Thompson Genealogy
John Thompson (1805- ?) & Mary Anne Knott & Sarah Jane Miller of Missouri

Historical Narrative
Descendant Listings
Documentary Sources
Discussion Groups
DNA Research


This web site is intended to be a compendium of the research done on John Thompson (originally of Kentucky), and his wives Mary Anne Knott and Sarah Jane Miller and their descendants. Much has been published on this family in various historical books and family histories, some of it accurate, some not so accurate. As is often the case with family histories, once something is in print, it often is considered to be "gospel". It is my hope that this web site will facilitate a critical examination and discussion of the facts, legends, and myths surrounding this Thompson family and to allow us Thompson researchers and descendants to learn more about our origins and our relatives' contributions to early America. The best way to separate fact from fiction and to resolve conflicting information is to go back to the primary sources (see Documenting Your Genealogy Research - Guide to Citing Sources). These include records of marriages, births, deaths, and burials, census listings, Bible records, tax lists, probate and land records, etc. The information in the descendant listings on this web site will include documentation of the primary sources as much as possible, and transcriptions of many of those sources will be presented in links below. This is a working document and not necessarily definitive, since much of it is based upon information found on the Internet or in published secondary sources. It will be modified and (hopefully) improved as more researchers provide input and, most importantly, evidence.

Historical Narrative

John Thompson was born 22 January 1805, probably in Warren County or Barren County in southern Kentucky. He is a son of James Thompson and Anna Thomas.

By 1832, he had moved to Perry County, Missouri in the southeastern part of the state along the Mississippi River.  He was married there on 18 September 1832 to Mary Anne Knott, a daughter of Clement Knott and Mary Elizabeth Quick. The Knott family was Catholic, having come to Missouri from Maryland by way of Kentucky in the early 1800s.  John Thompson joined the Catholic Church in Perry County upon his marriage to Mary Anne.  Their seven children (James Clement, William M., Vincent, Mary Elizabeth, Walter, Sarah Anne, and Mary Ann) were all baptized in the local parish.

John and Mary Anne Thompson sold their land in Perry County in 1848 and moved their family to Davis County, Iowa, adjoining the northern Missouri border.  In March 1850, Mary Anne died of "sudden death, cause unknown" in her middle 30s, leaving John Thompson with six young children - three sons and three daughters.  (One of their sons had died in infancy several years earlier.)

Later that same year, John Thompson married a widow, Sarah Jane (Miller) McCullum, with seven children of her own (Sarah Ann, Richard F., Susan M., Catharine N., William J., Adam, and Eliza J.). John and Sarah Jane (a daughter of Adam Miller and Sarah Garrard) were married on 12 September 1850 in Scotland County, Missouri, just across the border from Davis County, Iowa.  This family was listed in the census of Grove Township in Davis County on 8 October 1850:  John, a farmer, his wife Sarah Jane, and their thirteen children aged from 15 years down to one year. (She married her first husband Macomb McCullum on 25 May 1835 in Hardin County, Kentucky. He drowned in the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky while the family was moving from Kentucky to Iowa in the late 1840s. Sarah Jane was apparently pregnant with daughter Eliza J., who was born shortly after arriving in Iowa.)

John and Jane Thompson sold their land in Davis County, Iowa on 2 June 1851 (the transaction taking place in Scotland County, Missouri) and moved to Missouri.  They had two daughters of their own by 1855.  The family is listed in the 1860 census of Salt River Township (P. O. Greentop), Schuyler County, Missouri, along the northern Missouri border west of Scotland County.  This census entry, dated 20 July 1860, shows John, his wife (name given as "Polly" - either a nickname or an error), his two youngest daughters by his first marriage - Sarah and Mary, Jane's son Adam, and their own two daughters Elizabeth and Jane.  The other children from John's and Sarah Jane's first marriages had left the household.  By that time, John's oldest son James Clement Thompson was married and living in Randolph County, Illinois. Two of Sarah Jane's daughters were living elsewhere in Schuyler County. The other children have not yet been located in the 1860 census.

William M. Thompson must have been living somewhere in nearby in northern Missouri at the time.  Shortly after the beginning of the Civil War, he enlisted as a Private in the Union Army (Company D, 18th Regiment, Missouri Infantry) at Unionville, Putnam County, Missouri on 27 July 1861.  His regiment was involved in the Battle of Shiloh near Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, where he was captured by the Confederate Army on 6 April 1862. He was paroled late in the same year and rejoined his company by early 1863.  On 1 February 1864, he volunteered again to serve until the end of the war in the same company.  At the time of his re-enlistment, he was described as "aged Twenty-seven years, and by occupation a Farmer . . . has Blue eyes, Dark hair, fair complexion, is five feet 7-1/2 inches high".  John's oldest son James Clement Thompson enlisted in Company E, 8th Regiment of the Illinois Infantry, Union Army on 18 October 1864 at Alton, Madison County, Illinois.  His physical description was "Blue eyes, Dark hair, Light complexion, and height 5 feet 9 inches".  William was mustered out near Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky on 18 July 1865 as a Private. James mustered out at New Orleans, Louisiana on 18 October 1865 as a Private.

On 13 July 1870, John Thompson was living with his wife Jane, son William, and daughter Sarah Anne in Glenwood Township, Schuyler County, Missouri.  John was a farmer.  There was a two-year-old boy named Willie M. Thompson living in the same household.  Perhaps this was John's grandson (but whose son?).  No more is known about John Thompson or his wife after 1870.

