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Kansas Family History


Family History of Lars Thompson


The Kansas Heritage Server would like to thank Lynn Pipher for submitting this material.


  
 THE SAGA OF THE THOMPSON FAMILY
 
 This story starts in Norway with Thomas Hansen Nygaard, who married Hans 
dotter Haavason at Haugesund near Stavanger.  To this union was born Thomas
T. Nygaard(born Jun 18, 1816 on Gaarden Nygaard near Haugesund, Norway), Lars 
Nygaard(born Aug 15, 1815) and Andrew(date of birth unknown).

 Thomas Hansen Nygaard was a sea pilot and drowned during a storm while fishing.
From their home farms in Norway  they could look out over the ocean.  It seems 
that Thomas' wife also died, or, at least, the children were raised by others. 
When Lars was an old man he used to tell his grandchildren about the times
when he was a child and lived with neighbors and herded cattle and sheep.

 Of the three children, Thomas T. and Lars Nygaard married sisters--Thomas T. 
married Torber Steffendotter Torres on Oct 31, 1838 (Torber Torres Newgard was 
born in Haugesund, Norway Dec. 22, 1815, the daughter of Steffen and Bertha 
Malina Torres and died May 10, 1907 in Leland, IL).  Lars married Dorthea 
Magdalena Torres in 1838 (Dorthea Magdalena Torres was born at Haugesund, Norway
in 1820 and died Oct. 12, 1901 in Cowley County, KS., on Otter Creek near Cedar 
Vale)(it is hard to tell from the handwritten letter whether this name was 
Torres or Tornes.  One source of information gives these girl's maiden name as 
Stephenson).  These girls(Torber and Dorthea) had a sister who was adopted by 
an uncle--an officer in the Danish service and married into royalty(?).  

 These three brothers(Thomas, Lars and Andrew) and their families decided to 
emigrate to America, and they left Norway in June 1857.  This must have been
quite an adventure, because it took them weeks to cross the ocean in the sailing
vessel.  During a violent storm, they all got down on their knees praying for
safety, promising they would give up dancing if God would just save them from 
the storm.  Their lives were spared, but their fun loving natures prevailed and
soon they were back at their dancing, forgetting the promise made in fright.

 The families consisted of Thomas T. Newgord and his wife Torber and their five 
children, Lars and Dorthea and their three children and Andrew and his wife
and six(?) children.

 They landed in Quebec Canada, but Mathias, one of Larsıs sons, became very sick
and when it was discovered he had the measles, that family was quarantined there, 
but the others went on by train to Dayton, LaSalle Co., IL, where a large number 
of Norwegians had settled.  One of the towns where they settled was named Stavanger, 
after the town from which they came in Norway.

 The families later located at various towns in LaSalle County and nearby, many 
becoming farmers.  Thomas T. ran a store in Leland, IL for a number of years.
 Lars and his family lived in Dayton, IL, where he washed hides of cattle in big
vats, and his wife did washings for neighbors part of the time.  They spoke no
English when they came to America, so they were very anxious for their children 
to go to school and learn to converse with their neighbors.  Sometimes they sent
the children over to the neighbors to sit and listen to conversation so they 
could learn to speak more fluently.  They were loyal about keeping their children
in school, even if it meant the parents had to work very hard to do so.  The 
oldest son of Lars(Thomas Lewis)went to work in the woolen mills at age 12.  He
was so short when he first started to work, he had to stand on a box.  He worked 
there for ten years. 

 When the three families came to America some of them changed their name from 
Nygaard, as it had been spelled in Norwegian, to Newgord.  Most of them took
the name, Thompson.  On reading the genealogy charts, it is not hard to see why 
they were called 'Tom's Sons', because every family had at least one Tom.
 Thomas Lewis said when he was small, they called him "Auntie's little Tom", 
to distinguish him from the other Toms.  One of Thomas T.'s boys, Andrew,
became Andrew Gord, because there was already an Andrew Thompson in Leland.

