cencus 1850 david t

1850 Union County Cenus

According to the above census, in 1850 my Great-Great grandparents David Thomas and wife Ala (Alice) Newsome were raising a large family in Union County NC. Their son, my namesake Great Grandfather George W. Thomas does not appear in the census as he was born more than a year later on 9 Feb 1852. George’s mother Alice may have died during childbirth or shortly thereafter as she does not appear in the 1854 estate probate records for David Thomas. There’s no proof as to where David and Alice are buried though I firmly believe they lie at rest in the Edmond L. Davis Cemetery which is located on or adjoining what was once the lands of David and Alice Thomas.

You can find lots on this family at my website However, the site includes very little in terms of images or other flavorful information. In this post I’ll revisit the children of David and Alice Thomas mainly with the goal of giving you the chance to study our family traits made visible through old photographs. Let’s start with oldest son James Robert Thomas, working our way down to baby George Washington Thomas.

James Robert Thomas

james r thomas

James Robert Thomas Family

James Robert Thomas was born in Jun 1832 and married Mary Jane Curlee on 25 June 1853. Mary Jane is the daughter of Thomas Griffin Curlee and Jane Catherine Lotharp. When James’ father died in 1854, the Reverend Edmond L. Davis and James Thomas were listed as Administrators. And, in the 1855 July term in Union County, James R. Thomas was appointed guardian of his younger brother Edmond. James Austin and the Rev. Edmond L. Davis paid guardian bond.

A farmer from Union County, James R. Thomas enlisted on 21 Aug 1862 at Statesville NC. He served in CSA Co. F, 48th Regiment through October 1864. Returning from the war, James farmed and raised a family on what is now Ansonville Road near Hamilton’s Crossroads.

James Thomas is seen sitting in the front left of the above photograph. James’ son Cornelius is sitting to his right with toddler in his lap. Beside Cornelius is wife Sophronia Alice Pierce (daughter of John Jackson Pierce and Eliza Bass). I’m not sure of the other folks in this photo but here are the names and the spouses of Cornelius and Sophronia Thomas’ children: Mary Jane Thomas (John M. Williams), Nora Alice Thomas (Connie Brewer), Zilphia Ellen Thomas (Kindley Cleveland Moore), Marion Frank Thomas (Wilma Little), Melton Ellis Thomas (Lillie Helms, Letha James), Edger Green Thomas (Mary Lee Gaddy), Joseph Hurley Thomas (Bessie Griffin), Cornelius Wesley Thomas (Ora Griffin), Effie Lou Thomas (Preston Perry), Annie Kate Thomas (Henry Clayton Baucom), Graham Mott Thomas (Edna Taylor). (note: I’d love to be able to identify the others in this photograph not named

The children of James and Mary Curlee Thomas are: Cornelius Whitfield Thomas (Sophronia Alice Pierce), Milton Stanhope Thomas (Louisa Link), Clement M. Thomas,  Mary E. Thomas (Marshall E. Harwood), Bedie Thomas, and John H. Thomas (Julia Lulu Moore).

Sarah Ann Thomas

Solomon Rasberry Brewer

Solomon Rasberry  and Sarah Ann Thomas Brewer Family

Sarah Ann Thomas was born 26 Apr 1833 and she married Solomon Raspberry Brewer. Ms. Annie Lee Traywick gave me the above picture and I remember her not being 100 5 sure though she believed the image is that of Solomon Raspberry Brewer, his wife Sarah, and their daughters. Solomon is the son of Kizzie Brewer and there’s a story in that fact that I wish I could remember.

Solomon Brewer enlisted in the CSA Senior Reserves though he was beyond fighting age. Solomon and Sarah owned a farm along the branch at the end of what is now Dusty Road in Union County. Their children are (A) John W. Brewer (Mary Elizabeth Griffin), George Washington Brewer (Margaret Cornelia Parker), Jackson L. Brewer (Lucindy Moore), Mary Elizabeth (Timothy C. Braswell), Martha Jane Brewer (Pinkney Honeycutt), James Rasberry Brewer (Frances Dry), Allie Martelia Brewer ( William A. Polk), Kizzie Lougenia Brewer (Ellison Lee Parker), and Sarah Catherine Brewer (Charlie Morgan).
Solomon and Sarah Thomas Brewer are laid to rest in the old graveyard at the front corner of the Mount Moriah UMC campus at New Salem. brewer

John Milton Thomas

john m thomas

John Milton Thomas

I love the way information flows. While overseeing the woodshop at that NC State Crafts Center, discussion with one of my students led to the realization that we were cousins. Cool! It turns out his family descends from John Milton Thomas and the photographs here were given to me by his grandmother Dowdy.

