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James Baldwin Thomas Biography of Adams County Ohio

James Baldwin Thomas

James Baldwin Thomas

James Baldwin Thomas

was born on a farm two miles east of Winchester, May 16, 1811. He was the seventh child of Abraham and Margaret (Barker) Thomas. His great-grandfather, Reese Thomas, was born in Wales, June 5, 1690. This ancestor was the father of a large family which he brought to America and settled in Virginia during the first part of the eighteenth century. Subsequently, some of the stock moved to Maryland and some to Kentucky, where numerous individuals of the same lineage now reside.

The subject of this sketch obtained such education as he could at the schools of Winchester. They were subscription schools, and were not in session more than three or four months in a year. He had to walk over two miles through woods to attend school, frequently running the gauntlet of wolves.

In 1832, he went to the State of Arkansas with the intention of making that his future home. He spent but one year there. During that time he became so thoroughly disgusted with southern institutions as to create within him an intense antagonism to the system of human slavery and the practice of duelling, which remained dominant principles with him through life. In 1833, he bought a farm near where he was born, and he and his brother, Silas, erected a cabin in the woods—a bachelor’s hall—and commenced clearing away the timber preparatory to cultivation.

Here he worked and lived until December 29, 1836 when he married Miss Esther A., daughter of John and Esther Archer Moore, pioneer settlers of Wheat Ridge, in Oliver Township. This marriage was solemnized by Rev. Dyer Burgess. There were eight children:

Francis Marion, married to Annette Holmes, and practicing medicine at Samantha, O.;

Margaret, residing at Winchester;

Sarah Jane, died in 1861 ;

Wilson Chester, died in 1860;

Silas Newton, died in the U. S. Military service in 1864;

Albert Luther, resides with his two sisters at the old homestead;

John Wesley married to Roberta Butler, and is a physician at Lyle, Kansas, and

Lily Belle, residing at Winchester, Ohio.

Mr. Thomas was a man of decided convictions. He voted for Jackson in 1832, but after that he voted uniformly the Whig ticket until the election of 1852 when he supported John P. Hale.

He united with the Republican party at its organization, supporting Chase for Governor in 1855 and Fremont for President in 1856, and continued a member of that party until his death. For some fifteen years preceding the Civil War, he was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and scores of fugitive slaves have shared his hospitality and received his assistance on their way to freedom. While he was under surveillance from the slave hunters, not a single fugitive whom he took in charge was ever reclaimed and sent back to slavery.

During the Civil War he was a strong Union man. He offered two sons to the service of his country and no one rejoiced more than he when peace, liberty and union were established. He was honest in all his dealings. He was a good conversationalist and could tell a story in good form. He always had a host of warm friends. He never united with any church but believed in the doctrines of the Baptist Church. He was a strong temperance man, practicing total abstinence, and in his early years as a farmer it was sometimes hard for him to get help in the harvest fields, because he would not treat to some kind of liquor, as was customary during the time referred to. He died March 17, 1892 in his eighty-first year. He is interred with his wife in the cemetery at Mt. Leigh.

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  1. I too am a descendant of Reese Thomas from Wales. It was my understanding that he sold a library religious books written in the old Welsh language to the English govt. Reese had I think 6 different wives. In 1856 there was a split in the family. One of his Grandsons had married a Catholic and was disowned and disinherited from the family. He settled in Southern Ohio (Pottersville and Somerset) and later served with General Phil Sheridan in slash and burning of the Shenandoah Valley. I have the family bible with the genealogy in the middle of it. Let’s see if we are related? Hopefully sometime this weekend I can look it up. I have to anyway, one of my son’s will be in Wales and intends to look up the origins of the Thomas family.

    Comment by Thomas Thomas | February 5, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thomas,

    I was wondering if we might be related to the same Reese Thomas. My Reese Thomas was born about 1811 in Wales and came to the states in 1848. His wife Lucy and children Alfred, Anna and Horace came with him.

    Thanks in advance for your help.
    Craig Perkins, St. Louis, MO

    Comment by Craig Perkins | March 12, 2011 | Reply

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