Thompson - Will H. - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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Thompson - Will H.

Source: Crawfordsville Star, May 10, 1877 p 8

A short time ago a correspondent of a Chicago paper, writing from this city, gave an account of the wonderful archery of our fellow townsman and poet, J. Maurice Thompson, Esq, which account seemed to me a piece of exaggeration.

Having lived here several years, and being tolerably well acquainted with Mr. Thompson as a lawyer and author, I am always prepared to read the encomiums of the press upon his literary efforts without surprise; but I confess I was not prepared to swallow down all that the correspondent told about his "longbow" shooting. But in order to satisfy myself as to the truth or falsity of his statements I called upon Mr. Thompson yesterday, at his law office, I found him and his brother, William, his partner, busily engaged with several clients preparing causes for the Circuit Court, which will convene in a few days; but watching my opportunity I engaged the pot in conversation, into which I introduced the subject of archery, when I found out that he was a perfect enthusiast on the subject. His knowledge of the bow-shooting of the ancients, as well as of the Indians of America and the bushman of Africa is truly astonishing. He stated that for several years he had made it his special study, and that by constant practice he had become an expert; that he and his brother had hunted and killed all kinds of game with the bow, from snowbirds to the lordly bison of Colorado, and that he had long since cast the rifle and shotgun aside as weapons requiring too little skill.

Standing against the wall in a corner of the office I noticed a bow of beautiful workmanship, and hanging on a nail near by was a quiver filled with long, feathered, steel-pointed arrows; and if a helmet and coat of mail had only hung somewhere near I could easily have imagined that I was in the hall of some ancient baron, instead of the office of a modern lawyer and poet.

And when I intimated a desire to witness his skill with his favorite weapon he eagerly consented to gratify my desire, and dismissing his clients with an inperious wave of his hand he and his brother took down the bow and quiver of arrows, and together we left his office and went to his target grounds near his cottage residence in the suburb of our beautiful city. I have since learned that he is so devoted to the science of archery that he will leave books and clients at any time to gratify his numerous visitors with speciments of his wonderful skill.

Arriving at the grounds, his brother placed a target about 12" in diameter at a distance of 80 paces and they each shot six arrows at it. Five of the poet's and four of his brother's struck the bulls-eye. The arrows were sent with tremendous force - enough, I imagined, to have driven them clearn through a full-grown buffalo.
Then followed other astonishing feats. An old-fashioned three-cent piece was placed against a tree at a distance of 40 paces, and at the first shot the steel point of the poet's arrow cut it in twin. Then a lead pence - a Faber No. 2 - was stuck into the ground at 30 paces and out of a dozen shots by the brothers only one missed the pencil. I then took another pencil and sharpened the point as finely as I could and place it at the same distance, with the pointed end for a target; and Maurice's first arrow struck and split the pencil from end to end.

We then threw apples and oranges and oyster cans up in the air and the brothers shot at them on the wing. It was no trouble for either one to wing an oyster can, but occasionally an apple or orange would get away.

After spending half the day in this way, I suggested that perhaps I had kept them long enough from their legal business; but they insisted on remaining longer, declaring that the science of archery demanded that its devotees should never allow the ordinary duties of life to interfere with its progress.

I finally left the poet and his brother, fully convinced that the correspondent alluded to didn't tell the half he might have told about our Crawfordsville archers ... James Upton Keene
Source: 1878 Montgomery County, Indiana Atlas (Chicago: Beers) p 54

THOMPSON, Will H, PO Crawfordsville, Attorney, native of Cape Girardeau, Mo. Settled in this co 1868

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