Part of the Indiana Biographies Project
One of the leading citizens and influential business men of Richmond for the past thirty-two years, Ellis Thomas, is now in his seventy-eighth year, yet is extremely active in mind and body, retaining the keenest interest in whatever tends to promote the good of this community, where he has lived so many years and is so thoroughly esteemed. A review of the chief events in his life and in the history of his family will prove of interest to his hosts of friends.
He is the namesake of his paternal grandfather, Ellis Thomas, a most worthy man, of Welsh extraction, and a native of Greene county, Pennsylvania. The greater part of his life was spent in West Virginia, not far from Marietta, on the Ohio river, but later he settled in Wayne county, Indiana, where he purchased what was known as the Stafford farm, about 1836 or 1838. He had learned the blacksmith's trade in his younger days, but his chief attention was always given to agriculture. Politically he was a stanch Whig, and religiously he was an earnest believer in the doctrines of the Methodist Episcopal church. He married Phoebe Van Meter, and several children blessed their union.
Saul Thomas, the father of our subject, was born in Greene county, Pennsylvania, September 5, 1789, and was a small boy when the family removed to their home on the Ohio river. There he grew to maturity, and upon embarking on his independent career, he took up his abode near New Madison (then known as Fort Black), Darke county, Ohio. Subsequently he dwelt in New Paris, where his death occurred in 1881, when he had attained the extreme age of ninety-two years. He was one of the pioneers of Darke county, where at an early day he had entered land and cleared a farm, and at one time he owned three hundred acres of valuable land there. For eight or ten years he operated woolen mills at New Paris, and in his various business ventures he met with success. Politically he was originally a Whig and later a Republican, and in religion he followed in the footsteps of his father. In local public affairs he took the interest of a patriotic citizen, and socially he was identified with the Masonic fraternity. The wife of his youth was Isabella Love, whose birth occurred April 9, 1795, and who was summoned to the better land at her home in New Paris, Ohio, April 30, 1851. They were the parents of eight children, two sons and six daughters. Subsequent to the death of- his first wife Mr. Thomas wedded Mrs. EHzabeth Whitridge.
Ellis Thomas, of this sketch, was born near New Madison, Darke county, Ohio, January 26, 1822, and was five years old when the family removed to Preble county. There he passed the rest of his youthful days, continuing to devote his energies to agricultural labors until he was nearly thirty years old. He then conceived the idea of furnishing the railroads with wood for fuel, and employed from fifty to three hundred men to carry out the contracts which he managed to obtain from the various corporations. For a number of years he supplied all the wood used for fuel on the railroad between Columbus and Indianapolis, on the one between that city and St. Louis, and Indianapolis and Chicago, and on fifteen hundred miles of railroad in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. His prosperous business transactions were terminated in this direction by the adoption of coal as fuel for locomotives, and he was, perforce, obliged to turn his attention to some other enterprise. For nine years he made his home in Cambridge City, and in 1867 he became a permanent citizen of Richmond. He still owns a fine farm of one hundred and thirty acres in Preble county, Ohio, and is connected with numerous local business concerns. He has been since its organization a stockholder in the Gaar, Scott & Company's works, is a stockholder and a director in the Second National Bank, a stockholder and director in the city water works, and is president of the Richmond Reclining Chair Company. In his political affiliations he is a Republican.
Forty-six years ago Mr. Thomas was united in marriage with Miss Emily W. Northrop, the ceremony being celebrated on May 1, 1853. They happily pursued the journey of life together, sharing each other's joys, perplexities and sorrows, until June 28, 1895, when Mrs. Thomas was summoned into eternal rest. Their only child, Mary E., is the wife of Charles W. Elmer, who is the ticket agent for the Panhandle Railroad Company at Richmond,
Biographical and Genealogical History of Wayne, Fayette, Union and Franklin Counties, Indiana, Volume 1, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1899