Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

James Braxton Thompson


The Biographical Encyclopaedia of Kentucky of the Dead and Living Men of the Nineteenth Century 37-371 (Cincinnati: J.M. Armstrong & Company, 1878):

THOMPSON, JAMES BRAXTON, Lawyer, third son of Lewis M. and Mary R. Thompson, was born near Center, in what is now Metcalfe County, Kentucky, December 13, 1838. His parents were descended from two families of the Thompsons of Virginia, between whom, as has always been supposed, no kinship existed. His grand-parents emigrated to Kentucky early in the present century. Left, when little more than seven years old, to the sole care of a widowed mother—his father having died early in 1846—his educational training was confined to such schools as were then accessible in that county, and to that home reading and study which he found leisure to avail himself of during a busy childhood. He early manifested a poetical genius of no common order; and after the age of sixteen, he contributed much, in both prose and verse, to various periodicals—some of his best work appearing in the "Southern Literary Weekly." He published no volume, as his literary productions were but the results of leisure hours during a few stirring years; but his fugitive pieces, prose and verse, and some political speeches made during the Presidential campaign of 1860, and the beginning of troubles in 1861, have been collected, and will be published for private distribution among his friends and relatives. He was a member of the Old Presbyterian Church, but liberal in his religious views. He obtained license, after a due course of reading, and commenced the practice of law in Edmonton, Kentucky, in 1860, and began at once to rise in his profession. . . . He enlisted in the service of the Confederate States in 1861, impelled by both a sense of right and that spirit of chivalry which naturally inclines to the cause of the weak. In 1862, while Bragg was in Kentucky, he recruited a company of cavalry, and was on his way from Glasgow, alone, September 29, 1862, to the place of rendezvous, to take command, preparatory to moving southwards, when he was set upon by a band of bush-whackers and murdered.