Thompson, William:
Thompson, Annie M. (Boyce):

One of the quiet, unassum­ing citizens of Montana is Hon. William Thompson of Butte, who is not in the least given to boasting about his frontier record, and yet it covers a period of nearly forty years.

Mr. Thompson first saw the light at Coburg, Ontario, Canada, March 1, 1838. Here he lived until he was fifteen years old, receiving his education in the public schools. The father having died, Mrs. Thompson removed with her children to the United States, locating in Detroit, Michi­gan, in 1853, where William learned the cabinet and car­penter trades, and has been from that time to this a worker in wood, either as journeyman, manufacturer, or employer of the craft.

At the age of eighteen, William set out to carve his own fortune and proceeded first to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, going from there to High Forest, Minnesota. This was in 1856, and High Forest was then a frontier settlement. He saved a little money by working at his trade, and in 1859 pushed farther West, in company with Hon. Moses Arm­strong, afterward delegate to Congress from Dakota. They crossed the Dakota plains by way of New Ulm, Lake Benton, Pipestone Quarry and Sioux Falls, to Yank-ton, on the Missouri river, then the extreme frontier in the Northwest, arriving in the fall of 1859. In August of 1862 the Sioux took the war path, and the massacre at Xew Ulm and the outrages committed elsewhere by them, created considerable alarm at Yankton. The set­tlers gathered at the latter place and prepared for war. A militia company was organized, of which young Thomp­son was a member, for home protection, but fortunately active service was not required. Thompson had at that time the contract for the erection of the capitol building, or the one that was to serve as such for the Territory of Dakota, of which Yankton was then the capital. His material was all on the ground, ami in the "war" emer­gency it was appropriated and used to build barracks for protection against the expected hostiles.

In the fall of 1861, a party came down the Missouri river in mackinaws from Fort Benton, then the head­quarters of the American Fur Company in the Northwest. They stopped at Yankton and exhibited a considerable quantity of gold, which they said came from the moun­tains south of Fort Benton. The next spring, 1862, a small party from St. Louis and other cities went up the river on a steamboat to Fort Benton in search of treasure, and from that point penetrated the mountains. Among them were two brothers named Hulbert. They got as far as Prickly Pear valley, near where Helena now stands, and found some gold at or near Montana City, being undoubtedly the first discoverers of these diggings, which afterward proved rich and extensive; but some of the party, becom­ing discouraged, returned the same fall to Yankton, mak­ing the journey from Fort Benton in mackinaws. The Hulberts worked that winter for Mr. Thompson and gave him such an account of the mountain country and its probable treasure that he lost no time in the spring in starting for that region. As there was no certainty of a steamer, he started from Yankton with a wagon and two yoke of oxen, accompanied by one of the Hulbert broth­ers. At Omaha they joined a wagon train and crossed the plains. They went direct to Bannack and then to Alder Gulch, arriving at Virginia City, September 16, 1863.

During all these years on the frontier, Mr. Thompson stuck tenaciously to his trade and did not vary the rule even in Alder Gulch, where nearly every one else was ex­pecting to dig a fortune out of the ground in a short time. He took his kit of tools along with him and found them of great sen-ice. The first winter, when most of the peo­ple of the camp were idle waiting for the mining season to open, Thompson was diligently at work making doors, frames, sash, etc., the material fof which he hewed out of pine trees, and earned easily from $10 to $15 a day. He soon formed a partnership in the building business with a Mr. Griffith, the style of the firm being Griflith & Thompson. They built many of the first houses in Vir- ginia City, and amongst them the one which, in an un­finished condition, was used by the vigilantes as a con­venient gallows on which hung, at one time, Boone Helm, Jack Gallagher, Frank Parish, Haze Lyon and "Club Foot George." This occurred in the month of January, 1864. The following spring, Thompson and his partner purchased claim No. 2 above " Fairweather" discovery, from James Fergus, and worked it that season. In the fall of the same year he organized a party of 168 men who wanted to return to the "States" and piloted them down the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers on mackinaws, charging each man $25 for the trip. He had the mackinaws built at a point on the Yellowstone about where Livingstone now stands, where the party em­barked on the 10th of October. There were thirteen boats in the fleet, and for the first few days the swift cur­rent took them along rapidly; but, reaching the lower Yellowstone, it was found necessary to ply the oar and also to hoist blankets for sails so as to make better time, as the danger of being frozen in was imminent and every effort had to be made to hasten the journey. After reach­ing the Missouri they made better progress, but here had to run the gauntlet of the "cut-throat" Sioux, who were ready and anxious to lift a scalp whenever the oppor­tunity offered. They reached Yankton in safety, how­ever, after several narrow escapes both by land and water, on November 21st, where the party disbanded.

