ARAD THOMPSON, Clerk of the Courts of Benton County, is a native of Maine, born in Androscoggin County, Dec. 21, 1840. His father, Ira D., and mother, Lydia T. (Hathaway) Thompson, were both natives of the same State. The father was a man of more than ordinary ability, an old-line Whig during the days of that party, and subsequently an ardent Republican till the day of his death, which occurred in January, 1883. The mother died in 1874. Both were life-long members of the Baptist Church. Five children survive them, of whom Arad is the fourth.
Like the great majority of the self-made men of this land, Arad was reared upon a farm, and accustomed to hard work. He received an academic education, and for three winters taught school in his native State. When he attained his majority, the great Rebellion was in progress, and in answer to the President's call for 300,000 more, he enlisted as a private in Co. C, 20th Me. Vol. Inf., and was mustered into the United States service at Portland, Me., Aug. 29, 1862, where he remained in camp with his regiment two weeks. They were then ordered to Virginia, and encamped upon Arlington Heights about one week. Before the battle of Antietam they marched to South Mountain, passing over the field the day after the battle, and were assigned to Porter's Corps. The 20th Regiment was commanded by Col. Adelbert Ames, who subsequently was promoted to Major-General, and at the close of the war located in Mississippi, and served the State as Governor and United States Senator. John L. Chamberlain was Lieutenant-Colonel. He also rose to the rank of Major-General, and since the close of the war served his State as Governor. The 20th Maine was in many of the most important battles of the war, and made a reputation for bravery second to no other in the service. Among the engagements in which it participated were Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Rappahannock Station, Mine Run, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court-House, Totapaloma, North Anna, Bethesda Church, Hatcher's Run, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad and Peebles' Farm. At Gettysburg the regiment occupied Little Round Top, and on the second day the extreme left. At the battle of Petersburg Mr. Thompson was promoted to Second Lieutenant, and subsequently was commissioned as First Lieutenant. After the battle of Peebles' Farm, Lieut. Thompson failing in health, was given a leave of absence, when he returned to his native State, and after recovering his health in a measure, rejoined his regiment in camp near Petersburg. As warm weather approached in the spring, Lieut. Thompson found it necessary to save his life that he again return to his native climate.He accordingly resigned and went to and remained in Maine until late in the fall of 1865, when he came west to Chicago, and in the spring of 1866 located at Shellsburg in this county, where he entered into the mercantile business as a member of the firm of Runyon & Thompson. While still engaged in business in that place, in the fall of 1878, he was elected Clerk of Courts for Benton County. That he has made an efficient officer is attested by his re-election in 1880, 1882 and 1884. After having been a resident of Shellsburg about two years, Lieut. Thompson returned East and was united in marriage with Miss Emeline, daughter of Thomas and Mary (Kirk) Hilton, of Rahway, N. J. The marriage ceremony was performed July 15, 1868. But one child has been born to them — Robert H., who died at the age of three years and two months. In all matters pertaining to the welfare of his adopted county and State, Lieut. Thompson takes great interest, devoting his time and money. Politically he is a straight-out Republican, and has acted with that party since its organization. In its principles he firmly believes. The various benevolent organizations find in him a friend. A Mason, he is a member of Benton City Lodge, No. 51, of Shellsburg; Adonirum Chapter, No. 15, of Vinton; Cyprus Commandery, No. 37, of Vinton. In the latter he is the present Captain-General. An Odd Fellow, he is a member of Shellsburg Lodge, No. 171; Vinton Encampment, No. 59. In the latter he now holds the office of Chief Patriarch. A United Workman, he is a member of Centennial Lodge, No. 48, of Shellsburg. A veteran of the war, he is a member of P. M. Coder Post, No. 98, G. A. R. of Vinton. In 1885 he represented his post at the State Department held at Davenport and was elected a representative to the National Encampment held at Portland, Me., a few weeks subsequently. At this National Encampment he met with many old comrades whom he had not seen since the dark days of the war, and it was indeed a pleasure to take them by the hand. A friend of agriculture and mechanical arts, he has served for several years as Secretary of the Benton County Agricultural Society. In every position occupied he has served his constituents in a faithful and satisfactory manner.
Source Citation: "1887 Benton County, Iowa Biographies" [database online] Benton County IAGenWeb Project. <http://iagenweb.org/benton/>
Original data: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Benton County, Iowa." Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887, p. 350-351.
Transcribed by: Sue Soden. Submitted to the Benton County IAGenWeb Project on February 18th, 2009. Copyright © 2009 The IAGenWeb Project.