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William Lewis Thompson and
Clara Cornelia (Shultz) Thompson

Pinepound Reflections - A History of
Spring Coulee and District
page 338
by Leona Thompson

William was born on August 28, 1861 near Oasis, Iowa, was the second son, the fourth child of Dorcas and Charles Thompson. He was a man of unusual character, industrious and far seeking, with boundless faith in this new country of his adoption, Alberta, Canada.

From his early days and later in Nebraska, he learned that toil and planning were the foundation of any success. At fourteen he owned one farm and a yoke of oxen. His farming operations in Nebraska were carried on amidst hardships of drought, hail and grasshoppers. He graduated in law from the University of lowa although he never practiced.

In 1886 when Northern Kansas was being opened up to homesteaders, Will migrated there. Here at a little town named Voltaire, he established a bank. Before starting to bank he met and married Clara Cornelia Shultz at her home in Columbus, Indiana on June 13, 1889. But there again drought stepped in driving the settlers from their farms and closing Will's bank. He moved to the nearby town of Brewster, Kansas and started a general store. But drought again plagued the country and Will returned to St. Paul, Nebraska and a farm there.

Then in 1902 he sold out and followed his brother, Ezra E., to Alberta. Here close by he established himself and his family in a square white house near Spring Coulee and established contact with the Canadian Pacific Railway and Hudson's Bay Company engaging to sell their land on commission. He had cards printed with "Why rent a farm all your life? Come to Alberta where land is cheap and cattle live out all winter long?" printed on them. These he sent to thousands of would be settlers through the middle west. Prospective buyers came and were convinced. From daylight until dark Will drove prospects to see farms and sold land, taking them into his garden to show the riotous vegetables grown in this rich virgin soil.

He hired scores of men to break the prairies and planted it to the famous Turkey Red winter wheat that he and Ezra introduced into Alberta. Yields of thirty to fifty bushels to the acre were his reward, paying for his land as he bought with commissions on his land sales.

Throughout the years of their marriage, five children were born to Clara C and Wm. L. Thompson. Ethel, their first died in infancy; Ralph Shultz was born in 1891; Harlan Howard was born December 25th 1894; Myra died at the age of four years; Florence Gail Thompson Fuller was born in 1903.

Will prospered and through work and good fortune finally could count his lands as just one section short of a township. With the winter of 1908 he and his family finally went for a well earned trip to California. Returning from his warm climate to the rigors of Alberta he contracted pneumonia and died at the early age of 48 years. His widow Clara C. Thompson, with the help of Charles H. Kelley (a nephew of Will's) as manager, carried on until the two sons should grow up and take over the management. Farming operations under her care prospered and the town of Spring Coulee prospered. She helped to inaugurate a school district, serving as secretary for years. She also took first steps in establishment of the United Church of Spring Coulee (Presbyterian). She loved and was a power for good during her active years there.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup