ALBERT CRANSTON THOMPSON, a resident of Brockton, Plymouth county, for over forty years, was a citizen of proved worth in business and public life. His influence in both is a permanent factor in the city’s development, a force which dominates the policy of at least one phase of its civil administration, and his memory is cherished by the many with whom he had long sustained commercial and social relations. As the head of an important industrial concern for a period of over thirty years, as chairman for nearly ten years, up to the time of his death, of the sewerage commissioners of Brockton, as president of the Commercial Club, as an active worker in church and social organizations, he had a diversity of interests which brought him into contact with all sorts and conditions of men and broadened his life to an unusual degree. Good will and sympathy characterized his intercourse with all his fellows. As may be judged from his numerous interests and his activity in all he was a man of many accomplishments, of unusual ability, of attractive personality and un-questionable integrity. He was earnest in everything which commanded his attention and zealous in promoting the welfare of any object which appealed to him, and his executive ability and untiring energy made him an ideal worker in the different organizations of every kind with which he was connected.
Mr. Thompson was a native of the county in which he passed all his life, having been born Dec. 19, 1843, in Halifax, a descendant of one of the oldest and best known families of that town. The families of Thompson and Fuller were very numerous and prominent in that region, so much so that according to tradition a public speaker once, in opening his address, instead of beginning with the customary “Ladies and Gentlemen” said “Fullers and Thompsons.” So much for their numbers. The line of descent is traced back to early Colonial days.
John Thomson or Thompson is of record at Plymouth in 1643, in which year he is given as among those able to bear arms. It seems uncertain when he came. It has been set forth that he was born in 1616 in the northern part of “Wales; that he came to New England with one of the early embarkations and landed at Plymouth; that with Richard Church he built the first framed meetinghouse in Plymouth in 1637. He served against the Narragansetts for seventeen days from Aug. 15, 1645. He was town officer and juryman. He bought in 1645 a home and garden in Plymouth, and in that year, Dec. 26th, he married Mary, born in 1626, daughter of Francis Cooke, of the “Mayflower,” 1620. He finally bought much land some thirteen miles west of the village of Plymouth on the confines of Bridgewater, Middleboro and what was then called Plymouth (now Halifax), building his house in Middleboro, and in it lived until it was burned by the Indians. He was an active participant in King Philip’s war, during which he held ‘the commission of lieutenant commandant, and after the war built a frame house near the site of the old log one referred to as having been burned, and in it he lived through the remainder of his life; and four generations of his posterity occupied it. He died June 16, 1696, in the eightieth year of his age; his wife Mary died March 21, 1714, in the eighty-eighth year of her age. Their children were:
- Adam Thomson, who died young
- John Thomson, born in 1648
- Mary Thomson, born in 1650
- Esther Thomson, born in 1652
- Elizabeth Thomson, born in 1654
- Sarah Thomson, born in 1657
- Lydia Thomson, born in 1659
- Jacob Thomson, born in 1662
- Thomas Thomson, born in 1664
- Peter Thomson.
- Mercy Thomson, born in 1671
Jacob Thomson, born April 24, 1662, was for a number of years a justice of the peace. He married Abigail Wadsworth, and died Sept. 1, 1726, in his sixty-fifth year, his wife dying Sept. 15, 1744, in her seventy-fifth year. Their children were:
- Jacob Thomson, born in 1695
- Abigail Thomson, 1697
- Mercy Thomson, 1699
- John Thomson, 1701
- Lydia Thomson, 1703
- Barnabas Thomson, 1705
- Esther Thomson, 1707
- Hannah Thomson, 1709
- Mary Thomson, 1711
- Caleb Thomson, 1712
Barnabas Thomson, born Jan. 28, 1705, married Hannah, daughter of Samuel Porter, of Abington, and sister of Rev. John Porter of Bridgewater. Mr. Thomson served a long time as deacon of the church at Halifax. He died Dec. 20, 1798, in his ninety-fourth year, his wife dying May 2, 1787, in her seventy-fifth year. Their children were:
- Abigail Thomson, born in 1741
- Barnabas Thomson, born in 1742
- Jacob Thomson and Samuel Thomson, twins, born in 1743
- Jabez Thomson, born in 1744
- Asa Thomson, born in 1745
- Noah Thomson, born in 1747
- Hannah Thomson, born in 1748
- Isaac Thomson, born in 1749
- David Thomson, born in 1750
- Olive Thomson and Abel Thomson, twins, born in 1752
- Adam Thomson, born in 1754
- Ichabod Thomson, born in 1756
Adam Thomson, born April 24, 1754, married Molly Thomson, daughter of Amasa and Lydia (Cobb) Thomson, and they died, he Aug. 20, 1821, and she June 12, 1835. Their children were:
- Samuel Thomson, born in 1778
- Adam Thomson, born in 1784
- Ward Thomson, born in 1786
- Zadoc Thomson, born in 1790
Adam Thompson (2), born May 27, 1 1784, married Salvina Wood, daughter of Timothy and Salvina (Soule) Wood. They died, he April 22, 1867, and she June 10, 1856. Their children were:
- Molly Thompson, born March 14, 1811 (died Feb. 13, 1853)
- Otis Thompson, May 1, 1813
- Albert Thompson, Oct. 9, 1815
- Shepard Thompson, Nov. 2, 1820
Albert Thompson, born Oct. 9, 1815, married Charlotte Maria, daughter of Silas Warren. She died July 12, 1875, aged fifty-three years, seven months, eleven days. Their only child, Albert Cranston, was born Dec. 19, 1843.
