Biography of Rev. Joseph Franklin Thompson

Rev. Joseph Franklin Thompson, librarian of the Carnegie Library at Tahlequah and superannuated minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, having been retired since 1906, was born May 21, 1841, near Maysville, Arkansas, in what was then the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory.

His parents, both of whom are deceased, were James Allen and Martha (Lynch) Thompson, the former a native of South Carolina and the latter a native of Virginia and a member of an old Cherokee family there. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson were married in Georgia and came to Beattie’s Prairie in 1838, with a detachment of Cherokees under Richard Taylor, superintendent of the Cherokee Nation. The father engaged in farming and in the conduct of a mercantile establishment there, achieving more than substantial success. He died in January, 1876. His wife passed away in October, 1872. Six sons and five daughters were born to their union, Joseph Franklin, whose name initiates this review, being the youngest child.

In the acquirement of an education Joseph Franklin Thompson attended the schools of the Cherokee Nation and in due time enrolled as a student in the Tahlequah Male Seminary, graduating from the Cumberland University at Lebanon, Tennessee, in 1861, with the A. B. degree.

After leaving school he enlisted for service in the Civil war and served as Sergeant Major for some time, receiving constant promotion until he became Lieutenant Colonel. At the close of the war he returned to the Cherokee Nation and in 1868 was appointed auditor of accounts by Hon. James Vann (Oosenanetah) assistant chief to Colonel Lewis Downing. He held that office for one year, and two years later was appointed teacher of the Lone Oak school in Saline district. The following three years were spent in that service and subsequently he received: the appointment as commissioner of the first district educational, commission of the Cherokee Nation. He was commissioner for four years, working with Rev. L. Dobson and G. Mason, who held similar positions in the second and third districts, respectively. In 1876 Rev. Mr. Thompson was appointed first assistant in the Cherokee Male Seminary at Tahlequah; in 1877 was made superintendent of the Cherokee Female Seminary; resigned that position in 1879, when he was appointed elder of the Cherokee district of the Methodist Episcopal church, South; in 1880 he was sent to Asbury Cherokee Manual Labor School at Eufaula; was made superintendent of the Cherokee Orphan Asylum at Salina in 1882, which position he held for twelve years; in 1894 was appointed a delegate to represent the Cherokee Nation at Washington, D. C., and in 1895 was appointed to the Flint circuit as pastor.

In 1896 Rev. Mr. Thompson became pastor of Tahlequah station but resigned the following year to accept reappointment as superintendent of the Cherokee Orphan Asylum at Salina. In 1901 he returned to Tahlequah, where he engaged in educational work and taught in the primary school until 1909. In the latter year he was appointed librarian of the Carnegie Library at Tahlequah, a position in which he has since been active. A man of great intellect and ability along this line, Rev. Mr. Thompson is serving the public to the best of his ability and has won many friends who appreciate his true personal worth.

In 1862 at Oak Grove, Cherokee Nation, was celebrated the marriage of Joseph Franklin Thompson to Miss Mary Ellen Adair, a daughter of Captain G. W. and Martha (Martin) Adair, both members of old Cherokee families, well known in this section of the state. Captain Adair enlisted for service upon the outbreak of the Civil war and served as assistant quartermaster under Colonel Stand Watie. Mrs. Thompson died in 1900. She was the mother of two children: Walter A., who is acting as postmaster at Tahlequah; and Sue C., now Mrs. R. W. Hamilton of Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

Since statehood Mr. Thompson has been a stanch supporter of the Democratic Party, having firm belief in the principles of that party as factors in good government. Fraternally he is identified with the Masons, being a Royal Arch Mason and he is an exemplary member of that craft. In connection with his library work he holds membership in the American Library Association.

Mr. Thompson has been a resident of Tahlequah and Cherokee county since 1870 and has, therefore, witnessed much of the growth and development of the community. That he has made wise use of his time and opportunities is evidenced in the success which has come to him, and that the course he has followed is consistent with the highest principles of manhood and citizenship is indicated in the warm regard which is uniformly extended to him.


Benedict, John Downing. Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma: including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

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