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Biography: Newcomb Frierson Thompson born Dec. 25, 1844 – photograph

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One of the leading spirits in the industrial development of the New South was Newcomb Frierson Thompson of Birmingham. His grandfather, Samuel Thompson crossed the Blue Ridge in the early part of the nineteenth century and became a pioneer in Bedford county, Tennessee.

His family consisted of a wife and several children. The children were born in North Carolina. One of these was Joseph, who married Ann Eliza Cary and reared a family in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

Joseph Thompson was a man of varied activities during his lifetime—a merchant, farmer, trader, and for many years the efficient and fearless sheriff of the county. His marriage to Ann Eliza Cary occurred in Livingston, Ala., about the year 1833. Ann Cary was a lineal descendant of Sir Miles Cary of England, who took part in the American struggle for independence. He in turn was of noble lineage and through him would have come a handsome fortune to his American heirs had it been possible to supply a missing link in the family line.

Due to the missing link the estate became escheated to the crown. Ann Cary was a woman of superior education and attainments, a graduate of LaGrange college, and a teacher from choice of recognized ability. She was a devout and earnest worker in the Methodist church.

Newcomb Frierson Thompson was born in Shelbyville, Dec. 25, 1844. Until he was twelve years of age his mother looked after his education. Two years were then spent at Shelbyville college. In 1859 he became a matriculate in a college conducted by his uncle, James Cary at College Grove, Tennessee. He was in attendance at this institution when the Civil War began and in 1862 he went forth to do battle for the cause he felt to be just. His enlistment was at Corinth in Company D, First Tennessee, Captain Steele. This was shortly after the battle of Shiloh.

Later he received an honorable discharge, but after a short time at home re-entered the service as adjutant to Gen. Joe Wheeler’s inspector of cavalry—one St. Leger Grenfield. He remained in this position until the following year, when he resigned and became a member of Gen. N. B. Forrest’s escort guard, where he continued to do service to the close of the struggle.

In the spring of 1865 Mr. Thompson entered the county clerk’s office of Bedford county, Tennessee., as deputy, and his duties being light, took up the. study of law under the preceptor ship of Hon. Henry Cooper, afterward a member of the senate from Tennessee. He, however, never entered actively on the practice of the profession, becoming interested in other matters.

For a number of years, he was editor of the Riverside Weekly, a literary, family and temperance journal of a high order of Mr. Thompson became greatly interested in the cause of temperance, throwing himself into the Good Templar movement which swept over the country after the war. Being a pleasing and forceful speaker he was made lecturer in the order for the State of Kentucky and later held the office of grand secretary.

In 1875 he changed his business life, becoming Southern agent for the Standard Oil company at Wilmington, N. C. Since then he has been connected with a number of important industries in the South. The Birmingham “boom attracted him in 1884 and he succeeded in amassing a large fortune in real estate. Not being a “quitter” by nature, Mr. Thompson stayed in too long and lost all when the bubble burst.

He helped to organize the Birmingham Commercial club and was its secretary from 1893 to 1895. An offer to act as industrial agent for the City of Johnstown, Pa., was then accepted by him, and for four years he acted in that capacity. He was connected with a syndicate of Northern capitalists who made large investments at Huntsville, Alabama.

In political faith, he was a stanch Gold Democrat but has never cared for office. In his young manhood, he was prominent in several of the best fraternal orders, among which were the Masons, Odd Fellows, and Knights of Honor. He was also an active worker in the Methodist church. All of these he renounced, however, when after several years of earnest investigation he concluded to accept the doctrines of religion as held by the Catholic faith.

He married in Shelbyville, Tennessee Nov. 28, 1866. Prior to her marriage Mrs. Thompson was Miss Julia Elizabeth Queen, (1845-1923) daughter of Frank and Mary (Price) Queen, and was a resident of Bardstown, Ky. Her father was a flourishing merchant of that place and a very prominent Catholic whose benevolences during the war toward the Catholic educational institutions of Bardstown became a matter of State comment. On her mother’s side of the family, Mrs. Thompson is a lineal descendant of the noted pioneer, Daniel Boone. The children to this marriage were:

  1. Frank J. Thompson of Mobile, Alabama
  2. Elizabeth Thompson died at 1923.
  3. J. Cary Thompson of Baltimore, Maryland
  4. J. Bain Thompson of New York City
  5. J.Ernest Thompson of New York City
  6. J. Paul Thompson
  7. James Wright Thompson of Tampa, FL

All the children occupied responsible positions in their different communities except J. Paul Thompson, who has chosen the better part and joined the Benedictine order at Cullman, Alabama, and was ordained a priest in that order.

Newcomb Frierson Thompson was an outspoken opponent of the leading policies of labor unions, he believed them subversive of good government and the rights of the citizen. He was a member of the executive committee of the organization formed to check the dangerous tendencies of trades unions, the Citizens’ Industrial Association of America, and was the Southern organizer of that association, and at the same time, he was secretary of the Citizens’ Alliance of Birmingham and editor of their official organ, the Citizens’ Alliance Bulletin.

Colonel N.F. Thompson was the first Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce of Birmingham AL, where he lived for thirty-five years. After the flood at Johnstown, PA,in which millions of dollars worth of property was destroyed and the town practically in ruins, Colonel Thompson was called to that city by the commercial organization and asked to take charge of the reconstruction. Under his capable management, the city soon was rebuilt upon the ruins of the disaster.

Mr. Thompson died Feb. 16, 1923, in Baltimore, Maryland and is buried in Saint Josephs Cemetery, Bardstown, Nelson County, Kentucky along with his wife.



  1. Notable Men of Alabama: Personal and Genealogical, Volume 2 edited by Joel Campbell DuBose
  2. Find A Grave Memorial# 73297805 # 73298013 # 77695417  77739019 # 77734313 # 78321944 # 77741026 # 77740889

This biography can be found in Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable Alabama Pioneers Volume VI 

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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