The main characters in today’s story are not of the variety that are normally highlighted on this blog. Because the history of East Perry County, Missouri is almost exclusively the history of a German Lutheran settlement in this area, almost all of the stories on the blog are about people of German origin. Not so today. Today’s story will be a bit of evidence that as we moved into the 20th century, the town in this vicinity that had the highest non-German population was Wittenberg. The biggest two reasons for that fact were its location on the Mississippi River where much commerce took place and the new presence of the railroad which ran through that town.
Martin Otto Thompson was born on May 16, 1878, the son of Thomas and Rachel Elizabeth (Sanders) Thompson. Martin’s father had been born in Tennessee, and his mother had been born in Kentucky. Sources found on Ancestry say that Martin’s birth took place in Seventy-Six, Missouri, another small town located on the banks of the Mississippi River. Martin can be found in his first census in 1880 at the age of 1. His father was a farmer. His family was living in the Salem Township.
We cannot look at another census until the one taken in 1900, and when we do, Martin was still living in the Salem Township and was a farm laborer. Because it is that almost unreadable 1900 census from Salem Township, I will not display it. I think it was about this time that Martin moved away from farming and became involved in the timber business, especially doing the work of producing and transporting railroad ties. The railroad was being built along the banks of the Mississippi River on the Missouri side in the early years of the 20th century. Trains began running on those rails in 1904.
Martin’s future wife was Minnie Strickland. This surname is sometimes shown as Stricklin in records that I located. Minnie was born on April 8, 1888, the daughter of John and Theresa (Swank) Strickland. Minnie’s father was another person who was born in Tennessee. Minnie can be found in her first census in 1900 at the age of 13. There is some debate about the year of Minnie’s birth. This census says she was born in 1887. A church record and her death certificate say she was born in 1888. Then on her gravestone it says 1889.
On February 13, 1903, Martin Thompson married Minnie Strickland. The marriage was performed by a Justice of the Peace in Perryville. In fact, that Justice of the Peace was Charles Weber, a famous name in Lutheran history for this area. Regardless of which birth year is correct for Minnie, she was quite young when she married Martin. The marriage license says she had the consent of her father to get married.
Our German Family Tree includes 9 children that were born into this family. Some of those children only make our GFT because they are found in census records for this couple. Others can be found in the books of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg, which was established in the same year this couple was married. We find this couple in the 1910 census with 3 sons. Martin’s occupation was shown as railroad ties inspector.
In 1918, Martin had his World War I draft registration completed. He was called a tie maker.
The next census in which we see this couple was the one taken in 1920. This entry says Martin was a mail messenger.
It looks as if it was the birth of their 6th child in 1922 that precipitated the first appearance of the Thompson family in the St. Paul’s records. March 19, 1922 was a special day for not only the Thompson family, but also the congregation in Wittenberg. Three Thompson children were baptized on that day. Below are the 3 baptism records for the Thompson children.
These children were about the ages of 10, 8, and a baby. The 10 year old got my attention because my father was born in January of 1913, so Loyd Thompson must have been about my father’s age and attending the same congregation. Loyd’s sponsors also interest me. George Stohs was the teacher at the Lutheran School in Wittenberg, and Mrs. Marie Mayhew is a main character in my book, Wittenberg ’03, only she was Marie Birner in that book. One of Ethel’s sponsors, Mrs. Selma Gemeinhardt is also a character in my book.
This triple baptism begins a rather curious collection of Thompson records in the St. Paul’s books. I will list them in the order that they occurred. First, in 1924, another boy, Preston Thompson was baptized. Please note that he was born in July, but not baptized until December.
In 1931, we find two baptism records for Thompson children. First, here is the baptism record for Pearline Thompson which took place in September. Please note that Pearline was born in May of 1930, but was not baptized until over a year later. I decided to also include the record above Pearline’s for Norman Loebs. I just got a phone call from Norman, my cousin, and I know he reads this blog. I thought he might like to see his baptism record.
Then, about a month later, an older child in this family, Verlin Thompson, was baptized. He was born in 1927, so he was about 4 years old when he was baptized.
Before I show a few more records, I will display the 1930 census for the Thompson family. Martin was a teamster hauling ties. Three of his sons were old enough to have jobs of their own.
On March 24, 1935, three individuals were confirmed at St. Paul’s, and one of them was Minnie Thompson, the mother in this family. Here are those 3 confirmation records. Minnie was almost 47 years old when she was confirmed. All three of the names of confirmands were not German.
In 1938, a grandson of Martin and Minnie, David Thompson, was baptized. David was not baptized until he was 1 year old.
On April 23, 1939, Martin Thompson was confirmed at St. Paul’s. This record says that he was born in Shiloh, Missouri. Martin was 65 years old when he was confirmed.
Later that same year, on August 6, 1939, a granddaughter of Martin and Minnie was baptized. Minnie was one of her sponsors.
The last record I found for a Thompson family member was a baptism record for Ruie (Jackson) Thompson. She was the wife of Martin and Minnie Thompson’s oldest son, Rudolph, and mother of their grandchildren who had previously been baptized. Ruie was baptized in 1942 not long before her 24th birthday.
The last census in which we see Martin and Minnie Thompson was the one taken in 1940. The entry below them was the household of their son, Rudolph, and his wife, Ruie.
Martin also had a World War II draft card completed in 1942.
Minnie died in 1963 at the age of 74. Her death certificate says she died at the Perry County Memorial Hospital in Perryville.
Martin Thompson died in 1967 at the age of 83. His death certificate says he died in the same hospital as his wife.
Martin and Minnie are buried together in the Home Cemetery in Perryville, Missouri.
It was especially during the years when Rev. Bartz and Rev. Deye were serving St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg that many English-sounding names showed up in their church books. Several of those names became members either through adult baptism or confirmation during their terms at that congregation. The Thompson family gives plenty of evidence to that effect.