Image by Jim Surkamp
STORY 25 – Jasper Thompson – CONCLUSION by Jim Surkamp
By Jim Surkamp on March 11, 2017 in Jefferson County
This post corresponds to the VIDEO on youtube and the start time of 2:01:29.
The dirt and blood went on ’till next spring. Vast dead on the open fields no longer caused tears or sighs,
but to think of one person – Dolly – lit Jasper’s sustaining dream of that day he would walk through the door in Jefferson County a free man, hoping to become a husband, a father, and a pillar in his church.
Jasper Thompson – courtesy Monique Crippen-Hopkins
Returning Home by Gilbert Gaul Birmingham Museum of Art gift of John Meyer.jpg
Claymont – WVU Library West Virginia & Regional History Center
Claymont was quiet. The fences gone ever since
Gen. Sheridan took them and the Washington
cattle sent south with the Union army – their walking food supply: Washington beef cooked over the fire made of Washington fence rails.
The Leader of the Herd – by Edwin Forbes
The Washingtons were allowed just one “milch cow.” That was punishment by Sheridan for taking in two of their visiting close kin —
A Cow in the Pastures – Constant Troyon – 1856.
soldiers James C. Washington and Herbert Lee Alexander.
Sheridan forbid their release because he firmly believed with little evidence they
fought for Mosby’s partisans. They both died before 1867 because prison hardships quickened their frailties. (Tombstone Inscriptions, p. 353, p. 378).
Herbert Lee Alexander Stone Zion
James C. Washington Stone Zion
That summer of 1865, John Trowbridge wrote that Charles Town seethed in resentment. ‘The war feeling here is like a burning bush with a wet blanket wrapped around it. Looked at from the outside, the fire seems quenched. But just peep under the blanket and there it is, all alive and eating, eating in. The wet blanket is the present government policy; and every act of conciliation shown the Rebels is just letting in so much air to feed the fire.’ . . .
the townspeople passed on the sidewalk, ‘daughters and sons of beauty,’ for they were mostly a fine-looking, spirited class; one of whom, at a question which I put to him, stopped quite willingly and talked with us.
I have seldom seen a handsome young face, a steadier eye, or more decided pose and aplomb, neither have I ever seen the outward garment of courtesy so plumply filled out with the spirit of arrogance. His brief replies spoken with a pleasant countenance, yet with short, sharp downward inflections, were like pistol shots. . . And no wonder. His coat had an empty sleeve. The arm which should have been there had been lost fighting against his country. His almost savage answers did not move me; but all the while I looked with compassion at his fine
young face, and that pendant idle sleeve. . .
His beautiful South was devastated, and her soil drenched with the best blood of her young men.
Walking through town we came to other barren and open fields on the further side.
Here we engaged a bright young colored girl to guide us to the spot where John Brown’s gallows stood. She led us into the wilderness of weeds waist-high to her as she tramped on, parting them before her with her hands. . . A few scattering groves skirted them; and here and there a fenceless road drew its winding, dusty line away over the arid hills. ‘This is about where it was, ’ said the girl, after searching some time among the tall weeds.
Bushrod Corbin Washington returned from years of fighting adjusting to the departure of his widowed mother to become a missionary in Asia. He re-married, faced almost insurmountable financial odds that would eventually force him to sell Claymont out of the
family and start over in Washington State.
Richard Blackburn Washington’s family felt the loss of what Gen. Sheridan’s men took the previous November when they also captured and took away the two young Washingtons.
Both Richard and Bushrod had wartime losses but their alliances with the Confederacy during the war, either fighting or providing supplies, disqualified both from any claim for compensation for their material losses, and those that November were substantial:
500 bushels of potatoes,
four horseloads of straw,
3000 pounds of bacon,
200 cords of firewood,
30,000 rails for fire wood, four horse wagonloads of stacked wheat, 200 bushels of housed corn,
40 tons of timothy hay,
150 head of sheep,
100 head of hogs,
30 head of fat beef cattle, four mules and three horses.