Albert Cranston Thompson, after receiving an ordinary education in the district schools of Halifax, was in attendance at school in Abington one year, and in 1857 attended the Dwight school in Boston. He learned the carpenter’s trade under his father, serving until he was almost twenty-one, so that his familiarity with building began early and stood him in good stead in the business which was practically his life work, as well as in many positions which he was called upon to fill in his later years. He began life with little financial backing, and his success, from both a material and a moral standpoint, was notable. At the age of twenty he came to Brockton, making his home in the city from Feb. 29, 1864, until his death, Feb. 5, 1906. He began work here in the employ of Philip Reynolds, who was then engaged in the manufacture of melodeons on Main street, over the store of A. P. Hazard, now the site of the L. Richmond Company. Mr. Reynolds later carried on the manufacture of cabinet organs. After only a few years, in 1869, Mr. Thompson became his employer’s partner, and the association lasted until 1873, when he sold out to Mr. Reynolds and embarked in the business to which he gave his principal attention during the remainder of his life. At that time he purchased the wood turning business of George M. Copeland, then located in the second story of Ellis Packard’s mill on Crescent street (now owned by Elmer C. Packard). Later he leased from Oakes S. Soule a lot on Montello street, at the foot of Ward street, where he put up a steam mill, and after conducting that for a time purchased a lot from William Perry, at No. 78 East Railroad avenue,, where he found a permanent location for his planing-mill. He established himself at this location in 1878, in the planing and molding business, doing fine wood work for builders, a business in which he continued with great success to almost the close of his days. In January, 1893, Ellery C. Dean, who had learned his trade of Mr. Thompson, became a partner in the business, which then became known as the A. C. Thompson Company. Mr. Thompson’s ability as a business man was demonstrated by the success and growth of this establishment under his management. It attained such proportions that it was an important asset in the commercial well-being of the city, and Mr. Thompson was regarded everywhere as one of Brockton’s fore-most business men. His straightforward methods in all transactions, his candor with his patrons and his liberality in dealing made him popular as well as respected. He had a reputation for good judgment that made his advice much sought, and he gave it unselfishly. He not only used his knowledge of business conditions to further his own affairs, but assisted his fellow men whenever possible with his means as well as his counsel when necessary.
The East Side Electric Railroad was one of the first in Brockton and Plymouth county, if not in the country, to be run by electricity, and its route lay from the city proper to the eastern part, toward Whitman. It was in poor condition when Mr. Thompson was asked to take it in hand as director and president, and under his management, until it was leased to the Brockton Street Railway Company for ninety-nine years, it was brought up to a five per cent basis; it was leased at that yearly rate, but this lease has since been canceled, the stock being merged into the Lessees Railway Company. Mr. Thompson’s long connection with two of the solid financial institutions of the city, the Brockton Savings Bank and the Home National Bank, as trustee and member of the in-vestment committee of the former and as director of the latter from 1890, had a marked effect upon the prosperity and standing of those concerns, which in turn reflected high credit upon his sagacity and policies. One of his associates in the management of the Home National Bank said at the time of his death:
“A close personal friendship, and a business association with him of twenty years on the board of directors of the Home National Bank, has given me a good opportunity to see and appreciate those qualities in him which make a man’s life of so much value to those with whom he comes in contact, and which cause his death to be so sincerely regretted by the community. His opinion in financial matters was also sought and highly respected by his associates, and in the board of investment of the Brockton Savings Bank, where he has been an interested worker for many years, he will be missed as are few men of the present day.”
