Biography of John K. Thompson
Indiana County, PA Biographies

HON. JOHN KEENE THOMPSON, M.D., ex-member of the Pennsylvania legislature, and ex associate judge of the courts of Indiana county, was one of the oldest and ablest physicians of western Pennsylvania. He was born at the village of Stonerstown, twelve miles west of Bellefonte, Centre county, Pennsylvania, December 25, 1821, and was a son of John and Lydia (Blake) Thompson. Among the many settlers of Centre county who came from county Derry, Ireland, was John Thompson, Sr., the grandfather of Dr. Thompson. He was a Presbyterian in religious faith, and died in early life. He had a war claim from the war of 1812, and settled near the site of Stonerstown, where he served for several years as justice of the peace. His son, John Thompson (father), was born and reared on his father's farm, upon which he continuously resided until his death, in 1877, at seventy eight years of age. He was well educated for his day, and ably sustained the reputation of an honest and upright man. He acted as clerk for the Potter Furnace company, afterwards became manager of their extensive iron works, but resigned the latter position to engage in the general mercantile business at Stonerstown, where he became quite wealthy. He was elected sheriff of Centre county, where he served one term with great credit to himself and advantage to the county: He married Lydia Blake, of Kennett Square, Chester county, against the wishes of her parents, who disinherited her on aocount of her marriage. Respected for his honesty and integrity, his services were constantly in demand among his neighbors in all matters of importance, especially in legal business.

John Keene Thompson was reared at Stonerstown, and at the age of seventeen entered Allegheny college, at Meadville, Pa., in which he remained for two years. He then left college and read medicine with Dr. George B. Engles, after which, in 1844, he entered Jefferson Medical college of Philadelphia, from which institution he was graduated in 1845. In March, 1846, he located at Marion, when Dr. Baldwin was the only physician in that section. Dr. Thompson soon came into a wide practice that extended over parts of Jefferson, Armstrong and Clearfield counties, in addition to his homepractice at Marion. In 1863 he removed to Indiana, but two years later he returned to Marion, where of late years he had retired from active practice, except in his own town, or when called in consultation. In 1856 Dr. Thompson was elected associate judge of Indiana county, and at the expiration of his term in 1861, was re-elected, and served until 1866. In 1874 he was elected a member of the Pennsylvania legislature, and was re-elected in 1875. Before the war he was a free soiler, and since 1865 had been an active Republican. He was a delegate to the National Republican convention in Philadelphia that nominated General Grant for president, and was alternate to the Chicago convention of 1888, that nominated Benjamin Harrison for president.

Dr. Thompson was serving as president of the Marion school board and burgess of the borough at the time of his death, in 1890. He married Jane Thompson, daughter of Robert Thompson. (See sketch of Robert Thompson, of Indiana). Mrs. Thompson died and left one child: Horace J., a successful merchant at Decker's Point. On March 6, 1889, Dr. Thompson was united in marriage, by Rev. H. A. Ottnian, of Salamanca, N. Y., with Mrs. Anna M. (Weamer) Sylvis, an estimable and fine looking wo.man. She is a native of Indiana county, and a daughter of David Weamer, who was a merchant at Indiana and Newville, and died in 1877.

In addition to his town property, Dr. Thompson owned about five hundred acres of valuable land. He was a charter member and one of the directors of the Indiana County Deposit bank, and a trustee of the State Normal school at Indiana. During the last summer (although it was not apparent to any) his sands of life were nearly run out, and on September 17, 1890, his spirit went home, when he was well advanced in his seventy ninth year. With impressive funeral ceremonies his remains were entombed in Gilgal cemetery amid a large and sorrowing assemblage of people. It has been the privilege of very few men to be so eminently useful as Dr. John Keene Thompson was in all that pertained to the well being of his neighbors and the prosperity of his community. As a physician he had always been successful, as a judge he was able and impartial, as a legislator none were more active in the interests of their constituents, and as a man he stood high in the estimation of his fellow citizens throughout the county.


From:
Biographical and Historical Cyclopedia
of Indiana and Armstrong Counties, Pennsylvania
Samuel T. Wiley, Historian & Editor
John M. Greshan & Co.
Philadelphia, 1891

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