62nd Annual Thompson Family Reunion

Dear Family and Friends,

I want to thank everyone who made the 61st annual reunion last year so successful.  Now it is time to invite you to the 62nd reunion of Thompson kinfolk and allied families.  Sunday, October 6th is the big day.  As always, we will gather at Ebenezer Methodist Church west of Swainsboro.  Go down highway 80 or 56 from town and look for the church signs at Kemp Road.  The church doors will open at 9:30 for registration and visiting, with the program starting at 10:30.  Casual dress is fine.  Children are welcome.

This year we will have two authorities on Emanuel County and Kemp history as our speakers.  More information follows in the newsletter.  I will say that this promises to be one of our best programs in years.

Dinner on the grounds will begin at noon.  As is our tradition the Robert Thompson family will be serving their delicious barbecue.  Please take time to thank them for all their hard work and also find a donation bucket to help cover the meat expense.  Please bring several side dishes to add to the barbecue.  Once again, there will be a special table for desserts.  Plates, cups, utensils, napkins, table coverings, tea and ice will be provided.  Some folks enjoy bringing tables and chairs so they can linger in comfort.

If you lost a loved one in the last year, or know of someone who has, please send me the names, dates and other information so they can be included in our memorial service.  Please send this right away, as it is very difficult to put together on the morning of the reunion.  Each family losing a loved one may take home a candle used in the service.

Please consider mailing a donation to help with our many expenses, primarily the upkeep of historic Ebenezer Church and Cemetery as well as the Reubin Thompson Cemetery north of the church.  If our family heritage is to be remembered, it is up to each one of us to do our part.  Remember, as always, your gifts to the Foundation are tax deductible.

I look forward to seeing each of you at our unique reunion.  There really aren’t many family associations of this magnitude.  We are fortunate to have this lovely church, our ancestral home, to gather at and renew old family acquaintances, as well as make new ones.  Mark your calendar.  Come visit under the majestic pines.  Remember, it won’t be as good a time without you there!

Sharing: Saturday October 5th
Place: Swainsboro Library
Address: 331 West Main Street
Time: 2:30-4:00

Reunion: Sunday October 6th
Place: Ebenezer Methodist Church
Address: 35 Kemp Road
Time: 9:30 Register 10:30 Program

Yours truly,
Philip Stevens, President
Reubin Thompson Memorial Foundation
1083 Woodland Drive
Soperton, GA 30457

Reubin Thompson Memorial Foundation, Inc. NEWSLETTER

Kemp, Georgia                                                                                               September 2019         Beasley, Coleman, Flanders, Hall, Hooks, Kea, Kirkland, Kitchen(s), Lumley, Moore,            Riner, Rowell, Scott, Sumner, Thigpen, Webb, Youngblood & more


We gathered last fall on October 7th.  Dr. John Derden spoke about Emanuel County’s tie to the Titanic disaster.  Our $1000 Roots and Wings Scholarship went to Presley Smith of Metter who attends the College of Coastal Georgia.  Congratulations went to her.  In addition we honored the memory of family members who passed away and heard inspiring special music.  The day was capped with delicious barbecue cooked by Robert Thompson and kin, along with dishes brought by attendees. 


Time is fast approaching for us to come together again. We will have the Sharing Time on Saturday, October 5th at the Swainsboro Library from 2:30-4:00.  All are welcome: no special knowledge needed!  The Sunday events will begin at 9:30 as noted.  Our program will be a real treat: Mary Ann Smith and Missy Elder will speak about “The Good Old Days” featuring life in Emanuel County.  These two are experts on the county history and have compiled two marvelous books entitled Pine Log Echoes. They will also have some special items from the local Farm and Home Museum.  We may be asked to figure out what in the world the items are!  Come and hear their interesting tales.

In addition, the winner of the $1000 Roots and Wings Scholarship will be announced.  For applications or information about the scholarship please get in touch with Susan Middleton at 6345 Stapleton Road, Macon GA 31216 or email her at: SYMiddleton@bellsouth.net  Reminder: Application deadline is June 1st.  Also, at our board meeting we formed a Cemetery Committee to oversee plans and policies for the new extension at Ebenezer Cemetery.  Please contact Bill T. Akers, Andy Thompson or Rev. Clarence Thompson for information about the new burial ground.


