bishop closed the memorial service with very proper remarks, and giving out, in a voice almost choked with emotion the lines of hymn 716, which were sung with mournful spirit by the standing Conference and congregation; and inviting the white-haired, aged veteran soldier of the Cross, Rev. J.H. Wheeler, to lead in prayer.
[Source: Observer; Raleigh, NC; Fri., 7 Dec 1877]

Biography published in the North Carolina Annual Conference:

“The Committee on Memoirs presented their report, which was read, and after remarks by several of the Conference, touching the life and services of Bro. Thompson, the report was adopted as follows:

Rev. E. W. Thompson

Rev. Eugene W. Thompson, an honored member of the North Carolina Conference, died in the town of Morganton, N.C., a few minutes before 1 o’clock, Thursday morning, April 5th, 1877, in the prime of a beautiful and noble manhood.

He was born in Kershaw county, SC., in the year 1833. His education was received at Camden, Columbia, and Cokesbury, S.C. At the last named place he spent two years under the instruction of the Rev. George . Round, now of Lenior, N.C.

He was converted to God under the ministry of the Rev. H.C. Parsons, of the S.C. Conference, and was licensed to preach, and joined the S.C. Conference in 1854, with F. Milton Kennedy, now Editor of the Southern Christian Advocate, Jesse S. Nelson, Presiding Elder of Fayetteville District, Samuel B. Joes, Landy Wood. M.A. Connelly and others, and was appointed to Wadesboro Circuit as Junior preacher with Rev. Sidi H. Browne; the next year, he was sent to Spartanburg Circuit with Rev. Daniel May; the next two years he was pastor of Shelby Circuit. At the close of his last year on Shelby Circuit, he was united in marriage to Miss Jennie Lowe, daughter of Sheriff Isaac Lowe, of Lincoln county, N.C. She, with one son, survives him. Her bereavement is that of the church. But she suffers, no doubt, the keenest pangs of grief, and our sympathies and prayers are the most enlisted for the greatest sufferer.

The year after his marriage, he was sent to Lincoln circuit; the next two years he served Concord Circuit. In 1862, he was sent to Cheraw Station, S.C. where he remained until the Autumn of that year, when he joined the army of Northern Va., under Gen. Lee, as Chaplain, where he remained until the close of the war.

After the war, he served Wadesboro’ Circuit for four years, and was then sent to Tryon Street Church, Charlotte, where he remained one year. While he was stationed in Charlotte, the territory in Western N.C., belonging to the South Carolina Conference was transferred to the N.C. Conference, and he was transferred with it. At the session of the held at Greensboro, he was made Presiding Elder of Shelby District. He remained two years on the District, but the work was considered too heavy for him, on account of a throat affection, from which he was suffering at the time, and to the regret of the entire Church, in the bounds of the District, he was sent to Fayetteville, where he remained four years. His failing health compelled him to have an assistant during the last year of his stay at Fayetteville, but growing weaker every day, he thought it best, at the close of his last year there to take a superannuated relation to the Conference, and came to Morganton hoping that the dry atmosphere and bracing air of this mountain clime, would restore his health. But alas! That fell destroyer, pulmonary consumption, had already laid its icy hands upon him, and marked him for its own; and the powers of life gradually gave way before it until the Master said: ’Come up higher.’

For twenty-three years, Bro. Thompson was a standard bearer for Christ, and during that period his character, both private and official, was unstained by a single blot. Of commanding presence and deportment, he was, wherever seen, a model specimen of the dignified Christian minister. The purity and consistency of his private life, imparted a momentum to his pulpit ministrations which secured for him a distinguished measure of success in winning souls to Christ. He was a charming preacher. I have heard him when the consolations of the gospel fell from his lips as honey from the rock, and the message of salvation came down and soothed the brow of care like an angel’s wing. The pathos of his sympathy--oh! How touching and tender! Beneath its magic charm sorrow bloomed and tears turned to gladness. “But the harp is broken and its music is gone.” The pleasant voice is hushed. The congregations of earth will listen to him never again; the pulpit will know him no more forever. “Called and chosen, and faithful.” He has been summoned from among us and his name passes from the roll of Conference, but his memory will linger with his brethren as an inspiration and incentive to all that is manly and noble, and heroic in the Christian ministry.  
He was very much attached to his congregation in Fayetteville, and the good people of Fayetteville without regard to religious denomination, loved him dearly. When it was seen that his early pilgrimage was soon to end, Bro. Claywell, of Morganton, asked him if he had any message that he would like to send to any. After thinking a moment, he said, “Yes, I would be glad if you send word to my congregation in Fayetteville, that when the last struggle came I was ready.” And after a moment he said: “I would be glad to go now.” I asked him several days before his death, how he felt in view of the dissolution which he saw and felt was approaching rapidly, he said he would like to live. “I feel sad,” said he, “to think of leaving my wife and only son, and all of my friends. I would be pleased, if it were God’s will, to live and preach the gospel, but it is all right. Please say to my brethren in the Conference that at the master’s call, I was ready.”