Of John Thompson's children, only the descendants of John's two oldest sons James and William are known. James remained in Randolph County, Illinois, where he died on 5 May 1884 of "inflammation of rheumatism". William married in Schuyler County, Missouri in 1874 and moved to southern Kansas by 1878 and then to northwestern Arkansas in the early 1880s. William died in Franklin County, Arkansas on 29 August 1890, suffering from liver disease and rheumatism. John's son Vincent moved to California prior to 1870 and appears to have remained single. No more is known about Vincent after his appearance in the 1880 census of San Diego County, California.

Descendant Listings

Here are listings of John Thompson's descendants (through three generations).

[Note: To view the Adobe Acrobat files, you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader software. This can be downloaded free from You can download the files to your disk to view them, or use your web browser with the appropriate plug-ins.]

Children of John Thompson & Mary Anne Knott & Sarah Jane Miller (Adobe Acrobat document; 40 KB; 20 Apr 2008)

Descendants of James Clement Thompson (#1) & Eulalie Misplais (Adobe Acrobat document; 52 KB; 20 Apr 2008)
Descendants of William M. Thompson (#2) & Nancy Elizabeth Bradshaw (Adobe Acrobat document; 34 KB; 20 Apr 2008)

Descendants of Macomb McCullum (#za) & Sarah Jane Miller (Adobe Acrobat document; 33 KB; 20 Apr 2008)

Explanation of Format of Descendant Listings
Index of Names (Adobe Acrobat document; 34 KB; 20 Apr 2008)

Documentary Sources

USA Federal Censuses:

1830 (Adobe Acrobat document; 10 KB; 20 Apr 2008)
1840 (Adobe Acrobat document; 11 KB; 20 Apr 2008)
1850 (Adobe Acrobat document; 40 KB; 20 Apr 2008)
1860 (Adobe Acrobat document; 25 KB; 20 Apr 2008)
1870 (Adobe Acrobat document; 26 KB; 20 Apr 2008)
1880 (Adobe Acrobat document; 63 KB; 20 Apr 2008)
1900 (Adobe Acrobat document; 104 KB; 20 Apr 2008)
1910 (Adobe Acrobat document; 79 KB; 20 Apr 2008)
1920 (Adobe Acrobat document; 49 KB; 20 Apr 2008)
1930 (Adobe Acrobat document; 64 KB; 20 Apr 2008)

USA Notes (Vital Records, Wills, Deeds, Tax Lists, Cemeteries, etc.):

Arkansas (Adobe Acrobat document; 166 KB; 20 Apr 2006)
California (Adobe Acrobat document; 109 KB; 20 Apr 2006)
Illinois (Adobe Acrobat document; 32 KB; 20 Apr 2008)
Iowa (Adobe Acrobat document; 31 KB; 20 Apr 2008)
Kentucky (Adobe Acrobat document; 29 KB; 20 Apr 2008)
Missouri (Adobe Acrobat document; 350 KB; 20 Apr 2006)

World War 1 Draft Registrations (Adobe Acrobat document; 67 KB; 20 Apr 2008)

Biography of William M. Thompson (Adobe Acrobat document; 101 KB; 20 Apr 2006)
Civil War Union Pension File of William M. Thompson (Adobe Acrobat document; 171 KB; 20 Apr 2006)

Digital images (photos, newspaper clippings, etc.) related to this family.

Discussion Groups

GenForum - Thompson
RootsWeb - Thompson

DNA Research

A new tool in genealogical research is the use of genetic markers in DNA to establish family relationships. See Genetics, DNA and Health History. The y-chromosome is passed down from father to son to grandson to great-grandson, etc. along the male line (as are surnames in many modern western societies). Occasionally, due to random mutations, one or more of the genetic markers may change in an individual and be passed down to his son that way (similar to a surname changing from Thompson to Thomson). Standard tests are available (based on a cheek swab) to identify 12, 25, 37, or 59 markers on the y-chromosome. (The more the markers, the more precise the idenfication; I strongly suggest 25 or more markers, in order to be useful for genealogical purposes.) All direct male descendants of John Thompson would have a very similar, if not identical, set of markers (or haplotype). Someone with a surname of Thompson (or some variation), whether or not they had done in-depth genealogical research, could compare their haplotype to known John Thompson direct male descendants to see if they were likely to be a direct male descendant of John Thompson. Likewise, the John Thompson haplotype could be compared to haplotypes of other families to see if these families were closely related in the British Isles. I would like to establish a confidential database of haplotypes of John Thompson's direct male descendants to give us a tool to identify possible John Thompson descendants and to find closely related Thompson families from the British Isles. Ideally, we would need several samples from direct male descendants of each of John's sons. The Family Tree DNA testing service is one of the most well-known. If anyone is interested, please contact me by e-mail. The tests may be ordered from Family Tree DNA as a part of the Thompson DNA project.

If you find this information useful and would like to contribute a small (or bigger) amount to help fund this research, please consider selecting one of the options below. This helps me pay for subscriptions to web sites (e.g.,, reference materials (maps, books), supplies (paper, ink, binders, folders), time, and travel.

Amount to Contribute

There are a number of people whose contributions of endless hours of research have made this project possible, particularly Joan (Thompson) Grippo (a descendant of James Clement Thompson, #21).

If you would like to comment on any information contained within, or wish to correspond with me about this family, please send me an e-mail message at: Additions and corrections are greatly appreciated. I am especially interested in receiving information obtained from primary sources (census listings, Bibles, cemeteries, vital records, probate and land records, etc.) and photographs and digital images relating to this branch of the Thompson family so that I can incorporate them into this page. Also, I would like to provide links to other pages on the Internet that deal with Thompson genealogy.

Mark B. Arslan

Last updated on 29 April 2014