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Posted by Jean Crowl 7 May, 2009

From the Portrait and biographical record of Hancock, McDonough and Henderson counties, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county (1894)
May, 1894. Lake City Publishing Co. >Isaac Thomas, was born in Loudoun County, Va., and his wife, Elizabeth, was a native of the same State. The maternal grandfather, Robert Garrett, was born in the same State where his daughter's birth occurred. His wife was of Scotch descent and bore the name of McDowell. The parents had a family of six children, four sons and two daughters, namely: Shelby, who is now deceased; James M., of this sketch; Isaac, a farmer of Henderson County; Reason, who is living in Pottawattamie County, Iowa; and Ellen and Elizabeth, who are deceased. In the usual manner of farmer lads James M. Thomas spent the days of his boyhood and youth. He worked in the fields during the summer months, and in the winter season attended the subscription schools of Kentucky, thus acquiring a limited education. When he was about sixteen years of age, his father died, and he then bound himself out to Henry Amed, whom he served until he had attained his majority, working as a farm hand. After reaching man's estate, he continued with Mr. Amed for another year. When twenty-two years of age, he began farming on the old homestead, and was thus employed until the age of twenty-five. In the spring of 1849, he emigrated to Illinois, landing in Oquawka, having made the journey by steamer. For a year he worked on a farm near the county seat, and then, in 1850, went to California, driving an ox-team across the plains to the Pacific Slope. He started on the 14th of April, and after a long and tedious journey reached Hangtown (now Placerville) on the 17th of August. There he engaged in prospecting and mining until December, when he started for home by way of the Panama route and New Orleans. On the 29th of January, 1851, we again find him in Oquawka, and soon after he began farming on the Judge Pence place, where he remained until 1854. Since that time he has lived on the farm which is now his home. It comprises two hundred acres of land, and in addition to this he owns one hundred and twenty acres elsewhere. On the 5th of October, 1845, Mr.Thomas was united in marriage with Miss Sarah, daughter of Andrew and Catherine (Holmes) Figg. The former was a son of John Figg, a native of Virginia, of Irish lineage, and the latter was a daughter of William Holmes, a native of England, who emigrated to America in an early day, and served as a drummer in the Revolutionary War. Ten children have been born to our subject and his wife, namely: Henry, now of Oquawka Precinct: Craven, a farmer of Henderson County; Joseph, who carries on farming in Mercer County; James, an agriculturist of Plainville, Kan.; Hal lee, a farmer of Henderson County; Charlotte, wife of A. Martin, of Perkins, Okla.: Susan, wife of William Figg, a Captain in the Fire Department of Chicago; Kate, wife of Walter Chapin, who is engaged in agricultural pursuits in Rooks County, Kan.; Alice, wife of J. C. Bentley, an attorney of Wichita, Kan.; and Eliza A., who died in infancy. In politics, Mr. Thomas was originally a Whig, but since the dissolution of that party has been a Democrat. He has served as School Director and School Trustee, and the cause of education finds in him a warm friend. He belongs to Tranquil Lodge No. 193, I. O. O. F., and he and his wife hold membership with the Methodist Episcopal Church. They are honored and worthy citizens of the community, and by his well-directed efforts Mr. Thomas has risen from a humble position to one of affluence.