Lee County Biography

Gardner W.Thompson
Alto Township

Gardner W. Thompson Residence

This prominent citizen, whose well managed farm is pleasantly located in Alto Township, is a native of Pennsylvania. He was born July 11, 1841, in that part of Pittstown now included in Jenkins Township, Luzerne County. His father, Isaac Thompson, who is distinguished as being the oldest man now living in Lee County was born on the same farm that was the birthplace of the son, the date of his birth being November 18, 1796.

The grandfather of our subject James Thompson, was born in County Antrim, Ireland and in turn was a son of John Thompson, a native of Scotland, whence he removed to Ireland and from that country came to America in Colonial times. H located fourteen miles from Philadelphia, the place of his residence now probably being included in the city or its suburbs, and there he spent the remainder of his days. The maiden name of his wife was Margaret Richey. She was a native of Scotland, like her husband and passed the latter part of her life in Pennsylvania. They were both members of the Presbyterian Church and always remained true to the faith of their ancestors.

The grandfather of our subject came to America with his parents when he was four years old, and fought bravely for the country of his adoption during the Revolution. He lived in Berks County a short time after the war, and then removed to Luzerne County and was one of the pioneers of Pittston Township. He purchased a tract of timberland, cleared a farm and resided there until his demise at a ripe age. The maiden name of his wife was Susanna Skelton. She was born eighteen miles from Philadelphia and was a daughter of William and Jane Skelton, natives of Wales, who came to America prior to the Revolution, and located near Philadelphia among people of their own faith, they being members of the Society of Friends. The grandmother of our subject died on the home farm.

Isaac Thompson, the father of our subject was reared amid the primitive surroundings of the pioneer home of his parents in his native county. In his early days there were no railways or canals, and Easton, sixty miles from his home, was the nearest market and depot for supplies. The people lived principally, or entirely, off the products of tbeir farms. Mr, Thompson relates that in 1828 he went with a team to move a family to a distant town, and on his return brought back a load of salt, for which he paid six cents a bushel. At that time there were but two houses on the present site of Syracuse, the great salt centre. In his young manhood anthracite coal was first discovered and Judge Fell of Wilkes Barre was the first to experiment with it and demonstrate its usefulness for fuel. The father of our subject inherited the old homestead and lived thereon until 1868, when he sold it and the ensuing five years made his home in Abingdon, Lackawanna County. Returning at the end of that time to Pittston ViIlage he bought property there, and resided in that locality until 1866. In that year he came to Lee County and has lived here continuously since. He has attained the venerable age of ninety-five years, and his long life, which approaches so nearly the century mark, has been useful and honorable, his record being that of an upright man. He is a welcome inmate of the home of his son, with whom he has never been separated and his declining years are surrounded by every comfort that filial care can bestow.

June 18, 1818, Mr. Thompson was married to Maria Wilcox, who was born in Dutchess county, N.Y. and was the daughter of Isaac and Nancy (Newcomb) Wilcox. This beloved companion and cherished wife, who walked by his side for nearly sixty-seven years, died in April, 1885. In her early married life she did all her cooking by the fireplace, and her children were clad in homespun that was the product of her own hands, as she was adept in carding, spinning and weaving. She was the motber of fifteen children, of whom thirteen grew to manhood and womanhood - namely: Matilda Jane, Almond, Alva, Crandall, David, Ezekiel, Isaac, Henry, George, Elizabeth, Rhoda and Gardner, and of these eight are now living. The father of our subject has in all, living and dead, over fifty grandchildren, twenty-two great-grandchildren and two great, great-grandchildren, who are twins.

Gardner W. Thompson, of this sketch, was reared and, educated in Pennsylvania, and lived there until 1864, since which time he has been a continuous resident of Lee County. He has always lived with his parents or they with him. He occupies an assured place among the thrifty, capable farmers and stock~raisers of Alto Townsbip, and the farm that be now owns and makes his home, was entered from the Government by his brother Alva. It is situated on section 36 and contains one hundred and sixty acres of land under admirable tillage and supplied with a good class of modern improvements.

In 1878, Mr. Thompson and Miss Mary E. Howell were united in marriage. Mrs. Thompson was born near Paw Paw and is a daughter of William and Sarah (Rogers) Howell. Her pleasant wedded life with our subject has brought them one son, Frank Gardner. Our subject has an active, well-balanced mind, is gifted with rare common sense, and possesses in a full degree other traits of character which win confidence. His fellow citizens, placing great reliance upon his judgment and ability to manage affairs to the best advantage, early called him to public life, and for fifteen consecutive years he represented Alto Township on the County Board of Supervisors. Politically he has always been identified with the Republican party.

1892 Portrait and Biographical Record Lee Co Pg559


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