William J. Thompson, of
Pauls Valley, is one of the most sterling representatives of the old
Choctaw tribe, and in his own right and on the basis of ability and
merit has achieved a commendable position of prominence in business
Naturally enough he
takes great pride in his forefathers. He is one of the younger sons
of the noted Giles Thompson, who at one time was reputed to be the
wealthiest man in the Indian Territory. The Thompsons became
identified with the Choctaw people by inter-marriage. Originally
they were pioneer white settlers in North Carolina in colonial times.
There is a file of interesting letters in the university library at
Norman, written by members of the Thompson and Wall families and
covering the period from 1834 to 1847, containing not only many
interesting facts about the families themselves, but throwing
considerable light on the life and times in the old Indian Territory
of that epoch.
Giles Thompson was
born in North Carolina in 1802 and after moving to Mississippi in
1820 he married a Choctaw woman. he assisted in making the treaty of
Dancing Rabbit in 1830, a treaty which brought forth admiring praise
and commendation from President Jackson. All his relatives were on
the roll and received allotments of land. Giles himself acquired 960
acres as his share of the tribal property. It was in the spring of
1833 that he moved out to Indian Territory and established himself at
Boggy Depot’s present site. He was a man of enterprise, and took
advantage of the natural resources in the salt deposits and developed
the only salt works of the Indian Territory at Boggy Depot, now in
Atoka County. Giles Thompson conducted these works until the outbreak
of the Civil war, as sole owner and operator. At Boggy Depot he had a
reservation one mile square and, according to the tribal laws, no one
was allowed to cut even a stick of timber from the land. It was
through these varied operations that he acquired the fortune which
made him the wealthiest man in Indian Territory. At one
time seventy-four slaves were employed in working the salt works. The
product was sold as high as $5 per bushel, since salt was a very rare
and indispensable commodity. When the war broke out he showed his
faith and liberality in behalf of the southern government, and
invested $100,000 in 20-year gold bonds drawing 8 per cent interest.
These, of course, became valueless after the war, and they were a
complete contribution to the cause. William J. Thompson of Pauls
Valley now has some of these old bonds as cherished relics of his
father’s patriotism. During the war Giles Thompson freed his slaves.
In 1876 he moved to Garvin County, and was engaged in the stock
business there until his death in 1878. In politics he was naturally
a democrat and was a member of the Baptist Church. Another
distinction was in helping organize the first Masonic lodge in Indian
Territory, of which he was a charter member.
Giles Thompson had
three wives. His first was a Miss Wall, a half-blood Choctaw, who
died in 1835. The ten children of her marriage are all now deceased.
For his second wife he married a sister of his first, and she died in
1850, and her eight children are all deceased. In 1863 Giles
Thompson married Ellen Jackson, who was born in Joplin, Missouri, in
1844, and died in Garvin County, Oklahoma, in 1908. The children of
that union were: Myrtle, wife of Richard Randolph, a farmer at
Purcell. Oklahoma; Minnie, now deceased, who married W. M. Wheat, a
merchant and stockman living at Idaho; Decosa, who was a stockman and
died in Garvin County; W. E., a farmer in Garvin County; and William
J. The mother of these children after the death of Giles Thompson
married S. C. Wall, a Choctaw Indian, and a son of Noah Wall, who
also helped to make the famous treaty of 1830, previously mentioned.
S. C. Wall is still living in Garvin County on his farm. He and his
wife had throe children: Daisy, wife of James Harper, a Garvin County
farmer; Eunice, wife of Tom Hogg, a merchant in Western Oklahoma; and
S. F., a farmer in Garvin County. There is a singular instance of
discrimination in the matter of allotments to the children of the
late Giles Thompson. All the children of his first two wives received
allotments and the 300 descendants of his freedmen were likewise
favored. However, the third set of
children were cut out from the roll, and
a homestead that was in the family for a period of sixty-four years
was also taken away. It seems clear that some injustice has been done
in this case. It might he explained that the allotments are in the
nature of deeds which patent to members of the Choctaw tribe lands in
fee simple forever.
Coming now to the
career of William J. Thompson, he was born in Garvin County, Indian
Territory, July 14, 1876, and was still an infant when his father
died. As a boy he showed unusual talent as a student and made rapid
progress in his school work. He attended public schools in Garvin
County, the academy at Atoka, was sent to the normal school at Fort
Scott, Kansas, and in 1890 entered the Oklahoma State University at
Norman for one year. In 1893 he graduated from the Normal University
at Valparaiso, Indiana. While at Valparaiso he was president of the
literary society and at Norman he helped to organize the first
baseball club and also built the first tennis court. He took an
active part in athletics and various other brandies of college life.
After school he
returned to Garvin County in 1893, and for a short time was a
bookkeeper. He then started out for himself and engaged in the real
estate business, in which he has been
eminently successful. In fact, Mr. Thompson is regarded as the
pioneer real estate operator in all this section of Oklahoma and
covers the field of Garvin, McClain, Grady and neighboring counties.
He himself owns 2,000 acres of land in those counties besides a large
amount of city property in Pauls Valley, including 125 lots. His
offices are in the old First National Bank Building on Main Street,
He was formerly vice president of the County Abstract Company.
In politics a
democrat, he is now serving his home community as alderman. In
Masonry Mr. Thompson is affiliated with Valley Lodge No. 6, Ancient
Free and Accepted Masons, has attained the thirty-second degree of
Scottish Rite in the Valley of Guthrie Consistory No. 1, and is a
member of India Temple of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine at Oklahoma
City. His church is the Presbyterian.
In 1900 at Pauls
Valley he married Miss Savannah Kinnebrew, whose father, J. C.
Kinnebrew, is a farmer in Western Oklahoma. Four children have been
born to their marriage: Winona Sue, a freshman in the Pauls Valley
High School; Lorene and Gladys, both in the grade schools; and
Ramona, now in the kindergarten class.