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William H. Thompson of Ogden first knew Champaign County in the years just before the outbreak of the Civil War, when most of this section of Illinois was a country of swamp and prairie and when its magnificent development had hardly begun. Mr. Thompson’s individual career has been a factor in the improvement and development of Champaign County farm land, and out of that work he has acquired a commendable degree of prosperity that now enables him to live in comfort and plenty.
Mr. Thompson was born at Waynesburg in Greene County, Pennsylvania, a son of Andrew J. and Catherine (Shape) Thompson. He was one of a family of nine children, six sons and three daughters, who received their education in the district schools. In 1859, when William H. Thompson was fourteen years of age, the family came to Illinois and settled east of Homer in Champaign County. They were pioneers here and William H. Thompson grew up acquainted with the hardships and privations endured by the early settlers.
At the age of twenty-one he married Valencia Eice. She was born in the Blue Grass State of Kentucky. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Thompson located at Burr Oak, Illinois, on rented land. There they began to carve the future according to their own desires and ability, and for a number of years they lived on a virgin prairie looking out over a scene of high prairie grass alternating with wet sloughs. Mr. Thompson by his first marriage became the father of three children. The daughter Ora Lee died at the age of ten months. The other two children are Frank E. and Stella. Both of them were educated in the district schools. Frank is a farmer in Livingston County, Illinois, and married Clara ‘ Shinn. Stella is the wife of Charles Dubois and they live in Chicago.
About twenty-five years ago Mr. Thompson moved to Ogden Township and bought forty acres of land at $42.50 an acre. It had few improvements and at the time was considered a part of the wooded district of Champaign County, but by thorough drainage it is now high and dry and every foot of the ground is susceptible of cultivation. Mr. Thompson has placed many farm improvements, including the planting of fruit and shade trees and the building of a commodious and attractive home and barns. He also owns forty acres in Vermilion County.
In October, 1878, Mr. Thompson married for his present wife Lizzie (Hayes) Huckin. She was born in Ohio, daughter of William and Mary (Burnett) Hayes. Her parents were born and reared in Ireland and came to America with two children, one of whom died immediately after they landed. While they lived in Ohio two other children were born, and when Lizzie was three years of age they migrated to Illinois, more than sixty years ago. At that time there was no Ogden and the entire country was a vista of prairie and swamp. Mrs. Thompson attended the public schools at Ogden and at the age of eighteen married Albert Huckin. The one child of that union, William Huckin, was born October 7, 1873. In October, 1874, while digging a well on his farm, a bucket fell into an excavation and injured Albert Huckin so seriously that he died fifty-six days later.
To Mr. and Mrs. Thompson were born six children, four sons and two daughters. Their names are Milton Winfield, Esther May, Ida Bell, Grover Cleveland, George and Herman. Both daughters died in early girlhood. The other children were well educated at Ogden and also in the University of Illinois.
Mrs. Thompson’s son by her first marriage, William Huckin, graduated from Rush Medical College at Chicago and is now a practicing physician at Wasco, Oregon. He married Augusta Anderson of South Dakota, and they have one child, Augusta Lizzie.
Mr. and Mrs. Thompson’s oldest son, Milton, is a graduate of the University of Illinois, and is now connected with the Chamber of Commerce at Madison, Wisconsin. He married Beatrice Rogers. The second son, Grover Cleveland, is a successful farmer at Barney, thirty miles south of Fargo, North Dakota. He married Inez Alverson of Oakwood, and has a son and two daughters, Ray, Mildred and Helen Esther. George Thompson, a farmer in Ogden Township, married Lula Goss. The youngest son, Herman, who was born December 10, 1896, is still at home, a student in the Ogden High School and planning to complete his training in Urbana.
Mr. and Mrs. Thompson are active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Ogden and he has been honored with the office of trustee for many years and is always among the most liberal supporters of the church and of any movement for the benefit of the community. His public spirit as a citizen has caused his fellow citizens to call upon him as school director and ditch commissioner. Mr. Thompson is affiliated with the Court of Honor and the Modern Woodmen of America. In politics he is a Democrat. Mr. Thompson is now seventy-two years of age, but is quite as active as the average man of forty, and drives his car about the country with the careful skill of a veteran chauffeur. His automobile is one evidence of his having kept step with the progress of the times, and as he drives about he can overlook country whose development has taken place almost under his eyes and almost altogether within his own generation.