Mr. Thompson returned to Montana the following spring, 1865, by steamboat up the Missouri river to Fort Benton, from there going direct to Virginia City by way of Helena. He engaged with his partner, Griffith, in the general building and merchandise business, and, besides other work, erected four or five of the first quartz-mills constructed in the Territory. In 1866 the firm commenced operations in Helena, erecting the King & Gillett, Tay-lor & Thompson and several other blocks, executing contracts to the amount of $78,000. As early as 1868, Mr. Thompson purchased and operated a steam sawmill near Virginia City, and has been in the sawmill business ever since, operating in Madison, Beaver-head, Deer Lodge, Missoula and Silver Bow counties. He is now vice president and general manager of the Mon­tana Lumber & Manufacturing Company of Butte and Helena, one of the most extensive and successful institu­tions of its kind in the State.

While always an active mechanic or business man Mr. Thompson has ever been willing to give a share of his time and talents to promote the public welfare. He did his part willingly in the first years of the Territory to bring law and order out of chaos. He served in the City Council of Virginia City in 1878-4, and after removing to Butte, represented the people of Silver Bow county three different sessions in the Legislature—in the House of Rep­resentatives of the fifteenth session, in the Council of the sixteenth session and again in the House of Representa­tives of the first session under the new State Government. In his capacity as a lawmaker, Mr. Thompson served his State ably and conscientiously.

Mr. Thompson was married at Virginia City in 1867, to Annie M. Boyce, daughter of Major Boyce. They have five children,—three grown sons and two daughters. The eldest, William B. Thompson, is in charge of the business of the Montana Lumber & Manufacturing Company in Helena, and James R. and Edwin are faithful lieutenants of their father at home. The daughters, Mable and Flora, are seven and twelve years of age, respectively. (about 1898).

From the IOGR vertical files, these additional notes pertinent to his time in and around the Glendale area:

1863 Aug 28 - Place of departure for Montana, Yankton, Dakota Territory; route traveled, across the plains via Lander cut-off; arrived at Virginia City, August 28, 1863.

1870 Aug 26 - at Virginia City, Madison Co., M.T. is Wm Thompson, age 32, a carpenter, values of 1000/400, from Canada; Annie M is 24, from Missouri, with values of 200; son Wm B is 1, born in Montana.

1877 July 12 - Indenture made on the 9th day of July, of this year, between William Thompson and P.A. Largey, a certain piece or parcel of land described as: The undivided 1/2 interest of a certain saw mill situated on Willow Creek, near Glendale in Beaverhead County, in M.T., also known as the Thompson Saw Mill. In consideration or $1000.00.

1878 Dec 10 - bill of sale recorded in Beaverhead County deeds records for the following transaction: From L. A. Largey, of Butte, Deer Lodge County, but of late from Madison County, M.T. for and in consideration of the sum of eight hundred dollars ($800) paid by William Thompson of Madison County, M.T. for the following described property: an undivided one half interest of that certain portable steam sawmill engine, and boiler and all other machinery in said mill or connected there with or belonging thereto. Now situate and located on Willow Creek about two mile above Glendale in Beaverhead County, M.T. Also the mill site on which said mill is situated. Together with all....etc...etc.. [PC310094]

1879 Sep 6 - People have been flocking to the Lion City area and are staying in Trapper City until housing is built to accomodate their needs. Several new businesses have appeared on Main Street in Lion City. Joseph Arbour has a two story building which is occupied by R.R. Miller and used a boarding house. B.M. DuRell has a store that is 22 X 31. Hamilton and Cartier have a new meat market and Thomas and Armstong have a new front on their old stand. William Thompson will bring one of his saw mills closer to Lion City to supply the market and needs, is printed in the Butte Miner.

