Thompson -James "Maurice" - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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Thompson -James "Maurice"

Source: The New York Times May 9, 1888 -- The Western Association of Write rs, of which Mr. Maurice Thompson of Crawfordsville is President and Mrs. M.L. Andrews of Indianapolis is Secretary will hold its annual meeting at Plymouth Church, Indianapolis on June 6,7 and 8. The objects of the association are to advance the standard of public taste and promote t he mutual interests of authors and publishers. At the coming meeting President Thompson will deliver his annual address and there will be many oth er matters of interst.  The list of those invited to read papers, essays, sketches, short stories or poems, lead discussions or give recitations is a long one and embraces Maurice Thompson, Gen. Lew Wallace, Prof. Coulter of Wabash College, Mrs. DM Jordan, James Whitcomb Riley, Will Cumba ck and Prof. WH Venable.
Source: The New York Times Feb 23, 1901 -- Maurice Thompson died at his ho me in Crawfordsville, Ind a week ago yesterday. Ere this most of our reade rs who may not have read his books have learned from the obituaries in the daily press that he was a charming interpreter of nature; in fact, h is work may be said to bear the same relation to the naturalist as th at of Mr. Henry James does to the rhetorician. Mr. Thompson wrote simpl y, but with plenty of shading and in his most dramatic periods he gave you tints rather than colors. And that is the reason, perhaps why so many years his success seemed only moderate although his readers were widely distributed among many classes.  Alice of Old Vincennes, however was to inspi re enthusiam rather than passive admiration and its manner of presentati on was such that all who knew anything about the author were curious to re ad it, and it was thus the general public learned that thousands of peop le had been quietly reading his books and liking them.  Persons who met h im say that he had one of the most charming personlaities imaginable - simple, unaffected, cheerful, sympathetic. A story is told of his debut in T he Atlantic Monthly which is thoroughly characteristic.  Mr. Howells was t hen eeditor of that periodical.  One day there came to him some verses cal led At the Window and signed Maurice Thompson.  The first stanza read: "I heard the woodpecker pecking I heard the sapsucker sing, I turned a nd looked out of my window, and Lo, it was Spring!"

Neither Mr. Howells nor Longfellow nor Lowell to whom the lines were submitted had ever heard of a sapsucker and so Mr. Howells struck out the word and wrote in blue bird.  Mr. Thompson made no complaint when the alteration was brought to his notice. Mr. Howells, it may be, had not seen a Hoosier sugar camp. Before he left The Atlantice he called upon Mr. Thompson at his home in Indiana and said, "I have come to make a confession. You were right about the sapsucker, and I was wrong.  But so were Mr. Lowell and Mr. Longfellow and I thought I had the preponderance of authority on my side.  However, I 'm going to restore the sapsucker to his rightful place in the verses ."

Here is another anecdote which shows a fine touch of responsive sympathy.  The last book written and published by Mr. Thompson was My Winter Garden, which appeared in November 1900 the week after the publication of  Alice of Old Vincennes.  When the writing of the book was proposed to him in September 1898 he wrote to a representative of The Century Company, "Your pleasant note regarding the proposed book, My Winter Garden (a charming title, thank you) has reminded me that I have the material in workable shape for such use as you suggest and indeed I have long contemplated something cognate *** The thing fascinates me."  It is not surprising that in the last years of his life publishers should rival each other in attempting to secure his earlier work and give to it a broader public as gua ged by Alice of Old VIncennes.  The King of Honey Island and Milly or At Love's Extermes are already out in brand-new editions.  And now we are to have a new edition of a book of his which is which is not fiction, The Sto ry of Louiisiana. And it is of interest to note here that this histo ry of one of the most picturesque states in the Union was regarded with es pecial favor by the author himselfe whose Winters were invariably pass ed at one of the Louisana Gulf resorts.  It is equally interesting to no te that in his preface to Alice of Old Vincennes, Mr. Thompson states th at that popular novel grew out of his studies of the history of Louisiana while preparing this story.  The Story of Louisiana was published a doz en years ago as one of the Story of the States Series issued by the Lothr op Publishing Company and is one of the most entertaining volumes in that series.  We have never seen a complete bibliography of Mr. THompson's fiction published and so we insert it here feeling quite sure many of the b ooks have been read by persons to whom at the time the author's name meant little:

Hoosier Mosaics ........... 1875
Witchery of Archery ......  1878
A Tallahassee Girl ......... 1881
His Second Campaign .... 1882
The King of Honey Island ...1883
Milly: or At Love's Extremes .. 1885
A Banker of Bankersville ...... 1886
A Fortnight of Folly ............. 1888
Stories of Indiana ............... 1898
Stories of the Cherokee Hills .. 1899
Alice of Old Vincennes ......... 1900
What is possibly the last poem written by Mr. Thompson is published this w eek in The Independent of which he was one of the editors.  It is called " Sappo's Apple" and runs as follows
A dreamy languor lapsed along
And stirred the dusky bannered boughs
The crooning tree did nod and drowse
While far aloft blush-tinted hung
One perfect apple maiden-sweet
At which the agatherers vainly flung
And could not ge tto hoard or eat

Reddest and best they growled and went
Slowly away each with his load
Fragrant upon his shoulders bent
The hill-flowers darkening where they trode,
Redest and best, but not for us
Some loafing out will see it fall
The laborer's prize - 'twas ever thus -
Is his who never works at all.

