The original owner of The Thompson House was Joseph Wood Thompson, who was born in 1871 near Charleston, Mississippi. When he was seven years old, the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878 swept through Mississippi, killing both of his parents and two of his siblings, leaving only him and his infant sister. He lived the rest of his childhood in Charleston with his Aunt and Uncle,
the Joseph S. Thompsons.
Joseph Wood Thompson moved to Leland in 1891. He became a pioneer Washington County planter and merchant, operating the Lewis, Archer, and Perrin Plantations and the Leland Mercantile Company. He organized and served as President of the Planters Bank in Leland, was a member of the Board of Alderman in Leland, the First Baptist Church of Leland. He was also the treasurer of the Leland Business League and the Leland Law and Order League.
In 1898, Joseph Wood Thompson
married Idella Elizabeth Long, the
daughter of Dr. John A. and
Virginia Stovall Long, in
About 1902, they built the first Thompson House, a large Queen Anne style dwelling. It was located at 111 North Deer Creek Drive West, in Leland, Mississippi. It was here they raised their family of four surviving children, two sons and two daughters. Joseph Thompson’s nephew, John H. Cossar, Jr., came to Leland to attend high school and lived with them.
“Cotton became King” in the Mississippi Delta as the years passed, and the land owners prospered. Many of the local planters built or renovated their first homes, and the Thompson were among them. First homes were either torn down and new ones built, or existing homes were modified and renovated.
In 1920, they renovated their original home as it stands today in the same location, a Colonial Revival mansion, built by the T. J. Harvey & Company, of Greenville, Mississippi. The basic interior of the house remained, porches removed, and wings added, rooflines altered, changing the exterior drastically.
Through the years, another nephew, Lee Cossar, lived in The Thompson House; along with Bill Stanton, who was starting his banking career; and John Dickins, who later became the Thompson’s son in law.
Both daughters of Joseph and Idella Thompson were married in The Thompson House, and many other family events were held there. Friends and family were constantly welcomed to the home, as the Thompsons enjoyed entertaining through the years.
Joseph Wood Thompson was president of the Board of Mississippi Levee Commissioners during the flood of 1927. He received the call in the early morning hours of April 21 that the levee had broken at Mounds Landing, north of Greenville, Mississippi. His family watched as the waters slowly spread over the Mississippi Delta, leaving thousands homeless. As the rising water entered Leland, which was 25 miles from the break, it rose to the top step of The Thompson House, but thankfully, stopped there, not entering the house. The location of the house directly on the banks of Deer Creek, was one of the highest parts of the town, which prevented any severe interior damage. Many refugees gathered on the railroad tracks, another high point of the town and Mrs. Thompson and others constantly prepared food for the stranded people. The 1927 Flood was considered one of the greatest natural disasters this country has ever known.
Joseph Wood Thompson died in 1939, at the age of 68 years. One year later, Mrs. Thompson sold the house to James Rabun and Josie Pattison Jones, swapping houses with them. Josie Jones was a distant cousin to the Thompsons, and a family favorite.
Unfortunately, Josie was tragically killed in an automobile accident after a few months of living in the house, but James Rabun Jones and their daughter, Betty Lee, continued to live in The Thompson House. Betty Lee Jones married Dr. Eustace H. Winn, Jr., of Winterville, in a ceremony in St. James Episcopal Church in Greenville. Their wedding reception was held at The Thompson House, and Betty Lee, a beautiful bride, tossed her wedding bouquet from the balcony of the house, one June evening in 1946.
After the death of James Rabun Jones in 1948, Charles and Bess Upshur became the third owners of The Thompson House. The Upshur’s, their two daughters and two sons lived in the house many years. Charles, who at one time was the mayor of Leland, died in 1985. Bess Upshur continued to live in the house until the time of her death in 2004.
The house was sold online by the Upshur descendants to Suzanne Skinner, PhD, a holistic doctor who became the fourth owner of the house. She moved to Leland from California, bringing a large collection of furniture and artifacts. Her friend, Lonnie Miller of Missouri, also moved into the house to help Dr. Skinner manage her vast collection. Dr. Skinner died of an infection quite suddenly in 2009, and Lonnie Miller inherited the house from her, becoming the fifth owner.
The Thompson House was sold in 2013 to a group of six local investors, some being Stovall cousins of the Thompson family. The new owners are Jody and Kicky Stovall, E. L. and Mary Boteler, Hartwell and Jodie Huddleston, Kenner and Stephanie Patton, Ron and Kea Cassada, and Lee and Hardie Frankel. It has been totally renovated, and is now both a Bed and Breakfast and event location. It has been named “The Thompson House,” and opened for business in June 2013, with Charlotte Buchanan as Innkeeper.
—Dorothy Dickins O’Neill
History of The Thompson House
The First Thompson House
On upper porch:
Joseph Wood Thompson, holding his son,
James Wynn; and nephew John Harper Cossar, Jr.,
holding Thompson daughter, Mildred.
On lower porch: Builder, name unknown.
The Thompsons, pictured on their honeymoon in New Orleans, La.
The Renovated Thompson House
Home at same location: 111 North Deer Creek Drive,
The Thompson House -1927
Surrounded by flood waters in 1927; photo shows reflection of water, but water line was at the third step.