1879 Oct 2 - The Butte Miner reports that William Thompson has bought a 16 horse power engine from A.J. Davis, for his saw mill at Glendale. Lumber is in high demand at Lion City where a shedded 3 mile long tram road is under construction.

1880 Jan 4 - recorded in deed book; an indenture for the purpose of securing a promissory note by and between Hiram Stuart, receiving in hand the sum of $142.35 from William Thompson, et. al.; collateral offered is real property being assigned for a mortgage and described as follows: situated and being on the South Side of Main Street in the town of Glendale, lying between the China Wash house of Ling You and Foy and the wagon shop of H. Stuart having a frontage of twenty one feet on said street and running back said width one hundred feet from said Main Street and being known as the Peck & Fairfield lot and the same as sold by the to the said H. Stewart also a certain log building upon said lot twenty one feet by twenty four feet being know as the store of B. M. Durell & Co. and the same as rented by them from the said H. Stewart party of the first part. To have and to hold...etc..etc.. {PC310216]

1880 Feb 28 - recorded mortgage transaction made by and between John Dwyer, and Wm. Thompson; on property described as follows: All that certain lot or parcel of land on the north side of Main street having a frontage of sixteen feet on said street next below adjoining the Wilson Hotel and being between said Hotel and Thomas & Armstrongs Store and running back sixteen feet in width one hundred feet from said Main Street also the frame building erected on said lot and known as the Dwyer building together with all and singular...etc..etc.. [PC310332]

1880 Jun - Atlantis reports in an ad., being in lumber

1880 Jun 10 - Census - listed at Glendale, M.T. is William Thompson, sawmill man from Can/Eng/Ire, age 44; wife Annie M is 33 and from Mo/Va/Ky; sons William 11, James 6 and Joseph 4, all show Montana nativity.

1880 Nov 27 - Application No.23 on the Glendale Town Site to wit deed granted to William Thompson of Beaverhead County, Montana Territory to Lot (17) in Block No. five (5) in the Town of Glendale, Beaverhead County, Montana Territory according to the official plat of the survey thereof. Claims by right of pre-emption and occupation and that affiant is in actual possession of the same. Claims improvements of $200 consisting of a house and fencing.

1880 Nov 27 - Application No.24 on the Glendale Town Site to wit deed granted to William Thompson of Beaverhead County, Montana Territory to Lot (18) in Block No. five (5) in the Town of Glendale, Beaverhead County, Montana Territory according to the official plat of the survey thereof. Claims by right of pre-emption and occupation and that affiant is in actual possession of the same. Claims improvements of $400 consisting of a house (store building).

1880 Nov 27 - Application No.25 on the Glendale Town Site to wit deed granted to William Thompson of Beaverhead County, Montana Territory to Lot (13) in Block No. nine (9) in the Town of Glendale, Beaverhead County, Montana Territory according to the official plat of the survey thereof. Claims by right by purchase from Wm. Fisher and occupation and that affiant is in actual possession of the same. Claims improvements of $65 consisting of a cabin.

1880 Nov 27 - Application No.26 on the Glendale Town Site to wit deed granted to William Thompson of Beaverhead County, Montana Territory to Lot (7) in Block No. five (5) in the Town of Glendale, Beaverhead County, Montana Territory according to the official plat of the survey thereof. Claims by right of pre-emption and occupation and that affiant is in actual possession of the same. Claims improvements of $60 consisting of a cabin.

1881 Feb 04 - purchased lot # 7, 17 and 18 in block # 5; lot # 13 in block # 9 all situated in the original townsite of Glendale, M.T.

1881 Apr 16 - appears in the Dillon Tribune, a thorough display ad, offering lumber, lath and shingles etc., etc. at Glendale & Camp Creek

1881 Apr 16 (2) - display add shows Wm Thompson, dealer in Lumber, lath & shingles, and all kinds of planed lumber, tongued and grooved, ...etc....Glendale and Camp Creek.

1887 - was relocated to Butte, and became member of the Territorial legislature.

1889 - on the Constitutional Covention committee.

 



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