Thompson, Mrs Ruth A of Copeland


          Ruth A. Thompson. There are few in the lower Kootenai valley that are not acquainted with Mrs. Ruth A. Thompson, the subject of this article. She is a woman of remarkable business ability, and has seen not only the hardships of the pioneer's life in the new sections of the west, but she has also been called upon to endure the trials and misfortunes that fate oftentimes places upon members of our race, seemingly selecting, as in this case, those who are filled with courage and determination to win despite the obstacles and barriers.

           An account of Mrs. Thompson's life will be interesting to the readers of the history of our county and therefore we append an epitome. She was born in Senaca county, Ohio, on May 22, 1830, being the daughter of Lieutenant John and Mary M. (Curtis)  Whiteside. The father was a native of Dublin, Ireland, and came to Americt in 1810, locating in southern Ohio. He had the distinction of being a lieutenant in the war of 1812. The mother was born in Virginia and went to Ohio in 1825, and there married Mr. Whiteside in 1828. Later they settled in Madison county, that state, and there in 1844 Mr. Whiteside was drowned. Then Mrs. Whiteside removed to Indiana and remained there until her death in 1882. Our subject had but little opportunity to gain an education, there being no schools in these new countries.

          At the age of seventeen, it being 1847, she married Mr. O, C. Kilbury, a farmer and blacksmith. Ten years they remained in Ohio and then removed to Iowa, later coming to Illinois. In 1872 Mrs. Kilbury was forced to take up dressmaking to support her three children. Six children had been taken away by death previous to this. She was crowded into this work by the shiftlessness of a husband who refused to support his family and in 1873 she secured a divorce and since that time she managed to support herself and children in a good manner, even accumulating some property besides.

           In 1876 she came to Deadwood, South Dakota, and there she sewed and later kept boarders. She manifested the true spirit of courage in this place in a gracious act that few would have done. A wife died who left four children, one only two weeks old, and as this lady had a mother in Pennsylvania, Mrs. Kilbury took upon herself the task of taking these helpless children across the continent to their grandmother's home. The trip from Deadwood to Cheyenne, Wyoming, had to be made in a freight wagon and it was in winter. Mrs. Kilbury was equal to the occasion and safely took her charges to Pennsylvania and then returned to Cheyenne and in the spring to Deadwood, where she married Jesse Thompson, on August 13, 1878, a miner. They operated a hotel and in 1883 came to Montana and farmed for four years. Then a move was made to Spokane and later they came to their present location, one-half mile west from Copeland at Thompson's landing. Mr. Thompson bought an interest in a steamboat and Mrs. Thompson bought seventy head of cattle. They soon turned their attention to the cattle and during this time, Mr. and Mrs. Thompson gave their attention to herding them together and handling the hay for them. Mrs. Thompson remarks that those days of riding after the stock were among the happiest of her life, and the fifteen years spent with Mr. Thompson is the crowning portion of her career. But in 1892 Mr. Thompson was called away by death and since that time the entire management of affairs has devolved upon Mrs. Thompson. She has manifested excellent judgment and execution as always in her labors and she is now the owner of a section of land, about seventy-five head of cattle, plenty of buildings and improvements and does a dairying business. Almost all of this land she has bought since the death of her husband.

          Mrs. Thompson is a member of the Methodist church and is well respected and highly esteemed for her worth and excellent qualities, being a woman of integrity and faithfulness and sound principles. She has done much hard work, has managed her business affairs with commendable wisdom and is to be credited with much accomplished for the upbuilding and improvement of the country.


– Page 848 “An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903 “