Mr. Thompson retained his connection with the banks up to the time of his decease, but he retired from the wood turning business Feb. 1, 1905, being succeeded by a former partner, Ellery C. Dean (who was connected with the business for a number of years), and J. B. Penney, of Campello (Brockton), who have since conducted the establishment under the name of Dean-Penney Company. During his long-continued activity in the business world Mr. Thompson formed a host of friends and acquaintances, not only among the contractors and builders with whose interests his own were so closely allied but also among progressive commercial leaders in various other lines. His high standing in the Commercial Club, of which he was a corporate member and ever a faithful worker for its interests, was shown by the number of services he was asked to perform. From the time of its organization until his death he was almost continuously in office or engaged in work on the various committees, and at the last annual meeting of the club before his death he was elected to the presidency by a flattering vote. Owing to poor health he felt that he could not do justice to the office, as matters of particular importance were pending, and accordingly he tendered his resignation in January, 1906, the month before his death. His letter was characteristic, showing the conscientious care he gave to everything he undertook, but the committee declined to consider the matter, sending him a message of sympathy and good cheer which expressed the wishes of the entire membership. A former president of the club said:
“Mr. Thompson’s death will be a great loss to the club and to the city. He will be greatly missed by any interest with which he was associated. He had reached that point in life when through the ripeness of his experience and his innate ability he was of great value to any endeavor fortunate enough to secure his interest. He was a most faithful worker. During my presidency of the club I often had occasion to call upon some member to do some little thing that was necessary, but which many would have refused. He never refused. He was always ready and willing to do the best he could for the club. In his capacity as first vice president I made him chairman of various committees, including the committee on the proposed annex. He gave to it a thoroughness of investigation and a competency gained from years of experience in connection with building operations and with the world in general. He had ability, energy, experience and all that goes to make up a thoroughly well rounded man. Others might be equally willing, but few had his ripened knowledge and trained abilities. He was a man who never shirked. Personally he was the finest of men. In fact, he was a man through and through in the best sense of the word.”
Though a busy man Mr. Thompson found time for public service. He was an alderman in 1887 and 1888; represented the city in the State Legislature in 1888 (during which year he served on the committee on Federal Relations) and was reelected for 1889 (that session serving on the committee on Water Supply), and gained especial prominence by his effective work as a member of the sewerage commission. As a member of the House his interested and untiring efforts won the commendation of his fellow legislators as well as of his constituents. He was one of the principal promoters who assured the success of the electric railway system in Brockton. He was one of the original members of the sewerage commission, having been appointed when the board was first authorized, and continued in office by reappointment until his death. Upon the retirement of Rufus Kingman he became chairman, and served as such to the close of his life. His work in this connection was of permanent value to the city, and so deep was his sense of the importance of his duties that while on a pleasure trip to Germany, a few years before his death, he devoted much of the time to investigating approved systems in the foreign cities, with the result that he had many sagacious suggestions’ to make to his fellow commissioners, who esteemed his advice highly. His encouragement and hopefulness carried the board through many a trying period, and nowhere was he more greatly missed than at the meetings of this body. Everywhere he left the memory of one who was just and indisposed to criticize in his judgment of others, scrupulously faithful in the discharge of his responsibilities as he saw them, and fully able to grapple with any situation and to defend his own position when necessary. His strength and courage were the outward evidences of a well balanced mind and a nature controlled by the kindliest impulses and the highest principles which mark the Christian man’s bearing toward his fellow-beings.
Mr. Thompson’s church relations, covering a long period of active association with Unity Church (Unitarian), were a source of the’ deepest pleasure to him. Liberal in his donations to the church and in his support of its various enterprises, he also gave freely of his time and counsel in the promotion of such works, and he was a leader in the congregation for many years, being chairman of the board of trustees at the time of his death. In no other relation were his inspiring disposition and unselfish labors more apparent than in his efficient work in this office, the successful administration of which depended so largely upon his personal interest and ability. In broadening the scope of the society’s work, in the intelligent direction of its moral and material affairs, his aid was regarded as invaluable by his coworkers in the church. Here, as elsewhere, he never obtruded his own opinions and plans to the exclusion of others, and he never withheld his sympathies or support from any well directed project.
