Heber Samuel Thompson, son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Cunningham) Thompson, was born August 14, 1840, in Pottsville, Pa., and after preparation there entered Yale the second term of Freshman year. He was absent from college the last term of the course, in the army, but obtained a furlough of ten days, passed the final examinations, and was graduated with his class, although on Commencement day he was on duty with his company at Fort Washington, Md. April 17, 1861, he enlisted as a private in the Washington Artillerists of Pottsville, which was one of the first companies to arrive for the defense of the Capital. Reaching Washington April 18, they were quartered and equipped in the Capitol, where they were welcomed by President Lincoln in person. They have ever since been called “The First Defenders,” and Mr. Thompson had recently published a history of the companies. His company was later incorporated in the Twenty-fifth Pennsylvania Infantry, a three-months regiment, in which he served until mustered out, July 29.
At the organization of the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry he entered that regiment September 16 as First Lieutenant, and accompanied his corps to Kentucky, to form a part of the Army of the Ohio, under the command of General Don Carlos Buell, afterwards of General William F. Rosecrans. In May, 1863, he was promoted to be Captain. He took part in the battles of Chaplin Hills or Perryville, Ky. ; Stone River or Murfreesboro, McMinnville, and Shelbyville, Tenn. ; Chickamauga, Kenesaw Mtn., Ga., and more than a hundred minor conflicts and skirmishes. From January to August, 1864, he was inspector of the First Brigade, Second Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Cumberland. On August 20, in a desperate engagement at Love joy’s Station, Ga., twenty-eight miles south of Atlanta, during “General Kilpatrick’s raid,” his horse was killed and he was taken by the retreating Confederates as a prisoner. He was in captivity in Charleston, S. C, from August 30 to December 21, 1864, when he was released on parole. During more than three months of this time he was ill with fever in a Confederate hospital. While still on parole he was appointed Major, but with no opportunity for further active service he declined the commission, resigned, and was mustered out January 24, 1865. He was officially commended for distinguished service at Sparta and Shelbyville, Tenn., and Chickamauga and Love joy’s Station, Ga.
After the war he lived for a year in Richmond, Va., dealing in anthracite coal, and then returned to Pottsville, where he was in partnership with his brother William in a general iron and hardware business until 1871. He then took up with Harris Brothers of that place the study of civil and mining engineering. This was his profession during the remainder of his life. Since 1874 he had been engineer and agent for the Board of Directors of City Trusts of Philadelphia, having charge of the coal lands and mining operations of the estate of Stephen Girard in Schuylkill and Columbia Counties, Pa. ; he was also the general manager of the Girard Water Co., which supplies water in that district.
He occupied many other official positions, being a director and for a time president of the Miners’ National Bank of Pottsville and director of the Eastern Pennsylvania Railways Co. ; since 1893 president of the board of trustees of the State Hospital near Ashland, Pa., for injured persons of the anthracite coal region ; a director of Pottsville Hospital ; and for years on the county visiting committee of the Pennsylvania State Board of Charities, and the State Commission on Lunacy. In 1891 he was appointed by the Governor one of a commission of three “to investigate the waste of coal mining with a view to utilizing the waste.” They made an exhaustive report in 1893. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the American Institute of Mining Engineers, and the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America.
He received the degree of Master of Arts from Yale in 1871.
He was an elder of the First Presbyterian Church forty-one years, and superintendent of the Sunday School eighteen years.
Mr. Thompson died of nephritis in Pottsville, March 9, 1911, in his 71st year.
He married January 23, 1866, Sallie E., daughter of Isaac and Margaretta (Pitman) Beck of Pottsville, and had three daughters (of whom the youngest died in early childhood) and two sons. The elder son graduated from the Academical Department in 1891. The second daughter is the wife of James Archbald (B.A. Yale 1887).
From: Obituary record of the graduates of the undergraduate schools, deceased 1860-70–1950/51, page 41.
Author: Yale University
Subject: Yale University
Publisher: New Haven