Alive, he was a demonstration of Christianity; being dead, he yet speaketh, proclaiming to all that God is faithful. God be praised for such a life and for such a death.
The following was adopted:
The Committee appointed by the Joint Board of Finance to draft resolutions expressive of our appreciation of the kindness of the Church in Fayetteville toward Rev. E. W. Thompson, beg leave to report.

At the close of 1875, Rev. E. W. Thompson Pastor of the M.E. Church, South, in Fayetteville, N.C. was so prostrated that there was little prospect of his ever being able to work again, in any field.

The Fayetteville church requested the Bishop to return Brother Thompson to them and to give him an assistant preacher, promising to support them, whether Bro. Thompson should ever be able to preach or not. The two were sent, and supported, though Bro. Thompson’s health continued to decline.

We believe such acts should be published, remembered, and imitated. Therefore,
Resolved, That the North Carolina Annual Conference be requested to enter the above statement in their Minutes.
2nd. That a copy be sent to the church in Fayetteville.
[Source: The Journal of the Forty-First Session of the North Carolina Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, held at Salisbury, N.C., November 28th to December 5th, 1877. Edited by Rev. B. Craven, D.D.LL.D., Monroe, NC: Monroe Enquirerer Steam Power Press Print, 1878. p27 - 29]

Note that the death date for E.W. Thompson in the biography above matches the date in Henrietta's letter to Eliza.

Rev. Eugene W. Thompson's widow, returned to Lowesville, Lincoln County, North Carolina, where she had family connections.

1880, Lowesville, Lincoln Co., NC:

Thompson, Jennie W F 42 NC NC NC
---Julian W M 16 son NC NC NC

For many years, she drew a distribution from the church for her support.

Mrs. E. W. Thompson & child....$85.00
[Source: Journal of the North Carolina Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South 1878]

Mrs. E. W. Thompson and 1 child....$101
[Source: Journal of the Forty-Third North Carolina Annual Conference Methodist Episcopal Church, South 1879]

Mrs. E. W. Thompson...$75.00
[Source: Journal of the Session of the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South 1880]

Mrs. E. W. Thompson...$70
[Source: Journal of the Forthy Fifith Session of the North Carolina Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South 1881]

Mrs. E. W. Thompson...$25.00       Colvin Fund - .63
[Source: Journal of North Carolina Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South 1883]

In 1888, Jennie/Jane C. Thompson also died of consumption.

In Statesville, of consumption, on the 11th inst., Mrs. Jennie C. Thompson, widow of the late Rev. E. W. Thompson who was once pastor of Charlotte Methodist Church. Mrs. Thompson was the sister of Col. D. A. Lowe of Lincoln county.
[Source: The Charlotte Democrat; Charlotte, NC; 24 May 1888]

I have not found a place of burial or tombstone record for Jennie/Jane C. Thompson. This may not be unusual since at the time of her death, Rev. Eugene W. Thompson's grave was also unmarked. When it was discovered by his fellow ministers that his grave was without a tombstone, a movement was generated by Rev. J. Ed. Thompson to raise the funds to place one there. The following appeared in the Raleigh Christian Advocate in 1891:

Dear Bro. Reid: I have just returned from Morganton, where I found the grave of Rev. E. W. Thompson unmarked. It is nicely sodded with well kept grass, but it has nothing to show whose grave it is. An effort is now being made to put a neat tombstone  to the grave. There are many who would like to be permitted to aid in this work. Mr. I J. Divis, Morganton, N.C., has been appointed to receive funds for this purpose. Let those who admired and loved this devoted servant of God, send a contribution, however small. He died while in charge of the Hay St. Church, Fayetteville. Surely those who knew and loved him, will not let his grave remain unmarked. Fraternally, J. Ed. Thompson.
[Source: Raleigh Christian Advocate; Raleigh, NC; 6 May 1891]

Evidently, through these efforts, a tombstone was purchased and erected for Rev. E.W. Thompson, who is buried in the Forest Hill Cemetery, Morganton, Burke County, North Carolina.

The Dead of the North Carolina Conference
E. W. Thompson born 1833 Kershaw County SC, joined 1854 South Carolina, died 1877 Morganton, NC, buried Morganton, NC
[Source: Journal of the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South 1902]