There was no more honored member of the Masonic fraternity in Brockton. He was a thirty-second-degree Mason, “one of the old guard in the Masonic bodies of Brockton and Old North Bridgewater,” a member of Paul Revere Lodge, Satucket Chapter, Brockton Council, Bay State Commandery, and Massachusetts Consistory at Boston. Joining the fraternity in 1867, he took his first Masonic office in Paul Revere Lodge in 1868, and advanced steadily from that time until he became a past worshipful master of that body. In the higher organizations he was equally active and popular, doing good work both in the offices and on the various committees. He was a past high priest of his chapter, a past thrice illustrious master of his council, and a past eminent commander of Bay State Commandery; for years a member of the Past Commanders’ Union of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and served at times as deputy grand master for different lodges in this section of Massachusetts. Mr. Thompson’s brother Masons relied upon his advice and assistance as implicitly as his associates in other organizations. Being a regular attendant at meetings he kept well informed upon the work of the various bodies to which he belonged, and he was generally called upon to assist in deciding vital questions or directing important work. He was one of the committee that directed the equipment of Masonic headquarters in the old City block and later was on the committee that had charge of the fitting of the present adequate quarters in the Masonic building on Centre street. Mr. Thompson was also a member of the Knights of Honor, the New England Order of Protection, an associate member of Fletcher Webster Post, G. A. B., and a member of the Old Bridgewater Historical Society, which he joined shortly before his death.
During his last few years Mr. Thompson’s health was not as rugged as he might have wished, and he had spent his winters in the South, feeling much benefited by the change.
But the last winter of his life an attack came on before he had the chance to make the trip safely, and he grew steadily worse until the end came, while he was a patient in the Brockton Hospital, Feb. 5, 1906. The Brockton Daily Enterprise of that date said:
“Mr. Thompson came to this city in 1861 and since that time had won for himself a place in the front ranks of the business men of the city and at the same time had not forgotten the pleasanter side of life and made himself one of the most sincerely beloved of Brockton’s citizens. He was the friend of all. He was an ardent worker in all that he undertook and was a power for good in the advancement of any interest that claimed his attention
“As a mari he was loved by friends, associates, employees and the great mass of people of this city who have lived here long and have been fortunate enough to come within the radius of his ever serene good cheer and hearty Christian sympathy for all men. His life was an exposition of the great principle of brotherly love. In his death there is universal grief and a great sympathy that goes out to those that were near and dear to him.”
The expressions of grief and sympathy upon the occasion of his funeral were universal and sincere. All business was suspended in the city during the services, and the city hall was closed for the afternoon. It had always been Mr. Thompson’s wish that the last rites over his remains should be extremely unostentatious, and his desire was respected. The pew in Unity Church which he had so long occupied was filled with the floral offerings sent in profusion, and the simple religious services were conducted by his friend, Rev. Dudley H. Ferrell, pastor of the Church of the Unity. Though his Masonic brethren were present in large numbers, representatives from all the bodies to which he belonged being present, the impressive Masonic ritual was not used. The Commercial Club, the various administrative departments of the city, the banks with which he was connected, the church and the various social organizations with which he was identified were all well represented. Mr. Ferrell’s brief address was an appreciative tribute to the goodness and high character of the deceased. Mr. Thompson was laid to rest in Melrose cemetery.
On Oct. 5, 1871, Mr. Thompson was united in marriage, in Provincetown, Mass., to Marcia Anna Nickerson, daughter of the late Capt. Alfred and Mary H. (Hill) Nickerson, of that place. No children were born to this union. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson passed all their married life in Brockton, residing for a time in the house now used as the annex to the “Hotel Hamilton” and later removing to their handsome home at No. 19 Maple avenue.
Capt. Alfred Nickerson, father of Mrs. Thompson, passed away Dec. 4, 1897, aged eighty-one years, ten months, twenty days, at Provincetown, Mass. He was the son of Thomas and Mary Nickerson, and was one of nine children born to his parents in Provincetown, where he had always resided. Captain Nickerson was a well known and much respected citizen of the community where his long and useful life had been spent. He was for many years engaged in an active business life. In early years he followed the sea for a livelihood, and after retiring from a seafaring life he engaged in business as a painting contractor, which business he followed the remaining years of his active business life, in which he met with deserving success. Quiet and retiring in disposition, he nevertheless possessed characteristics which attracted and won the warm friendship of all acquaintances. As a kind neighbor and true friend he will long be remembered by both old and young.