Joseph Thompson, Sr.
& Isabella Henderson

Joseph Thompson, Sr., said to be a son of Samuel THOMSON, was born Aug. 1, 1744, in Louisa Co., VA, and died Apr. 13, 1823, in Surry Co., NC. He married (1st) Isabella Henderson, daughter of John HENDERSON, Jr. & Sarah BROCKMAN, abt. 1765. She was born about 1745 and died Nov. 28, 1805, in Surry Co., NC. He married (2nd) Mrs. Mary Butrey, widow of Timothy BUTREY of Wilkes Co., NC.

Children of Joseph Thompson & Isabella Henderson:

  1. Samuel Thompson, b. July 3, 1766, Louisa Co., VA; d. 1792, Surry Co., NC; m. Jane, last name unk.  His will dated Feb. 15, 1792, recorded May 1792, names sons John, Samuel Jr., William, and Daniel "who had been shot."  (Surry Co., NC, WB 3, p.7.)
  2. Joseph Thompson, Jr., b. Nov. 15, 1767, Louisa Co., VA, d. Feb. 3, 1852, Surry Co., NC (Surry WB 4, p.322); m. Sarah CATE (or GATES), daughter of Charles GATES & Sarah BALDWIN of Orange Co., NC (b. Oct. 28, 1711; d. ?); believed to be buried at the Thompson Cemetery near Devotion, Surry Co., NC.  (Children: Elizabeth Thompson (1779) m. James J. FIELDS; Elijah Thompson (1792) m. Martha Cleveland FRANKLIN; Henderson Thompson (1794) m. Sarah WRIGHT; James Thompson (1801) m. Hannah NIXON; Sarah Thompson m. Stephen FIELDS; Jesse K. Tompson (c.1806) m. Elizabeth TUCKER.
  3. +James Thompson, b. June 7, 1769, Louisa Co., VA; d. 1847, Surry Co., NC; m. (1st) Rachel JOHNSON, possibly the daughter of Thomas JOHNSON & Rachel __, abt. 1789 (b. Feb. 6, 1765; d. unk); (2nd) Rebecca, last name unknown; believed to be buried at the Thompson Cemetery near Devotion, Surry Co., NC.
  4. Elijah Thompson, b. Dec. 24, 1771, Louisa Co., VA, d. June 28, 1831, Surry Co., NC; m. Mary "Polly" POTTER (b. Oct. 3, 1776; d. July 30, 1838); believed to be buried at the Thompson Cemetery near Devotion, Surry Co., NC. Children: Joseph Henderson Thompson ("Joe Hen") (1795) m. Martha JOHNSON; Rhoda Thompson (c.1798) m. William MARSH; George Washington Thompson (1800) m. Elizabeth CAUDILL; Stephen Thompson (1801) m. (1) Marty MARSH, (2) his first cousin Lucinda THOMPSON; Nancy Thompson m. John BRYAN; John Calvin Thompson ("Big Cal") (1811) m. Jane "Jincie" MARSHALL.
  5. John Thompson, b. Aug. 17, 1775, Amelia Co., VA, d. Mar. 2, 1843, Surry Co., NC; m. Elizabeth HAWKINS.  Children: Euphanna Thompson; Emila Thompson; Rufus Thompson; Sam Thompson; John David Thompson; Thursa Thompson; Jackson Thompson; Zora Thompson (c.1823); Lucinda Thompson (c.1825) m. her first cousin Stephen THOMPSON; Martha N. Thompson (1827) m. Hiram HIGGINS; Roxie Ann Thompson (1830) m. James H. GREENWOOD.
  6. Mary Thompson, b. June 6, 1778, Surry Co., NC, d. Apr. 23, 1858, Wilkes Co., NC; m. Richard Henry JOHNSON, son of Thomas JOHNSON & Rachel __; bur. Johnson-Spicer Family Cemetery, Traphill, Wilkes Co., NC.  Children: Isabel Johnson (1794) m. John SUTHERLAND; Samuel Johnson (1795) m. Nancy WINTON; Mary Johnson (1798), m. Gideon BRYAN; Rhoda Johnson (1799); James Johnson (1802) m. Susannah JOHNSON; Sarah Johnson (1804) m. Jesse CORNETT; Thomas Jefferson Johnson (1808) m. Harriett Green JOHNSON; Susannah Johnson (1811) m. Edward JOHNSON; Martha Johnson (1813) Hardin SPICER; John Henderson Johnson (1816) m. Nancy C. ALEXANDER; Elizabeth Johnson (1819).
  7. Elizabeth Thompson, b. Sept. 20, 1780, Surry Co., NC; m. Elijah DAVIS.
  8. Sarah Thompson, b. Nov. 11, 1784, Surry Co., NC; d. abt. 1806, Surry Co., NC; m. Jonathan ROBERTS (b. Feb. 6, 1774; d. Sept. 22, 1854).  They had one child, a son named Thompson Roberts. After Sarah died, Jonathan Roberts m. (2nd) Lucy TAYLOR.
  9. Rhoda Thompson, b. Oct. 28, 1786, Surry Co., NC; m. Elijah WILLIAMS, Sept. 20, 1806.
  10. Mitchell Thompson. According to Surry County Heritage, he was the first white child baptised in "Mountain Creek," which was renamed "Mitchel's River" (Mitchell River). This story might not be true, because the river was known as "Mitchel's River" as early as 1778 (see, e.g., Wilkes Land Entries #302-304).


