WWI Photo Identification: Mortimer G. Thompson of Knoxville, TN 117th Infantry, 30th Division


Another incredible set of portrait photos arrived on my doorstep today by way of a close friend and fellow collector.  Two portrait photos with incredible detail showing a clear 30th Division patch as well as a very uncommon 30th Division helmet.  Shots of WWI soldiers wearing their service helmets in a portrait studio are especially prized amongst collectors.  A big thanks to Chuck for parting with this set!  As always, I will delve into the genealogy of this soldier and hopefully find some interesting material using web-based resources.

Mortimer G. Thompson

Mortimer G. Thompson

Mortimer Grinnell Thompson was born on December 29th, 1897 (other sources say 1887) to C. Mortimer and Hattie C. Thompson in Knoxville, Tennessee.  He entered Federal service on May 21st, 1917 and eventually ended up as Sgt. with the 117th Infantry Regiment of the 30th Division. At this time, I can’t find much about his military service other than the basic facts.  With some more in-depth searching I may be able to elucidate some aspects of his service that have been all but forgotten over the past (nearly) 100 years.  He married after the war to a Celeste P. Condon and had at least two children named Mortimer G. Thompson Jr. and Harriet A. Thompson in the late 1920s.  Mort is listed as a painting contractor.

Incredibly I was able to find Mort Jr. on facebook!  A friend request is pending.  He appears to be quite active on facebook and I hope he responds.


“Mort” passed away at a young age in 1935 and is buried in Knoxville National Cemetery in Knoxville, TN.  His plot number is B,0,3993.


Mortimer Thompson's Headstone Source: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1252279

Mortimer Thompson’s Headstone

Mortimer was the son of Charles Mortimer Thompson, better known as C. Mortimer Thompson, progenitor of  Thompson Photo Products of Knoxville, TN.  The Thompson family have been THE go-to family for photography needs in Knoxville for over 100 years. It’s no wonder the portrait shots of Mort are so detailed and well colored.  Charles was an architect, draftsman and photographer who had an eye for detail and a solid business plan.  His son Jim eventually became one of the best known Tennessee photographers of the early 1900s, capturing the rich visual heritage of the state in the first half of the century.  His works are held in collections across the country and are regarded as some of the best examples of Tennessee industrial photography.  A website of his work can be found here: http://cmdc.knoxlib.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p265301coll7



3 thoughts on “WWI Photo Identification: Mortimer G. Thompson of Knoxville, TN 117th Infantry, 30th Division

  1. Hello Brennan,

    I write from Dorling Kindersley, the book publisher in London. We came across your blog and fantastic collection of images whilst researching World War I images. The portrait of Charles Mortimer Thompson stood out as a great choice of image for the jacket of our forthcoming book about WWI. I would be grateful if you would give us permission for this usage, assuming a high-res. scan is available. We would of course credit you/Portraits of War in the book.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best regards,


  2. And I have the bible Mort carried with him throughout his tour of duty in France. In the margins he wrote his daily thoughts.

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