John Milton Thomas was born 5 Aug 1834 and he married Ms. Sarah Elizabeth Redfern on 6 Dec 1860. Sarah is the daughter of William Albert and Elvia A. Hubbard Redfern.
Before the Civil War, census records show that John M. Thomas was engaged in business with T. D.Winchester and D. Hayden. On 16 Feb 1862, John enlisted in CSA Co. T, 48th Regiment. Captured at Sharpesburg, VA, he was released and later wounded at Fredricksburg. Promoted to rank of Sargent, John was wounded again at Bristoe Station, VA and later captured in Salisbury, NC. Military records show he was sent to Nashville, Louisville, and finally to Camp Chase, Ohio before being released on 4 May 1865.

Returning to Union County, John Milton Thomas continued in business as a Grocer and became postmaster at Monroe. Dated 20 Apr 1917, an obituary appeared on the front page of The Monroe Journal. Amidst articles pertaining to the advances of WWI, John M. Thomas was eulogized as “probably the last of the before the war Monroe merchants, postmaster here during Cleveland’s Administration, ex-Confederate soldier, and well known citizen”. Here’s the obituary:

MONROE, N. C., FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 1917.

A Before the War Merchant, Soldier, and Postmaster During Cleveland’s
First Administration, Passed Away Wednesday Afternoon.

Mr. John M. Thomas, probably the last of the before the war Monroe merchants, postmaster here during Cleveland’s first administration ex-Confederate soldier, and well-known citizen, died Wednesday afternoon at 5:30 at the home of his daughter, Mrs. H. B. Billingsby, after a lingering illness of several months. Old age was the cause of his death; he had not been able to leave his room but once since last Thanksgiving.

The passing of Mr. Thomas removes a landmark from this community. Actively engaged in business before the war with the late T. D. Winchester and D. F. Hyden, he had been an important cog in the social and business activities of the town up until about twenty years ago, when he moved to Lilesville. He was appointed postmaster by President Grover Cleveland during his first administration and he served the patrons of his office well and painstakingly.

When Jefferson Davis called for volunteers in ’61, Mr. Thomas was one of the first to respond. And his devotion to the cause of the Confederacy never wavered for a moment. He fought valiantly through the war until sometime in ’64, towards its close, he was made a prisoner by the Federal forces. He was carried to Pennsylvania, where he was imprisoned until long after the war had closed. He reached home sometime towards the close of the year 1865.

Penniless when he reached home, he started rehabilitating his condition, incidentally contributing his share towards the rebuilding of the South during the days of reconstruction. He took a leading part in the business activities of those days, and all remember him as being honest, kind, and one who was willing to serve.
Mr. Thomas joined the Baptist church in his youth, and was a consistent and faithful member of the church here until he moved to Lilesville, where he carried his membership. Too much could not be said about Mr. Thomas’ conscientious and upright life. He was a good man: all who knew him readily vouch for that.

The deceased was a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. David Thomas, and was born in this county on August5, 1834. He was therefore nearly 83 years of age. In 1860 he married Miss Elizabeth Redfern, daughter of the later Albert Redfern, and she with the following daughters survive: Mrs. H. B. Billingsby, Monroe; Mrs. H. C. Boylin, Hamlet; Mrs. J. T. Sanders, Lilesville; and Mrs. Ellerbee Buchannan, Chicago. To this union were also born two sons, but they are both dead.

For the past three years Mr. Thomas had been making his home with Mr. and Mrs. Billingsby. While here he renewed his old acquaintances, after an absence of nearly twenty years; but they all found him to be the same upright man of the former days.
The funeral was held yesterday afternoon at four o’clock by Rev. J. E. Abernathy. Interment was in the Monroe Cemetery.