Joseph Thompson, Sr., believed to be a son of Samuel THOMPSON (or THOMSON) of Louisa County, VA, was born on Aug. 1, 1744.  His birthdate, a list of his children and their birthdates appear in a family Bible that belonged to Joseph's son-in-law Richard Henry JOHNSON (who married Mary Thompson).  The Bible record is published in the book Fuqua - A Fight For Freedom by Alya Dean Smith Irwin (1974), p.297.

Joseph's father Samuel is supposed to have come to Virginia from Ayreshire, Scotland.  This claim does not seem to be very well documented, although it appears in many Thompson family trees.  Joseph is one of the "five youngest sons" named in the will of Samuel THOMSON dated June 16, 1753, in Louisa County, VA.  Joseph received a share of Samuel's 1,200 acre plantation as well as a "Negro boy" named Isaac.  (Louisa Co., VA WB 1, p. 29.)  Some believe that Joseph's mother Temperance (named in Samuel Thompson's will) may be Temperance DUMAS, the widow of Robert YANCEY of Louisa County, but other researchers disagree.  It's also possible that Temperance was Samuel's second or third wife and not the mother of his children.  In short, there is confusion about many of the details of Samuel Thompson's life.

According to Surry County Heritage, Vol. 1, article #708, Joseph Thompson married Isabella HENDERSON, the daughter of John HENDERSON, Jr., and Sarah BROCKMAN of Louisa County.  The will of John Henderson dated Aug. 28, 1783, in Orange Co., VA, names a daughter, Isabella THOMPSON.  (Orange Co.,VA WB 3, p. 63.)  Joseph and Isabella probably married about 1765, based on the ages of their children.  They moved to Amelia County, VA, about 1774 where they remained a year before migrating to Guilford County, NC, in 1775. 

Note:  Although most sources state that Joseph Thompson was the son of Samuel Thompson, the evidence in support of this claim isn't entirely clear.  Another Thompson researcher Ron Thompson believes that Joseph may be related to James Fields THOMPSON who lived on the north fork of the Yadkin River in what is now Davie County, NC.  James Fields Thompson and his wife Nancy were of Scottish descent and came to North Carolina from Frederick (Montgomery) County, Maryland.  DNA testing may be the only way to solve this mystery.  If you are a direct male-line descendant of Joseph Thompson of Surry County, NC, please contact me!

In any event, on Nov. 9, 1784, Joseph Thompson received four land grants on Mitchell River in Surry County, NC, totaling 460 acres.  By 1812, according to the tax list, he owned 1,111 acres of land in Surry County.  The Thompsons lived high in the Blue Ridge in Surry County near the present-day town of Devotion (view a Google map), close to the border of Wilkes County.  Records of the Thompson family can be found in both Wilkes and Surry Counties.  Isabella died in 1805 and Joseph Thompson remarried to Mary, widow of Timothy BUTREY.  Joseph Thompson reportedly died Apr. 13, 1823, apparently without a will.  (Most of the above information comes from Surry County Heritage, Vol. I, article #708 by James E. Cockerham.)

