The Thomas Family
Before 1750, the boundaries between the Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania colonies were somewhat in a state of flux. This was especially true in the wilderness close to and in the Appalacian mountains. Quaker Lewis Thomas was probably born in Wales and immigrated to the Pennsylvania colony. After a few years, he settled in what would become Orange County Virginia. He bought land there, and thinking it was still in Pennsylvania, paid with “Pennsylvania Money”. He and his wife, Jane Smith soon started a family of whom Owen Thomas was the eldest. Lewis died in 1751, though his will was not completely probated until 1756.
Son Owen Thomas, probably born in Orange County Virginia, married in 1751 to Mary “Polly” Hardin. They began a family that would number nine children. In 1752, Owen purchased 400 acres in Orange County. The transfer of the land was given under the hand and seal of Lord Fairfax, then Governor of the colony. The surveyor of record for this land was another young Virginian, George Washington. Owen Thomas paid George Washington a fee of 1 shilling for each 50 acres surveyed. About 1768, Owen Thomas moved his family northwest some miles into the Uniontown Pennsylvania area. The Hardins, some of his wife’s family, also settled in this area. Another of my family lines, the Heavrins would also settle here shortly after the American Revolution. In the early 1790s, the Thomas family moved to the Kentucky territory, perhaps shortly after it achieved statehood in 1792. They settled near Elizabethtown and built a log house there. They also built a meeting house church on their property that was later deeded to the Methodists. An interesting account of Owen and his wife Polly came from a circuit riding preacher a few years thereafter.
Owen’s greatgrandson, John “Jack” Thomas, like almost every male in the Thomas family, married early and died early as well. At age 19, he married Rebecca Durbin in Hardin County Kentucky. They had nine children before he died at age 46. Rebecca Durbin was the sister of Elisha John Durbin, who would become one of the earliest Catholic priests ordained in Kentucky. For years, he was the sole priest and pastor for a territory that covered all of western Kentucky to the Mississippi River, parts of Tennessee and part time responsibility for a few churches in southern Indiana. Jack and Rebecca’s grandchildren would later move to Union County Kentucky where they became communicants at some of the same churches that “Uncle Elisha” founded.
One of these grandchildren, William Raymond Thomas married Euphrasia Newton in 1879. Their son, William Joseph “Joe” Thomas was my grandfather. Euphrasia, in 1914, made a baptismal gown for her new born granddaughter, Mary Lois Thomas. That gown, in two pieces, a skirt and an overdress, both with multiple lace patterns, has been worn for any number of baptisms within the Thomas family descendants. It is worn here by Jacqueline Elise Kinch, great great-granddaughter of Euphrasia Newton Thomas.