Reunion Honors Family History

Nancy Juanita Thompson, named for her grandmother and Thompson family matriarch, Nancy Thompson, places flowers on the grave of her father, Ed Brice Thompson (one of Nancy’s sons) last weekend during the first reunion of the Thompson descendants in Blair. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

Nancy Juanita Thompson, named for her grandmother and Thompson family matriarch, Nancy Thompson, places flowers on the grave of her father, Ed Brice Thompson (one of Nancy’s sons) last weekend during the first reunion of the Thompson descendants in Blair. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

BLAIR (Sept. 9, 2016) – In 1886, Bun and Nancy Thompson married and started a life together in Blair. Last week, more than 100 descendants of the couple’s 12 children gathered together in Blair for the first ever Bun and Nancy Thompson Family Reunion.

Thompson and his wife were hard working and cared for the community, according to a reunion document prepared by one of their granddaughters, Emily Thompson Haley of Blythewood. Determined to make a name for themselves in the segregated Southern community, the two newlyweds taught themselves to read and write. Both worked as share croppers for Jimmy Frazier Sr. until Bun Thompson was able to buy 300 acres of land from Frazier to start his own farm. Thompson was the first African-American in Fairfield County to own land, Haley said.

Nancy Thompson made a name for herself in her own right, playing a prominent role in the Blair community as the local midwife.

“They referred to her as the Florence Nightingale of her time. She would get on her horse and ride to deliver babies and provide medical services to the ill. Most of it free of charge,” Sherry Fears, the family historian, said.

The Thompsons diligently gave back to the community, whether it was helping the ill for free or giving food to the less fortunate and selling supplies on the open market, Fears said. Nancy Thompson organized the Women’s Humble Burial Aid Society in Fairfield County to ensure families in the community had enough money for a proper funeral for their loved ones. Her husband mortgaged his house and land to build Blair’s Gethsemane Baptist Church.

“My great-grandfather [Bun] helped build that church,” Fears said. So it was fitting that the descendants of Bun and Nancy Thompson first gathered at the Gethsemane Baptist Church where the foundation of the community met the cornerstones of the family’s bloodline.

Following Bun Thompson’s legacy as someone who broke boundaries and strove to be a wholesome and righteous man, one of the Thompson’s grandchildren, Herman Young, also became a pillar of the Fairfield community. He became the first African-American Sheriff of Fairfield County and served for 22 years. Upon his retirement, Gov. Nikki Haley bestowed upon Sheriff Young the highest honor that can be presented by the Governor’s Office: The Order of the Palmetto.

The descendants of this prominent family, known for their generosity to their community, celebrated their achievements and historical breakthroughs during the three-day reunion. It began with a Sunday church service at Gethsemane Baptist Church followed by a visit to the family cemetery adjacent to the church to remember Bun, Nancy and other family members who are buried there. They then embarked on a tour of the Thompson homestead in Blair and spent the afternoon at a cookout on Weston Lake in Columbia where they enjoyed lots of good food and entertainment by a James Brown impersonator.

The Thompson relatives spent Sunday in high spirits as they learned more about their own history and built bonds to last a lifetime. The next reunion is planned for 2018.