Will L. Thompson, deceased, was a representative citizen and successful business man of East Liverpool. He was
born in Beaver County, Pa., Nov. 7, 1847, the son of Josiah and Sarah (Jackman) Thompson, and a grandson of William
and Eleanor (McDowell) Thompson.
Josiah Thompson was a native of Washington County, Pa., born in 1811. His father was a native of Ireland, of Scotch
parentage. William Thompson, grandfather of the subject of his sketch, was brought to this country by his parents
Mr. and Mrs. Mathew Thompson, who located in Washington County, Pa. His early life was spent there but after reaching
his majority he moved his family to Columbiana County and settled at Calcutta where for a number of years he conducted
a hotel. Josiah Thompson received a limited education in the pioneer log schools of this county. When 14 years
of age began serving as an apprentice saddler, but not liking the business he soon abandoned it. He went to Calcutta,
Ohio and later Smith's Ferry. In 1848 he conducted a drygoods business in East Liverpool until his retirement in
1878. He died Nov. 22, 1889.
Will L. Thompson was educated in the common schools of East Liverpool, attended Beaver Academy, and was graduated
from Mount Union College. The musical talent which has made Mr. Thompson known over the world, developed early.
In 1873 he became a student in the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, Mass., and while in that city also
studied under the special instruction of Carlyle Petersyllia. In 1876 Mr. Thompson went to Europe to study harmony
and composition and spent four months in the Conservatory of Music at Leipsic, Germany. He was only 16 years of
age when he wrote "Darling Minnie Gray." In 1875 he wrote four songs: "Gathering Shells from the
Seashore," "Drifting with the Tide," "My Home on the Old Ohio," and "Under the Moonlit
Sky." In 1891 he established the Thompson Music Company in Chicago which was disposed of early in the nineties.
A business of the same nature was carried on in East Liverpool for several years. Mr. Thompson was also the composer
of many gospel hymns, among the most popular being "Softly and Tenderly," "Lead me Gently Home Father"
and "Jesus is all the World to Me." It is estimated that the combined sales of his concert quartets reached
two million copies. Among his latest books were "Thompson's Anthem Quartets," "Thompson's Class
and Concert," and "The New Century Hymnal." He died in 1909 and his wife died in 1919. They are
buried in Itieverview Cemetery, East Liverpool.
Mr. Thompson was married to Miss Elizabeth Johnson, the daughter of Dr. Robert Johnson of Wellsville. They had
a son, Leland, born Nov. 9, 1896. He resides in East Liverpool.
During the later years of his life Mr. Thompson was extensively engaged in real estate. He was the promoter of
two of the cities subdivisions, Gardendale and Sunnyside.
Mr. Thompson erected a monument at West Point, Ohio, which marked the spot where the Confederate raider, Gen. John
H. Morgan, surrendered his command to Major George W. Rue, July 26, 1863. This is the most northern point reached
by any body of Confederate troops during the Civil War.
Politically Mr. Thompson was a Republican. He held membership in the Presbyterian Church and was affiliated with
the Masonic Lodge.
History of Columbiana County, Ohio
By: Harold B. Barth
Historical Publishing Company
Columbiana County, Ohio Biographies
Names A to F
Names G to M
Names N to Z
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