Soon came a vagrant, loitering,
His young face browned by wind and sun,
Weary, yet blithe and prone to sing
Tramping his way to Avalon
Even I it was, who, long athirst
And hungry, saw the apple shine;
Then wondrous wild sweet singing burst
Flame-like across these lips of mine

O ruby flushed and flaring gold
Thou splendid lone one left for me
Apple of love to filch and hold
Fruit-story of a kingly tree
Drop, drop into my open hand,
That I may hide thee in my breast
And bear thee far o'er sea and land
A captive to the purple West.

Source:  Zach, Karen Bazzani.  Crawfordsville: Athens of Indiana.  Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing Company, 2003.

One of the most prominent male writers of Crawfordsville was Maurice Thompson.  Although not a Crawfordsville native, having been born in the Sout h, Thompson, nonetheless considered himself a Crawfordsvillian.  Thomps on joked about his first publication in this way: "The Civil War had left me a rather bewildered and certainly a very callow bit of jetsam stranded on the shore of poverty the thought came into my head that I might wri te a novel and get money for itI sailed into the task with furious ardor when the story of The League of the Gudaloupe was finished, I felt sure th at I had made a mighty fine story, but somehow the editors and publishe rs did not see into its wonderful qualitiesa year or more dragged pastso me good angel directed me to offer my firstling to the New York Weekly in a few days a letter reached me, bearing to my emaciated fingers a che ck for $100.  The earth appeared to have been made a present to meI was f amous and rich.'  Oddly, it was 20 years later before the story finally ma de the press.  Thompson wrote, "I had forgotten its title and I could n ot recall the name of a single character.'  Obviously, he did not consid er it one of his best works, but Thompson did become an accomplished and d istinguished writer.  Lew Wallace wrote of Thompson: "Maurice never lost h is student ways, not even when a lawyer.  His education was everlasting go ing on, himself his teacher; and that I think one of the bonds between u s.  Success as a writer of prose and poetry was his; but not all of  hi m; he became a Latin scholar and knew the literature of France, like a Fre nchman.  Stillhe grew an all-around man, lawyer, politician, geologist, e ngineera genius, in short.'  His Alice of Old Vincennes became a best sel ler.  Thompson was elected the first president of the Western Associati on of Writers in 1886.  He wintered in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and summ ered in Crawfordsville, where he often entertained well-known author s.  In 1900, Wabash College conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Lit erature upon Thompson.  After a lingering illness, Thompson died at his ho me in Crawfordsville on February 15th the next year.

In January of 1879, Maurice and Will Thompson (both writers) held a get to gether in Crawfordsville to form the National Archery Association.  Repres entatives from clubs throughout America were here and Maurice was chosen P resident.  The Thompson brothers are considered to be the fathers of Ameri can Archery.  They were tagged as The Wabash Merry Bowmen.  Today, arche ry clubs are named for them.  The 1870§s ended with the start of the annu al County Fair, organized by the Union Agricultural Association.  Dorot hy Russo and Thelma Sullivan, in their book, Bibliographical Studies of Seven Authors of Crawfordsville, Indiana commented, "It remains an interesti ng fact that a town with a population of little over 5,000 in 1880, when B en Hur was published could have made this book possible.  All Indiana citi es, including Indianapolis, must bow to the astounding high rate of scholarship in Crawfordsville,  Montgomery County, Indiana


Source: 1878 Montgomery County, Indiana Atlas (Chicago: Beers) p 54

THOMPSON, Mauris (sic-Maurice), PO Crawfordsville, Attorney, native of Franklin Co, Ind. settled in this county in 1868.

Citation: The Indiana GenWeb Project, Copyright ©1997-2006, Montgomery Cou nty Website

Source: Crawfordsville Star, Sept 26, 1878 -- Maurice Thompson and Frank Mayfield will buy all the paw-paws brought to the market. They desire to lay in a winter's supply. Bring them in boys.

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: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal Friday, 28 August 1896
Hon. J. Maurice Thompson and wife have received word that a son was born Tuesday to Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Ballard at Atlanta, Ga. The child born Tuesday has the distinction of having a living ancestor four times removed and it is probably that there is not a parallel case in the country. The line of descent is as follows: Mrs. Matilda West, Mrs. Letitia Lee, Mrs. J. Maurice Thompson, Mrs. A. B. Ballard and the young gentleman who made his appearance Tuesday—five living generations. Mrs. West, the head of the line, is still active and in possession of all her faculties at ninety three years of age.

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