Friday, January 18, 2008

Meet the Ancestors - Samuel Sawyer Thompson and Margaret McKamy Thompson

Samuel Sawyer Thompson and Margaret McKamy Thompson were among the early arrivals in El Monte, October 22, 1852. He was a Los Angeles County Supervisor in 1854 and an El Monte justice of the peace in 1861. They have twenty-three descendants buried in the cemetery and many living descendants, including the new board president, Eric Chase. This is the family story of their trip west, dictated by their daughter, Mary McKamy Thompson Cunningham Wyatt (1839-1915) to her granddaughter Eva May Chase Akers.

“Wishing to go west, Samuel Thompson and his wife built a large flatboat and with all their goods floated down the Tennessee River into the Ohio and into the Mississippi River down to the Red River in Louisiana up which they floated and paddled to Shreveport, Louisiana, where they lived. They journeyed about in Louisiana and up to Fort Smith, Arkansas. They went on to St. Augustine, Texas, where their child Mary was born January 28, 1839. At last they went to Bonham, Texas, where they helped form a train of 27 wagons which left Bonham April 10, 1852, to go to the goldfields of California. They went southwest through El Paso, down into Mexico and west through Arizona and Ft. Yuma. On October 22, 1852, they reached El Monte. Due to typhoid fever in his family, S.S. Thompson bought a house and remained in El Monte and a wagon train went on north to gold.”

Their household in California included two young African-American girls, Amelia and Paulina, born in 1847 and 1851 respectively. This story of their presence comes from Martha Russell, another great-granddaughter of the Thompsons: “I’ve always heard that the S.S. Thompsons had slaves and that he didn’t believe in slavery so when he started west he gave them up. The mother of the 2 girls begged him to take them with him for she said they would only live the life of slaves if they stayed behind. They were with the family when they lived on the ranch in Rivera.” One of the girls reportedly became a leading midwife in Los Angeles.

Submitted by David W. Hassler,
another one of their great-great-great grandchildren
From the March 2007 issue of El Monte Cemetery Association Newsletter

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