This setback left them little monies with which to hire from the much-in-demand pool of young, strong, and skilled freed African-American laborers working across the County, for those who could pay them.
Though they lived next door, neither Solomon nor Jasper’s names appear among those hired in Bushrod Corbin’s farm and payment records after the war.
Bushrod Corbin Washington’s Farm Diary 1867-1871 – Perry Room, Charles Town, Library
Resentment at their lot could easily have translated into not seeking the services from a former veteran of the U.S. Colored Troops to till and grow their corn and wheat, or tend their hogs.
Solomon and his family appeared to have found living arrangements at Bushrod Washington Herbert’s Prospect Hill that had been expanded over time to include the house, other buildings, a barn and even a graveyard. They would have fit in, joining Solomon’s sister, Matilda, and brother Richard.
Solomon and son Jasper would likely be hired at Henry B. Davenport’s farm, Altona, immediately north and adjacent to the Washington farms,
Portrait of Henry B. Davenport of Altona, Jefferson County, W. Va. who in some twenty years would transfer his deed to the land for the homestead of Solomon and then Jasper’s family.
As one who had seen hell and survived, Jasper plunged into his new life.
Of those years, Doug Taylor of Charles Town relates from his family’s history that African American communities were starting all across Jefferson County, vivified by the new freedom, owning one’s own land, with a church and a school .
Jasper and Dolly joyously married October 28, 1869 with Beverly Kirk, presiding.
On Thursday, October 21st, less than a month later,
Jasper took a lead in organizing an impressive big event in Charlestown for the new organization: the Order of Industry, a celebration that included a procession to Bushrod Washtingotn Herbert’s “woods” with a band playing followed by speechifying. The editor of the Spirit of Jefferson in Charlestown, Benjamin F. Beall, lavished praise on the event:
Last Thursday was a gala day with our (African) American citizens, and they enjoyed it hugely; but in a manner creditable to them, and in a style which would have reflected no discredit upon any community.
It seems that there exists in our midst a society of the colored people known as the “Order of Industry,” and it was the members of this society, arrayed in appropriate regalia, and the two Sabbath Schools of the town, that made up the procession. — To the first, there was a banner presented by the “colored ladies” of the town, in front of the old Court-House. Upon this banner was the significant motto, “By industry we thrive.”
The presentation was by Miss Houk, and the reception by Jasper Thompson, both of whom acquitted themselves very well. After these exercises, the procession moved to Herbert’s Woods, headed by Moxley’s Brass Band from Hagerstown. – Spirit of Jefferson, October 26, 1869 – p. 3 col. 1
Dolly and Jasper began their own in-house community when Solomon H. Thompson was born August, 1870. (Monique Crippen Hopkins) – the first of fifteen children.
The first, Solomon; the fifth, named Jasper R.; and the thirteenth child, Frances – would keep the family memory fires aburnin’.
Jasper and Dolly’s first born Solomon H. – would carry the family’s ways forward and far away, preserving its legacy with a powerful mind and dedication.
Protecting the Groceries by Edward Lamson Henry.
He was certainly among the young scholars who attended
Littleton Page’s school for African-American children, located conveniently right next door to the second Baptist Church. Littleton Page would very likely have taught all the subsequent Thompson children, because they lived a short walk from the school.
Kept In by Edward Lamson Henry.
David Hunter Strother, who was a famous writer/illustrator for Harper’s New Monthly Magazine and who grew up in the eastern Panhandle, dropped in on such a school nearby and very much in the same spirit of the Page’s Charlestown classrooms in 1874.
At the Mill, Winter by George Henry Durrie
In winter (it) is always full to overflowing. In summer the attendance is reduced one-half owing to the necessity of the older pupils going out to service,
Harpers Ferry, [W.] Va., 1894 by Edward Lamson Henry
or engaging in remunerative labor of some sort. The children were of both sexes, ranging
p. 458 – boy reading book.
p. 460 – older student
p. 461 – woman at blackboard
from three to twenty years of age, neatly and comfortably clad, well fed, healthy, and cheerful, with an uncommon array of agreeable and intelligent countenances peering over the tops of the desks. They were also remarkably docile, orderly, and well mannered, without a trace of the rudeness among those who don’t go to school.
p. 459 – Don’t Go to School.
