Joseph Henry "Colonel Joe" Thompson (R47) Beaver (part) and Lawrence (part) Counties
Joseph Henry "Colonel Joe" Thompson of Patterson Heights, Beaver Falls, (born Kilkeel, County Down, Ireland September 26, 1871) attended the public schools in Ireland and Duff’s Business College, Pittsburgh, 1896-1897, bachelors, Geneva College (1904), bachelors, University of Pittsburgh (1905), University of Pittsburgh Law School (1907) Lawyer, Beaver Falls; a highly decorated World War I veteran, Purple Heart, Distinguished Service Cross, Medal of Honor, Pennsylvania state senator, head football coach of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, inducted into the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame (1971) inducted into the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame (1977). Married Violet Edith Smeegh, September 26, 1908. Died February 1, 1928 from ailments aggravated by war wounds.
While at Geneva College, he immediately became a basketball star and also participated in gymnastics and wrestling, but did not go out for football until 1900. He served as Geneva's player-coach for three years, with his football teams compiling a 27–2–3 record.
Continued his education at the University of Pittsburgh (Western University of Pennsylvania), where he was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, played football from 1904 and 1906, during which time the Panthers compiled a 26–6 record. He captained the Pitt football team to its first perfect season, 10-0, in 1904 when the Panthers won all ten games and surrendered only one touchdown. While at Pitt, also coached the track and field team beginning in 1904. At various points, he also coached football at Pittsburgh High School and Carnegie Technical Schools—now known as Carnegie Mellon University—and was Rochester High School's first football coach.
Graduated from Pitt in 1905, continued on with post-graduate work in the School of Law completing his law degree, graduating in 1909, and was admitted to the bar. Admitted to the Beaver (January 17, 1908) and Allegheny County Bars. General Counsel to Clarion, Lawrence, and Connoquenessing Hydro-Electric Power companies.
Following graduation from Pitt's law school, assumed the head coaching position at Pitt from 1909 to 1912, during which period he led Pitt to a 34–14–2 record. The highlight of his coaching tenure was the undefeated 9-0, 1910 season in which Pitt went unscored upon 282-0 and considered by many to be that season's national champion. He was responsible for helping to facilitate the implementation of the first known use of numbers on the uniforms of football players during his coaching years at Pitt.
Distinguished Service Cross for his valor on October 1, 1918
Medal of Honor on October 5, 1925
Elected, Republican 47th District, Pennsylvania State Senate 1913 to 1916. Chairman, Mines and Mining; member, Appropriations, City Passenger Railways, Judicial General, Military Affairs, Public Health and Sanitation and Public Roads and Highways
Names of any service after Senate –year(s):
Enlisted in the Pennsylvania National Guard's Company H, 14th Infantry Regiment on February 16, 1905. He was promoted to second lieutenant on November 1, 1906; to captain in Company B, 10th Infantry, Pennsylvania National Guard on December 16, 1909; to major on June 29, 1912; to lieutenant colonel on October 28, 1918; and finally to colonel on March 15, 1919. While serving in WWI he was wounded four times: on September 29, 1918; September 30, 1918; October 1, 1918; and again on October 1, 1918, when he was gassed. He remained on duty after each instance. As of April 12, 1919, he was commanding the 110th Infantry Regiment. Thompson initially returned to the United States on May 11, 1919. He returned to France in June 1919, in order to redeploy the 110th Infantry Regiment to the United States. He was discharged from active duty in December 1919.
While serving in France with the 110th Infantry, then Major Thompson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his valor on October 1, 1918, during which action he suffered four wounds and was gassed on one occasion. This decoration was subsequently upgraded to the Medal of Honor on October 5, 1925. His four wounds entitled him to wear four wound chevrons (the precursor to the Purple Heart which was reestablished by the President of the United States per War Department General Orders 3, 1932) on his uniform's lower right sleeve.
Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army, 110th Infantry, 28th Division. Place and date: At Apremont, France; October 1, 1918. Entered service at: Beaver Falls, Pa. Born: September 26, 1871; Kilkeel, County Down, Ireland. General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 21 (October 5, 1925).
Counterattacked by two regiments of the enemy, Major Thompson encouraged his battalion in the front line by constantly braving the hazardous fire of machineguns and artillery. His courage was mainly responsible for the heavy repulse of the enemy. Later in the action, when the advance of his assaulting companies was held up by fire from a hostile machinegun nest and all but one of the six assaulting tanks were disabled, Major Thompson, with great gallantry and coolness, rushed forward on foot three separate times in advance of the assaulting line, under heavy machinegun and antitank-gun fire, and led the one remaining tank to within a few yards of the enemy machinegun nest, which succeeded in reducing it, thereby making it possible for the infantry to advance.
Smull’s Legislative Hand Book, Miller, Biographical Sketches of Senators, pg. 1097; 1916.
The Joseph H. Thompson is a self-unloading tug/barge combination built in 1944 at Chester, Pennsylvania. She is 706 feet long with 19 hatches on deck that open into four cargo holds below. She was first named the Marine Robin but became the Joseph H. Thompson in 1952 when a 250-foot self-unloading boom was added to her deck that allows her to unload cargo without shore side equipment. She is owned and operated by Upper Lakes Towing, headquartered in Escanaba on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She often brings limestone into port and will then load taconite while here.
Stephen Foster, known also as "the father of American music" wrote a song entitled "Joe Thompson" to honor him as football coach at Pitt. He wrote more than 200 songs, including "Oh! Susanna", " "Camptown Races", "Old Folks at Home" ("Swanee River"), "My Old Kentucky Home", many of his compositions remain popular today. Foster, has been identified as "the most famous songwriter of the nineteenth century" and may be the most recognizable American composer in other countries.
Who plans the plays to spring upon the foe?
Who fought for Wup, five years or more ago?
Who's still for Pitt, does anybody know?
Just hear those loyal rooters shouting:
Joe! Joe! Joe!
We're coming, we're coming;
We have the foe in tow,
So here's a cheer for Pittsburgh dear
And Joe! Joe! Joe!