 As the years wore on, the families were scattering.  Thomas T. sold his store 
in Leland and moved to Calander, Iowa.  His sisters Christina and Anna married
the Johnson brothers(John and Daniel) and they also lived  on farms near Calander, 
Iowa.  Several of Andrewıs children lived in California and one in Denver, CO.  
But many still lived in Leland, Sandwich, Elgin and towns nearby in IL.  As the 
first generation grew older and many died, the cousins did not keep in close 
contact with each other, and our information is sketchy concerning later years.  
(see the genealogy chart for information concerning where they lived)

 Our story from now on will be concerned with Lars and his descendants, as we 
have more information about him than we do about the others.

 In 1870 when Thomas Lewis(son of Lars) was 22 years old he heard of the land 
in Kansas which was being homesteaded, so he and a friend, John Vandaree, a
Hollander, made the trip to look it over, and Tom took a claim, six miles 
northwest of Cedar Vale on Otter Creek in Cowley County, KS.  The nearest land 
office was at Augusta, KS, approximately 70 miles away.  John was too young to 
take a claim, so he decided to go elsewhere, but Ed Rogers took a claim next to
Tom's and they helped each other, especially in scaring off claim jumpers.  Tom 
herded sheep for nearby ranchers at times, and he also was a carpenter.  He
helped build the first store in Cedar Vale--Early and Bishop.  It was built of 
hewn logs, cut south of town.

 In 1871 he went back to Illinois, and when he returned to Kansas in 1872, his 
father, Lars Thompson and family came with him.  The end of the railroad at that
time was at Humboldt, KS.  At Humboldt they met Rudolph Hite and John Radcliff, 
who were emigrating to Dexter.  They hauled their baggage to Dexter, which had
3 stores at that time.  When they arrived in Dexter, the grass in the valley was
as high as the backs of their ponies.  An abundance of deer and wild turkey was
found nearby. 

 Numerous fires swept the prairies of eastern Cowley County in 1873 and many 
settlers lost all they owned i the fires.  In the spring of 1874 there was less 
grass than usual and in August the grasshoppers came in great clouds from the 
Northwest, eating everything as they came.  It was a very hard winter for the 
settlers.
 The family of Lars Thompson consisted of his wife Dorthea, son Mathias, who was
20 years old when they came to Kansas, and daughter Martha who was sixteen. Lars
secured 120 acres on Otter Creek.  His farm adjoined the claim Tom had taken and
Mathias also had a farm which joined his father's and brother's.  After moving 
to Kansas from Illinois, Lars and Dorthea never went back.  Although several 
cousins from Illinois and Iowa visited them at different times, Dorthea never 
saw her sister Torber again.  Some of the grandchildren remember how she used 
to cry from homesickness for her family in Illinois.

 On Feb. 24, 1877 at Sedan, KS, Tom took unto himself a wife--Cassie Jane Lowe, 
who was born Sept 8, 1856 in West Lebanon, IN, and who had come to KS in March
1872.  In this home on Otter Creek, three children were born:  Walter Lars on 
Jun 24, 1878; Ross Mathias on Sep 8, 1879 and Winnie Dorthea on Feb 7, 1882.

 In 1882 when Winnie was 6 months old, they moved to an 80 acre farm on Plum 
Creek, about 3 miles northeast of Dexter.  The rest of the children were born
here.  In fact Tom lived here until his death at 95 years of age.  The remaining
children were Sarah Mina, born May 15, 1884; Madelsa Jane, born May 2, 1886;
Stephen Victor, born Mar 24, 1890 and Warren Dean, born Feb 18, 1894.  Tom was 
a carpenter and built many houses and barns around Dexter.

 In 1925 Tom's wife died(at the home of daughter Mina--Mrs Fred Jackson). Both 
Tom and Jane are buried at Cedar Vale, KS, as is Walter who died in 1921. After
Jane's death, Tom and son Dean, who never married, lived alone for some years. 
Later, daughter Winnie and husband(Mr and Mrs Will Dove) came and lived with them.  
For a few years Winnie and Will moved to a nearby farm, and Fred and Mina Jackson 
came to live with Tom and Dean.  When Tom had his 90th birthday, Mina hosted a 
party and relatives came from far and near to help him celebrate.  His sister, 
Martha, who was 82 years old, came fro the occasion, and they danced a little 
dance together to the delight of the guests.

 Walter, oldest child of Tom and Jane, never married but lived at home, doing 
much of the farm work while his father worked as a carpenter.  He owned a steam
threshing machine and hay baler and did custom threshing and baling for neighbors.
 At the age of 42 he died of cancer.