The book History of North Carolina, Vol. IV, by R.D.W. Connor (Lewis Pub. Co., NY: 1919), p.32, contains a biographical sketch of Joseph Thompson's great-grandson Kimbro M. Thompson of Yadkin County, NC.  The article states "Joseph THOMPSON, the great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch, married Isabella HENDERSON, of Albemarle County, Virginia, and with his bride came to North Carolina, settling as a pioneer in Surry County.  In 1780 he erected a substantial frame house, the boards used being whip sawed, while all of the nails were hand wrought. With the assistance of slaves he cleared and improved a good farm, on which he and his wife spent the remainder of their years."

Joseph Thompson died Apr. 13, 1823, and his estate was divided between his widow "Polly," and his sons and sons-in-law Elijah DAVIS [husband of Elizabeth Thompson], Henry JOHNSON [husband of Mary Thompson], Joseph THOMPSON Jr., James THOMPSON, Elijah THOMPSON, Elisha WILLIAMS [husband of Rhoda Thompson], Jonathan ROBERTS [husband of Sarah Thompson] and John THOMPSON. (Surry Co., NC, DB S, pp. 100, 260-264.)

Other Thompson references.  There is an unusual reference to a man named Joseph Thompson in the book Diary of a Geological Tour by Dr. Elisha Mitchell.  Dr. Mitchell was a geologist who traveled to the upper New River Valley in 1827 and 1828 to explore the region's mineral deposits.  He wrote detailed letters home to his wife.  One afternoon while visiting an ore bank in Surry County belonging to a Quaker named Ben Hutchins, Dr. Mitchell writes, "rode down to Joseph Thompson's—an old gander of a fellow."  The editor's note explains, "Dr. Mitchell was fond of this term ... He means that Thompson was of a solitary habit and odd, peculiar ways—like an old gander, who has lost his mate."  This was probably Joseph Thompson, Jr., because Joseph Sr. had died a few years earlier.

The Thompson family is also mentioned in Fisher's River (North Carolina) Scenes and Characters (1859), by Hardin Taliaferro.  The book is a collection of humorous reminiscences about growing up in Surry County in the 1820's.  Taliaferro mentions a gun powder called "Thompson's powder," which he says was "A favorite powder with hunters in that section, made by a man named John Thompson.  I have no doubt of its being the best powder in the world."


June 16, 1753. Louisa Co., VA. Will of Samuel THOMSON of Fredericksville dated June 16, 1753, proved Aug. 28, 1753. Names wife Temperance, sons Thomas, Samuel, William, and "five youngest sons" John, Joseph, David, Robert, and Asa, daughters Elizabeth THOMSON and Sarah KEMBROW, grandson Samuel KIMBROW. Exec'rs: wife Temperance, sons William and Thomas. Signed: Samuel (X) THOMSON. Wits: Champness TERRY, William STEEL. (Louisa Co., VA WB 1, p. 29.)

May 12, 1773. Louisa Co., VA. Joseph THOMSON of Trinity Parish, Louisa Co., VA, to Hardin BURNLEY, Jr., & George BRAKENRIDGE, merchants, to secure payment of £198.17s.3d, 450 acres where said THOMPSON now lives incl. the Meeting House, adj. lands of Valentine MARTIN, David THOMSON, William BIGGER, William THOMSON, Isaac WINSTON, William HARRIS. Signed: Joseph THOMSON. (Louisa DB D, p.520.) 

Oct. 6, 1774. Amelia Co., VA. Samuel THOMPSON to Joseph THOMPSON, 450 acres both sides of Little Nottway River. Wife Anne relinquished her dower. (Amelia Co., VA, DB 13, p.90.) [Note: Samuel Thompson was Joseph Thompson's brother.]

