WILLIAM D. THOMPSON, a farmer of the Rolla region of Morton County and one of the more recent settlers of this locality, is nearly a native Kansan, having come to this state as an infant and being reared in Harvey County. It was in the year 1873 that his father, the aged and veteran farmer near Halstead, came hither, and since that year has been a conspicuous citizen of Harvey County, which he has served in a public capacity and as a substantial business man.
William D. Thompson was born January 15, 1871, in Champaign County, Illinois, while the family lived temporarily in that state, and was two years old when his parents left the home in Union County, Ohio, for Kansas. His father, Daniel W. Thompson, was born in June, 1837, near Louisville, Kentucky, which state he left in 1845 and went to Ohio with his father, Andrew Thompson, who died in Union County, that state, when about seventy-eight years of age. Andrew Thompson was born in 1810, was both a farmer and a speculator, and proved himself a good business man by his accumulations, among his holdings being the Maple Dell Creamery at Magnetic Springs, Ohio. He was a republican and a faithful member of the Christian Church. The children born to himself and wife were: George T., Daniel William, Mrs. Mary Gleason, Mrs. Alice Halloway, Napoleon, Mrs. Cynthia Miller, and LaFayette of Union County, Ohio.
Daniel William Thompson was married in Union County, Ohio, to Amanda J. Dodge, one of the eight children of James K. and Harriet (Thompson) Dodge. Mr. Dodge, who was born in Virginia, was a farmer and Methodist minister. Mrs. Thompson died in February, 1897, having been the mother of the following children: Mrs. Hattie L. Popkins, of Halstead, Kansas; Andrew H.; of Seward County, this state; James E., of Burton, Kansas;, William D.; Mrs. Minnie M. Payden, of Lyons, Kansas; John G., of Halstead; Elmer H., of Stevens County, this state; Clarence A., of Hugoton, Kansas; George B., of Lyons; Mrs. Alice J. Booker, of that place. Daniel W. Thompson was married to Mrs. Margaret Steele.
William D. Thompson secured his educational training in the district schools of the vicinity of the home farm near Halstead, and on coming of age engaged in farming, the vocation of the family for generations. He was a renter near the old home place and remained there until 1906 when, owing to the ill health of his wife, he came to Southwestern Kansas, bringing with him a team of horses, two milk cows, household furniture, and perhaps $500. After having selected his location in Morton County he entered land, his homestead being the southeast quarter of section 8, township 33, range 39, and his pioneer home was a frame shack 12x24 feet, which for the first four years was unplastered and unfinished, but which he has since developed into a comfortable modest farm cottage. His stock shelter was a board stable 12xl6 feet, and with these conveniences he started life here as a farmer. His nearest railroad town was Liberal, forty-five miles distant, this being his chief market for his crops and the point at which he secured his supplies. In the first year that he farmed Mr. Thompson was fortunate in securing a good crop, and his prosperity has continued, as he has planted ten crops and harvested as many, with not a complete failure during all these years, although several have been drouthy seasons. Maize and the kaffirs and broom corn have been his dependable crops, and they have served him well. Indian corn has been planted with success, except in the year 1913, and at times has yielded from 35 to 40 bushels per acre. He is never without it for feed and seed. He has made little effort to raise wheat, although he has witnessed splendid yields of this grain near him.
With the discovery that the climate was just what he was seeking for his wife's health, and with the additional discovery that this was a more reliable country than farther east for the farmer, Mr. Thompson decided to make it his permanent home and to acquire more land. When he began buying his first quarter-section cost him $615, and he has since paid as high as $2,560 for a quarter-section, now being the owner of six quarters, of this fine sandy-loam soil. He is cultivating 300 acres, is equipped with broom corn sheds, and his operations from 1914 to 1917 show mammoth yields of the brush, averaging a ton to four acres of land. His brush, being shed-cured, has brought a premium of from $20 to $30 per ton.
Mr. Thompson came into this region before man had done anything in a civilizing way and helped organize school district No. 8, to the building of which he gave his labor, and to the maintenance of which he has since devoted his time as a member of the school board almost without interrupion. He was elected county clerk in the fall of 1908 on the democratic ticket, succeeding Fred Glenn in that office, and was re-elected and served four years. He kept his family on the farm while discharging the duties of his office, and his work was done expeditiously and well without interfering with the advancement of his personal interests. In 1914 to succeed C. H. Drew, he was elected to represent Morton County in the Lower House of the State Legislature, and served under Speaker Robert Stone in 1915 and under Speaker A. M. Keane in 1917. He was himself minority speaker of the House in the latter session, and in the first session his important work was done an the committees on assessment and taxation, irrigation, county seats and county lines and printing. In the second session he was placed on the committees on ways and means, banks and banking and assessment and taxation, and was chairman of the committee on cities of the third class as a legislator during the first session he kept close to the matters of assessment and taxation and led the contest against the bill proposing to exempt mortgages from taxation, a measure that had a hard time getting by each House before it was finally passed, was signed by the governor but subsequently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Mr. Thompson got a bill through the Legislature amending the high school law requiring county commissioners to make levy to help maintain high schools and counties with a population of 3,000 or less. He supported the passing of the "bone dry" law, and made a fight for the reduction of the legal rate of interest from 10 to 8 per cent, which passed the House only. As minority leader he led the fight against the repeal of the present election law of Kansas. He lent his influence and work to the "good roads" legislation and endorsed the movement to pass a resolution looking toward an amendment to the state constitution providing the power for the Legislature to levy a tax for the support of the several state educational institutions. Mr. Thompson was a member of a house committee to visit and investigate the Larned Insane Hospital and the Old Soldiers' Home at Dodge City, as well as the state prison, which committee made recommendations appropriate regarding their findings at each institution.
Mr. Thompson was married in Harvey County, Kansas, October 13, 1897, to Miss Dottie M. Oliver, who was born March 8, 1876, a daughter of Henry Walter Oliver, who came to Kansas from Lockport, New York, in 1879. He married Libbie E. Oliver, who, like her husband, was born and reared in Niagara County, New York. Mr. Oliver was rejected for military service during the Civil war. He was a farmer throughout his life, and died near Burton, Kansas, at the age of sixty years, July 10, 1887, while his wife passed away there December 28, 1909, aged seventy years. The Oliver children were: Frank P., Mrs. Kittie S. Daugherty, Curt E., Mrs. Thompson and Harry W. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Thompson: Vernon William, a senior at the Halstead High School; Violet Dottie, a junior there; and Lucile M., attending the graded schools.
Mr. Thompson is a member of Rolla Lodge of Odd Fellows, his only fraternal connection. He and his family belong to Hugoton congregation of the Christian Church, of which he is one of the elders, and the family aided the movement to organize a rural Sunday school at their schoolhouse and have been active in maintaining the same ever since, Mr. Thompson having served as superintendent thereof. Aside from his other activities Mr. Thompson has made something of a hobby of raising fruit trees and shade trees of other kinds, and now has a splendid orchard which yields large crops of peaches and apples.
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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