The gentleman whose name forms the caption of this article is one of the prominent farmers and stock men in this section of Indiana and an honored representative of a pioneer family that figured conspicuously in the early settlement of Hancock county. Ezekiel Thomas, the subject’s grandfather, came to this part of the state when the country was new and settled in Sugar Creek township, subsequently entering a quarter section of land in the township of Blue River, where he lived for several years. He married Jemimah Webb, of Virginia, whose parents were also among the first permanent residents of Sugar Creek township, settling in the woods where there were few neighbors and bearing their part in founding a community in which the name of the family is still held in grateful remembrance. Later they purchased a farm a few miles south of Greenfield where they made their home for some years, disposing of the place afterwards and moving to a farm in section 31, a short distance northwest of the county seat in Center township, where he passed the latter part of his life, dying in the year 1872. He was a man of excellent repute, industrious and frugal, and his influence in the community was always wholesome and salutary. He reared the following children: Minnie, wife of James Smothers, of Keokuk, Iowa; Mahala married Benjamin Richardson and is now living in Kansas; James, father of the subject; Phoebe, deceased; Ellen, now Mrs. William Clark, living in northern Michigan; William, a farmer and stock raiser of southern Missouri; Barney, of Greene county, Indiana, a farmer; Jonathan, also a farmer of Greene county, and Benjamin F., a machinist working at his trade in the city of Anderson, Indiana.

James Thomas was reared to manhood in Hancock county and after reaching maturity spent his time principally in the townships of Sugar Creek and Brandywine. He also lived for some years in Shelby county and about the year 1881 disposed of his interests there and moved to the county of Tipton, where he purchased a fine farm and where he still resides. He is a successful business man and has acquired a comfortable fortune from his farm, and is now passing his declining years in the enjoyment of the rest which long and successful activity so well entitles him.

Amanda Pope, wife of James Thomas, was born in Kentucky and came with her parents to Hancock county when six years of age. Her father, Daniel Pope, bought a small farm in section 33, Brandywine township, and later added to his purchase and became one of the enterprising farmers and substantial citizens of his community. He died a number of years ago on the place where he originally located, esteemed by his neighbors and friends and respected by all who had formed his acquaintance. He has children as follows: John M., deceased; Asbury, deceased; Elijah lives in Missouri; Anthony, who lived and died in his native state, Kentucky; Amanda, mother of W. F.; Nancy, Laura and Sallie.

James and Amanda Thomas had a family of eleven children, namely: Austin B., married Della Andris and lives in Buck Creek township; Elijah married Alice Spangler and at the present time lives in Hamilton county, Indiana; William F., whose name initiates this review; Sarah Jane; Eddie; Ida; John and Luna are deceased and Emma and Elmer, twins, the former now Mrs. Willis Gordon, of Tipton county; the latter married Lillie Shaw and is also a resident of the county of Tipton. These sons and daughters were given the best educational advantages the common schools afforded and those that grew to maturity are well settled in life and highly esteemed in the several communities where they reside.

William F. Thomas is a native of Shelby county, Indiana, and dates his birth from the 6th day of September, 1860. Springing from sturdy ancestors and inheriting to a marked degree many of the excellent qualities of head and heart for which his family have long been known, he grew up with a well defined purpose in life and while still a lad formulated his plans for the future. The common school course was the extent of his educational training, and in the field and forest, while following the plow and performing the multifarious duties of the farm, he developed strength of body and a concentration of purpose which have enabled him to discharge worthily the duties of an active life and to become a potent and successful factor in the world. He remained with his parents until attaining his majority and then began life for himself, choosing for his vocation the time-honored and eminently respectable calling of agriculture, which he has since followed with a large measure of success.

On the 28th day of February, 1884, Mr. Thomas and Miss Flora A. Catt, daughter of Jacob Catt, of Hancock county, were united in the bonds of wedlock, a union blessed with five children whose names and dates of birth are as follows: Jacob C., May 31, 1885; James M., June 21, 1890; Beulah, April 26, 1893; Clarence E., February 4, 1899. and one who died in infancy.

Following his marriage Mr. Thomas rented four hundred acres at cash rent and continued in that line for ten years before his first purchase which was an eighty-acre farm in Center township. To this he has made additions from time to time until his place now contains one hundred and eighty-seven acres, all under cultivation except about twenty acres of woodland. To say that he is a representative farmer, progressive in all the term implies and abreast the age in all that relates to husbandry is to state a fact with which the people of Center township have long been familiar. His place is favorably situated and affords abundant evidence of the labor and care bestowed to bring it to its present high state of cultivation. With him industry is one of the cardinal virtues and from the beginning of his career as an independent factor until the present time his energies have been methodically exercised with the object in view of acquiring a competence for himself and family and making a home to which his children can always look back as a sacred spot, hallowed by the tender recollections and associations which make life worth living. As a farmer he ranks with the most successful of Hancock county’s enterprising agriculturalists, and as a raiser of fine breeds of cattle and hogs his reputation is second to that of no other man in the township of his residence. At the present time he has a large herd of shorthorns, which represent a capital of several thousand dollars, while his other live stock, horses and Poland China hogs, have been carefully selected and are very valuable.

As a citizen Mr. Thomas is noted for his honorable dealings, courteous and unassuming manners. He is exemplary in his character and habits, his integrity is unassailable, and as a neighbor and friend he holds high rank among the people of his section of Hancock county. Politically he gives his allegiance to the Republican party, but he is not a politician and never permits his name to be used as a candidate for office, preferring the equally honorable and satisfactory sphere of private citizenship. In his social as well as in his business relations he possesses the confidence and esteem of the entire community and it is a compliment worthily bestowed to class him with the intelligent, progressive and representative men of the county of Hancock.

Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 380-384.

Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI November 17, 2002.

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Tom & Carolyn Ward / Columbus, Kansas / tcward@columbus-ks.com

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