Catherine Lightfoot Carrington Thompson

A loving aunt with a mother’s bond

The first thing you’ll want to know about Catherine is that she was first and foremost, Aunt Kate. She was a woman with tremendous love for her family, and she spent most of her years caring for the children of her nieces and nephew. One child, Pattie Love Carrington, was especially dear to Aunt Kate. In a letter written by Catherine’s nephew and Pattie’s father, William Allen Carrington, he mentions that Aunt Kate thinks of Pattie as “the child of her old age.”1

Catherine married later in life, at age 35, and never had any children of her own. In the report put together by Norfolk & Western after the wreck, she was listed as “Mrs. Judge Thompson” and was traveling in the sleeper car named “Toboco”.2 Judge Thompson was Lucas Powell Thompson of Staunton, Virginia.3

Aunt Kate and Pattie were traveling from Texas to Virginia the night of the wreck. It is possible that Aunt Kate was then living near Marshall, Texas.4 Pattie’s father had relocated to Texas in the years after the Civil War. On a night which was full of tragedy, the horror that fell upon Aunt Kate may have been the most gut-wrenching. Little Pattie would perish in the wreck while Aunt Kate survived, and her sorrow was evident in many of the eyewitness accounts in the aftermath. A family member, Joseph Chappell Hutcheson, escorted Aunt Kate home in the days after the wreck and recounted that she was no longer even able to shed tears, but could only emit “a dry, pitiless wailing grief.”5 One newspaper even listed “deranged with grief” in its description of her injuries.6

Catherine died just shy of four years after the wreck at Thaxton, and she was buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. Her final resting place is at the side of her cherished great-niece, Pattie.

Do you have more information about Catherine Thompson? If you think she might have been an ancestor of yours, or if you have some additional information that you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks!


  1. Hutcheson and Allied Families Papers, 1837-1997, MS 496, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, Letter to Alice L. Young, January 18, 1880.
  2. Fourteenth Annual Report of The Railroad Commissioner of the State of Virginia, J.H. O’Bannon Superintendent of Public Printing, Richmond, VA, 1890: p. xlv.
  3. Find A Grave, “Catherine Lightfoot Carrington Thompson (1825 – 1893) – Find A Grave Memorial”,, (accessed September 27, 2012).
  4. “The Late Disaster.”, Roanoke Daily Herald (Roanoke, VA), July 4, 1889
  5. Joseph Chappell Hutcheson to Elise Hutcheson Chapin, July 11, 1889, Personal Files of Jim Hutcheson, Montana.
  6. “Death In A Wreck”, The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.), July 3, 1889, p. 1.

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