I intend to track some of my search for my Thompson family here in the hopes that it will be found by someone else on their own Thompson hunt.
I have to post a disclaimer here. I’m an amateur and not a very good one. I’m not a professional geneologist by any means. I decided to try to find my family because the elders in my clan are dying off and I don’t know anything about who we are…well at least I didn’t know. I’ve found out a lot of things (or think I have) and I’ve met a few people all in the hopes of filling in the gaps. I should say right now that it was all gaps.
After my first son was born, I asked my grandparents who their parents were and where we came from. My grandmother told me they didn’t have any money for me. So it was pretty evident that I wasn’t going to get very far. As my son went to school and began filling out family trees in class I watched him put together the same trees I always did as a kid. Him and a couple of branches, a few names and then a big pile of question marks.
Since I was in second grade, I’ve wanted to know where we come from, but never had any resources. Enter Ancestry.com. I purchased family tree maker years ago but got nowhere, but with ancestry.com backed up by familysearch.org and different Genweb sites. I was able to put a lot of the pieces together…except for the Thompsons. I was pretty stuck there.
I’m a Thompson from Cadillac Michigan, which is in Wexford County in northern lower michigan. There are a lot of Thompsons. The world is littered with them. The planet is awful with Thompsons. Finding your Thompson relatives isn’t like finding a needle in a hay stack. It’s like finding your needle in a needle stack.
My Dad gave me some really good clues and we had some birth records for my grandfather which got me to my first big sticking point. Albert Thompson. My great, great grandfather. He didn’t live very long…as far as I can tell, which is unfortunate because it doesn’t give you a lot of records.
You have to understand that when you’re trying to find that one honeybee in the hive you really need a lot of records to weed everyone else out. So Albert didn’t leave me with a whole lot of records. Really just two census records before he disappears from view. If you’re lucky and you’re looking in the census it will list where a person’s parents are from. Albert has two records.
In the first one (1910) you see his wife and kids and his mother is listed as being from Indiana and his father is from X….not really helpful.
The second (1920) record lists him and his kids but not his wife. It says he’s widowed and gives the wrong age for him (it lists his wife’s age). It says his parents are both from Indiana…more helpful but hard to trust because in 1930 you find his wife alive and widowed with the kids. So is that record for him or his wife and which things are real and which are fake.
Being able to tell where someone’s parents are from is crucial for finding their census records from the time when they lived with their mom and dad. So I wanted to narrow my search down to children named Albert Thompson born around 1878 who’s parents are both from Indiana…except for that X record damn it.
So I began hunting for Alberts. I came up with three candidates that were born in the right years and whose parents were near the right town and were both from Indiana…or Dad was from X. So I had two candidates with parents from Indiana and a second candidate whose Dad was from Denmark and his mother was from Indiana.
I moved on from the Denmark record, because if it’s right then..we’re from Denmark right there, end of search. Save that record and move on.
The other two were both native Indiana people who I found partially because of death records. Albert O. Thompson dies in 1920 close enough to the census to give a census taker problems when talking with his grieving wife. The other Albert died in 1910.. which is the last birth year for a child (Henry).
I followed both Alberts. Albert O was harder than Albert (nothing) and in the end they led me to much the same place (by different means). Albert O leads back to North Carolina in the early 1800s and Albert (nothing) led back to South Carolina in the 1750s. From there both jumped to Ireland. Albert O led to Thomas Thompson Donegal Ireland 1783(5?) and Albert Thompson led to Archibald Thompson, Cork Ireland 175x.
In the end, I was less comfortable with the 1909/1910 death date because of the birth of Henry so I dismantled the Archibald ended family tree and left the Thomas tree floating at Ancestry.com as the “Michael James Thompson” family tree as my official tree.