Every thing moves by the silvery tinkling of a small table-bell. The boys and girls are seated in separate columns, and make their entrances and their exits by opposite doors.
William Henry Snyder (1829–1910) Tutoring the Children at a Quiet Time
Proclamation emancipation, [Smith/Rosenthal].
The Chimney Corner by Eastman Johnson
While the majority of the pupils have come into existence since the Emancipation Proclamation, there is still a number older than that event, and some whose recollections antedate the great war. Yet in their career of schooling they have all started even, and it is rather curious and amusing to remark the utter absence of any thing like gradation in size or equality in years. . . . .It may also be observed that the great scholars are usually outstripped by the little ones, which only goes to confirm the generally received opinion that young plants are more easily transplanted and trained than older ones.
Solomon H. Thompson – was one such young plant that grew and grew, majestically fed by his inner drive.
Wrote one newspaper editor:
Campus of Storer College
He attended his home school until he finished and entered Storer College at the age of 13 years and in 1886 he graduated, but claimed that his education was not completed. Not having satisfied his craving for knowledge and ambition to fully prepare himself for life’s battle, he immediately
St. Johns College. Fordham, New York
entered Fordham University and at the expiration of a three years course, the last year of which was spent in the office of a physician, he began the study of medicine earnestly until the year of 1889. He determined to leave for Washington, D.C. where
Howard University Medical School
he matriculated at Howard University. Two months after his admission to said university he was successful and given the appointment of resident student to the hospital a place that is highly prized by all medical students. He retained this position until he graduated in April, 1892.
His brother, Jasper or “Jack” Thompson was moving towards medicine also. Both brothers would wind up in Kansas City, Kansas for the balance of their lives and remarkable contributions.
All this time the conscientious Solomon H. was collecting information from his graying forebears while it was still to be had all about his family, down the back road of time.
The Thompsons, Nelsons and Saunders – families that worked for the Blakeley/Claymont Washingtons for many years, still lived near one another and the old farms.
From the “Down Memory Lane” section of the Spirit of Jefferson Farmer’s Advocate, courtesy of Edward W. (Pat) Dockney, Jr.)
They gravitated to the services of the white-led First Baptist Church in Charlestown as they were beginning to raise families.
his church congregation supported them and paid for Jesse Saunders to study at the Richmond Theological School. Charlestown businessman William Hill, a white Baptist, provided much of the funds for the new Rev. Saunders for him to have his own Church congregation, which was built at its present location, (but an earlier structure than today’s), on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue at the intersection of Summit Point Road and Middleway (Rte. 51) Pike. It was called – the “Second Baptist Church.”
On August 6, 1881 their church was completed to receive the Holy Spirit. Its first board of trustees, were William Braxton, Ben Nelson – and Jasper Thompson.
On June 12, 1903, The Martinsburg Statesman of Martinsburg reported that two hundred African Americans left Kabletown and Rippon to coal tons in Pennsylvania and southwest, West Virginia
1906 – Come the Flood of Destiny
Late summer in Jefferson County stands out on the calendar for the heaviest rain storms in decades – a month of rains . hundreds of bullets and materiel on the Antietam Battlefield came to the earth’s surface.
The American story for a weekend that August touched on Harper’s Ferry – for good luck.
W.E.B. DuBois, its leader stood there before both men and women for the first time in public and on American soil. He stated the principles of a soon to-be formed organization, to become known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People:
The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone but for all true Americans. It is a fight for ideals, lest this, our common fatherland, false to its founding, become in truth, the land of the thief and the home of the slave, a byword and a hissing among the nations for its sounding pretensions and pitiful accomplishments. In detail, our demands are clear and unequivocal. First, we would vote; with the right to vote goes everything: freedom, manhood, the honor of your wives, the chastity of your daughters, the right to work, and the chance to rise, and let no man listen to those who deny this.We want full manhood suffrage, and we want it now, henceforth and forever!
