From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and
Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing
Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 571, a reprinted by Stevens
Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County
Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
William Thomas was born in Fayette county, Ohio, January 9,
1809. His father was John, a Virginian, who came to Ohio while the
Indians were still plentiful on Paint creek. His first wife was Nancy
Putnam of Pennsylvania, who died in early life, leaving six young
children. Four years later he was married again, but she was drowned
about one year later, while trying to save the life of his child. Some
years later he was married again, and by this marriage he had six
children, making in all thirteen. He died at eighty years, on his farm.
These children have all passed away but our subject and Benjamin
Thomas, a farmer in his eighty-fifth year, living in Iowa.
William has been a farmer all his life and had very little
schooling. He was married in Ohio, to Julia DeWitt, and came West in
the fall of 1831, with wife and one child. They came in a four horse
wagon and with three loose horses, which they rode part of the time. In
good weather his wife rode his little pacing mare and carried the baby.
He had very little money left when he crossed the river at Beardstown.
He took up a homestead, and, not being able to deed it, sold out his
improvements and then had enough to enter 120 acres, for which he
obtained a Government deed, and then had eighty acres under the plow
and an orchard and two good hewed-log houses. There he lived from 1837
to 1860. He traded it for 160 acres of his present farm and moved upon
it. There was an old log house into which he moved until he could build
a good log house, and in 1866 or 1867 he built a frame addition to his
house. In 1882 he built his good barn, and in 1884 he built the frame
addition to his house. There is not a man living in this section that
was living here when Mr. Thomas first came.
Mr. Thomas lost his first wife in March, 1855, by whom he had
seven children, Drusilla Shield, deceased; John M., deceased; James,
deceased; Sarah C., a maiden lady at home with her parents; William A.,
a merchant in Cooperstown; Peter A., farmer close by; Parmelia Ann
Gibson, living on the homestead; Eliza Jane Garnett, in Arkansas. Mr.
Thomas was married again, to Mrs. Nancy Brown, nee Clayton. She died,
aged seventy-eight years, in 1884, after having been his faithful wife
for twenty-four years. He is a Master Mason and organized the
Versailles Lodge, of which he is the last living member. He believes in
moral reform in politics.
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