 Ross, next eldest, at the age of 24 married Mabel Maurer and they lived on her 
father's homestead on Grouse Creek, Cowley County, KS.  Here their seven children 
were born(three died in infancy).  After the children were grown, they sold the 
farm and he worked for different ranchers.  For several years they lived in Rock
Island, IL near their son Norman Lynn.  When they had been married 50 years, they 
made a trip back to KS to celebrate the occasion at the home of Ross' sister
Mina Jackson in Burden, KS.  Some 75 guests came to wish them well.  At the time 
of Mabel's death they lived in Ft Worth, TX near daughter Lucile Horn. Ross then
spent a number of years living with son Norman Lynn who had moved to Eagle Point, 
Oregon.  He died at the home of daughter Madge Brown in Miami, OK.  Ross and 
Mabel are both buried at Dexter, KS.

 The oldest daughter, Winnie, married Will Dove on Jun 1, 1905.  They lived on 
a farm two and a half miles northeast of Dexter, KS.  They never had any children
but loved their nieces and nephews very much, and even to this day there these 
nieces and nephews remember with fondness the times they went to visit Uncle
Bill and Aunt Winnie.  For many years they took care of Winnieıs father, and her
brother Dean lived with them too.  Willıs brother Louie also made his home with
them.  They were married 63 years before they died--Winnie at the age of 88 and 
Will at the age of 98.  They are both buried at Dexter.

 The next daughter, Mina was a seamstress at Dexter before her marriage to Fred 
Jackson in 1910.  They lived on a farm on Grouse Creek a few miles north of Ross
and Mabel's farm.  Fred and brother, Lester Jackson, farmed this land their parents 
had homesteaded when the brothers were little children.  Fred and Mina had three
children born there.  Later they were in business in Cambridge, KS and also lived 
for several years in Manhattan, KS.  Fred died in 1945 and is buried at Cambridge.
At the present time, Mina makes her home with son James Thomas Jackson in Virginia.  
After her "retirement" Mina made quilts as a hobby, probably totaling 5 or 6 
dozen.  Who keeps count??

 The third daughter, Delsa, was a school teacher, teaching at Sedan and Atlanta, KS.  
On Feb. 13, 1909 she married Charlie Hankins and they lived on a farm north and 
west of Dexter for a few years.  They owned and operated a restaurant in Dexter 
until ill health forced Charlie to retire.  They had 8 children(one baby died 
in infancy), and lived all their married life in or near Dexter.  They are both 
buried at Dexter.

 The next child, Victor, worked with his father as a carpenter before marriage. 
He married Olivia Hale of Longton, KS, June 7 1915.  He was an oil field worker,
and they lived most of their married life near El Dorado, KS.  They had 3 children.  
They had the misfortune of having their house struck by lightning and lost
practically everything they had in the fire.  After retiring at the age of 68 
from working for Cities Service Co. for 41 years, he built a home in Prairie 
Junction, KS, 4 miles west of El Dorado, KS.  where they live at present.  He is
a fine carpenter, having had a hobby of woodworking for many years.  In 1965 they 
celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at their home, all their children and 
grandchildren being present to honor them.  A large number of other relatives 
and friends from several states came for the occasion.

 Dean, youngest child, never married.  At age 18 he enlisted in the Army, serving 
in WWI.  He took care of his parents, helping with the farming, and also was an
oil field worker near Dexter and Cambridge.  He lived with sister Winnie Dove 
and took care of her and her husband in their later years when they were in very
poor health.  After their death he moved to Winfield, KS where he now lives.

 The second child of Lars and Dorothea was Stephen Mathias Thompson, born in 
Norway Jul 12, 1852.  He emigrated with his parents to Illinois when he was 4
years old.  In 1872 he, with his parents, moved to KS where he homesteaded land 
that joined his father's and brother's.

 In 1879 he married Madelsa Neptune(Madelsa, daughter of William and Amanda 
Neptune, was born Oct 221, 1860 near Cloverdale, KS).  To this union were
born 3 children:  William Lars Thompson born Aug 29, 1885; Flossie Thompson 
born Sep 2, 1886 and Fay E. Thompson born Dec 25, 1897.

