Friday, May 21, 2021

Josephine Larimer

Josephine Larimer, daughter of William Larimer and Magdalene Neley, was born in Pennsylvania on August 21, 1838. I can document seven children in this family—Harriet Larimer, Amanda Larimer, Washington Larimer, Elizabeth Larimer, William Larimer, Josephine Larimer, and Robert Larimer. Josephine is the 2nd great grand aunt of my husband. Their nearest common relatives are her parent, William Larimer and Magdalena Neley.

Josephine comes from a line that I felt needed a deeper dive into. I was specifically interested in finding out more about her mother, Magdalene. Josephine’s sister, Elizabeth Larimer Horne, is my husband’s direct ancestor. Elizabeth’s death certificate listed Magdalene’s birthplace as Ireland so I wanted to know more. What I found was census records that listed her birthplace as Pennsylvania, which I tend to believe more accurate than the death certificate. Magdalene would have provided the information for the census record whereas the informant on Elizabeth’s death certificate was her daughter, Lydia Horne, who wouldn’t have had first hand knowledge. I don’t have enough information yet to tell Madgalene’s story so instead decided to write about Josephine, who was easier to track through time.

On August 10, 1850, Josephine and her family lived in the Peebles Township of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Her father worked as a house carpenter. Both of her parents were 50 years old. A 19-year-old male named David Patterson lived in the home. He too was a carpenter so probably worked with Josephine’s father. The house was full with seven of the Larimer children living there, three of them adults—Harriet (age 25), Amanda (age 23) and Washington (age 20). Josephine (age 12) and her brother Robert (age 10) were the only children attending school.

On June 11, 1860, Josephine, her parents, and brothers Washington and William continued to live in the Peebles Township. Her father, and now Washington, worked as a carpenter. Josephine’s father had a personal estate valued at $200.

I have been unable to find Josephine in the 1870 census but it appears that she married William Alexander Thompson, son of David Thompson and Susan Larimer, about 1870. I have yet to determine if his mother, whose maiden name was Larimer, had any connection to Josephine’s family. It wasn’t long before their family began to grow with daughter Harriet Lewella Thompson’s birth taking place in 1871. A second child was born in Pittsburgh on February 17, 1873—a son they named James L. Thompson. Unfortunately, Harriett only lived three years, dying on June 24, 1874 from scarlatina anginosa, better known as scarlet fever. They buried Harriet at Allegheny Cemetery on June 26. The following year, Josephine found herself pregnant again and gave birth to a son in Pittsburgh on September 7, 1875. They named him William, perhaps after his father.

Record of Harriett Lewella Thompson's death (click to enlarge)

The Thompson family lived on Hiland Avenue in Pittsburgh in 1874 but by June 12, 1880, had moved and lived on Pennsylvania Avenue in Pittsburgh. Her 81-year-old mother lived in the home. She was enumerated as Maggie Larimer and widowed. Like her father, Josephine’s husband was a carpenter. She and her husband had two children at the time, James and William. At age 7, James was attending school. William, just 4 years old, was not. Josephine gave birth to a fourth child they named Joseph, I assume after her, on March 31, 1883. Sadly, he died from diphtheria on October 14, 1885 at the age of 2 years, 6 months, and 13 days. They buried Joseph the next day at Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh.

On June 1, 1900, Josephine, William, and their son William lived in a rental home on St. Andrew Street in Pittsburgh. She was enumerated in the census as having had three children, two of which were living. Josephine, her husband, and son were all able to read and write. The family now had at least a third generation of carpenters with both William and son working in that profession. 

On May 6, 1910, Josephine and William lived on Pace Street in Pittsburgh. The census enumerator noted that they had been married for 49 years, which doesn’t sync with the 1880 census. I really need to find them in the 1870 census records. The 1880 record shows that Josephine had given birth to five children, with only one living. I have yet to find a record to document the fifth child. There was a James L. Thompson and his family living on Princeton Place which appears to be adjoined to Pace Street. Josephine and William lived at house number 207 and James lived at house number 209. The age for James is right so I feel pretty certain he is her only surviving child. James and his wife Margaret had five children at the time—Joseph W. Thompson, Margaret J. Thompson, Marie A. Thompson, Ruth D. Thompson, and Helen G. Thompson. They had lost one child. James was a carpenter, the same occupation as William. 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania census, 1910 (click to enlarge)

Josephine’s husband William died from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 73 years, 7 months, and 10 days on June 21, 1911. A private funeral service was held at the River Avenue home of their son James on June 23, with burial following at the German Lutheran Cemetery in Pittsburgh. William’s “Record of Burial Place of Veteran” on file with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Military Affairs notes that he was buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out if the cemeteries named are the same, just different names for them. Josephine’s husband served as a Sergeant with Company B of the 123rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry from May 13, 1863 to July 1, 1865. She filed for a widow's pension on July 5, 1911.

Record of Burial Place of Veteran for William A. Thompson

On January 7, 1920, Josephine was enumerated as an inmate at the Ladies Grand Army Home on Woodstock Avenue in Swissvale, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The Ladies Grand Army Home provided care to Civil War widows. She died there on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1925 from chronic myocarditis (“an inflammation of the heart muscle”) contributed by arteriosclerosis (commonly called “hardening of the arteries”). She was 87 years old. Josephine was buried on January 2, 1926 at German Lutheran Cemetery (again, is this St. Peter’s Cemetery?) in Pittsburgh. She was survived by her son James. 


  • Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861–1934.
  • Joseph Thompson, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., Deaths, 1870–1905.
  • Josephine Larnar [sic] Thompson Certificate of Death no. 125137, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.
  • Mrs. Josephine Lamar Thompson, Pittsburgh Daily Post, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 2, 1926.
  • Myocarditis, Mayo Clinic;
  • Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1709-1950, database, FamilySearch ( : 15 February 2020), William A. Thompson in entry for William Thompson, 1875.
  • Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh City Deaths, 1870-1905, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 2 March 2021), Harriet Lewella Thompson, 24 Jun 1874; citing v 10 p 162, Allegheny County Courthouse, Pittsburgh; FHL microfilm 505,820.
  • Registration of Births in the City of Pittsburgh, State of Pennsylvania, A.D. 1873.
  • The Ladies' G.A.R. Nursing Home, Abandoned America;
  • Thompson death notice, Pittsburgh Daily Post, June 22, 1911.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Peebles Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1850, 1860.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1880, 1900, 1910.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Swissvale, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1920.
  • William A. Thompson, Pennsylvania, U.S., Veterans Burial Cards, 1777–2012.
  • William Alexander Thompson Certificate of Death no.59337, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.
  • William Thompson obituary, Pittsburgh Daily Post, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 23, 1911.

No comments:

Post a Comment