Nathaniel Byers "Dutch" Thompson

Is your surname Thompson?

Research the Thompson family

Nathaniel Byers "Dutch" Thompson's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Nathaniel Byers "Dutch" Thompson

Birthplace: Middletown, Monmouth County, NJ, United States
Death: October 10, 1854 (92)
Soco Creek, North Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Pidgeon Thompson and Nancy Byers
Husband of Esther Thompson
Father of Esther Elizabeth Sawyer; Lorenzo Dow Thompson; Thomas Thompson and Jane Thompson

Occupation: Minister/ Coroner
Managed by: Paul Hildebrandt
Last Updated:

About Nathaniel Byers "Dutch" Thompson

Most of the people who moved into the Smokies in the 19th century to settle in what would become Swain Co. would be, by today's standards, very interesting characters. Two such people are Rev. Nathan "Dutch" Thompson and his wife, Ester "Gantanaga" Black. Rev. Thompson was born Aug. 28, 1762 in New Jersey of either British or Dutch ancestry. He most probably fought in the American Revolution for a Nathan Thompson enlisted in 1777 for 3 years in Maj. John Baptist Ashe's Company of the First N.C. Battalion, and a Nathan Thompson was a private in the 10th Reg., Wilson's Company, and was taken prisoner by the British in 1779. In 1784 he began his career as a Methodist preacher, continuing to preach for the next 68 years until his death at the age of 92 in 1854. He was in Lincoln Co., N.C. by 1785 for on Aug. 19 of that year he married Ester "Gantanaga" Black. She was born in 1769 and was the daughter of Thomas Black who was, reportedly, descended from Chief Junaluska, making her either a full- or half-blood Cherokee. Her Indian name was Gantanaga. In 1790, they were in Rutherford Co., N.C. but had moved into the Smokies of BuncombeCo., N.C. before 1800, settling somewhere in what would soon become Haywood County. At its first meeting in March of 1809, Haywood County's all--powerful Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions appointed Rev. Nathan Thompson as the county's first Coroner, so he was living within a day's trip of what would become Waynesville, probably on Soco Creek. There is no mention in the Court's minutes of a salary for Nathan, probably because there was no money for one. At its next meeting the Court ordered that "Nathan Thompson be allowed Ten Pounds out of the first money collected in the County for the Benefit of the poor for keeping a deranged woman said to be Betsey Goodin." I can find no record of his having been paid for this humane service, but it shows that from the very first the county was concerned with the care of its less fortuniate souls. It would be interesting to know what eventually happened to poor Betsey Goodin and how she happened to become a ward of the county since, during that period, families took care of their infirm members. Perhaps her family had all died or had moved off and left her, as sometimes happened. Haywood's first census of 1810 enumerates Nathan Thompson, and poor Betsey might be one of the 13 people listed in his household. In 1810 the Court appointed him as foreman of a jury for cases that would soon be brought to its attention. Exactly where Rev. Nathan and Ester settled is difficult to say, but in 1831 they were living in the Soco Creek-Oconaluftee River area for in that year their oldest daughter, Elizabeth, who was 45, married a neighbor, Uriah "Ute" Sherrill. Ute's first wife, F. Dobson, had recently died, leaving him, at 77, with 8 slaves and a lot of land in the Soco Creek area that eventually became part of the Cherokee Indian Reservation. Ute Sherrill had moved into Haywood Co. about 1814 from the Morganton area where, in 1788, he had put up the bond for the trial of his brother-in-law, Col. John Sevier, who would become Tennessee's first governor, and who was being tried at Morganton by N.C. for having attempted to found a new state, the "Lost State of Franklin," from land that N.C. considered as its territory. Several of Ute's family moved into Haywood Co. in the early 19th century, some of whose descendants, through, become related to the Thompson family. As a Methodist minister, Nathan undoubtedly preached at the large annual camp meeting revivals held for many years at the Shook farm near Canton. In the Macon Co. Deed Books, Rev. Nathan is found as witness to 3 land transactions between his daughter, Elizabeth Sherrill, and William Sawyer, his son-in-law's father. Ute Sherrill,Elizabeth's husband, apparently left her his large holdings, and she began to sell them off after his death. Nathan's son, Nathan Jr., is also found in the same Deed Books acquiring numerous tracts, so that eventally the family had considerable holdings in present Swain and Jackson Counties. A family story says that Ester Black Thompson explained her dark skin to the authorities during the Indian Removal of 1838 by saying that she was Black Dutch, an ancestral origin that many early settlers claimed. She eventually lived near Chambers Creek which emptied into the Little Tennessee River below Bryson City, Another story, related to me by LamonChambers, says that when she died the people in the community would not let her be buried in the local graveyard for they felt that she was a 'heathen', so she was buried outside the cemetery under an oak tree on John McClure's place (where she probably would preferred being buried anyway), and the site of the grave, like so many early settlers' graves, was eventally lost. Another family story says that one of the Thompson grandchildren, Sarah Sawyer, who married Burton Welch, witnessed the burial of Tsali, the Cherokee martyr, during the Indian Removal of 1838. During this dreadful episode in American history many of the Indians were kept in a stockade on Burton's place near Bushnell. Sarah said that when Tsali was buried, (on John Hyde's place), his wife came to his grave and, weeping unconsolably, heaped sand upon it until the soldiers carried her away. In 1906 Congress set up the Dawes Commission to decide upon legal membership in the 'Five Civilized Tribes'. Those who could prove that they had sufficient Cherokee blood were elgible to be admitted were granted a ceretain amount of land and money, which made membership attractive. A number of Rev. Nathan and Ester Thompson's descendants applied for these benefits and were awarded them. In researching the Thompson family, to which I'm related by a number of marriages and intermarriages too numerous to recount, I contacted one of Rev. Nathan's elderly descendants. She wrote that her mother had told her, about 70 years ago, that they were definitiely Indian, but that one of their ancestors (the Burton Welch mentioned earlier who married Sarah Sawyer), had gone to India, married and returned to the Smokies withhis bride, who after she and Burton had had several children, had returned to India. Many years ago it was not 'socially O.K.' to have Indian blood, as it is now; so some family stories are best just enjoyed and not too closely examined.

"In addition to my own research, material for this article came from Bryan Aldridge; THE PHILLIP CHAMBERS FAMILY by Lamon Chambers, Haywood Co. N.C. Marriage Bonds; Minutes of the Haywood County Court of Pleas and Quarter Session; Haywood and Macon County census; various materials published in THE BONE RATTLER; Thompson/Buchanan family Bible (belongs to Roy S. Buchanan of the East Fork Community of JacksonCo., N.C.); "Genealogy of the Buchanan Family", by N. Margaret Frazier in the Spring, 1989, BONE RATTLER; EAST FORK OF SAVANNAH, JACKSON COUNTY, N.C. HISTORY, 1882-1982 (condensed), by Lloyd Wilkes Cowan (loaned to me by Willa Mae Hall Smathers); and from Thomas Kryssbek of Salt Lake City, UT, who also supplied the Cherokee Nation membership material at the end of the article.

Submitted to the BONE RATTLER, Vol 8, No.4, Spring, 1992, by Duane Oliver, Box 394, Hazelwood, N.C. 28738

view all

Nathaniel Byers "Dutch" Thompson's Timeline

August 28, 1762
Middletown, Monmouth County, NJ, United States
North Carolina
April 24, 1797
Rutherford Co.,NC
Henderson,Vance,North Carolina,USA
June 25, 1806
North Carolina, United States
October 10, 1854
Age 92
North Carolina, United States