More than ordinary interest always attaches to the man who builds up a business, whether it be a farm, a store is factory or whatsoever establishment that serves the peeple in its line and had the usefulness of an institution. Forty years of careful and painetaking merchandising have been behind the well known Topeka house of W. A. L. Thompson Hardware Company, one of the oldest and most standard mercantile firms of the state.
Born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 18, 1848, W. A. L. Thompson was reared in his native state, and lived in Philadelphia from 1866 until he came to Kansas in May, 1869. After several months at Topeka he spent about a year at Park City, was the owner of a general store where he enjoyed a good business from the Texas cattlemen on the old Chisholm Trail until 1872, then moving to Hutchinson, Reno County, where he helped organize the county and was the first candidafe for county attorney. Having traded his Southern Kansas property for a herd of cattle, he moved to Topeka, and remained in the cattle business for three years, then founded what is now the W. A. L. Thompson Hardware Company. He started with a modest stock, but had built it up to be the largest jobbing and retail establishment of its kind in Kansas.
On January 7, 1876, Mr. Thompson married Ida Smith, daughter of Jacob Smith, who was a pioneer merchant, banker and man of affairs in Topeka. Two children, a daughter, Helen T. Donaldson, and a son, Roy S. Thompson.
In 1888 the Merchants National Bank was organized with Mr. Thompson a charter member of the directory. In 1896 he became vice president and in 1899 president and held that office for ten years, and is now chairman of the board.
In 1910 he associated himself with Mr. H. L. Hall and constructed the New England Building, 100 by 150 feet, six stories, and is president of that company.
He is a charter member and president of the Topeka Club for twenty years, and a member of the Elks Club and director in the State historical Society.