William Dwight Thompson, senior partner in the firm of Thompson, Meyers & Kearney, engaged in the general practice of law at Racine, was born at Memphis, Tennessee, November 7, 1867, a son of Seymour D. and Lucy Augusta (Jennison) Thompson. The former was born in Northfield Township, Cook County, Illinois, and was a son of Seymour Thompson of New York State, who became an Illinois pioneer. The ancestry on both sides dates back to about 1640, when representatives of both families emigrated from England, and members of both families served in the Revolutionary war.
In the early ’50s there occurred a disastrous prairie fire in Illinois, in which Seymour Thompson, Sr., and his son Charles lost their lives, and it was after this that the family removed to Iowa, where they took up government land, their home being near Fayette. While a resident of that state, Seymour D. Thompson enlisted as a private in the Third Iowa Infantry in the Union army and participated at Shiloh and other battles, as well as in the siege of Vicksburg; and at the end of the war was serving with the rank of captain of artillery at Fort Pickering, near Memphis.
About February 1, 1865, Seymour D. Thompson married Lucy Augusta Jennison, at Fayette, Iowa, he being home on a furlough at the time. After the war they established their home at Memphis, Tennessee, where the subject of this sketch was born. The family lived at Memphis until 1871, when it removed to St. Louis, Missouri. Seymour D. Thompson became very prominent as a law writer, many of his books being in current use among the profession today, and was one of the judges of the Missouri Court of Appeals from 1880 to 1892, where he served with distinguished credit, many of his opinions being regarded as masterpieces in the law. Seymour D. Thompson died at East Orange, New Jersey, August 11. 1904.
William D. Thompson worked for his father between the ages of twelve and seventeen years, and during that period also read law under his direction. In. November, 1884, he came to Racine, where he entered the office of what is now the Wisconsin Agriculturist, then the Manufacturer and Agriculturist, his employer being Andrew Simonson. He remained there until the fall of 1887, after which he spent two years as a student in the University of Missouri. Returning to Racine, he was again with Mr. Simonson in the Manufacturers Printing Company. While engaged in business during these years, he devoted a considerable portion of his spare time to the general study of the law, and in 1892 he entered the old Union College of Law, now the Law Department of the Northwestern University of Evanston. Returning to Racine in the summer of 1893, he took the bar examination and was admitted to practice in August of that year. He opened an office and practiced alone until 1895, when he became associated in partnership with Thomas M. Kearney, which partnership continued under the name of Kearney & Thompson, and later, when they were joined by Peter J. Myers, under the name of Kearney, Thompson & Myers; then under the name of Kearney, Thompson, Myers & Kearney, when Thomas M. Kearney, Jr., was admitted to the firm. On May 1, 1914, Thomas M. Kearney, Sr., retired from the firm, and the practice and business of the office has since been conducted under the name of Thompson, Myers & Kearney.
Mr. Thompson has always devoted the greater portion of his spare time to the general study of the law and to keeping up with the changes and progress of the law as developed by the statutes and decisions of the courts of last resort. He has a comprehensive knowledge of the principles of law. is correct in his application thereof to the points in litigation, is strong and logical in argument and has to his credit many notable verdicts which prove his power and resourcefulness in the trial of cases.
On the 11th of September, 1895, Mr. Thompson was married to Miss Marion A. Stoker, of Walworth County, Wisconsin, and to them has been born a daughter, Bernice Louise. Mr. Thompson is a member of the Elks Lodge and of the Knights of Pythias and his wife holds membership in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. In politics he is a democrat, but has never been ambitious to hold office. His military experience covers six years’ service with Company F, Racine Light Guards, from which he received his honorable discharge in 1890. His is a most creditable record, for enterprise and laudable ambition have brought him to his present high standing, gaining for him the utmost respect of colleagues and contemporaries.