My last post covered DNA evidence linking distant cousins within the Benjamin Thomas family of Anson County NC. Contradicting accepted family history, genetic markers proved that Benjamin is not the son of Stephen Thomas who came to North Carolina from Maryland. From this realization, our brick wall is Benjamin Thomas; we can only guess as to his ancestry.
When a door is closed, many times a window opens. Though limiting who we think ourselves to be, participation in DNA studies also open whole new worlds of family to explore.From saliva coated swabs, testing has allowed me to connect with blood cousins I’ve only just now met and whose family traditions only hint at a connection to mine. One such cousin, a retired professor of mathematics at Western Carolina University, John Pelham Thomas Jr, enjoys the high country in Cullowhee NC where he owns a blueberry farm and whiles away the hours plucking traditional music on his mandolin. Pelham is a thinker, an inventor and entrepreneur. Like me, he too is interested in learning who he is.
Pelham Thomas was born in Ashby, Bibb County Alabama, the son of John Pelham Sr and Rebeca Jane Hudson Thomas. Born in nearby Holt AL, his first cousin, Joab Langston Thomas (February 14, 1933 – March 3, 2014), is the son of Ralph Cage and Mittie Stovall Thomas. Joab was a scientist who will be remembered for his lifetime achievements as administrative president of Pennsylvania State University, North Carolina State University and the University of Alabama.
Pelham’s and Joab’s Grandfather, William Henry Thomas is the son of Micajah C. and Frances Emeline Dunlap Thomas. Micajah is the son of Joseph and Nancy Thomas. We know that Joseph moved with his family from Georgia to Russell County Alabama in the mid 1830’s. And by the 1850 census, they had again relocated to the Hatchet Creek District of Coosa County Alabama. Following service in the American civil war, Micajah Thomas removed to Ashby, Bibb County where many of this prominent pioneer family are buried at Antioch Baptist Church.
Joseph Thomas, born in 1796 in North Carolina, is the brick wall for Pelham and the Thomas family of Bibb County Alabama. There’s very little solid history prior to the following census record:
1850 Coosa County Alabama
Joseph Thomas 56 M NC
Nancy Thomas 40 F SC
Mary Thomas 21 F GA
William Thomas 17 M GA
Micager Thomas 14 M GA
Began over 20 years ago, research based on works of Robert Thomas of Texas hints at ties to the family of Rev. John Thomas of Toisnot Baptist church in present day Wilson County NC. The trail of documentation is not decisive and has not been verified through DNA. It’s my hope that more known descendants of the Toisnot Baptist family will be tested.
The story of Joseph Thomas calls out for much more research. Though sharing DNA with descendants of Benjamin Thomas, family names in the Joseph Thomas lineage honor a much different past. Names like Joseph and Micajah (Michajah) appear often in records north of Anson County into areas such as Chatham, Wake and Edgecombe Counties NC.
Someday we’ll discover the elusive record that binds our family; it’s doable. We’ll even prove connections to another Thomas family member who’s got ties across the universe. How’s this possible? …keep digging deep and wait for the call 🙂