The children of John Milton and Sarah E. Redfern Thomas are Mary Alice Thomas, (Hezekiah Boles Billingsley), Louise Frances Thomas (Henry Clarence Boylin), David Franklin Thomas (Augusta Osborne), Fitzgerald Thomas (Joseph Tillman Saunders), Martha Thomas, Ella Thomas (Isadore Franklin Buckhants), Inez Thomas, and John Fredrick Thomas (Frances Clair Steinback).

William Green Thomas

william green thomas.jpgBorn 5 Feb 1836, William Green Thomas married on 15 Sep 1858 Lydia Adeline Dry. Her parents are Charles and Adeline Dry of Union/Stanly County. On 21 Aug 1862, William G. Thomas enlisted in CSA Co. F, 48th Reg. NC. Listed as a resident of Union County, he volunteered in Iredell County on the same day as his older brother James R. Thomas. William G. Thomas was listed as 35 years old at the time of enlistment. Wounded and captured at Hatcher’s Run on 9 Feb 1865, William was confined at Point Lookout, MD until being released on 20 Jun 1865. Following the war, William received a land grant on 15 Apr 1876 for 25 acres on Suscoes’s Branch in Union County. The land adjoined his own as well as that of Drury Morgan, Milton Austin, and C. B. Curlee. Chainbearers were Thomas Swink and James M. Williams. The land was very close to that of his father-in-law.

At some point William and wife Lydia moved just over the Union County line to the Arlington section of Mecklenburg County. In 1901, W.G. Thomas applied for a Soldier’s Pension and received ½ Disability. William Green Thomas and wife Lydia Adeline Dry are buried at Arlington Baptist Church.

The children of William and Lydia Dry Thomas are Ann Thomas (George Braswell), Sarah Ellen Thomas (Thomas Swink), William Daniel Thomas (Sarah Ann Austin), Saphronia Alice Thomas (Eli F. Cagle), Lydia Almetta (Mimmow) Thomas (James Austin), John W. Thomas (Mary J. Ward, Annie Heafner), Julia C. Thomas, (Monroe Groves, Edmond G. Thomas (Margaret Addie Rea, James A. Thomas (Lula Lee of Paw Tucket), Charlie Benton Thomas (Jennie Belle Clontz, Mrs. Cornelia (Griffin) Whitley),and Jane Thomas (Tommy Harrington).

I’ve run across only one surviving photo representing this family. The above is that of younger son Charles Benton Thomas. Below are the graves of William and Lydia A. Thomas.

Elizabeth Thomas

elijah m griffinElizabeth Thomas was born ca. 1837 and married Elijah Griffin in the 1850’s. Theirs was a short marriage as Elizabeth died prior to the 1859 estate papers for her recently deceased husband. From the sizeable amount of paper in the estate records we know that Elijah and Elizabeth had but one son named David W. Griffin. David Griffin is enumerated in 1860 Union County as being aged 3, at that time living in the home of his Aunt Jane and Uncle Sylvester Williams. Sylvester Williams went to war and never returned home. The estate of Elijah Griffin was held open through the 1870’s when David W. Griffin’s Uncle John M. Thomas was listed as Guardian.

David W. Griffin married 15 Dec 1881 Martha Ellen Dry, the daughter of Charles Albert Dry and Lydia Adeline Brooks. The marriage License listed both of David’s parents as deceased. As also proven in the estate records of Sarah E. Thomas, who was Elizabeth’s grandmother, David W. Griffin was listed as the sole heir of Elizabeth Griffin, dec’d. David W. Griffin and Martha Ellen Dry lived out their lives in Stanly County and are buried at Philadelphia Baptist Church.

Hampton H. Thomas


Entry from the Joseph Newsome family bible

Born in 1839, Hampton Thomas lived with Guardian Edmond L. Davis following his father’s death in 1854. . When Hampton came of legal age, Edmond Davis made a court documented return to the “Estate of Hampton Thomas & Others.” Since he was the oldest child appointed to E.L. Davis, the estate return was listed under Hampton’s name. E. L. Davis disclosed returns to David M., George, Puah, and Winney A. Thomas. Each child received $237.50.

