LaSalle County

Mary Ann Thompson

Ottawa Journal

February 2, 1897


Death of MARY ANN THOMPSON, Near Lacon, Recalls Early History

Mrs. Hopi Strawn, of this city, has received word of the death of Mrs. MARY ANN THOMPSON, which occurred in Hopewell township, Marshall county, a few days ago.  Her death recalls some of the incidents in the early days in this part of Illinois, for Mrs. Thompson came here in 1829 with her parents, Colonel John Strawn and wife, who were the pioneers of Marshall county.  

Laborers there were few and Mr. Strawn's family were early taught to earn their bread by the sweat of the brow.  She labored in doors with her mother, and assisted out of doors when needed, following the plow in tending corn along with her future husband.  

The discipline was a good one for Mr. Strawn's girls all made good wives and married well.  One day herself and sister Rachel followed the wagon trail leading to the river and inside of a pen near the site of the present wooden mill beheld the ghastly remains of five Indians killed in drunken debauch.  She after told the story of the troubles with the red men in those early days of Lacon.  

On this occasion in the spring of 1831 Robert Bird, Jr. and John S. Armstrong, nephew of Col. John Strawn, visited the camp just as the Indians began their drunken fight.  As they passed the tent of Nauquette, the chief, he rushed to the door of his wigwam and exclaimed:  Puckachee (clear out), Indians drunk, Indian kill chimokaman (white man.)  They left at once, but next day returned and found the pen deserted and the bodies of five Indians killed in the melee of the day before.  You can imagine the impression upon the young minds of the Strawn girls to stumble over the bodies of five corpses far removed from any habitation.  When Col. Strawn surveyed for the present site of Lacon, Mary A. Strawn, and Rachael, her sister, rode horses dragging a heavy pole to level the high grass, marking for the surveyor to lay out the town.
    In 1838 she wedded James Thompson and began housekeeping a mile north of her father's, where her children were born.  The ancestry of the numerous and favorably known family of Thompson's residing in Lacon and vicinity were James Thompson, born in Cumberland county, Penn., in 1813.  In 1837 he emigrated to this part of Illinois and found employment with John Strawn at $7 per month.  It is not probable he would have accepted such wages, but his mind was made up to remain in this country and Mr. Strawn had several ruddy cheeked daughters of marriageable age, notable among them was Mary Ann.  In the fall he went to Pennsylvania to spend the winter, returning in the spring, embarking at Cincinnati, on the steamer Moselle, whose boilers exploded, killing 50 to 75 passengers.  He escaped on a raft and returning in 1838 worked again for Mr. Strawn.  In December he married Mary Ann Strawn.  He was a good farmer and successful, and after living on the farm fourteen years came to Lacon, going into the lumber business.  He died January 21, 1857.

To Mr. and Mrs. Thompson were born seven children:  William Strawn Thompson, who died in infancy; Mary McClish T. Fisher, who departed this life ten years ago; and five who now survive her, and who have been her comfort, John Strawn, Samuel Hamilton, James Henry, Robert Gray and Stephen Douglas Thompson.



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