The rural community of Bridgeport has numbered the subject of this personal record among its industrious citizenship since the year 1874, and the simplicity and sincerity of his conduct have won him an abiding place in the esteem of his fellow men. From 1871 to the present, first in Parker county, and then in Wise, he has acknowledged fealty to the Lone Star state, and his little bark has navigated the billowy deep and come into the placid waters on the harbor with rudder strong and almost unstripped of sail.
The life of Mr. Thompson begins with his birth in Transylvania county, North Carolina, June 14, 1837. He was a son of Nelson Thompson, father and grandfather being men of industry and small means and humble citizens in their respective communities. The former was born in Transylvania county, and the latter spent his early life in Rutherford and Henderson counties, entering Transylvania later and passing away there. Nelson Thompson was the only son of his father, and when the latter died his mother married a Fletcher, to whom was born a son, John Fletcher, who passed his life in the Tarheel state.
Nelson Thompson took up the trade of a blacksmith, and while he stood over the anvil and brought in the means wherewith to bring up his large family in a modest way, the children were trained to the farm and began their lives as farmers, and humble and unpromising that beginning was. He married Rosa Fletcher, who died in 1862. Of their children, Jesse died in Livingston county, Kentucky; Elizabeth married Charles Baxter, of Transylvania county, North Carolina; Matilda became the wife of G. W. Holden, of Buncombe county, North Carolina; Margaret, wife of John Hefner, of Cooper’s Heights, Georgia; Robert, who died in Wise county, Texas; James W., who was killed in the battle of Malvern Hill; Tabitha, wife of Samuel Raxter, of Transylvania county, North Carolina; Nelson M., our subject; William P., of Buncombe county, and Henry, who died in the Confederate army during the war.
Nelson M. Thompson was brought up in a home that was never flush with the substantial things of life, and he had learned little within the walls of a regular school when he reached his twenty-first year. When the war broke out he enlisted in Company E, Twenty-fifth North Carolina Infantry, Colonel Clingman regimental commander. They became a part of the Virginia army and took part in the Seven Days’ and Malvern Hill fights of the Peninsular campaign. He was in the engagements at Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg and then back to the vicinity of Richmond and was around there and at Petersburg until the place was evacuated and was with the army of Lee when it capitulated to General Grant at Appomattox. He was wounded in the ditches in defense of Richmond, being shot in the ditches in defense of Richmond, being shot in the head and had his leg injured by a piece of shell at Elizabeth, on the Roanoke, North Carolina.
So reduced were his circumstances after the war he resumed farming with a single ox and lived off the soil of his native county until 1869, when he took up railroad work as foreman of a crew of men on the western extension of the Air Line and when he left this work he brought his little family of Texas and resumed farming in Parker county. There he had not succeeded in paying for the farm he contracted for an in Wise county he rented two years before he bought. Forty acres comprised his homestead in 1876, and it was a new tract with nature’s garb still on, and it stretched his credit and taxed his resources to the limit to prepare him a humble and primitive home on it. Wise economy has marked his pathway in his slow but sure rise to independence and fortune has so favored him as to enable him to add one hundred and sixty-two acres more, making him a modest and productive farm of two hundred and two acres.
December 11, 1870, Mr. Thompson married Mary Davis, whose father, Henry J. Davis, still lives in Buncombe county, North Carolina. Mrs. Thompson passed away at her home in 1897 at the age of fifty-two years, having been the mother of William, of Oklahoma; John, of Bridgeport, Texas; Laura, the managing head of her father’s home; Emma, wife of Richard Baugh, died in 1899; George, of Amarillo, Texas; W. A. T., of Oklahoma; Arthur and Luther, twins, of Fort Worth and the old home, respectively; Callie, who married Ralph Chilton and resides in Oklahoma; Stella, wife of Yater Rone, of Wise county; Bertha, who became Mrs. Isaac Swain, of Wise county, and Mattie and Allene.
While Mr. Thompson eschews politics he owns fealty to Democracy, and his name is on the rolls of the Methodist church.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 201-202.