Biographical Sketch of General M. Jeff Thompson, St. Joseph, Buchanan
County, MO

>From "History of Buchanan County, Missouri, Published 1881, St. Joseph
Steam Printing Company, Printers, Binders, Etc., St. Joseph, Missouri.

General M. Jeff Thompson was bor at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in Jan-
uary, 1826. His father capt. Merriweather Thompson, a prominent
citizen of that place, was a native of Hanover County, Virginia. He
was for years in the paymaster's department of the United States Army
at Harper's Ferry. The proper name of the subject of this sketch was
Merriweather. The appellation "Jeff" was a nick-name applied in child-
hood, and constitutes one of the very many instances of the absurdity
of applying to children such names with the expectation of their re-
maining only temporary designations. The manner in which he acquired
his middle name is somewhat amusing. It appears that in early life,
the future General was anything but a studious child, indeed, was
sorely addicted to playing truant, and having in numerous instances of
desertion from school been found perched on the top of a scavenger's
cart driven by an ancient darkey, who rejoiced in the name of Jeff
Carlyle. By way of shaming the young runaway and reclaiming him from
his objectionable habit, his friends called him "Jeff Carlyle".
Whether or not this had the desired effect we are not informed; the
name, however, clung to him through life, and after he attained to
manhood, and emigrated from his native home to St. Joseph, many who
knew him as "Jeff" and were ignorant or oblivious of the fact that
it was but a nick-name, continued so to address him. Powers of attor-
ney were made out to him in this name under which, of course, he could
not act, and in consequence he obtained an act of the legislature
granting the additional "Jeff" to his name. On leaving home in 1846,
he stopped in Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, where he clerked in a
store about a year, at the end of which period he moved to St. Joseph
and engaged as clerk in the house of Middleton & Riley, remaining in
the store till 1852, when he went in their interest to Great Salt Lake
City. Returning in the fall, he started, in partnership with Major
Bogle, a grocery store in St. Joseph. He subsequently closed out his
store and accompanied, in the capacity of commissary, the surveyors
of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad. He afterwards returned from
Hannibal in charge of a surveying party, having acquired during his
trip by close application, a competent knowledge of practical survey-
ing. He was entrusted with the task of constructing the western
division of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, and remained in that
postition up to the period of its completion in February, 1859. In
1858 he filled the office of City Engineer, and in 1859 was elected
Mayor of the city of St. Joseph. In 1860 he constituted one of the
real estate firm of Harbine & Thompson, and was engaged in this busi-
ness at the breaking out of the civil war. He was at that period,
under the old state law, a Colonel of Militia. he cast his fortunes
with the South, and was among the earliest and most active to engage
in the great struggle. He attained the rank of Brigadier General in
the Confederate service, in which he acquired, among other appellations
the name of "the Swamp Fox". His career in the great struggle is now
a part of our national history, and even an outline of its recital
would exceed the limits of such a notice as this. At the close of the
war, through the influence of General A. L. Lee, an officer of the
Federal service, and formerly a banker of St. Joseph, General Thompson
obtained the appointment of Chief Engineer of the Board of Public Works
of the State of Louisiana, with headquarters in the city of New Orleans,
which position he continued to retain up to the period of his death. A
short time previous to this, he had started a commission house in
Memphis, Tennessee, but the venture proved a failure, and he went to
New Orleans with the above mentioned results. M. Jeff Thompson married
in Liberty, Missouri, in 1848, Miss Emma Hays, a native of Baltimore,
Maryland. By this marriage they had five children, two of whom were
boys. The General was the fourth of a family of six children. The
eldest of these, Broaddus Thompson, formerly a representative citizen
and prominent lawyer of St. Joseph, was for many years widely disting-
uished for his refined culture and polished refienment of manner.
Charles M. Thompson, the youngest, at present is the Deputy Circuit
Clerk of Buchanan County, was for years a popular and well known news-
paper man of St. Joseph. In the fall of 1876 General Thompson returned
to his old home, St. Joseph, and died at the Pacific House in that city.
He was certainly a remarkable character, and in spite of his many
eccentricities, it must be said that few men have lived in the world
and filled as prominent postions as he did with as many fast friends
and as few enemies. Peace to his ashes.

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