 In 1911 the family, consisting of Mathias and Madelsa, Flossie and her husband 
Ben F. Aley(Ben was born Jan 17, 1884) and daughter Evelyn Alice Aley(who was
born July 4, 1908) and son Fay E. Thompson, all moved to New Mexico because of 
Flossie's health.  Mathias died suddenly of a heart attack at Alberquerque March 
8, 1912.  He was buried at Cedar Vale, KS.  He was a carpenter by trade.

 Flossie died Dec 21, 1913 at Alberquerque, NM and is buried at Cedar Vale, KS. 
After her death they all moved back to KS.  Madelsa died Oct 28, 1918 and is
buried at Cedar Vale.  On Jan 28, 1935 Evelyn Alice Aley(daughter of Ben and 
Flossie Aley) married Rufus Scott(who was born Nov 1, 1901 and who died May
22, 1958).  On may 20, 1960 she married Ora Scott(born May 16, 1907).  She had 
no children.  

 William Lars, oldest son of Matthias and Madelsa Thompson, was born Aug 29, 
1885 at Otter Creek.  He married Lottie Bridges in Winfield, KS Jul 17, 1911.  
In 1914 they moved Era Milling Co. as a miller, and later was a truck driver 
for Ranney Davis Merc. Co. for 25 years.  At the time of his death he was 
operating the elevator at Osage Hotel and died of a heart attack.  He was a 
member of the First Baptist Church.  He is buried at Riverview Cemetery, 
Arkansas City, KS(see genealogical charts for children and grandchildren).

 There is left one member of Lars and Dorotheaıs family which we have not told 
about--daughter Martha, who was a baby of six m months when they made
the exciting journey across the ocean.

 Anna Martha Thompson was born Dec 25, 1856 near Haugesund, Norway.  We have 
already told about the family coming to America.  We do not know much about
Martha's girlhood in Illinois, but apparently she was getting an education, 
because when she moved to KS with her family when she was 16 years old, she
started teaching school.  She taught at Plum Creek School near Dexter.  This 
was before Tom and his family moved to this district.  She also taught at South
Torrance School in the Grouse Creek Valley.  In fact she taught school for 12 
years.  In an "Atlas of Cowley County" published in 1882 we found an item in 
the directory of professional people which read:

"Martha Thompson, Schoolteacher Satisfaction Guaranteed"


 On March 22, 1888 Martha married Rush J. Steward(who was born Apr 19, 1851 and 
died Feb 16, 1926).  Rush had been previously married ad his wife had died
leaving him with 3 children:  Fay Steward, born 1877; Frank Steward, born 1879; 
and Maude Steward, born 1881.  Rush and Martha had 4 children born on their
farm on Otter Creek, Cowley County, KS:  Deede Steward, born May 5, 1890; Ralph 
T. Steward, born Oct 23, 1895; Glenn R. Steward, born Jul 8, 1897 and Dora 
Steward, born May 25, 1899.

 About the turn of the century, Rush was in Dexter on business. In town he heard
the news that his nephew Dean(youngest son of Tom and Jane Thompson) had scarlet
fever and diphtheria and had been given up by 2 doctors that he would not live 
another night.  Rush hired a rig at the livery stable and drove out to the
Thompson home and prayed all night with his sister-in-law Jane, and by morning 
the crisis had passed and Deanıs life was spared.  Jane was eternally grateful
for this vigil, and always believed Dean would have died that night but for 
answered prayer.

 In May 190-6 Rush, Martha and family had left Cedar Vale for Portales, NM.  
They lived there nearly 5 years, and in 1910 they moved to Springdale, AR,
where they operated a fruit farm.  In 1926 Rush died near Springdale and 
is buried in Shady Grove Cemetery there.  After he died, Martha lived alone on 
the farm for some time and then spent the remaining years in the homes of her 
children.  She died Dec 9, 1949 at Chanute, KS.  She is buried beside her 
husband.

 Deede Steward, like her mother, was a school teacher.  She was teaching near 
Wauneta, KS when she met Gilbert Drennan and they were married Dec 26, 1925.
They lived most of their married life in Chanute, KS, where Gilbert worked for 
the railroad.  Gilbert died Jan 23, 1963 and Deede died in May 1966.  They
are both buried near Hewins, KS.  After Gilbert died Deede moved to Bentonville, 
AR to be near her sister Dora.  She lived here at the time of her death.

