by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr.
Weirs Times Contributing Writer
Not so long ago, in the year 1860, Jeremiah B. Thyng moved from Gilford, New Hampshire to live in the town of New Hampton where he became a member of the Free Will Baptist Church and became one of the selectmen of the town. Jeremiah and his wife Hannah had a son, Charles Davis Thyng, who reached his 15th birthday the year his family moved to New Hampton.
Charles Davis Thyng grew to adulthood and became a prominent citizen in New Hampton. He was a druggist who sold medicines in the town. There are medicine bottles still in existence with C.D. Thyng’s name on them. I would be interested to know if any of the readers possess one or more of his bottles. Mr. Thyng was also a prominent town leader serving as the postmaster, tax collector, selectman and moderator at town meetings.
One of C.D.’s sons, Herbert McCobb Thyng, who was born on May 14th, 1873, and was married in the town of Barnstead in August of 1916, became a Registrar of Deeds in Belknap County and, according to census records, appears to have served as an office manager for the New England Milk Producers Association and as a Postmaster. His wife, Elizabeth, is listed as having been an Assistant Postmaster. Previous to his marriage he was town clerk in New Hampton when his father was the moderator. Herbert M. Thyng’s signature is on a marriage certificate as a witness to the marriage of A.Kenneth Ober and Ethel Allen. who became prominent New Hampton residents, in the year 1916. Mr. Ober also was elected a selectman in the town.
However, as one Thyng leads to another, the son, grandson, and great-grandson of the afore mentioned might be considered the most famous Thyng of all. Born in Laconia on April 12th, 1918 and later residing in Pittsfield, N.H., he was a World War II flying ace who has made his family, home state, and the country he served proud. Actually, I don’t want to be the judge of who is the greatest as I believe that many Thyngs contribute to another’s accomplishments.
Brigadier Harrison Reed Thyng was a fighter pilot serving in the United States Air Force. Like some of you who remember his name from your youth, he attended a one-room school for eight years. From that Barnstead school he attended Pittsfield High School and the University of New Hampshire. As a ROTC graduate he entered the Air Force as a flying cadet and served from 1940 to 1966, being promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in 1963 as vice-commander of NORAD North Region. But before that he served with distinction in World War II and the Korean War.
In January of 1942 Harrison, who went by the nick-name “Harry” became the first commander of a new Fighter Squadron, the 309th, of the 31st Fighter Group. He went to England with his squadron to train on Spitfire V Fighters. The group flew its first combat mission in July of 1942. Thyng named his SpitfireV Mary & James after his wife and son; it should be noted that Harry and his wife, Mary, had four children. During his career he was involved in escort missions as well as battle missions. While serving in Tunisia, Thyng’s plane was shot down twice and he suffered a broken ankle during the second hit. He was identified as an ace after he shot down four enemy fighters. In 1945 Harrison engaged in missions in the Pacific, including attacks on Japan and China.
Then Col. Thyng served as a commander during the Korean War and flew on 114 missions, piloting a number of different aircraft. He is one of only seven United States pilots who was given the status of an ace both in WWII and an additional war. His awards included the U.S. Air Force Command Pilot Badge, Silver Stars, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medals, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Asiatic –Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, and French Croix de Guerre with bronze palm.
After retiring from the Air Force and making Pittsfield his home General Thyng ran for the U.S. Senate as a Republican in 1966 but was defeated in the general election. He served as the first president of Daniel Webster College in Nashua.
More could be written about the General and his accomplishments, but there are more Thyngs to mention. The first Thyngs (sometimes spelled Thing ) to live in New Hampshire were residents of the town of Exeter. The History of the Town of Exeter, New Hampshire by Charles H. Bell, published in 1888 says “ The Thing family dates…far back in the history of the town. Jonathan Thing, the first comer, was a selectman in 1658and seven years afterwards, town clerk in 1689, and representative in 1693. Samuel and Bartholomew, his sons, held the same offices for even longer periods, and the service of the latter did not end till 1737. They were among the leading men of the town for a long period.”
You may have already known Brigadier Harrison Thyng, but my guess is that there are a lot of Thyngs you didn’t know, until now.
Robert Hanaford Smith lives in New Hampton.