One of our Scottish pioneers, who sang hymns in his sleep!
William was well-educated, and was the third of twelve children raised in Scotland. He grew up speaking both English and Gaelic in the home; his mother only spoke Gaelic. William left Scotland with his wife and young family due to the great potato famine, and moved to York, Ontario, Canada in 1833. There he changed both his religion and his name: the spelling of his last name went from Thomson to Thompson, and the family joined the Church, baptized by Orson Hyde. William missed his family in Scotland and wrote home encouraging his parents and siblings to find the missionaries in Glasgow and learn about the gospel. He also specified American prices in the tailor business to encourage one brother in particular, a tailor, to come. His parents hoped to emigrate, although they never did, and they saved all of William’s letters. Decades later in 1887, William’s grandson Orvil served a mission to Scotland and was presented with the treasured letters by family members.
The Thompsons moved to join the Saints in Daviess County, Missouri, where they experienced mob persecution, and then Quincy, Illinois. The Thompsons had property only blocks from the Nauvoo Temple, and William also farmed three different 160-acre tracts of land east of Nauvoo. William was licensed to preach the gospel in 1844. There his wife, as well as his youngest child, died. William remarried a few years later, but his second wife died in childbirth. After that William apparently gave up on marriage.
William brought his children to Utah, and when he took out citizenship papers there in 1868, he added a “G” to his name to distinguish himself from the other William Thompsons in the area. William purchased sixteen acres of land in Bountiful, reportedly for a span of oxen, where he built a log house and then an adobe house. One time, the family had no corn and knelt in prayer and asked Heavenly Father to provide them with food. While they were still kneeling, a man knocked at the door and asked if William would come fix his chimney. As the man had no money, he offered to pay in corn.
The Thompsons lived by the family of Ira Stearns Hatch, future in-laws, and William was pleased that Ira’s wives were fellow Scotch emigrants. William also participated in the School of the Prophets in Salt Lake. William’s daughter Maria Hatch moved in with William in 1858, since her husband Orin returned to live with his first wife. Grandpa Thompson was a father figure to her eight children for eighteen years until his death. An aged lady friend of his remembered, curiously enough, that “Brother Thompson used to visit us, and what a lovely hymn singer he was in his sleep.”
I would give earplugs all around!