A local church group sang from Charles Town with one Richard Thompson listed among the chorale.
by Richard Fitzhugh.
On the last day – a Sunday – the attendees in their Sunday finest – picked their way over soggy lands – their fine shoes in hand – to see the building that was the lightning rod of conflict for the struggle. Standing in a characterless open field stood the real “John Brown Fort,” in 1859 once the Armory engine house. Today, the brick crucible for freedom
Life went on.
The skies cleared August 31st – a Friday – in time for the eagerly anticipated Morgans Grove County Fair and accompanying horse show featuring a hundred entrants. Dry ground meant visitors could set up their family sized tents and stay all through the Fair. That began Tuesday September 4th.
In two days, something terrible happened.
Shepherdstown Register September 13, 1906
Editor Henry L. Snyder
A Tragedy on Charles Town District
A fatal tragedy, attended by some peculiar circumstances, occurred last Thursday afternoon at Gibsontown, a negro settlement about two miles south of Charles Town. A man named Samarion, who says that his father was a Hindoo and his mother an Egyptian woman, came to this country from Sidney, Australia, some eighteen months ago and located near Charles Town. He was a music teacher, and earned his living by following his profession. He incurred the enmity of his negro neighbors by advising them to accept white supremacy as a settled fact, and his views upon this subject are said to have aroused strenuous animosity of Jasper Thompson, a colored man, who, it is said, advocated negro equality and was particularly officious at elections in opposing the white majority. Under the leadership of Thompson, the negroes of the neighborhood are said to have been persecuting Samarion and his wife in various ways, Thursday Samarion notified Thompson to keep his hogs out his (Samarion’s) lot of he would kill them. This started the trouble afresh. Sometime during the afternoon Thompson went to Samarion’s house. Samarion says that his enemy threatened to kill him and made a motion to draw a pistol. Samarion quickly pulled his own revolver and shot Thompson twice, and the wounded man walked a few steps and fell dead.
Sarmarion’s word was all they had.
The next March, Circuit Judge Faulkner gave Samarion two years in Moundsville penitentiary.
So it goes.
Monique Crippen Hopkins:
So, one day, I was just doing my research on the Thompson family like I ordinarily do – and
Shelley Murphy said to me: “There’s somebody I think you need to meet.” I said: “OK.” So she put me in touch with Joyceann Gray. Me and Joyceann realized that we were related through marriage.
Her Cross family had married my Thompson family – three different times. So I told Joyceann that I had a lot of information and we started sharing information. I said: “I have a quote from the Thompson family and our family has some history out at the University of Kansas because two of the Thompson sons moved out there.” She wanted to see it. She said: ”Can you send me that quote?”
(I said “yeh.” I didn’t think about it. (delete) (After Monique sent the quote) – She wrote back to me and said: “I sent (the quote) off. Is that OK?” and I was excited . . . actually ordered it.”
Well that quote came back less than a week later and my entire family history was on this page.
Slave names and everything. Unbelievable, So surreal. I get chills just thinking about them. My entire family history. So that led me back two more generations to the original Jasper Thompson who was enslaved by John and Elizabeth Ariss, and his kids – Fortune – was of the Blakeley plantation; and then Fortune’s kids ended up somehow on the Claymont plantation. I’m not exactly sure where that transfer came from. I don’t know how they went back and forth from Claymont to Blakeley.
That’s where most of my research comes in. There’s plenty of documentation. Even after finding this family history page, Sarah Brown led me to a website that was put up by Scott Casper. He had tables of slaves listed and who owned them from the Washington family. I found my family. Just as they are listed on my family Bible page, they were listed on these tables that Scott had posted up, which led me to even more research. The whole research on the Thompson family has been one of the most amazing journies in my research. So that’s pretty much my story about the Thompson family history.