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History of Madison
County, Iowa, 1915.

Biographical.  Volume 2.


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John R. Thomson.

John R. Thomson

After many years of connection with business interests of Madison county John R. Thomson is living in honorable retirement in Earlham.  He was born on Great Howard street, Liverpool, England, on the 25th of July, 1839, a son of Hugh M. and Jennie (Robertson) Thomson, both natives of Scotland.  The father was a farmer in that country but upon accepting a position as government inspector went to Stafford, where he served as inspector of weights and measures for three years, and was then promoted to inspector of police at Liverpool.  During the fight between the Catholics and Orangemen he was twice carried home as dead.  On the 17th of June, 1844, he and his family emigrated to America and located upon a farm twelve miles north of Davenport, Iowa, and for twenty-eight years he was actively engaged in agricultural pursuits.  He passed away in 1889.  His widow survived until 1911, reaching the remarkable age of ninety-seven years.  He was very prominent in his locality and was elected to the tenth and eleventh general assemblies.  He was also a trustee of the State College of Agriculture at Ames for many years and planted a number of trees that are now upon the campus of that school.

John R. Thomson passed the greater part of his boyhood and youth in Scott county, being but five years old when taken there by his parents.  In the district schools of that county he acquired his education and after putting aside his text-books continued to reside with his parents until he was twenty-six years of age.  Previous to that time he had operated a threshing outfit for several years.  In 1868 he purchased four hundred acres of land in Dallas county but did not farm long as on the 20th of December of that year he was hurt in a runaway accident and was compelled to abandon agricultural pursuits.  He came to Earlham and entered the general merchandise business, in which he continued for twenty-three years.  His stock of goods was up-to-date and well adapted to the demands of the community and as his prices were as reasonable as are consistent with good quality he gained a large share of the patronage of the public.  After selling out that business he operated a quarry for about ten years.  Since disposing of that interest he has lived practically retired in Earlham.  He owns a fine residence here, in which he has lived since 1869, or for more than forty-five years.  While a factor in the business world he proved energetic and dependable and well earned the right to spend his remaining years in rest and leisure.

Mr. Thomson married Miss Margaret Madden, a daughter of John and Ellen (Spencer) Madden, natives of England, who emigrated to this country and settled in Scott county, Iowa, in 1850.  Mr. Madden was a shoemaker in England but after his removal to Scott county turned his attention to farming.  Both he and his wife died in that county.  Mr. and Mrs. Thomson were the parents of three children:  Hugh S., cashier of the Bank of Earlham;  John Charles, a traveling salesman who resides at Storm Lake, Iowa;  and Robert B., who died when three years old.  Mrs. Thomson passed away July 15, 1904, and Mr. Thomson married Miss Mary A. Chappel on the 1st of August, 1906.  She is a daughter of John J. and Mary (Robinson) Chappel, who spent their entire lives on Prince Edward Island.

Mr. Thomson is a republican and has supported that party since he cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln.  He has been one of the men of affairs of Earlham, as for many years he served upon the council, and he has also been mayor of the municipality, proving a businesslike and incorruptible official.  He was the second postmaster of the town and held that office for three years.  Fraternally he is connected with the Masonic order, belonging to the blue lodge, of which he is a charter member, the chapter and commandery.  He is a member of the Presbyterian church and his religion finds expression in his every day life, which is guided by principles of Christianity.  Public spirit and integrity have ever been among his salient characteristics and have won for him the respect of those who have come in contact with him.



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