The name of Thomas is of great antiquity in Wales, and they are claimed to have descended from the ancient kings of Britain. The first trace of them in authentic history was Wryam, who lived in the sixth century after Christ; he was said to be a son of Cynvarch Oer Ap Merchion Gul, Prince of the North Britains, who was driven out of his principality by the Saxons, and took refuge in Wales. He afterwards waged war against his enemies, but the family became established in Wales.
In the United States, among the family to win distinction was Francis Thomas, who became governor of Maryland. They became prominent also in Virginia, where many of the names are still found.
(I) Of the family here described the first to come to America was Israel Thomas, born in Wales, May 9, 1741; and he came as a captain in the British army. He was wounded at the battle of Fort William Henry. Israel Thomas died in Kingsbury, Washington county, N.Y., Oct. 1, 1805. A manuscript volume in the custody of the Regents of the University of the State of New York, in the State Library, known as Volume V of the Treasurers' Certificates, shows on page 55 that Israel Thomas was commissioned a captain of an Albany county company of militia, in 1787, by Governor George Clinton, and placed in charge of one of the forts at Lake George, in a regiment under the command of Colonel Jacob Schermerhorn. He had served as private in the Fourth Regiment, also in the Sixth Regiment of Albany county militia, in the revolution, and in the latter was under the command of Colonel Stephen J. T. Schuyler, and in the company commanded by DeForest or DePreest, in 1780. In the fall of 1781 he was again private in the same regiment, then under command of Colonel Henry K. Van Rensselaer, and in the company commanded by Captain Buyusten; this regiment was in active service. He had a son Jared.
(II) Jared, son of Israel Thomas, was born at Great Nine Partners, Sept. 2, 1768, died Jan. 2, 1848, at Kingsbury, New York. He had a son Almon.
(III) Almon, son of Jared Thomas, was born April 1, 1820, at Kingsbury, died at Plattsburgh, N.Y., May 26, 1894. He spent his early boyhood in his native county, and there received a common school education. He afterward worked on a farm until his majority, when he began working for Charles Harris, a lumber dealer. He remained in this position until 1847 and then enetered the employ of F. J. Barnard & Son, of Albany, owning large tracts of lumber land along the Saranac river, and became superintendent of the work in the woods around Plattsburgh, driving and measuring lumber, etc. He thoroughly learned every detail of the business, and in 1846, in company with Mr. Richards, he made explorations up the Saranac river to the Lower Lake; Mr. Thomas looked carefully over the field, and persuaded the company that it would be possible in a year's time to make such improvements as would enable them to drive logs down the river the whole length from the lakes downward. In 1847 Mr. Thomas superintended the drawing of the first raft through the Lower Lake and putting same into the river, and in that year an act was passed making the river a highway, thus removing many difficulties from the path of the firm, who had such immense interests at stake in the enterprise. One-half the interests of F. J. and S. W. Barnard in the property were purchased by B. R. Sherman in 1852, and the other half was purchased by Mr. Thomas a year later, and he became partner with Mr. Sherman. They continued in the business with success until the fall of 1856, when they sold their interests to Hon. C. F. Norton. In 1857 Mr. Thomas, in company with his brother Ephraim, went into the business of manufacturing broom handles and other wooden ware, and two years later the latter sold his co-partnership to Henry Tefft. The new firm demolished the brick factory, in part of which their business was located, and in its place rected a lumber mill, soon after which Mr. Thomas sold his interest to Mr. Tefft. In 1860, in company with James Hammond, Mr. Thomas purchased a mill at Elsinore, and for five years he cut lumber for the Albany market, disposing of his interest to his brother Warren. From 1850 until 1868 Mr. Thomas conducted a retail lumber business in Plattsburgh, where Baker Brothers now have a lumber yard. . In 1870 Mr. Thomas purchased mill property at Keeseville, and rebuilt, having custom, flour and saw mills. In company with Thomas Armstrong, he purchsed a tract of about thirty thousand acres of valuable timber land in Essex county, and they also became owners of five hundred acres at the mouth of the Ausable river. Mr. Thomas had excellent judgment in the purchase of land, and in the handling of the lumber business, in which he became one of the most successful men in the region. He always devoted his best energies toward the conduct of his busines affairs. In Sept. 1871, Mr. Thomas purchased the Plattsburgh Gas Works, and soon thereafter sold a half interest to Captain H. S. Ransom; they erected new buildings, and carried on the enterprise until Nov. 1878, when Captain Ransom sold his interest to Mr. Thomas, who continued the business alone. Mr. Thomas worked hard from boyhood, and always retained ambition and enterprise; he was always studying the best methods of carrying on whatever business he was conducting, and was methodical in all he did. He was a self-made man, and had his own way to make in the world from early life.
In religious matters he was keenly interested, and was for many years a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. Politcally he was a Republican.
Mr. Thomas married, Sept. 3, 1849, Rebecca A., daughter of Hunting Moon, of Peru, N.Y., where she ws born, April 2, 1827. Hunting Moon maried Rhoda, daughter of John Phetteplace, who died Nov. 22, 1833; he married, Aug. 19, 1785, Elsa Weaver. John Phetteplace made application for pensions for revolutionary service, Dec. 4, 1832, which was afterward received by his wife. He was a private, and enlisted from Glancaster, Rhode Island. His various enlistments were:
Spring of 1775 for ten days, in Captain Timothy Wilmot's company, regiment udner command of Colonel Fry, of Rhode Island.
September, 1776, three months in Captain Samuel May's company, regiment under command of Colonel Cook, of Rhode Island.
December, 1776, one month in Captain Timothy Wilmot's company, regiment under command of Colonel Fry.
February, 1777, one month in the company under command of Lieutenant Sheldon.
Almon Thomas and his wife, Rebecca (Moon) Thomas had children:
1. George E., see forward.
2. Frank, born Dec. 6, 1853, died Nov. 9, 1890; unmarried.
3. Ida, Jan. 16, 1857; married, July 24, 1883, L. Watson Hayes, and has no children.
4. Ella, Feb. 19, 1859, died July 10, 1860.
5. Nellie, April 10, 1861; married Dec. 11, 1883, William E. Corey, and they have one child, Ida May.
6. Emma, April 3, 1864; married Nov. 15, 1887, John Harding, and they have three children: Almon Thomas, John Phelps and Watson G.
7. Fannie, Oct. 7, 1867, died Jan. 4, 1868.
(IV) George E., eldest son of Almon and Rebecca A. (Moon) Thomas, was born August 30, 1850, died March 7, 1896. He married, Dec. 31, 1874, Laura E. Walton. Children:
1. Mary, married Will Wright, and has two children, Marian and George.
3. Gertrude, married Joseph McDermott and they have one child.
4. Bessie M.
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