I caught wind of your reply to this thread via the mailing list gateway last week.
Would you mind substantiating your statement that Lemuel is the son of James and Lydia (KEEFE/O'KEEFE) THIGPEN? The only reference of which I am aware that suggests this is The Thigpen Tribe, which is largely a work of fiction.
My research indicates that Lemuel was the son of James and Lydia (MAYO) THIGPEN and he was married at least three times. First to Martha Sally COBB; next to Elizabeth "Bethia" MAYO; and finally to Anna CHERRY. All three marriages produced children totaling seven (one, three and four, respectively) in number. Howell was the only issue from his first marriage to Sally.
My reference for the facts pertaining to this first marriage are the 1820 Federal census of Edgecombe County and “Select Thigpen Pedigree as compiled by H. T. Clark, Jr.,” Select pages from the Genealogy Notebook of Henry Toole Clark Jr., mid-20th Century. To date primary documents have been evasive. Circumstantial evidence is quite compelling, though.
Reynolds' extracts from his Family Bible substantiate nicely my supposition that the generically identified Male, aged 18-26, residing under Lemuel's roof during the 1820 enumeration was probably Howell. Given that his first child, Jordan, was not born until February 1827, suggests quite nicely that Howell did not marry until late spring of 1826 at the latest - further corroborating the idea that Howell was still living at home as a early twentyish male in 1820.
There was only ever one Lemuel THIGPEN tabulated in Edgecombe County and I have a rather substantial document trail to tie him to the THIGPEN branch which gave rise to my line - that of James and Lydia (MAYO) THIGPEN.