- Category : Law-Police
- Type : PE
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Four Ways 3
English-born American Old West gunfighter and Austin City Marshall. His family moved to Texas where they endured regular incursions from Native Americans and the American Civil War. Ben became a duelist, Indian fighter, Confederate Cavalryman, mercenary, professional gambler, hired gun and lawman, and his life was chronicled in the newspapers of the day. He was noted for his sharpshooting as well as his brand of loyalty and honor. Bat Masterson wrote of him "It is doubtful if in his time there was another man living who equaled him with a pistol in a life-and-death struggle."
Ben was the eldest of five children born to William Thompson and Mary Ann (Baker). One of his sisters, Sarah Ann, born in 1850, died in infancy. The youngest sibling, Frances, was born in Austin on March 21, 1858. As a young lad, Ben learned the trade of newspaper printer. His father resumed the maritime career that he had left behind in England and seemed to have abandoned the family. At age 15, Ben had his first shooting incident when he became angry at a chum. The lad was not seriously hurt and Ben was sentenced to spend 60 days in jail but was released early.
On a trip to New Orleans to work for a bookbinder, Ben defended a female recipient of crude statements and advances. He reportedly killed the offending Frenchman in a knife duel. After his return to Austin in 1860, he enlisted in the ranger battalion of veteran Indian fighter Captain Edward Burleson Jr. As soon as he learned that the Civil War had begun with the fall of Ft. Sumter, Ben Thompson enlisted in the Confederate army. He returned home and married Catherine L. Moore on November 26 1863 but remained a member of the Confederate Army until the end of the war. He escaped from a jail sentence for killing a man and entered the service of Mexican Emperor Maximilian until the empire fell. He returned home but was often in trouble with the law for his misdeeds. His first son Benjamin was born in 1869; Thompson was pardoned for a murder by President Ulysses S. Grant and embarked on a gambling career. In the summer of 1871, he opened a gambling hall where he hoped to capture some of the gambling losses of cattle drivers. His second child, a daughter named Kate was born on December 12, 1871. Continuing his life of gambling but trying to lead a more law-abiding life, he decided in 1879 to run for City Marshall of Austin. He was elected in 1880 on his second bid for the office. He resigned after killing a man with whom he had been feuding. Likeable when sober, but ugly and hostile when drunk, Thompson began drinking more and more. He was killed on March 11, 1884, Ben at the Vaudeville Theatre gunned down from behind. His son, Benjamin, died in 1893 and his brother Billy died from natural causes in 1897. Ben's daughter Kate received a college education and was raised to adulthood by his sister, Mrs. Mary Jane Thompson Gill of Bastrop.