Peter Thompson, Father of Worthington

Of all his enterprises, the $80,000 hotel, completed in 1912 when Thompson was 73, was the crowning achievement, as it was intended to be.

Ray Crippen

WORTHINGTON — Saturday will be the 60th anniversary of the death of the man whose obituaries nominated him as the Father of Worthington. Peter Thompson was 87 years old, rich and blind when he died at his home on Feb. 8, 1927, a dozen days past his birthday. The works of his life were a legend that people of his era recited often: builder of the Hotel Thompson; founder and publisher of the Worthington Globe; founder and first president of the town's first bank, the Nobles County Bank; an organizer of the Swedish (First) Lutheran Church; businessman, selling farm machinery; grain dealer; realtor; an abstractor who prepared the city's first abstract books in 1879.


Charter member of the library board, instructing fellow frontiersmen on the importance of libraries; Worthington's first treasurer; president of the village council; Nobles County abstractor; Nobles County treasurer for two terms; Nobles County commissioner and chairman of the board.

When he wasn't busy at Worthington, Peter Thompson was at Adrian where he:

Bought a stock farm, built a grain elevator, conducted a farm machinery business.


Peter Thompson was indefatigable. When he died it was thought (a modest claim) he was the best-known man in Nobles County.

Thompson first came on the Worthington scene when he was 39 years old. It was October 1871. One of his good friends was J.O. Brunius, a surveyor for the Sioux City & St. Paul Railroad. Thompson was a merchant at Carver; Brunius told him the opportunities he foresaw at the place that was to be named Worthington. Thompson had another former close friend, former Gov. Stephen Miller, who had become land agent for the railroad. Thompson assisted Brunius with the survey of the Worthington townsite and Miller "gave him valuable information relative to real estate locations." Miller guided Thompson in the purchase of the three lots in what would be downtown Worthington, the first lots sold here. Thompson then left and returned on Sunday, April 16, 1872, on the first regular train into town.

Of all Thompson's enterprises, the $80,000 hotel, completed in 1912 when Thompson was 73, was the crowning achievement, as it was intended to be.

Of all Thompson's activities the fabled 60th wedding anniversary celebration in the Thompson's Empire Room was the best-remembered. A host of Peter and Christine Thompson's friends came together, along with daughters Hannah and Nellie, for a party at which no expense was spared. That was March 18, 1920.

Sitting at the head of the table, in the elegant second story ballroom of his hotel. amidst of host of well-wishers, Peter Thompson might have reflected he had come a great distance from the day of his birth at Jertjo, Helsingland, Sweden, in 1839.

Related Topics: HISTORY
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