Biography of Ira B. Thompson
Humboldt County, CA Biographies





IRA B. THOMSON. - Throughout the thirty six years of his residence in California Mr. Thomson has been a citizen of Humboldt county, most of the time living at Eureka, where he is one of the most successful of the local representatives of the building trades. That he has had a creditable share of the construction work in the town is shown by the many substantial buildings, principally residences, which he has put up, and which in workmanship and convenience will compare with any in the city. At present he has under way the new Christian Science church, and other important contracts show the extent to which he is trusted by those who have had the opportunity of observing his work and its permanent character.

Mr. Thomson is a native of western Pennsylvania, born ten miles northwest of Newcastle, in Lawrence county, where his ancestors settled in the early part of the last century. He is of the fourth generation of his family in this country, his great grandfather, Alexander Thomson, of Scotch descent, having come hither from the north of Ireland. His son, Alexander, grandfather of Ira B. Thomson, was the pioneer of this line in western Pennsylvania, settling in the neighborhood already mentioned, two miles east of the Ohio line. He was a militia captain, and as such took part in the battle of Lundy's Lane during the war of 1812.

Robert Thomson, father of Ira B. Thomson, was a house carpenter, and in his day was considered a first class builder. He lived on the old homestead settled by his father, and died there in his ninetieth year. By his first wife, Betsey McClain, a native of Mercer county, Pa., he had a family of eight children, of whom Robert was the youngest; the eldest brother, Albert E. Thomson, was a minister, and at one time supplied the Congregational church at Eureka for three months; another brother, John S. Thomson, well known as "Honest John," a resident of this section, a former county clerk, and for two terms assessor of old Klamath county, is buried at Arcata, Humboldt county; a third brother, Joseph A. Thomson, was at one time associate judge of old Klamath county, and he, too, is buried at Arcata. Two of the daughters of Robert Thomson's first marriage survive. Mrs. Betsey Thomson died when forty five years old, and Mr. Thomson remarried, having five children by the second union; of these one son and one daughter still survive. The mother died ten years ago.

Ira B. Thomson was born August 17, 1845. He was five years old when his mother died, but his stepmother was kind to him and treated him as one of her own, and he had a good home in his boyhood. He was reared on his father's farm near the Ohio line in western Pennsylvania. He had such advantages as the common schools of the day afforded, helped with the farm work at home, and learned house carpentry under the tuition of his father, also acquiring a considerable knowledge of cabinetmaking. When twenty five years old he left home, going to Iowa, where he followed farming on his own account, owning one hundred and twenty acres of land near Washington. There he was married, October 8, 1874, to Miss Jessie B. Knox, and in 1878 came to Humboldt county, Cal., with his family. For the first two years they lived at Arcata, where Mr. Thomson found work at his trade and in a sawmill, in 1880 removing to Eureka, where he has resided continuously since. The two years immediately following he worked for Mr. Simpson, a contractor, the next three years for Mr. Butterfield, also a contractor, and since 1885 he has been contracting and building on his own responsibility. Mr. Thomson has made a specialty of residence work, doing jobbing as well as contracting, and has made it his business to keep abreast of the times, giving his patrons the benefit of the innovations and improvements which have revolutionized modern standards of living and housekeeping during the three decades that he has been an independent builder. His ideas on utilizing space, on conscientious, substantial construction, artistic arrangement and the economy of introducing conveniences have come to be appreciated by particular patrons until he is now regarded as one of the leading men in his line in the city. Among the residences he has erected may be mentioned those of G. W. Hunter, C. H. Connick, John Connick, Charles Fitzell and E. S. Murray. The building of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, which he is now putting up at the corner of Eleventh and H streets, is valued at $9,000.

As a citizen Mr. Thomson has been as much of a success as in his business relations. He is well known among the Odd Fellows, having passed all the chairs in the local lodge and been a member of the grand lodge. He assisted in the organization of the Presbyterian church at Eureka, was one of its first elders, and has continued to hold the office ever since by re-election, being one of the most esteemed members of the congregation. Every local movement promising to benefit the majority of his fellow citizens receives his hearty support.

Mrs. Thomson was born in Ohio, daughter of William and Mary E. (Short) Knox. Like her husband she is a prominent member of the Presbyterian church, taking an active part in the work of the Ladies' Aid Society, and is also interested in Odd Fellowship, having joined the Rebekah degree, in which she has passed all the chairs. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Thomson, Frank L. and Edna V., the daughter now married to C. C. Turner, an electrician, at present living in Schenectady, N. Y.; they have one child, Carlton Covey. Frank L. Thomson is an accomplished and licensed architect, a graduate of the Armour Institute at Chicago, Ill., where he spent four years after completing his course, and he has also followed his profession in Texas for five years. His attainments and special training make him one of the most competent men in his line in this region. He is now residing with his parents at Eureka, the family home being at No. 1134 J street.

From:
History of Humboldt County, California
With a Biographical Sketches
History by Leigh H. Irving
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1915


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