One of the longest-dangling threads in my family tree was, oddly enough, the Thomas line. I knew my grandfather Frederick Clifford Thomas Jr., and obviously I knew his father was Frederick Clifford Thomas Sr. (1889 – 1976). It was relatively easy to discover, through the census records, that his father was Horace Luther Thomas (1846 – 1929), and my grandfather had quite a bit of documentation from Horace and his family in his archives, which were passed from my father to me.
Horace’s father, I discovered, was Charles H. Thomas (1821-1873), a blacksmith who was born in Chazy, NY. He subsequently moved to Burke, NY, and finally to Canton, NY where he died and was buried. Charles was married to Louisa “Lois” Pond, a member of a venerable New England family which traces its roots back to the Pilgrims in Massachusetts in the 1630’s, and includes many Revolutionary War veterans. Among her ancestors are well-documented families such as the Morses, the Lathrops, the Adamses, and many others.
I also spent months filling out massive amounts of detail about the family of Charles H. Thomas, and I know about the lives and families of each of his children in intimate detail. I am in touch with several living descendants of my grandfather Horace’s brothers and sisters.
Eventually I was able to determine that Charles’s father was James S. Thomas (1782-1863). He was born in Massachusetts in 1782, and married Sophia Ransom about 1815. They had 8 children that I know about, including an eldest son named Beriah Ransom Thomas. All of James and Sophia’s children were born in Chazy, NY between 1816 and 1835.
Trying to find out who James’s father was proved to be very difficult, but eventually I found a gravestone which I wrote about recently. It was the gravestone of an Elizabeth Hutchinson Thomas, who died in Chazy, NY in 1814. Her husband was a Beriah Thomas, who would have been born in the early 1740’s. He was just the right age to be the father of James. As I wrote in my previous entry, I spent a great deal of time studying Beriah Thomas and learning all I could about his life. In an odd twist, one day I discovered that I was, in fact, related to Beriah Thomas, but only by marriage. His son John Thomas had a daughter named Elizabeth Ann Thomas (1801-1879) who married Guy Ransom (1779-1870). He was the first cousin of my afore-mentioned grandmother Sophia Ransom. So Beriah and I were, in fact, related by marriage.
Eventually, however, enough evidence piled up to convince me that there’s a better than reasonable chance that my grandfather James Thomas was the son of Beriah Thomas. I’ll try to make my case here, briefly, and leave it up to the reader to decide. [Note: Some of this assumes you’ve read the previous article about Beriah and know the details of his life.]
1) My grandfather James S. Thomas was born in Massachusetts about 1782. In 1781 Beriah had just been mustered out of the Continental Army after the Ambush at the West Canada Creek. The next place we know he was living was in West Stockbridge, Mass in the 1790 census. It seems reasonable that after the war he went to West Stockbridge. That would put him there between 1781 and 1790, inclusive.
2) James Thomas’s eldest son was Beriah Ransom Thomas. Ransom for his wife, Sophia Ransom. I’m guessing Beriah for his father.
3) In the 1790 census for West Stockbridge, MA, there is a son living with Beriah who is < 16 years of age (born between 1774 and 1790). In the 1800 census for Middle Hero, VT, there is a son listed as living with Beriah who is between 16 and 25 years of age (born between 1771 and 1784). In the 1810 census for Middle Hero, VT, there is a son listed as living with Beriah who is between 26 and 44 years of age (born between 1766 and 1784). That means this son was born between 1774 and 1784. My grandfather was born in 1782. Matthew, John and Leonard Thomas are listed separately on the same census, so it wasn’t them, and they are too old to be this son in any case.
4) The papers from the Chazy Historical Society speak several times (from different sources) of James Thomas being a son of Beriah, and that this son James lived in Chazy, NY.
- “1813 Beriah Thomas comes to Chazy to live. James was his son.”
- (In a letter regarding Beriah’s son Matthew Thomas and the family of Beriah Thomas) “James Thomas married Sophia, the daughter of Dr. Luther Ransom – moved from Chazy, I think to Essex County.”
- “Beriah Thomas, a Revolutionary soldier, came from Grand Isle to Chazy in 1813. He had a family of six children. The name of only one is known, James. [..] James Thomas married Sophia Ransom. They moved away.”
5) My grandfather James Thomas was living in Chazy by 1816 because that was the birthplace given for his eldest son Beriah Ransom Thomas. His obituary from 1918 states “Mr. Thomas was born in Chazy, NY, January 4, 1816.” All of James Thomas & Sophia Ransom’s other children were born in Chazy also, including his youngest son Joel Wells Thomas, whose death record states he was born in “Chazy, NY, Oct 19, 1835”. So James and his wife and family were in Chazy from at least 1816-1835.
6) The James Thomas, son of Beriah, who lived in Chazy, NY was said to be living in Burke, NY in 1854 per a letter written to Judge Hubbell that the Chazy Historical Society had at one point. I know my grandfather had moved from Chazy to Burke because he is in the 1850 census for Burke, NY with his family, including his wife Sophia and three of his children.
7) Beriah Thomas said he moved to Chazy in March of 1812 per his pension deposition and lived there until the end of his life. We know he was still living there in 1832 at the time of his deposition and that he was living there in 1834 per his pension papers. He died there sometime between March 1836 and Sept 1836, per the pension paperwork. We would expect to see him in the census for 1820 for Chazy and 1830, yet he is not in there. He would have been 78 in 1820 and 88 in 1830. The obvious conclusion is that he is living with someone else in Chazy who is listed as the head of the household for the census. But who?
8) In the 1830 census my grandfather James Thomas is listed as living in Chazy, NY. Listed in the census under his name are 2 boys between 5 and 10, 2 boys between 10 and 15, 1 man between 40 and 50, 1 girl under 5, and 1 woman between 30 and 40. His household at the time looked as follows:
James Thomas 48 Sophia Ransom 38 Beriah R Thomas 14 Luther R Thomas 13 Jeremiah Thomas 9 Charles H Thomas 8
Daughter Mary had died in March that year, so she wasn’t around for the census. So you see that apart from a daughter under 5, it all matches up. I believe there was a daughter born about 1827 that we don’t know about yet.
ALSO living with James in Chazy in 1830? A man between 80 and 90 years of age. Beriah Thomas was 88 years old, and is not listed elsewhere. I believe he was living with my grandfather James, and I believe he was living there because James was his son.
9) As Dave Momot pointed out, Elizabeth Hutchinson Thomas’s gravestone says “A husband [and] 6 children are left to lament their loss.” We have no other candidates in any documents for the sixth child besides James.
That’s about it. Lots of circumstantial evidence. Nothing that’s a true “Smoking Gun” like a death record for James listing Beriah as his father would be. But until I have better info one way or the other, it’s what I’m going with.