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County Histories

Have you heard the term, ‘Mug Book’? Have you used a ‘mug book’? When I first started my genealogy journey, I used a lot of what some call ‘mug books’ before I ever heard the term. The blog post, Ancestor Biographies Breathe Life into Family History, contains an explanation of this term.

As I’m updating my research of my Thompson cousins, I recently ran across a Note referencing a biography for W. T. Thompson from one of those mug books.

On the back of the photocopy, I fortunately wrote down enough information to search WorldCat and then build a valid citation.

Even though World Cat did not indicate that there was a digitized version of this book, I did some digging and found it on Ancestry. That means that I can do a search of the book for the THOMPSON surname and locate every instance of the name.

As I use this biography, I need to remember that the information contained in it may not be correct. However, it does provide a lot of hints to help me locate other records to support or disprove the information in the biography.

  • Birth date and place of William Thompson
  • Parents of William Thompson and where they were from
  • Migration dates and places for the family
  • Marriage of William Thompson
  • Birth date of Polly Ann Evans
  • Parents of Polly Ann Evans
  • Migration of the parents of Polly Ann Evans
  • Land Purchase from government
  • Land description
  • Names of children with spouses
  • Places where children were living at time biography was written

Thus, this one biography forms the backbone for building the family. It provides hints for locating census records, land records, marriage records, etc.

W. T. Thompson, a prosperous farmer and stock-grower of Richland township, may be found on section 36, following his peaceful pursuits successfully, and enjoying the confidence and esteem of his neighbors. He was born in Ohio County, KY., Dec. 29, 1820, and is a son of John and Sarah (Iglehart) Thompson, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Maryland. At quite an early day the family removed form Kentucky to Indiana, and lived there till 1844, when they came to Wapello County, Iowa, and were thus numbered among the pioneers of this county. Here they lived until 1857, when they moved to Adams County, Iowa, where the father died soon after, the mother surviving him until February, 1877.

The subject of this sketch was reared on a farm, and on the 30th day of October, 1842, in Warrick County, Ind., was united in marriage to Miss Polly Ann Evans. Mrs. Thompson was born July 25, 1821, and is the daughter of James and Sarah (Garret) Evans. Her father was a farmer and moved with his family from Indiana to this State, where he remained a short time and then returned to Indiana, where himself and wife subsequently died. In 1847 Mr. Thompson came from Indiana to Wapello County, making the journey with team. On his arrival he bought 120 acres of land of the Government, which comprises his present farm. Of tis eighty acres are under cultivation and he owns thirty-eight acres of wood and pasture land on section 17, Dahlonega township. The home farm is well improved; on it is a tasteful and substantial dwelling, good barn and a fine orchard.

Mr. And Mrs. Thompson are the parents of nine children: Sarah J. Who married N. W. Bliles, is now a widow, living in Kansas; John E. Married Miss Mary Dunn, and lived in Adams County, Iowa; he was a member of the 29th Iowa Infantry, and served until the close of the war; William F. Married Miss Loisa Falkner, and is living in Wapello County; Martha is the wife of c. C. Ingersoll, and lives in Republic County, Kan.; Julia is deceased; Ellen is the wife of J. F. Gowdy, living in Cass County, Iowa; Polly Ann, Mrs. Albert D. Rickett, is living in Keokuk County, Iowa; Belle is the wife of Lewis N. Gowdy, of this county; Arsena is living at home with her parents. Politically Mr. Thompson is a Republican.

Because this and similar biographies have proven very beneficial in my genealogy journey, I will continue to utilize these county histories.

Linda Stufflebean compiled lists of county histories that are available online on her blog, Empty Branches of the Family Tree. Check out her list of County Histories.

2 thoughts on “County Histories

  1. Marcia, I compiled links to over 3000 U.S. county histories. There is a tab under my header photo on my blog to all the states/counties. emptybranchesonthefamilytree.com

    • Thank you for doing this! I was aware of your work as you posted about each state.
      I have edited my post to add a link to your work.

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