Biography - Samuel Thomas

Samuel R. THOMAS, farmer, P. O. Virden, son of Samuel and Elizabeth (ISLEY) THOMAS, was born May 2, 1829, in Greene County, Ill., where he was raised and educated; in his education he had only such advantages as were common to district schools; he nevertheless made an extraordinary advancement in literature and science, considering his surroundings, mastering not only the ordinary branches of an English education, but philosophy, higher mathematics, surveying and navigation; these branches were studied without the assistance of a teacher; his mind, by a kind of natural intuition, reveled in mathematical calculation; and in leisure hours he wrote down Colman's Treatise on Algebra; to give an idea of his aptitude in calculation, we mention the fact that, when in his thirteenth year, he mastered all the problems in Smith's Arithmetic in a thirty-days' study; he also, at an early age, familiarized himself with the science of astronomy; he kept his father's books from the time he was thirteen till he commenced business for himself; in connection with his brother Lewis, he managed, for some time, the business of his father's farm, buying, selling and shipping; he was, in truth, a kind of confidential adviser. When in the twenty-first year of his age, he entered a section and a half of land in Township 12 north, Range 5 west; his entry was made in the fall of 1850, and in 1851 he broke a hedgerow, inclosing this entire tract; this was a part of the first prairie-breaking done in the township. December 29, 1851 he married Miss Elizabeth M., daughter of Matthew and Margaret (TAYLOR) DAYTON, of Greene County, Ill.; the DAYTONs also were old pioneers of this section of the State; Mrs. THOMAS' grandfather, Thomas DAYTON, with four of his sons, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Matthew, were soldiers in the war of 1812, and took part in the battle of Plattsburg, next to the last engagement of any consequence of that war; the family are descended from Wales, and settled in the United States of America prior to their independence of the mother country; Mrs. THOMAS' aunt on her father's side, Betsey Ann JACOBS, of Vermont, when in her seventieth year, cut a new set of teeth, and was re-endowed with an eyesight equal to that of her youth; this fact is mentioned as confirming the theory that nature, in its primitive state, had the power of recuperation and renewal. Mrs. THOMAS is of a good family, well educated and intelligent; in fact, during her school days like her husband, she was considered the prime student of her school; before she was married, she taught one or two terms. Mr. THOMAS remained some two years in his native county after his marriage, and then came to Montgomery County and occupied his farm; here he has since resided, adding improvements to his lands, and engaged in the stock business, and is the heaviest stock-grower in the county; his farm now consists of three sections of land, as fine as are to be found within the county or State, in a very high state of cultivation; the residence is a handsome and commodious frame building, possessing all the conveniences and apartments adapting it to the wants and requirements of a country seat; a cistern is placed in the attic story, from which the water is conveyed to every room fo the house; instead of a cellar, an attachment is made, which consists of a room formed of double walls, and floor some two feet below the grade of the earth's surface; this attachment joins onto the kitchen, and keeps vegetables and fruits as well as a cellar, and does not add a mold to butter and other articles; we advise any one contemplating building to take a look through Mr. THOMAS' house first; we are satisfied that it would pay. Mr. THOMAS contemplates another improvement which is worthy of notice. A wind-mill and corn-sheller stand at a convenient distance from his house; he meditates putting a large cistern in the tower part of this building, and then running pipe to supply his bath-room and a fountain in the yard; two other wind-wheels run as many pumps at convenient points on the farm; from one of these the water is conveyed 120 rods, to supply feed lots; we believe now that every 160-acre tract is well supplied with stock water; he has also on his farm a very nice grove of cultivated timber, consisting of about twenty-five acres. Mr. THOMAS' family consists of the following children: Henry Matthew, who married Miss Lydia Ann BAIRD September 25, 1873, daughter of Zebulon BAIRD, of Harvel Township; Ann Amanda, Elizabeth Jane, Catharine, Samuel Dayton and Mary Lenora. The parents have spared neither means nor care in education their children, and have been rewarded with both gratitude and success.

Extracted 20 Nov 2016 by Norma Hass from 1882 History of Bond and Montgomery Counties, Illinois, Part 2 Biographical Department, pages 275-277.

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