"Tennessee Trails" through Bedford County

Bedford County TN Biographies

REV. JOHN RANSOM THOMPSON

Reverend John Ransom Thompson. A highly esteemed and venerable citizen of Rutherford county, Reverend John Ransom Thompson, now living retired from active pursuits on his farm, near Murfreesboro, was for many years actively engaged in the Christian ministry, being associated with the Methodist Episcopal denomination, and was well known throughout various Tennessee counties as an earnest worker in all religious and charitable undertakings. A native of Rutherford county, he was born on a farm situated sis miles from the court house, May 21, 1832, being a son of Lawrence Carr Thompson He comes from Virginia stock, his great-grandfather, Thomas Thompson, Jr., having been born in Virginia, while his great-great-grandfather, Thomas Thompson, Sr., was a life-long resident of that state.

About 1790 Thomas Thompson, Jr., who had previously migrated from Virginia to Orange county, North Carolina, came with his family to Tennessee, locating near Nashville, where he spent his remaining days. All of the territory now included within the boundaries of Tennessee was in its pristine wildness, the deep forests being habited by the wily redskins, and wild beasts of all kinds. The Indians made frequent war upon the white settlers, and during one of their raids a son of this newcomer was killed.

John Thompson, grandfather of Reverend John R. Thompson, was born, in 1777, in Orange county, North Carolina, and as a boy of thirteen years came with his parents to Tennessee. He acquired a very good education for those days, becoming a surveyor, and while thus employed obtained an excellent knowledge of the country roundabout. He subsequently settled in Bedford county, buying a tract of land lying nine miles north of Shelbyville, and was there engaged in agricultural pursuits until his death, at the age of eighty-one years. He married Mary Snell, who was born in Virginia, a daughter of Roger Snell, who settled in Tennessee in pioneer times. She passed to the higher life when about seventy years old. Seven children were born of their union, namely: Lawrence Carr. Pinckney, Joseph, Ann, Matilda, Minos and William.

Lawrence Carr Thompson was born, August 15, 1807, on a farm situated on Duck river, eight miles northwest of Shelbyville, and was there reared to manhood. Buying land in Rutherford county at the time of his marriage, he resided there about ten years, when he sold out, and returned to Bedford county. He then purchased land not far from his birthplace, and engaged in farming. Although he carried on farming with slave labor, he was himself a hard worker, and reared all of his children to habits of industry and thrift. While he and his sons labored in the fields, his wife and daughters were equally busy not only with the general duties of the household, but at the wheel and loom, spinning, weaving and fashioning the homespun in which the family was clothed. The father of this family died at the early age of forty years, while in manhood's prime.

The maiden name of the wife of Lawrence Carr Thompson was Elizabeth Ransom. She was born in Rutherford county, Tennessee, a daughter of Benjamin Ransom, and granddaughter of Capt. Richard Ransom, a Revolutionary soldier, of whom a further account may be found elsewhere in this volume, in connection with the sketch of George W. Ransom. Benjamin Ransom was born, in 1787, in Mecklenburg county, North Carolina, and at the age of nineteen years, in 1806, became a pioneer settler of Rutherford county, Tennessee. He bought land five miles southwest of Murfreesboro, and on the farm which he improved spent the remainder of his life. He married Sarah Jarratt, who was born in Virginia, and came from there to Rutherford county, Tennessee, with her parents, Thomas and Susan Jarratt, who located about seven miles southwest of Murfreesboro. Left a widow while yet a young woman, Mrs. Lawrence Carr Thompson continued the management of the home farm, and reared and educated her children, which were seven in number, as follows: Sarah Jane, John Ransom, Benjamin, William, Mary, Judith, and Lavenia. She was a woman of strong personality, and lived a long and useful life of eighty-four years.

John Ransom Thompson received his early education in the rural schools, and while yet in his teens began teaching. He afterwards entered Union University, at Murfreesboro, and was there graduated with the class of 1855; at the time of his graduation being two hundred dollars in debt. Going immediately to Mississippi, he there earned enough in two and one-half years, as a teacher, to pay off his indebtedness. Returning then to Tennessee, Mr. Thompson entered Cumberland University, and in 1859 was graduated from its Law Department. Settling in Shelbyville, he practiced his profession in that place for a few months. In the days of his youth, Mr. Thompson had united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in October, 1859, he joined the Tennessee Conference, and being licensed to preach was assigned to the Rock Creek Circuit, in which there were twenty-five churches, located in Bedford, Lincoln, Giles, Marshall and Maury counties. He made his rounds on horseback, doing effective service for a year in that circuit. Mr. Thompson was subsequently connected with different circuits, being with the "White Creek Circuit two years; with that of Lewisburg a similar length of time; and with the Duck River, Nashville, New Providence, and South Clarksville circuits, each one year. Mr. Thompson was then made elder of Fountain Head District, and at the end of a year was transferred to Winchester, where he remained two years. The following four years he was pastor of the McMinnville station; the last three years of that time serving as pastor of the churches in that vicinity. Coming from there to Murfreesboro, Mr. Thompson taught one year in Union University, and was afterwards for thirteen years in Soule College, being president of the institution for eleven years. In 1889 he assumed possession of his farm, which is pleasantly located one mile east of the court house, and has since lived here practically retired from his professional duties. During four years of this time, however, he served four pastoral charges.

Mr. Thompson has been twice married. He married first Martha Lou Goodrich, who was born in Rutherford county, Tennessee, a daughter of B. Washington and Mary (James) Goodrich. She died in 1867. In 1873 Mr. Thompson married for his second wife Mrs. Addie (Hill) Swann, a native of Paris, Tennessee. Her father, John C. Hill, was born in Virginia, and came to this state with his father, William Hill, in pioneer days, settling at Hill's Ford, on the Cumberland river, near Nashville. In early manhood, John C. Hill removed to Paris, Tennessee, and was there a resident until his death. He married Eliza Baker, who was born in North Carolina, a daughter of William Baker. After Mr. Hill's death she lived for a few years in Russellville, Kentucky, and then came to Murfreesboro to spend her last days with her daughter, Mrs. Thompson. She reared four children, namely: Addie, now Mrs. Thompson; Albert Hill; John Hill, and Oscar Hill. The parents of both Mr. and Mrs. Thompson were members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and reared their children in the same faith. Neither Mr. Thompson, his parents or grandparents ever held office in church or state, but they were ever ready and willing to work in the ranks, and to do all they could for the uplift of their fellowmen.

A history of Tennessee and Tennesseans: the leaders and representative men in commerce, industry and modern activities. By Will T. Hale Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1913

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