ROY A. THOMPSON, of Ness City, is a typical Kansan, and though not a native of the state, has the spirit characteristic of Kansas ideals and progressive principles, and is extremely loyal to the commonwealth of his choice.
His has been a very successful business career. For many years he was a banker, and finally retired from that to engage in the hardware business of Ness City.
Since an early age he had to depend upon his own exertions to take him up the scale of prosperity. He was born in Guernsey County, Ohio, February 26, 1849. His Thompson ancestry is Scotch-Irish. His grandfather, Jacob Thompson, was a farmer and early settler in Guernsey County, Ohio, where he died. He had twelve children.
Rev. Robert J. Thompson, father of Roy A., was born in Pennsylvania, was educated for the ministry of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and gave his life to that vocation. He died in 1857, when only thirty-seven years of age. His wife was Elizabeth Axtell. Her father, Thomas Axtell, a native of Pennsylvania, was a mechanic and a natural genius with tools. After the death of Rev. Robert J. Thompson his wife married Philip Law, and died in November, 1883. There were no children by her second marriage, and the two of the first were Roy and Robert T.
Roy A. Thompson, after the death of his father, grew up in the home of his grandfather Axtell. Besides his training in the common schools he had two terms in the State University of Indiana at Bloomington. At the age of nineteen he called his education sufficient and began working for himself. He clerked in a store in Indiana from 1868 until 1871, and in the spring of 1872 he came to Kansas.
Mr. Thompson arrived in the Sunflower state with the family of J. E. Corwin, and as his health had been somewhat impaired by close attention to his duties in the store, he spent a year working as a farm hand. He then became a clerk at Sabetha, and for two years was deputy postmaster. He acquired an extensive acquaintance in Nemaha County, and was almost naturally drawn into politics. As candidate for the office of register of deeds, he was elected in the fall of 1879, and was twice re-elected, serving altogether six years. While giving a splendid administration and devoting himself unreservedly to his duties as a public official, Mr. Thompson found the office also an opportunity to provide for the future. The savings from his salary he used as business capital, and soon after completing his last term he came into Western Kansas.
That was in 1886, and since that year almost continuously Mr. Thompson has been identified with business affairs at Ness City. He arrived in the town during the bitter rivalry between the Court Street and Pennsylvania avenue factions. Mr. Thompson located on Pennsylvania Avenue, but as far as possible kept aloof from the fight. Associated with his brother-in-law, Charles Clarkson, he opened the State Bank of Ness City. The first home of this bank was a small frame building. In 1893 he sold his bank to the First National Bank, and continued with that institution for two years as assistant cashier. In 1895 Mr. Thompson returned to Nemaha County and entered the old State Bank, the predecessor of the National Bank of Seneca, and remained six years as its bookkeeper and assistant cashier. On returning to Ness City in April, 1901, Mr. Thompson became cashier of the First State Bank of that city, but after two years gave up banking altogether. He then engaged in merchandising, establishing an implement business, which he has since developed as one of the leading hardware concerns of Ness County.
Since early manhood Mr. Thompson has been loyally identified with the republican party. In Ness City he has served both on the city council and as mayor and city clerk. From 1907 to 1911 he was county treasurer, and gave to that office the same painstaking care and competent service which have distinguished all his relations, whether in private or in public affairs. Politically he has attended many conventions, and was in two state conventions, those nominating E. P. Morrill and W. E. Stanley for the governor's chair. Mr. Thompson is a Master Mason. He has never joined any church.
In Nemaha County, Kansas, May 4, 1881, he married Miss Nannie Moorhead. Mrs. Thompson was born in Nemaha County, Kansas, in 1858, a daughter of Archibald and Sarah (McBride) Moorhead. Her father, though a native of Scotland, was reared in Ireland and was married after coming to this country, settling in Ohio. His life was spent as a farmer. There were nine children in the Moorhead family: Annie, wife of William Joy, of Washington; Mary, wife of Jacob Miller, of Sabetha, Kansas; Sarah, who married Ira E. Collins, a prominent old soldier and a member of the Grand Army of the Republic; William, who died in Oklahoma; Arch C., who died in California; Richard W., who is now postmaster of Sabetha, Kansas; Mrs. Thompson; Nettie, who died as Mrs. Charles E. Clarkson; and Jennie, who became the second wife of Mr. Clarkson and died in Ness City.
Mr. and Mrs. Thompson had one son, Harry. Harry died at Ness City at the age of twenty-seven. By his marriage to Mildred Borthwick he left a daughter, Dale, who is now eight years old and a great favorite with her grandparents. Mr. Thompson has helped improve Ness City by the erection of two dwelling houses and the store in which he now does business.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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