Another Perry County Resident Makes Her Way to Oregon

When I began to look for a story to tell for today’s post, I was surprised to find another person from our German Family Tree who made her way to Oregon. After all, yesterday’s story about an Eggers family recounted the story of that clan making their way to Corvallis, Oregon. Today’s Perry County character has only one record that is found in our GFT, and that is not either a baptism or marriage record. The only document that gets her into the GFT is her confirmation record.

Anna Mathilde Schirmer is today’s birthday girl. She was born on May 25, 1880, but she was not born in America. I managed to locate a birth record for Anna from Dresden, Germany. She was the daughter of Adolph and Clara (Wetzke) Schirmer.

Anna Schirmer birth record – Dresden, Germany

Several later census records say that Anna arrived in the United States in 1883 when she was just 3 years old. Between 1884 and 1890, four more children were born into this Schirmer family, and those babies were baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. Three of those younger children born in America died as infants. A few of the older Schirmer children were confirmed at that congregation. Anna’s confirmation record from 1894 is displayed below.

Anna Schirmer baptism record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

Anna is never found in a census for Perry County, unless we could view the one taken in 1890, which we cannot. When the 1900 census was taken, we find Anna living in St. Louis in the household of a broker named McMorron. She, like so many other young women from Perry County back in those days, had gone to St. Louis to find work, and she was a servant.

1900 census – St. Louis, MO

Anna would somehow make it to the state of Oregon before 1904, and that is where she got married and spent the rest of her life. Let’s take a look at the man who would become her husband. His name was Herschel Venus Thompson, who was born on July 10, 1880, so he was just a few months younger than Anna. Like Anna, Herschel was not born in Oregon. He was born in Topeka, Kansas. Herschel was the son of Samuel and Esther (Duncan) Thompson. We find Herschel in his first census in 1900 when he was 19 years old. He was a jewelry clerk, and his father was a cabinet maker.

1900 census – Topeka, KS

On a side note, let me say that there is a storied military history in Herschel’s family. His father served during the Civil War for the Union Army. Also, if you backtrack through his mother’s family tree, you discover that another ancestor, James Pearce, fought in the Revolutionary War. Herschel’s name is found on this application for the Sons of the American Revolution shown here. It traces his family back to James Pearce.

James Pearce – Sons of the American Revolution application

That application also includes this description of James Pearce’s military service.

James Pearce – Revolutionary War military record

Before 1904, Herschel Thompson made his way to Oregon also. I do not know the story behind either Anna Schirmer or Herschel Thompson moving to Oregon, but on October 27, 1904, these two were married in Seaside, Oregon. An Oregon marriage record for this event is pictured below. They were married by a Methodist preacher.

Thompson/Schirmer – OR marriage record

We can see the location of Seaside, Oregon on the map below. It is not far from Portland.

Seaside, OR map

According to some family trees on, this Thompson couple had 5 children, all boys. When the 1910 census was taken, we find Herschel and Anna living in Seaside with their first son. Herschel was a salesman for a grocery store.

1910 census – Seaside, OR

Herschel Thompson had his World War I draft registration completed in 1918. At that time, Herschel was living in Portland where he was a Pullman conductor.

Herschel Thompson – WWI draft registration

The 1920 census shows the Thompson family living in Portland, and Herschel was called a conductor for a steam railroad. There were 4 sons in the household. I will also point out that Herschel’s parents had also moved to Oregon prior to 1920.

1920 census – Portland, OR

When the 1930 census was taken, we find the Thompson’s. Their oldest son had already moved out of their household, and there were 4 other sons listed. Two of the teenage sons were working as school janitors. Herschel’s mother was also living with them.

1930 census – Portland, OR

The 1940 census shows that Herschel had stayed at the same job for quite a few years. Three sons remained in the household.

1940 census – Portland, OR

A service record for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway indicates that Herschel had worked for that company that even includes his birthplace in their title.

Herschel Thompson service record – Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway

In 1942, Herschel had a World War II draft card completed.

Herschel Thompson – WWII draft card

I did not find the Thompson’s in the 1950 census, but in 1954, when Herschel and Anna celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, they had this photograph taken.

Anna and Herschel Thompson

Anna Thompson died in 1958 at the age of 78; Herschel Thompson died in 1963 at the age of 83. They are each buried in the River View Cemetery in Portland. Herschel’s gravestone is the only place where I found his name spelled as Hershel, not Herschel.

Another previous blog post told the story of Oliver Schirmer, who was born in Perry County and made his way to Portland, Oregon where he found a wife and lived the rest of his life. That post was titled, Oliver Follows Oregon Trail to Find Russians. I did not look very hard, but I found no connection between these two Schirmer’s who found their way to Portland.

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