In the 1860 Union County Census H. H. Thomas is listed twice. He is 21 years old and a mechanic living at the house of John Warwick, a shoemaker and emigrant from Pennsylvania. H. H. Thomas is also listed as a mechanic living at the house of James Richard. James is an Innkeeper, born in Cromwell Co., England. Dated 17 Aug 1860, Hampton purchased a one-acre lot near Monroe from J. D. Stewart.

Hampton H. Thomas enlisted and served as Sergeant in CSA Co. B, 26 Reg. NC. On 3 Jul 1863, he was captured after being wounded at the battle of Gettysburg. Following the amputation of his right leg, Hampton was transferred to David’s Island, N.Y., to Fort Wood at Bledsoe’s Island, and then on Christmas Eve of 1863, to the Point Lookout Prison in Maryland. Exchanged at City Point, Va., he stayed there until 1865. It is believed that Hampton returned home, where he shortly died from sickness. In the Joseph Newsome Family Bible, “Hampton Thomas- Deceased the 13th February 1866, the disease which taken him into Grate eternity was—?— while forced in the rebealion.”

Jane Ellen Thomas

Jacob Thomas was appointed guardian of Jane Ellen Thomas in Jul 1855 following the death of her father David Thomas. In April 1858, Jacob Thomas made a court recorded return in the amount of $140.00. And, on 11 Jul 1858 Jane E. Thomas married Sylvester Williams. Sylveter enlisted in CSA Co. G, 48th Reg, NC. On 9 Jun 1863 Sylvester died of disease at Goldsboro, NC.

The children of Jane E. and Sylvester Williams are John M. Williams (likely died young), Sarah E. Williams (William E. Helms), and Lethe Williams (likely died young).

Puah Ellen Thomas

puah e

Puah Ellen Thomas Brooks

Though born 7 Jun 1844 in a family whose patriotism was fervently defined by the Confederate Cause, Puah’s name is surely a throwback to the abolitionist Quaker traditions in the Newsome side of her family. You see, in the bible, Puah was one of the Jewish midwives who looked after the baby boys during Passover. The Quakers seized on this in communicating shame to southern ladies in that they too have a responsibility and will someday be held accountable for how they treat others …those enslaved. The message went something like this …even the Jewish midwives treated slaves with dignity, how about you?

Puah married on 6 Nov 1865 Joshua Brooks. The house where they lived on Buster Road in Stanly County was demolished following hurricane Fran. It is said Puah and Joshua created one of the first libraries in the area.


The Joshua and Puah Ellen Brooks family


Joshua Brooks Homeplace on Buster Road

Joshua and Puah Ellen Thomas Brooks are buried at Philadelphia Baptist in Stanly County. Their children are: Menora Brooks (Adam Morgan), Ida Brooks(Robert Hill), Lessie Brooks (Killis Almond), Martha Colon Brooks (Luther Efird), Carrie Brooks (Martin James), Maude Brooks (Adam Hill), John Brooks (Arrie Greene), Willie Brooks (unmarried), and Edmond Wyatt Brooks (Flora Alice Green).

Winney A. Thomas

Born ca. 1845, we know that Winney died in 1860. After her father’s death, Winney’s uncle Ananias Jr. was appointed guardian. And at some point prior to the 1858 death of Annanias, Jr., the reverend Edmond Davis was appointed her guardian.
The death of Winney A. Thomas is listed in the 1860 Union County Mortality Census. At 15 years of age and a spinster, she died of Typhoid fever after being sick for 22 days. Winney is likely buried at the Edmond Davis Cemetery near her parents.

Edward Wilson Thomas

edmond thomas

Edward Wilson Thomas and son John Wilson Thomas

Edward Thomas was born 10 Jan 1847 and his older brother James R. Thomas was appointed guardian following their father’s death. At some point his Uncle William Newsom was appointed guardian as in the 1860 Union County Census, Edmond W. Thomas was listed as 14 years old and living at the house of William Newsom. Dated 10 Aug 1869, in the loose estate records of William Newsome, the widow of William Newsom deceased made a $544 dollar return to E. W. Thomas.

