Sunday, June 26, 2011

William Riley Thompson and His Family

My great great grandparents William Riley and Mary Rosetta Johnson Thompson are pictured circa 1901 above with eight of their eleven children. I have completed a biography of this William Riley and his family with the help of many biographies passed down to me.

In the year 1860, Fillmore had a population of just 715. It was in this picturesque valley on February 26, 1863 that Daniel and Lorinda Bronson Thompson had their fifth child, a boy they named William Riley. The Thompsons were some of the early residents of Fillmore and both were child converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When William was four years old, his father, Daniel Thompson, was called by Brigham Young of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to preside as a bishop in the Scipio, Millard County, Utah Territory. The family then moved from Fillmore to the fort in Scipio in the fall of 1867. Although Scipio and Fillmore were in the same county, the twenty five miles between them would have been a good traveling distance by wagon for the Thompsons. Safety would also have been a concern as Indians in the area were very much active in making raids on the settlers.

William Riley was tutored in a little one-room log building within the fort in Scipio. After the Indian problems had quieted some, the fort’s residents were able to move into Scipio. At that time, all of the students met together in one room with one teacher for the group. In 1869, after just over one year living in Scipio, William’s father, Daniel, took Lydia Ann Ivie as a second wife in polygamy. This certainly would have changed the dynamics of the Thompson family. It seemed though, that the two families got along, served and loved one another.

During the winter of 1872-73, President Brigham Young and his entourage, including longtime friend of the Church, Thomas Kane and his wife Elizabeth, stopped at the homes of many bishops for food and lodging while on their trip to and from St. George, Utah. The Scipio home of Bishop Daniel Thompson’s wife Lydia was chosen as a place for the Kanes to lodge as they traveled to St. George, and they stayed with his first wife, Lorinda and her family on the return trip. From Elizabeth Kane’s published journal we can read about the homes of both Lydia and Lorinda Thompson.

Here is a portion of Mrs. Kane’s thoughts about Lorinda and her home, Sister Thompson had a large family of children, but seemed not in the least disconcerted by the addition to her household. I could not but express my wonder at her deft ways. She came in after her tea-things were washed up, and sat beside me with her knitting. She laughed when I praised her. She never found the children in her way; they were a help. And so they were, the little eldest unrobing the younger ones for bed, or waiting at table without needing directions. They were well-trained, as well as healthy, rosy children, and a little creature, who could scarcely speak plainly, sat on my knee, and caroled like a lark.

These writings give the reader a wonderful glimpse into the family of William Riley. He would certainly have been among those well-trained children spoken of by Elizabeth Kane.

William continued in his helpful trend as he assisted his father in farming, stock raising and home dairying. His daughter Ila claimed her father told her that his first saddle animal was a calf which he rode to herd cows. Many time he kept the cattle away from the Indians who were always trying to steal them.

William's daughter Ila wrote of him, From the age of 16 to 21, he [William] worked to help support the family. He was fond of all kinds of sports and dearly loved to ride horses and broncos. He was a jockey in many horse races, a foot racer and on ball teams for many years. Dancing was one of their [area youths] best entertainments. Their ticket was paid with a peck of grain, a squash or tallow candle. They also went to different towns to dance.

William married Rosetta Johnson on October 19, 1884, in Logan, Cache, Utah. William recorded in his journal, “I married Rose Johnson, one of the best girls that ever lived.” Rosetta was a daughter of Benjamin Henry Johnson and Mary Jane Tidwell. Rosetta was born August 7, 1866 in Scipio, Millard, Utah. At the age of 23, William left Scipio to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Southern States.

William recorded, "After I returned home [from my mission], I engaged in the cattle business. I ranged my cattle on the Henry Mountains for ten years. After accumulating among father and us boys about 1,500 head of cattle, the drought and a very hard winter with the robber Roost gang, we lost practically all and returned home paupers."

After that time he was a farmer and stock raiser on a smaller scale. He served civically as the first president of the Scipio Irrigation Company, school trustee for 12 years, president of the school board for 4 years, constable, Justice of the Peace, Commissioner of [Millard] County for 6 years. Along with this service, William was bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Scipio for 11 years.

William Riley Thompson and Rosetta Johnson were the parents of the following children:

1.  William Leslie Thompson was born 23 October 1885 in Scipio, Millard, Utah and died 11 November 1953 in Provo, Utah, Utah. He married 2 September 1908 in Manti, Sanpete, Utah, Eva Merinda Stephenson.

