Tombstone Tuesday: Abijah Thompson (1739-1811)

Photo credit: PupDawg, Findagrave Memorial #78714014

Photo credit: PupDawg, Findagrave Memorial #78714014

This month, I’ll be submitting application papers to the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution tracing the lineage to my 6th great-grandfather, ABIJAH THOMPSON.

Abijah Thompson was the father-in-law of another patriot ancestor, Jonathan Tidd Jr., who married Abijah’s eldest child, Rhoda.

The following biographical sketch comes from: Memorial of James Thompson, of Charlestown, Mass., 1630-1642, and Woburn, Mass., 1642-1682: And of Eight Generations of His Descendants, by Leander Thompson (Press of L. Barta & Company, 1887)


Abijah Thompson was born in Woburn, April II, 1739. He was the first to bear a name which has since been given to at least ten of his descendants, all except two bearing also, as their family name, that of Thompson. At the opening of the Revolutionary war, he was thirty-six years old and had a family, his two children being then respectively in their twelfth and seventh years.

Having served with his older brother, Samuel, in the old French war in 1858, he was not without some experience in military life. When, therefore, the startling news came, on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, that the British troops were on their way to Concord, he lost no time in putting both his military knowledge and his patriotism to the test. With his brothers, Samuel and Daniel, he hurried away to the scene of danger, and took an active part in the conflict in which Daniel was killed, and subsequently served in the Revolutionary army, for some time as armorer, but later as adjutant of militia.

Many years after the war he wrote and, apparently by invitation of his fellow citizens, delivered a public address in which, among other highly patriotic passages, he describes, in thrilling words, the scenes of that fearful day, his brother’s death, and the sad duty devolved on him of carrying and breaking the dreadful news to his widowed wife and three orphan children.

After the war, he built a new house, much larger than the one he at first built, both being in his native village, and on the principal (now Elm) street. Here he kept a hotel which, being then on the great thoroughfare from Boston through Woburn to the more northerly towns of Chelmsford, Andover, Haverhill, Exeter, N. H., etc., was widely known and much frequented by travelers in the days when railroads were unknown. Beside the cares of this business, he was, for from twenty to thirty years, widely known as deputy sheriff, doing, till near the time of his death in 1811, a large amount of business in this office. During seven or eight years, in the meantime, he was on the board of selectmen, and, like his brother Samuel, was almost continually on important committees of town, parish, or church.

His business as sheriff and as keeper of a public house brought him into contact with many people from far and near, and like his brother Samuel, who was also widely known as a public surveyor, as well as town, parish, and church officer, he was enthusiastic in embracing these opportunities for making known and spreading abroad the newly discovered apple then known as the Pecker, and now as the Baldwin apple. Of a large number of trees of this popular fruit which he grafted near his home, noted for many years as the “second generation,” from the original tree in Wilmington, the last one in bearing condition was blown down in 1869, in an autumn gale, and though probably eighty-five years old, even as a grafted tree, was full of fine apples at the time.

Abijah Thompson united with the First Congregational Church when a young man in his 22d year, and remained a much respected member till his sudden death by paralysis, Jan. 11, 1811, in the 72d year of his age. His death occurred in the second house which he built, after his return from the war, probably in 1778 or early in 1779. The house is now owned and occupied by the heirs of the late Oliver Fisher.

Sheriff Thompson or “Sheriff Abijah,” as he was for many years called in Woburn, was, like his brother Samuel, three times married. Dec. 13, 1759, he m. 1, Esther Snow of Woburn, who d. without children, Jan. 3, 1761.

He m. 2, in 1762, Abigail, daughter of Zebediah and Abigail ( Pierce ) Wyman of Woburn. Of this marriage there were two children :

1. Rhoda,6 b. Nov. 5, 1763; m. Jonathan Tidd, Oct. 19, 1780, and had :
i. Jonathan,7 b. Dec. 5, 1781 ; m. Cynthia,7 Eames.
ii. Nabby,7 b. June 16, 1787.
iii. William,7 b. April 12, 1792; m. I, Rosanna Buck man, 2, Luthera Bond.
iv. Franklin,7 b. 1795, and d. Dec. 26, 1796.
v. Mary Thompson,7 b. Feb. 17, 1806; m. Joseph Eaton.
2. Abijah,6 b. Oct. 24, 1768; m. 1, Lydia Mead, 2, Lydia Bradford.

His second wife, Abigail, dying in 1778, “Sheriff Abijah” m. 3, Widow Sarah Burtt, maiden name Stanley, of Wilmington, probably in 1779. She survived him eleven years, and d. March 22, 1821, in her 67th year. Their children were :
1. Charles,6 b. Nov. 25, 1780; m. Mary Wyman, Jan. 19, 1802.
2. Alpha,6 b. June 11, 1785; m. Mary Scottow, Jan. 4, 1810.
3. Sally,6 b. Jan. 23, 1787; m. William Bond, Aug. 21, 1808.
4. Nancy,6 b. 1788, and d. aged two years, Jan. 15, 1790.
5. Nancy,6 b. June 3, 1790; m. Christopher P. Hosmer, Feb. 27, 1812.

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