THAT OTHER THOMAS FAMILY: Part 1

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There was a time when everyone, I mean EVERYONE, believed that today’s Thomas families of Upper Union and Anson Counties NC descended from Stephen Thomas whose family settled in the Great Pee Dee river region. This was a prominent family, one filled with shakers and movers, and one whose members were wildly diverse in their individual moral compasses. This was an exciting family to follow and to this day, there’s parts of me that wish I were among its folds. It’s not to be.

Removing from Maryland, Stephen Thomas’ estate was settled in 1774 Anson NC. Deeds and court records naming his children introduced us to one of his sons, Benjamin Thomas. The family lived along Jones Creek in today’s Anson County and on Gum Swamp and against the South Carolina border on David’s Creek in today’s Richmond County. The family also rolled over into South Carolina in the areas of Cheraw and present day Marlborough and Darlington.

Somehow, and likely by misinterpretation of the writings of those such as D. D. McColl, modern day descendants of Benjamin Thomas of upper Anson County latched on to a belief that they descended from Benjamin, the son of Stephen Thomas. The problem with that idea is that Stephen’s Benjamin lived against the South Carolina border near the lands of his older brother Robert. After the war, he moved a bit further south into Marlborough County where he worked with brother Tristram to build the first county courthouse. Stephen’s Benjamin sort of disappears and as there’s no record saying otherwise, it was always assumed that he moved away from family to be ours in Upper Anson. That is, until one day the story line was challenged by way of writing in the deed pictured at the top of this page.

By 1797, Benjamin Thomas, the son of Stephen, had moved to Montgomery County Tennessee. He moved with some of the children of his older brother William. In making the move, and as is clearly written at the top of this page, Benjamin of Tennessee sold his original land in Anson, now Richmond County. He was prominent in Tennessee helping to create the first inland port along the Cumberland River known as Palmyra. It’s impossible for him to be in Tennessee and yet raising a family along Richardson Creek in upper Anson County? It simply did not happen. And in further proof, the naming patterns of the two families are different as well as the DNA. We’re in no way related by blood to the Stephen Thomas lineage.

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I had absolutely a wonderful time chasing this other Thomas family until it all came crashing down with the discovery of the above deed. I’ve traveled, learned a lot, and met some good people. I’m sort of sad that so much time was spent collecting memories and keepsakes that no longer have family value. A clean break was needed and for a while I even refused to discuss this other family. But ….that too has now changed as ancient events in Chatham County NC are now serving to reignite a peculiar reconnection that I simply find cool. So, before delving into something new, I’d like to dedicate the next few posts to the times I had searching out the family of Stephen Thomas.   Just remember, they’re not my family.

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