The Village of Thomson is an outgrowth of the Western Union Railroad. It is
situated on sections 24 and 25, York Township, in the centre of a very beautiful
valley, hemmed in by the Mississippi River on the west, and a high range of
bluffs on the east. At this point, the valley is very nearly four miles in width
between the bluffs and the river, and Thomson is about midway between them.
North and south the level prairie, dotted all over with well-cultivated farms,
handsome houses and large barns, stretches away as far as the eye can reach.
The first house erected on the ground now occupied by Thomson was built by
Norman Judson. It was of the kind known as a "grout house," and is still
standing and occupied by Dr. Saunders. At the time Mr. Judson was building this
house, there was an unmarried man here, and who remained for some time, but his
name had escaped the memory of those from whom these date were gathered. That
gentleman is now a resident of Morrison. Herman Worthington bought out Judson's
interest; Worthington sold to a Mr. Hoover, and Hoover sold o the railroad
company. This tract of land is described as the west half of the southeast
quarter of section 24.
The village sit was laid off by Messrs. Thomson and Smith, of the railroad
company, in 1864. In 1868, Norman D. French bought out Thomson's interest, and
March 6, 1867, Smith transferred his interest to Noah Green.
The first buildings erected after the town was laid off ere the Thomson House,
now under the management of D. W. Herman, and the store rooms occupied by Mrs.
Stephenson and J. O. Vallette. For two years after the sale of lots commenced,
building was active.
January 12, 1865, the first regular train of cars passed Thomson. In the middle
part of this Winter, an old warehouse was moved down from Savanna, by Enoch
Chamberlain, and re-erected near the depot buildings. Chamberlain occupied this
building about one year, and then sold it to Noah Green. A little later, Dr.
Snyder built an addition to this old building, which, in a short time, also fell
into Green's hands. The warehouse is now occupied jointly by Noah Green and
Norman Lewis, although they are not partners in business. Last year (1877) their
business amounted to $120,000.
Green continued to manage the business alone for about two years after he bought
out Enoch Chamberlain, when he admitted Mr. John A. Melendy as a partner. This
partnership continued about two years, when Melendy retired.
Educational - In 1865, the first school was taught in Thomson. A Miss Brown,
daughter of Noah Brown, was the teacher. When the building of a school house was
undertaken, there were only five legal voters in the district, three of whom
were school directors. The building was commenced in 1865. The house then
fashioned answered the demands of the district until 1871, when an addition was
made for graded school purposes. The school is now composed of three
departments, accommodating 150 scholars, who are under charge of Professor
McKay, as principal.
Churches - Two church edifices grace the Village of Thomson - the Christian and
the Methodist Episcopal. The Christian Church was built in 1866-7, at a cost of
$2,000. The present membership is about fifty. There is no regular pastor, but
the organization is kept up, and services held whenever occasion presents for
securing a preacher. Its Sabbath-school is in good condition, and numbers fifty
scholars. John Murphy is the superintendent.
The M. E. Church was built under the pastorate of Elder Campbell, in 1870, at a
cost of $2,500. The society numbers about seventy-five communicants, with a
flourishing Sabbath-school of fifty scholars, of which Homer Judd is
superintendent. Rev. J. S. Best is the preacher in charge of this work, and is
serving his second year.
Masonic - Thomson Lodge, No. 559, A. F. and A. M., was chartered in 1868-9. The
following named brothers were the first officers of the Lodge: W. M., Peter
Holman; S. W., Noah Green; J. W., R. D. Smith; Treas., John A. Melendy; Sec., D.
T. Hobart; S. D., John Green; J. D., H. E. Osgood; Tyler, James Green. This
lodge now numbers about fifty members, but is destitute of a hall.
On the evening of December 14, 1877, Volney Armour, Esq., and his daughter, Miss
Capitola Armour, of Mount Carroll, began a temperance work in Thomson that
continued until the evening of the 16th, that had a marked effect among the
people. It was a Red Ribbon movement, and took in over three hundred persons -
among them several hard and almost confirmed inebriates. The older citizens of
Thomson and the surrounding country took an active interest in the work, and the
New Year (1878) dawned upon a happier state of things at Thomson than had been
known for many a long day before.
Thomson numbers about twenty business houses of various kinds, all of which seem
to do a good business. It is a shipping port for a district of country of ten by
fifteen miles in extent, that is rich and well improved. To Captain Dunn, a true
patriot, an old settler, ex-sheriff of the county, and an enterprising and
pushing business man, the readers of this book are indebted for the following
statistics as showing the business transacted through the railroad station at
this point for the last year, ending December 31, 1877:
Hogs - 113 cars.
Sheep - 1 cars.
Cattle - 38 cars.
Grain - 412 cars.
TOTAL - 564 cars.
Amount of freight received 2,186, 580 pounds