The phone call was received while in a parking lot as my wife and I headed to our favorite Italian restaurant. Henry Thomas was calling to let me know that he was really busy on a job; it would probably be a month before we would be able to talk. Henry’s DNA matched mine and this curiously short call was his first response to my effort to reach him. Henry did call back as promised and we spoke in depth about Thomas history. You see, Henry is an actor and being on location, he was away from his research and unable to provide much information.
Henry Jackson Thomas Jr was born in San Antonio TX to hardworking parents who supported his childhood ambition of becoming an actor. At age 8, Henry’s first audition led to a role playing Sissy Spacek’s son in the movie “Raggedy Man.” He is also known for giving a coke to a football player in “The Steeler and the Pittsburg Kid.” And in 1982, Henry became every kid’s champion playing Elliott in Stephen Spielberg’s blockbuster “ET: The Extra Terrestrial.” In this role, Henry Thomas reached out to the stars only to remain with family and those he loved here on earth. Henry remains in the business of acting while chasing an equally strong love of music. He recently stared as Hank Williams in “The Last Ride” and performs in the band Farspeaker.
Now grown and seeking to learn about the fabric of his own existence, Henry’s searching has carried him to Montgomery County Alabama where his namesake ancestor Henry Jackson Thomas was born in 1854 to Andrew and Jane Thomas. Jane was born in 1823 and married first Thomas P. Dailey on 21 Feb 1838 in Lowndes County Alabama. From her mother’s last will and testament, we know Jane is the daughter of James and Mary Wood:
Will of Mary Wood dated 8 June 1841, probated 2 Dec 1844.
Heirs of James Wood deceased, daughter Nancy D Wood and George W. Wood.
Allen Davis be allowed exclusive of his portion or his wife’s portion.
daughters Jane V Dailey and Nancy D. Wood and son George W. Wood .
…and grandchildren Mary Jane Blake, Martha Ann Blake, and Elizabeth Jackson Blake.
Executor: son-in-law Allen Davis.
Witnesses: B. W. Mangum, Joseph Cobb, A. D. Chapman, David Davenport.
Andrew Thomas eludes the 1850 census and may or may not be in the area at that time. However, shortly afterward, on 29 Jan 1852, Andrew Thomas married Jane Dailey in Lowndes County Al. The marriage was performed by Rev Peyton S. Alexander, a Methodist preacher who later moved to Autauga County.
At the writing of this post, Andrew Thomas is Henry’s earliest known paternal ancestor; he is Henry’s brick wall. The only other clues come later in the 1860 Montgomery County census where Andrew is enumerated between Dr. Geo. Pollard and Sterling Harrison, a one-time Montgomery county sheriff. Note that Andrew identifies himself as being from North Carolina and that his wife Jane had given birth to their first child two years after recently being married:
This is all we know about Andrew and Jane Thomas as other valuable clues were likely destroyed during and immediately after the American Civil War. Landscapes were ravaged, courthouses were destroyed and county lines forever changed. Times were so bad that neighbor Col. Charles Gunter along with William Norris of Dallas County led groups of Confederados to safe haven in Brazil. Note that Charles was born in Chatham County NC while William’s family lived nearby in Wake. These families interacted with a Joseph and Micajah Thomas whose families moved to Georgia where they just may connect with ours (hopefully more later). And as for Andrew Thomas, did he serve and was he lost in war? Did he remove west? Did Jane die young or could she have remarried? Family lore has it her son George removed to Texas or Arkansas with family around Dallas. Was he possibly named for Dr. George Pollard who lived next door? There’s also mention of a stepbrother. Who might he be? And as for son Henry Thomas, born in 1854, he later surfaces in Elmore County just to the north of Montgomery Alabama.
No beans about it; this was hard times and a hard environment for families to prosper. People were on the move and we can only speculate as to the goings-on. Young Henry and the rest of the family elude the 1870 and 1880 census. However, an Andrew Thomas aged 2 is listed as living in the home of Hiram Norris in the 1880. Lore has it that Henry had a step brother. Who is this baby Andrew!
Henry Thomas married Mary Foreman, the daughter of James Monroe and Jane Booth Foreman in Elmore County Alabama where they lived out the remainder of their lives. The 1910 census show the Thomas and Foreman families living side-by-side in the community of Cold Springs Alabama:
Henry and Mary Thomas are buried at Coosa River (Shoal Creek) Primitive Baptist Church in Deatsville Alabama near graves of the Foreman family. There are many graves of babies and of those who suffered and died from disease. Older folk in Henry’s family speak of the disease and of bad air. Did Henry’s family move west to escape an unhealthy environment? And why was the family missing in the 1870 and 1880 census? Though our Henry’s line removed from the area, the family of his grandfather’ brother James Eugene Thomas remained where they own and have farmed land on nearby Thomas road through 2000.
Somehow Henry’s family relates to my Thomas family of Anson County NC as his DNA matches mine perfectly. And not far to the north of where his family lived in Deatsville, he also relates to John Pelham Thomas’s family who once resided in Coosa County AL. The paths nearly cross, but how! mmmm…hello, is there anyone out there whose lineage crosses Henry’s??? Anyone with an ancestor named George Thomas whose family lived around Dallas TX 1880-1910? We’re also looking for other THOMAS who’re trying to get their family back through NC.
Help us to knock down our family wall. There’s no magical touching of finger tips. No ouch, blood nor painful forms of testing required. All you need to do is provide a simple swab coated with a little of your very own saliva …help us and help yourself …get DNA tested!!!