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Will Shackelford Thompson has as much as any other citizen during the past twenty years identified himself with those activities which spell the vital and pulsing commercial life of the City of Hutchinson. He possesses that quality so much valued in any community of putting himself in line either as a leader or co-operator with movements and enterprises that are considered essential to the general welfare.
Mr. Thompson’s main business at Hutchinson had been as an insurance man. The Thompson family seems to have been generally inclined in that line of work, his father and several of his brothers having had successful careers as insurance men. Mr. Thompson’s remote ancestors came out of Scotland and were colonial settlers in Maine. His grandfather, Palatiah Thompson, was born in Maine in 1795, but for many years lived at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, where he was in the dry goods business. He died at the age of seventy. His wife was Kitty Moore, a native of Virginia.
Charles Lewis Thompson, the father of the Hutchinson business man, was born at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1824. When he was quite young his parents moved to Ohio and in 1847 to St. Louis, where he married and where he was engaged in the wholesale dry goods business for a number of years, but later took up and made a success of insurance. He died at St. Louis in 1894. He was a democrat and an active member and elder in the Central Presbyterian Church of St. Louis. The maiden name of his wife was Betty Hickman Shackelford, who was born near Danville, Kentucky, in 1838 and is still living at St. Louis in her eightieth year. The children of these parents were: Charles McClung, an insurance man at St. Louis; Mattie Shackelford, living at St. Louis, widow of John B. Slaughter, who was also an insurance man; Katherine, unmarried and living with her mother; Will S.; Walter Duke, who is in the insurance business at St. Louis.
Will Shackelford Thompson was born at St. Louis, Missouri, June 19, 1871. He was educated in the public schools of his native city and in 1888 graduated from the Smith Academy, a branch of Washington University of St. Louis. He then had an extensive experience covering six years in the wholesale dry goods business with the firm Hargading-McKittrick Dry Goods Company. On coming to Hutchinson in 1894 Mr. Thompson became a retail dry goods merchant, but in 1896 transferred his energies to the insurance field and now represents a number of the standard fire insurance companies. His offices are at 819 Rorabaugh-Wiley Building.
In a business way Mr. Thompson is secretary of the Hutchinson Building and Loan Association, treasurer of The Great American Life Insurance Company, is a director of the Kansas Chemical Manufacturing Company, and is owner of considerable valuable business property, including three city business blocks, several dwellings, and his own residence at 617 East Avenue A.
His relations to the broader affairs of the community and state have also been important. Politically he is a republican. He served as a member of the city council from 1903 to 1909. In the fall of 1916 Mr. Thompson was elected a member of the State Senate from the thirty-sixth district, serving through the session of 1917. In that session he was chairman of the penal institutions committee, and a member of the committees of ways and means, manufacturers and industrial pursuits, roads and bridges, fish and game, insurance, employees, rules, railroads, education, and cities of the first class. Mr. Thompson is a director of the Hutchinson Young Men’s Christian Association, is a member of the executive committee of the Kansas State Fair Association, and had served as a director sixteen consecutive years and three terms as president of the Hutchinson Commercial Club. He is also a member of the Rotary Club, the Country Club, Presbyterian Church, is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, being affiliated with Reno Lodge No. 140, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and Wichita Consistory No. 2, and also belongs to Hutchinson Lodge No. 453, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Hutchinson Lodge No. 77, Ancient Order of United Workmen, and to the Sons of the American Revolution.
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In 1896, at St. Louis, Missouri, he married Miss Maria Louise Donnell, daughter of J. W. and Maria (Tilden) Donnell, the latter now deceased. Her father is a resident of St. Louis and conducts the White Rabbit Egg Dye Works. Mr. an Mrs. Thompson have one daughter, Carol, born September 17, 1910.