James Thompson lived near Pittsburgh around the time of the American Revolution.
Married a woman named Elizabeth. (1)
Rachel Thompson, the eldest. Married a man named Matheney.
Rebekah Thompson. Married a man named Custar.
Ruth Thompson. Married Benjamin Custard or Castor (the name is spelled various ways)
Lydda Thompson. Married Adam Slye.
Sarah Thompson. Married a man named Philips.
It’s uncertain when the Thompsons moved to the area around Pittsburgh, but he owned property there by 1783. At the time, the area was claimed by both Virginia and Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary era. Some favored Pennsylvania and other favored Virginia, while others preferred the formation of a new state.
The name James Thompson appears on a petition to form a new state, which was submitted sometime between 1776 and 1780. (2) However, several men of that name lived in the area about that time so it’s uncertain whether this James Thompson was our man. All records that are certain to refer to him are from Washington County, Pa., in the mid-1780s. (In the land dispute, Pennsylvania received the area around Pittsburgh, while Virginia received lands to the west, which eventually became Ohio and West Virginia.)
James lived in Peters Township, Washington County, where he was taxed 1783 and 1785. (3) In 1783, he owned 235 acres of land, three horses, four cows and two sheep. The 1785 list indicates that he owed 220 acres, two horse and three cows.
On Feb. 25, 1784, the Thompsons’ son-in-law Adam Slye conveyed property to James, “a quite claim unto his wife, Lyda Slye.” (4)
James died sometime before May 2, 1786, when his will was probated. When James had his will written on March 4, he mentioned that he was “sick of body but sounds of mind and memory (thanks to Almighty God for his mercies).” He used a mark rather than a signature at the end of the will. James left most of his property and possessions to his wife Elizabeth. Following is a list of some of James’ possessions, as recorded in the inventory of his estate: one young black mare, one old black mare, one young colt, one black cow and bell, one red cow, two year old bulls, two white barrows, two ewes, one loom, one handmill, bees and hives, cooper ware, two plows, two spinning wheels, one sow and four pigs, one wool wheel, two grinding stones, one gun, leather, household furniture, bed and bedding, two jackets and farming utensils. (5)
In his will, James mentions each of his daughters and gives their married names. Only two husbands who can be identified with certainty through other records are Ruth’s husband Benjamin Castor, or Custard, and Lyda’s husband Adam Slye. When examining the Washington County tax records from the 1780s, possible husbands of two other daughters can be identified. Rachel’s husband might have been Nathaniel Matheny and Rebekah’s might have been John Custard, both of whom appear in Peters Township listings. Sarah probably was married to one of the many Philipses who appear in the Peters Township tax records.
The 1786 tax registers for Peters Township list Elizabeth Thompson, James’ wife. She owned 130 acres, two horses and two cows. This might indicate that some of her property was given to her children at the time of James’ death. In 1787, Elizabeth owned only 20 acres, one horse and two cows. In 1788, Widow Thompson was taxed for 70 acres, a horse and a cow.
Elizabeth’s name does not appear in the 1789 tax lists. It’s uncertain whether she had died or moved out of the area or moved in with one of her daughters by this time.
(1) Much of the following information comes from James Thompson’s will as cited in “Abstracts of Washington County, Pennsylvania, Will Books 1-5 (1776-1841),” compiled by Bob and Mary Closson, page 20. Will Book 1, page 61. The will also is available at “Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993,” at Ancestry.com. (2) “Lists of Inhabitants in Washington County, Pennsylvania, 1800 or Before,” compiled by Raymond M. Bell and published in1961, which is available at Ancestry.com. (3) The tax records are available at “Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801,” at Ancestry.com. According to the database, only one James Thompson appears in the records for 1783 and 1785. In 1786, the name appears in the tax records of Fallowfield, Robinson, Hanover and Donegal townships. However, it’s certain that none of these men are the correct James. The correct James can be identified because his name disappears from the list in 1786 – the year of his death – and it is replaced by the name of Elizabeth Thompson, his wife. (4) “Estate records, 1781-096, and deed records, 1782-85, in Washington County, Pennsylvania,” second edition, page 27, available at Ancestry.com. (5) Washington County Accounts, File T, No. 3.