Thursday, August 24, 2017

Finding the father of Electious Thompson

For decades, all I've known is that my direct paternal line ends with a man named Electious Thompson who was born 1750 in Maryland and died in Morgan County, Alabama, in 1840.  I lived in Northern Virginia for many years, and I made countless trips to the National Archives and to various Maryland archives and libraries to see if I could find the name of his father. Electious had lived long enough to collect a pension for his Revolutionary War service, so I read his pension application for clues. I went through land records, church records, probate records, and anything else I could find. All to no avail.

A tribute to Electious (spelled "Electius" in the newspaper) was published in the Huntsville Democrat July 17, 1841. It began:

THOMPSON, ELECTIUS-"We are assembled, on this interesting occasion, around the grave of Electius Thompson, a revolutionary father, to pay to his memory the last tribute of respect.
 "But we hasten to give you a brief sketch of Electius Thompson. He was born in 1750, near the place where the city of Washington now stands, and died at the advanced age of ninety years. Losing his father when an infant, he was committed to the charge of an uncle, who placed him on a vessel at sea at the early age of nine years, to learn the arduous duties of a sailor. . . ."

Family tradition states that the father of Electious was killed at the 1755 defeat of General Braddock in the French and Indian War. Even though the newspaper tribute stated that Electious was born in 1750, I determined that Electious was probably born in 1755 because he was an "infant" when his father died.  However, no matter where we looked, no researchers could determine the father's identity.

Finally, in 2005 I was so frustrated with the search that I decided to try DNA testing. The only tests that were available at the time were Y-chromosome STR tests and mitochondrial DNA tests.  Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was out of the question because mtDNA is inherited from the maternal line. I didn't have a Y-chromosome, and my male ancestors were all deceased. But I did have two brothers, and they should be carrying the Thompson DNA. I decided to test one of my brothers.

I asked my brother if he would take a DNA test for me. He said, "You know I really don't care about that stuff." I replied, "But I do, and I'm willing to pay for the test." He consented.

Could Y-DNA solve a mystery like this? I had to try. There was no other option. We will begin the DNA testing process in the next post by examining What do I do with my Y-DNA results?

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