Edward Wilson Thomas married first on 31 Dec 1867 Susan Caroline Phillips the daughter of Enoch and Mary Phillips. Susan is buried at the old Phillips Burial Ground and note that Wingate College was built on or near by to the old Rev. Enoch Phillips home place. The children of Edward and Susan Phillips Thomas are Conley Thomas (Mittie), Joe E. Thomas (Emma Ross), Genolia Ann Thomas (Dr. George Benton Nance), Mary Elizabeth Thomas (George W. Simpson), Essie Thomas (Carl Bailey), and John Wilson Thomas (Lillian Maude Hasty). Edward W. Thomas married second Lillie A. Traywick, the daughter of Dr. B. S. and M.H. Traywick. Edward and Lillie are buried at the Weddington UMC. Their children are Walter Bryant Thomas (Josie Ella Hemby), Eloise W. Thomas (E. C. Stephenson), and David E. Thomas (unmarried).

Edward Wilson Thomas and wife Lillie Traywick lived in present day Weddington where their home has been added on and converted to make the town hall. Known now as the Thomas-Wrenn House, the photo above is of Edward W. Thomas and his son John Wilson Thomas. In a photo of the house from the town’s homepage, look closely at the porch and you’ll be able to imagine Edward Wilson Thomas and son from years ago.


Thomas-Wrenn House, Weddington NC

David M. Thomas

Born in 1848, David Thomas married on 15 Jan 1871 Mary Margaret Austin, the daughter of Bryant Deberry (B.D.) Austin and wife Elizabeth Hamilton. When B. D. Austin died in 1885, David and wife Mary were listed in the estate records. Dated 22 Jan 1889, in the petition for final settlement, the listing of heirs records—— –– “Mary Margaret Thomas…who is now a widow”.

Little else is known of the life of David Thomas. The children of David and Mary Margaret Thomas are: Edward W. Thoma (Ida), Mary Thomas, David Milton Thomas (Minnie A. Simpson), Lillie E. Thomas (Coram S. Lawrence), Lexy Thomas (Lucy Leola Perry), and Bertha Thomas (John Clanton). Following the ca. 1889 death of David, his widow Mary Margaret married Julian Baker.

George Washington Thomas

Born 9 Feb 1852, we know from records that George’s mother Alice died less five months after giving birth. And, following the death of George’s father in 1854,the reverend E. L. Davis was appointed guardian. My great grandfather George lived in several households until moving to Stanly County where he lived in the home of John Brooks. There, on the waters of Island Creek, George married Julia Ann Pless, the daughter of Solomon and Caroline Furr Pless. George and Julia continued to operate a store, the Solomon Pless saw mill and a wood fired brick kiln on a hill above Island Creek.

George died in 1922 from influenza and Julia died not too many years after. Julia’s folks are buried at Flat Rock Lutheran cemetery and George and Julia are at rest in the lower cemetery at Love’s Chapel UMC. The above pictures are of George and Julia Pless Thomas The photos below are of young Sylvester Thomas courting with the home of George W. Thomas in the background. It’s likely the old homeplace of Solomon Pless. Also shown are the sons of George W. Thomas working to make bricks.

The children of George and Julia Pless Thomas are: John E. Thomas (died when his gun misfired in a hunting accident), Jane Alice Thomas (Henry J. Yow), David Luther Thomas (Emma Jane Morgan), Minnie Thomas (Reverend Tildon Sasser), Henry Washington Thomas (Ara Bell Huneycutt, Elsie Wilma Dry), Ellen Thomas (Albert Grady), George Sylvester Thomas (Lessie Sasser), and Daniel Arthur Thomas (Eva Lucinda Burris).


Work at the brick kiln on George Washington Thomas’s farm


Sylvester courting in front of George Washington Thomas’ home


  1. theglassdove

    WONDERFUL! My name is Audrey Fennell Mitchell, granddaughter of Ruth Thomas Fennell (William McConnell “Gus”) and I found you on the Thomas family Facebook page. I wish that I had been interested in my family’s history when my grandmothers were alive. I certainly enjoyed reading the fruits of your labors. Thank you!


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