WILLIAM I. THOMAS
In the early history of Troy no settler left a more lasting impress upon the community, in whose steady growth for more than half a century he was an important factor and an active force, than William I. Thomas. He was born in Philadelphia, July 4, 1796, of Welsh parents, who emigrated to the young republic of the west soon after the close of the Revolutionary war. Later he came with his parents to Lancaster, Ohio, where in his boyhood was spent. Subsequently he entered the Ohio University, at Athens, but before completing the full college course began the study of law under the Hon. Thomas Ewing, Sr., of Lancaster. Upon his admission to the bar he settled in Troy and began the practice of his profession, in which he quickly gained a high and enviable rank, due to his great ability as a pleader and advocate. His practice was not confined to Miami county. He was a known figure in all the courts of the counties north as far as Putnam, in the days when the most popular and often the only mode of travel was on horseback. Through this long stretch of country he became famous for his ready wit, his forensic ability and his great legal learning. His knowledge was not confined to the books of his profession. He was a student along the lines of the best and noblest literature and his mind and memory were stored with the thoughts of the great authors. Noted for his rare and quaint sayings, he was the most congenial of characters and his native courtesy made him the charm of every social circle. He held many local and county offices during his life. He served several terms as justice of the peace and for a number of years was prosecuting attorney for Miami county. He also served as the Whig postmaster, in Troy, in the '20s. In 1836 he was elected to the state senate on the Whig ticket and served as such for six terms. In the senate he quickly became one of the party leaders, holding the position by his thorough knowledge of men and things, and with such compeers as Chase and Giddings kept the state in the Whig column. In 1856, when the Whig party was a thing of the past, he allied himself with the Democratic party, his ancient enemy, but he never was heartily in accord with the principals or practice of his new political ally. Upon his death, November 6, 1869, the Miami county bar paid a fitting tribute to the worth of Mr. Thomas in the resolutions which said that he was "eminently conspicuous for those attributes of intellectual power and culture, solid and varied learnings and eminent professional integrity which merited and commanded universal respect and confidence during the long period of his active practice as an attorney and counselor-at-law and in the various official trusts committed to his charge." He was married, September 29, 1828, to Lucinda M. Neale, the daughter of Richard H. Neale, of Parkersburg, Virginia, who belonged to a noted family of the old commonwealth. Of this marriage eleven children were born, of whom only four survive: Stanley O., of New Orleans, Louisiana; Walter S., Llewellyn A. and Gilmer T. Thomas, of Troy.
Return to the Biography Index
Copyright © 1999 by Computerized Heritage