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Henry S. Thompson, president of the Kansas State Fair Association at Hutchinson, had owned and directed many large interests in Reno County for over twenty years. With all his active relations with the community and state at large and with varied business holdings, Mr. Thompson is essentially a farmer, and as a matter of preference he keeps his home at his large ranch situated a mile west of Sylvia.
Mr. Thompson was born at Louisville, Kentucky, January 13, 1851. His father, Alfred Thompson, was born on the Isle of Wight, England, in 1807, grew up in that country, and when a young man came to the United States, settling at Louisville, where he married. He was a nurseryman, and had the distinction of establishing about 1834 the first commercial nursery in Kentucky. At that time Louisville was a very small city and his nursery occupied grounds about where the center of the city now is. Alfred Thompson was reared a member of the Church of England. He died at Louisville in 1855, when his son Henry was only four years of age. The maiden name of his wife was Emily Hall. She was born on the Isle of Wight in 1805 and died at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1865. They were the parents of seven children: George, who also came to Kansas and died on his farm near Sylvia in 1911; Annie, who died at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1916, was the wife of William W. Smith, a druggist, now deceased; Joseph died at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1907, having followed the business of wholesale produce; Alfred is a retired capitalist living at Whittier, California; Mary, who died in Florida, was the wife of John T. Stallcup, deceased, a wholesale liquor dealer; William died at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1913, and was also a produce merchant.
Henry S. Thompson, the youngest of the family, was educated in the public schools of Louisville and also in private school. When about eighteen he left school and became a fruit buyer, representing a wholesale exporting fruit house of New York City. In this business he covered Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and other states.
Mr. Thompson first came to Kansas in 1882, and was connected with a land company made up largely of Louisville men, and for five years had his home in Harvey County at Burrton. He then returned to Louisville and engaged in the wholesale produce business.
Mr. Thompson had been a permanent resident of Reno County since 1895. He had previously bought his ranch, 1,500 acres, a mile west of Sylvia, and that had been his home continuously since his return to the state. He had developed and systematized this ranch until it is one of the model farms of Central Kansas. He also owned property in Sylvia and is president of the Hutchinson Home Improvement Company and of the Crescent Park Addition, one of the most notable extensions and improvements made to the City of Hutchinson. He is also vice president of the Hutchinson Packing Company, and is president of the Sylvia Commercial Club, is a member of the State Board of Agriculture, and his influence and prestige have had much to do with the success of the Kansas State Fair Association, of which he is president.
Mr. Thompson was elected on the democratic ticket as representative from Reno County to the State Legislature in 1905, and was re-elected in 1907 and 1911. During the first two terms he was a member of the committees on railroads, taxes, agriculture, and roads and highways. His third term found him as chairman of the agricultural committee. Mr. Thompson was also one of the committee of two serving as a sub-committee of the roads and highways committee, which drafted the provisions for the road law of Kansas practically as it stands today. Mr. Thompson is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and for several years had served it as a trustee. He is affiliated with Sylvia Lodge No. 391, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, is a member of Wichita Consistory No. 2 of the Scottish Rite, and of Hutchinson Lodge No. 453, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
In 1883, while living on his farm in Harvey County, Mr. Thompson married Miss Mary Shepherd. Her father, the late Nathan Shepherd, for several years managed Mr. Thompson’s ranch in Kansas. Her mother, Lucinda (Mardis) Shepherd, is now living in Sylvia at the age of eighty-nine. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson have an adopted daughter, Grace, a graduate of the Sylvia High School and still at home.