Names Index
Portrait Index

    *ELIAS J. THOMAS, a prosperous mill-owner of the town of Eaton, was born December 13, 1843, in Newtown, Montgomery-shire, Wales, and was the son of Elias and Eliza (Jones) Thomas, both of whom were born Wales. The grandfather, Thomas Evan Thomas, a native of Wales, was a spinner by trade. He emigrated to America in 1854, and settled in Utica, N. Y., where the followed his trade until his death. His family consisted of five children, of whom three are now living, namely: John and David, both residing in Utica; and a sister Mary, who lives in London, England. The grandfather died when seventy-seven years old, and his wife at the same age. They were devoted members of the Methodist church.
   Elias Thomas, the elder, came to America in 1848, and was a weaver and spinner by trade. His wife and four children joined him a year after his arrival in this country. He first settled in Oneida County, and worked at weaving, but afterward moved to the town of Nelson, Madison County, where he bought a farm of one hundred and fifty acres, and carried on general farming. He was an honest, hard-working man; and, besides cultivating his land, he made a specialty of raising full-blooded Durham cattle, his herd consisting of about twenty head. To Mr. and Mrs. Thomas were born seven children, of whom three are now living, namely: Elias J.; Mary E., wife of John E. Lewis; Anna S., wife of Frank Blair, residing in the town of Nelson. The children who died were: Sarah, aged twenty-six years; Jane, eleven years; Evan C., nineteen years; and Hannah, three years. The father and mother died on their farm in the town of Nelson, aged respectively sixty and seventy-four years. They attended the Baptist church, of which the wife was a devout member.
   Our subject came to the town of Eaton when he was but nine years of age, was educated in the district school of the town, and began to work in the woollen mills at West Eaton, owned by Captain Smith, when he was twelve years old. He commenced in the card-room, receiving at first only seven dollars and a half per month, and continued to work in this mill, until the firm suspended, in 1854. He then obtained employment in the various mills along the valley until 1862, when he enlisted under Captain Henry B. Morse, in Company D, One Hundred and Fourteenth Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry. He fought in several battles, among which were the siege of Port Hudson and Sabine Cross Roads, under General Banks, and was also with Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley. He made a good record for himself, and was honorably discharged at the close of the war at Washington, D.C., June 8, 1865. He returned to his home, and worked at his trade until 1882, when with his brother-in-law, John E. Lewis, he bought the mill now owned by them, for description of which see biography of John E. Lewis.
   Mr. Thomas was married in 1867 to Miss Thirza C. Lewis, who was born in 1845, and is a sister of John E. Lewis. They have two children. Arthur R., born in 1868, was educated at Cornell Preparatory School, and afterward a graduate of the Chicago Medical College of Chicago, Ill. He is now attending Physician of the Cook County (Illinois) Hospital in Chicago. A daughter, A. Luella, born in 1879, is at home with her parents. The family are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and have a delightful residence in the village. Mr. Thomas is an agreeable man in social life, is liked by his employees in the factory, and is popular as a citizen. He is a thorough, energetic Republican in politics, as were also his father and grandfather.

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