 Ralph T. Steward second child of Rush and Martha Steward, was a carpenter and 
contractor.  He married Eunice Ellen Purkey Apr 19, 1917 near Springdale,
AR.  She died Feb 26, 1965 after several years of illness with arthritis. They 
had 5 children(see genealogical chart).  On Dec 10, 1965 Ralph married Nettie
Hayes in Oklahoma City.  He is retired, but has tools and builds little things 
in a shop in his garage as a hobby.  He lives in Midwest City, OK at present.

 Glen R. Steward, third child of Rush and Martha Steward, was also a public 
school teacher.  He taught near Springdale, AR.  In 1927 he was united in 
marriage with Maude Thurmond.  To this union was born 2 children.  In 1963 
Maude died and in 1964 he married Beulah Wright Nolan.  Glen is an ordained 
minister in the Church of Christ, and also worked for a baby chick hatchery in 
Springdale for years.  In May 1970 he published a book of poems which he had 
written over the years.  He is retired and he and Beulah live on an acreage and 
raise flowers and garden now as a hobby.

 Dora Steward, fourth child of Rush and Martha Steward, was married to Bryant 
Settle on Apr 26, 1924.  They had one son, Donald Steward Settle.  They lived
in Springdale, AR.  Bryant died in Mar 1950.  Dora liked to travel and made a 
trip to Norway, besides many places in the United States.  While in Norway, 
she visited Haugesund, but was unable to find any relatives.  When her son 
lived in Germany, she traveled there, and together they visited many places in 
Europe.
 On Jun 3, 1967 she married Leigh Brown, and they lived in Bentonville, AR.  
They both like to travel, and took a trip to Mexico for a honeymoon.

 Most of the Thompsons (at least the first and second generations) were slight 
of build, but were a hardy lot.  Thomas T. Newgord lived to be 82 years old, 
Lars Thompson was 95 at death.  Thomas Lewis Thompson was 95 when he died, 
Lewis lived to be 92 and Joseph Thompson is 90 years old when this is written.
 He supplied part of our information for us.  They were all hard workers, and 
at least Lars and his son Tom were great believers in walking.  Tom's house was
almost a half mile from the rural mailbox, and he would walk to get his mail 
every day.  He even walked to the mailbox until he took pneumonia which resulted 
in his death about 2 weeks later.

 Although Lars and Dorothea did not leave their children a heritage of great 
wealth, there were a few relics which were brought from Norway when they
migrated in 1857 which were treasures of keepsakes.  There was a large chest 
which was to be handed down to the oldest son--so it went to Tom and then to
Ross (because Walter died before Tom did).  The chest was taken to Eagle Point, 
Oregon when Ross moved there to live with his son Norman Lynn.  On the
chest is printed:
   Lars Torresson
Nyegaard
Nov. 30, 1838
 Other keepsakes handed down to various members of the family were a spinning 
wheel, a clock, a wooden dinner bucket that Dorothea used to carry her dinner
to school in Norway, a gold band ring set with jewels, a Norwegian primer from 
which Tom learned to read, a Bible and hymn book in the Norwegian language.

 On Jul 14, 1902 Lars Thompson deeded a parcel of ground to Otter Township, 
Cowley County, KS for a cemetery only.  The description is as follows:
 "Beginning at the NW corner of the SE 1/2 of the NE 1/4 of Section 8 Township 
33 Range 8 East; east 16 rods, south 10 rods, west 16 rods, north 10 rods to 
the point of beginning". This is the location where Lars and Dorthea are buried.
 There is only one other grave where--a baby, whose parents lived in the
neighborhood for a short time one bad snowy winter.  When the baby lived only a 
few days, the good neighbors offered a place for the grieving parents to bury
her child.

 Now in 1970 there is a fence around this small plot, and gravestones with a 
dim message giving the dates of birth and death of these two pioneers.  Nearby 
is the house they built and lived in.  It has been remodeled, but it stands as 
a mute reminder of the family they left behind in Norway and then in Illinois, 
and the family that lived on after them--in many places throughout the United 
States.  Their grandchildren and sometimes some of the great grandchildren make 
a pilgrimage to this site to remember with gratitude the heritage these two have 
left to their descendants.
 
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