*Garland Thompson of Douglas passed away on December 17, 2018.  He served in the Marines during the Korean War and was very active in our Thompson Family Association.  He was truly an energetic and talented person both in his working days and retirement. Garland won many awards for his outstanding contributions in many area.  He was a descendant of Robert Bird and Betty Hall Thompson.

*Peggy Thompson Maynor died on April 3, 2019, in Jacksonville, Florida.  She had been an English teacher and church ministries coordinator, along with being a terrific wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  She was the daughter of George and Grace Christian Thompson who lived on Kemp Road.

*Clarke Johnson reports he has several books which he wrote for sale including his novels Bloody Toombs and The Heroes of Herat and a devotional book entitled From My Rocker.  Please see him the reunion for special prices or email him at clarkewj@outlook.com for more information.

*Mary Allison Stephens had an article published in Southern Studies, a peer-reviewed academic journal.  She plans to graduate in December from the University of Southern Mississippi with a PhD in English.  Last fall she was named to the Graduate Student Hall of Fame.  Her parents are Connie and Philip Stephens, a descendant of  Robert Bird and Betty Hall Thompson.

*Mary Kathleen “Kathy” Stephens Clemmons died on May 31, 2019, in St. Augustine.  She and late husband Woodrow (known as Woody) were married for 67 years!  She was a descendant of William M. and Rutha Watson Thompson and grew up in Jacksonville. 

[please send news items for the next family update]


An interesting story was sent to me by Denise Wells.  A few years ago she learned of a “new” first cousin as a result of DNA testing.  The cousin later traveled from California to Georgia to learn about her new-found family members.  Some forty people greeted her and showed her lots of southern hospitality!  This is an example of how DNA is an added tool in the toolbox of family history.  It is used along with written records and family lore. Since the surname Thompson is very common, it would be most helpful if more of our Thompson family were tested, as mentioned before.  Men named Thompson can use the Y-DNA test to learn about their father’s direct line, which might help us find the ancestors of our Reubin.  There are theories but no proof so far.  We do know he was born in North Carolina and lived in Burke County before moving to Emanuel.  Wife Rachel Chambers was born in Maryland.


Our high-lighted family is Gaston Allen Kitchen and wife Nancy Elizabeth “Betty” Thompson, daughter of Rev. Robert Thompson and wife Mildred Amelia Beasley.  They are similar to other kinfolk of Kemp: honest, dependable, hard-working farmers with large families, thus many descendants.  They married February 16, 1860, at Kemp, and a few years later he was off to war.

Enlisting as a Private on May 1, 1862, he served in Company H of the 48th GA Infantry, CSA. He was wounded at Gettysburg July 2, 1863, in the same battle in which his brother James Smith Kitchen and brother-in-law Asa Thompson received fatal injuries.  He was promoted to 3rd Corporal in September of 1864 and made Color Bearer the following February.  Present with those who surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, he soon began the long journey home.  Like Betty, many women of Kemp had to cope with heavy responsibilities of home and family during the war when men were gone.  G.A. and Betty remained in the area, had eight children and, by my count, 42 grandchildren.  You may recall he was one of those who put up land to help build the church!  This couple is buried in our Ebenezer Cemetery. 

Sources: Ancestry, Federal Census, Find-A-Grave, Footprints of a Pioneer Family, obituaries, National Archives service records.


Final plans are being made for the publication of a book featuring Reubin and Rachel Chambers Thompson and their descendants next year.  Due to the size of the family, it may be limited to those in the 6th generation following Reubin.  I am using a variety of sources for research including those listed above for the Kitchens as well as others. The Sharing Time is a good chance to discuss genealogy.  I am always glad to answer questions.

Newsletter editor & family historian:

Marilyn M. Lear                                                     BackRiver@comcast.net
4106 Riverside Drive                                                          912-265-5916
Brunswick, GA  31520

Officers & Directors: Philip Stephens, President, Clarke Johnson, Treasurer, Bill T. Akers,  Lucille Braswell, Bo George, Marilyn Lear, Andy Thompson, Rev. Clarence Thompson, Robert Thompson, and Martha Walker

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