Mar. 10, 1780. Wilkes Co., NC. Joseph THOMPSON entered 100 acres on the creek that leads to AUSTIN's gap adj. his other entry. (Wilkes Land Entry Book No. 1690.)

Mar. 10, 1780. Wilkes Co., NC. Joseph TOMPSON entered 100 acres on Mitchels River adj. his other entry. (Wilkes Land Entry Book No. 1691.)

Apr. 10, 1780. Wilkes Co., NC. Joseph THOMPSON entered 200 acres on Reedy Fork of Mitchels River adj. Jesse FRANKLIN. (Wilkes Land Entry Book No. 1758.)

1780? Wilkes Co., NC. Joseph THOMPSON took over 3 land entries on Mitchell River, originally entered by Benjamin MAY (80 acres), Thomas MAY (100 acres), and James WALDON (100 acres).  (Wilkes Land Entry Book No. 302, 303, 304.)  Note: these claims were entered in 1778, but the names of the original entrants were marked out and Joseph THOMPSON's name was written in.  I'm guessing this occurred in 1780, at the same time Joseph made his other land entries in Wilkes County.

Nov. 9, 1784, Joseph Thompson received four land grants on Mitchell River in Surry County, NC, totaling 460 acres.

Mar. 7, 1785. Surry Co., NC. Joseph THOMPSON & Jesse FRANKLIN witnessed a deed from Samuel DAVIS to William DAVIS, 100 acres in Surry Co., NC, on Fisher's River. (Surry Co., NC, Will Book 2, p.44.)

Jan. 24, 1787. Surry Co., NC. Joseph THOMPSON and others ordered view a road "from Joseph THOMPSON's near the mountain down Mitchels River into the road leading to Scritchfield's Ford." (Surry Co., NC, Court Minutes.)

1787 State Census, Wilkes Co., NC, Capt. Hardin's Dist: Joseph THOMPSON
1 white male age 21-60
4 white males under 21 or over 60
7 white females
5 black persons
1790 Census, Wilkes Co., NC, 14th Co., p.124: JO. THOMSON
2 white males over 16
2 white males under 16
5 white females
Also listed on p.124: Jo. TOMSON Jr. (1-0-1) and Jas. TOMSON (1-0-1)

Oct. 29, 1795. Wilkes Co., NC. Joseph THOMSON, Elijah THOMSON, John THOMSON, Richard WILLIAMS, & Henry BREWER witnessed a deed from Dabney HARRIS of Surry Co., NC, to John BRYAN, land on Glady Creek of Little River above Young EDWARDS line. (Wilkes Co., NC, DB B-1, p.508.)

Geographic Note:  A part of northeastern Wilkes County around Mitchell River was originally in Wilkes County but was ceded to Surry County in 1795.  This explains why Joseph Thompson is mostly found in Wilkes County prior to 1795 and later in Surry County.

1800 Census, Surry Co., NC, p.696: JOSEPH THOMPSON
2 w/m 16-25 2 w/f 10-15
1 w/m over 45 1 w/f over 45
11 slaves  

Aug. 1808. Surry Co., NC. Joseph THOMPSON appointed overseer of the "New Road lately laid off from the Ashe County line down Tyre Ridge and Thompson's Mill Creek to Rockford Road." (Surry Co., NC, Court Minutes.)

1810 Census, Surry Co., NC, p.658: JOSEPH THOMPSON, SR.
1 w/m 10-15 1 w/f 10-15
1 w/m 16-25 1 w/f over 45
1 w/m over 45  
11 slaves  

1812 Tax List, Capt. Witcher's District:
-- Joseph THOMPSON, Sr., 1,111 acres, 1 poll
-- Elijah THOMPSON, Sr., 116 acres, 1 poll
-- John THOMPSON, 100 acres, 1 poll
-- Joseph THOMPSON, Jr., 80 acres, 1 poll
(Capt. Witcher's District included the area around Mitchell River.)

1820 Census, Surry Co., NC, p.774: JOSEPH THOMPSON, SR.
1 w/m over 45 1 w/f 16-25
8 slaves 1 w/f over 45