2.  Eldora Thompson, born 29 March 1887 in Scipio, Millard Utah, died 29 May 1924 in Centerfield, Sanpete, Utah. She married Ernest H. Bardsley in Manti, Sanpete, Utah on 24 April 1907.  

3.  Leamon Thompson, born 3 September 1889 in Scipio, Millard, Utah, died 3 February 1969 in Moab, Grand, Utah. He married Weltha Burnell, 6 March 1930 in Green River, Emery, Utah.

4.   Marion Glen Thompson, born 9 March 1892 in Scipio, Millard, Utah, died 29 June 1975. He married Sylvia Peterson in Fillmore, Millard, Utah 5 November 1919.

5.  Clara Thompson, born 3 December 1893 in Scipio, Millard, Utah, died 5 November 1958 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. She married Robert Lyman Memmott 19 December 1919 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.

6.  Fern Thompson, born 17 December 1895 in Scipio, Millard, Utah, died 2 March 1975 in Provo, Utah, Utah. She married Archie V. Quarnberg 19 July 1916 in Manti, Sanpete, Utah.

7.  Myrtle Thompson, born 10 July 1898 in Scipio, Millard, Utah, died 28 November 1981 in Provo, Utah, Utah. She married John Golden Hanseen 3 September 1919 in Manti, Sanpete, Utah.

8.  Riley Silas Thompson, born 29 April 1900 in Scipio, Millard, Utah, died 21 July 1980 in Richfield, Sevier, Utah. He married Fay Johnson 12 May 1920 in Manti, Sanpete, Utah.

9.  Ila Thompson, born 24 January 1903 in Scipio, Millard, Utah, died 1 November 1987 and buried in Scipio City [Utah] Cemetery. She married James Morrell Mathews on 23 December 1922 in Manti, Sanpete, Utah.

10.  Iona Thompson, born 24 January 1903 in Scipio, Millard Utah, died 28 March 1928 in Salina, Sevier, Utah. She married Burton Thompson 16 February 1922 in Scipio, Millard, Utah.

11.  Mary Lorenda Thompson, born 29 November 1905 in Scipio, Millard, Utah, died 19 November 1990 in Provo, Utah, Utah.   She married (1) David R. Goodman 25 June 1929 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Utah, (2) Emil Wolsey, divorced, (3) Myron Wasden 27 December 1967.

Speaking of her father, daughter Ila said, “Our father demanded obedience, but we learned to love him for it, and as a child, I thought anything my dad did was perfection, and it was a joy for me to please him.”
William spent a great deal of time away from his family while he was herding cattle on the Henry Mountains. He depended on his children to help their mother while he was away. Their oldest son, William Leslie Thompson, wrote about his home,"I remember the one-room log house we used to live in and how glad mother was when we could get a new homespun carpet for the floor. We used to put straw down and then stretch the carpet over it. We used to go to the straw stack and fill our bed ticks with fresh straw. She [his mother] always appreciated these little things."

William’s wife Rosetta suffered greatly for about 18 years with Trigeminal neuralgia. This condition caused severe pain in the area the trigeminal nerve ran on her face. Anything from chewing, brushing one’s teeth, eating or talking could trigger an attack of pain. Although the family was very poor, some of the best doctors were employed to perform delicate operations for her but to no avail.

A daughter Myrtle Thompson related of her father, "Because mother was sick so much, Dad really took over the organization of our home and gave each of the girls their jobs to do. We rotated each week. The week I was to take over the cooking for a week, I came down the stairs a pretty sleepy kid. Dad very tactfully sent me back to comb my hair and put on a clean dress. He helped me prepare breakfast, plan dinner and supper. He was continually encouraging me to be as good a cook as my mother."

A different sadness came to the family as two of the Thompson’s boys Leamon and Marion Glen were drafted into World War I and were sent to France. Lee served on the battlefield only a short time because he was injured and had a leg amputated. Glen returned to Utah in 1919 without injury.

The family’s beloved wife and mother, Rosetta Johnson Thompson, passed away on 18 November 1919 in Scipio, Millard, Utah age the age of 53.

William married secondly Carrage Hatch on 31 October 1923 in Manti, Sanpete County, Utah. She was born on July 18, 1884, the daughter of William Ira and Margaret Muir Hatch. Carrie’s father was a first cousin to William Riley. The couple lived together very happily for over seven years.

William Riley passed away March 9, 1931 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah at the age of 68 of a pelvic abscess and is buried in Scipio City Cemetery.

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