William Thomas was born on 31 Jan 1741 in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. The second son of Stephen and Mary Clothier Thomas, he married to Hannah Pratt, the daughter of William Pratt, Senior. Her sister Rachel married Stephen Thomas, Jr., the brother of William Thomas. William Pratt mentioned daughter "Hannah Pratt" in his Last Will and Testament, which was written Aug 1760. The estate settlement, Dated 6 May 1762 in Queen Anne's County, Maryland, lists daughter "Hannah Thomas". William Thomas and Hannah Pratt were married sometime between 1760 and 1762.
Joining the migration to North Carolina, William and family settled east of the Pee Dee River in Anson County (Richmond County in 1779). As written on the original shucks of two land grants, William Thomas entered land on the west side of Cartledge Creek on 26 Apr 1768. Mistakenly written in the name of "William Thomas, Jr.", both grants were surveyed on 28 Jul 1768, and issued on16 Dec 1769. Since William did have a son of the same name as himself, the mistake would have to be settled before the land was eventually sold. On 14 Jul 1786, the 200-acre grant was sold to William's son, Stephen Thomas. In 1799, the 300-acre grant was sold to son, Nathan. Both deeds listed the sellers as William Thomas, Junior and William Thomas, Senior.
William's father died in Anson County in 1774. William Thomas purchased an "old cart" from the Sale of the Estate of Stephen Thomas, Deceased.
Referring to himself as "Planter", we know that William cultivated and lived out his life on the lands he first settled along Cartledge Creek. He built and operated a profitable gristmill situated on the creek. Before her death ca. 1785, Hannah gave birth to the following: William, Jr., Mary, Stephen, Elizabeth, John, Nathan, Sarah, and George.
William married second to Rachel Roe between Dec 1788 and Dec 1789. Also from Maryland, she was born ca.1756, the daughter of John and Sussanah Roe. In 1780, John willed to his daughter Rachel Roe 200 acres on Hamer's Creek in Montgomery county, N. C. William and Rachel Thomas remained on Cartledge Creek and had five children. They were: Jane, Esther, Robert, Samuel, and Patsy.
During the 1788 N.C. General Assembly(chapter 35), William Thomas, Esq. and others were appointed trustees for the purpose of erecting an academy in Richmond county. This action bore fruit as on 5 Oct 1788, Benjamin Covington sold "the Trustees of Richmond Academy" one acre for the construction of a school at the Presbyterian Meeting House.
From the bequeath of his "Orrery," and of tales gleaned from distant relatives, Thomas family researchers have always known that William Thomas was somehow accomplished in astronomy. However, through the publications of Abraham Hodge, the legacy of William Thomas, Ast., was best described in his own words.
Abraham Hodge (1755-1805) set up shop in Halifax and Fayetteville. General Washington's press agent during the American Revolution, he was elected State Printer by the General Assembly in 1785. Abraham Hodge printed The North Carolina Minerva, State Gazette of North Carolina, the North Carolina Almanack, and The North Carolina Journal. He was also printer for the newly founded University of North Carolina, and was one of their first contributors. He was by politics, a federalist activist.
As early as 1790, Abraham Hodge printed his NORTH CAROLINA ALMANACK that was written by William Thomas, Astronomer. Probably printed in large volume, this publication was heavily advertised, and sold at a price of one shilling.
In the 1 Oct 1793 issue of The North Carolina Journal, William Thomas, Ast. advertised the sale of Orreries to
"the trustees of seminaries of learning who may wish for machinery of the kind for the use of their students, and others, that they may be supplied on application to him. The machine could be seen at his house or at Fayetteville during the ensuing Assembly ".
This advertisement targeted meetings of the N.C. General Assembly, and the Board of Trustees of The University of North Carolina. Both met in Fayetteville during this time period.
Founded in 1793, The University of North Carolina opened to students in 1795. Dated 10 Jan 1795, in the minutes of a meeting of the Board of Trustees of The University of North Carolina; "two letters from Mr. Wm. Thomas were recd. and read and ordered to lay on the table". Though it cannot be proven, I believe this was our William Thomas, Sr., and he was either requesting to teach or simply making another sales pitch
. Dated 24 Dec 1794, William Thomas petitioned the North Carolina State General Assembly concernning his work in the science of Astronomy. As the first Astronomer in the state, William Thomas pursued protective rights for his Almanac and scientific equipment. William Thomas's signature is at the bottom of the petition.
Dated 2 Jan 1795, a petition of concerned inhabitants of Richmond County was recorded in the North Carolina House of Commons. This petition proposes the use of a "Draft" and other changes in adressing fairness issues related to the raising of a standing militia. There are several notes of interest related to this petition. First, beginning with the first or initiating signature of Elijah Thomas, there are several more belonging to members of William Thomas's family. Second, the petition is written in language similar in writing and style of William Thomas's petition related to his Almanac. William Thomas signed both in the same handwriting. William Thomas is recorded as in Fayetteville, presenting to both the General Assembly and Board of Trustees of The University of North Carolina. I guess what I am trying to say, is that I believe William Thomas, or someone else, wrote both William Thomas's personal petition as well as the one for Richmond County. It is my belief that he was the author of both.
In the 7 Jul 1798 issue of THE NORTH-CAROLINA MINERVA and Fayetteville Advertiser William Thomas, Ast. proposed opening a School of Natural Philosophy, Science, and Astronomy. The school would be located at his house in Richmond County, where he would board up to ten students . Also, in the 1798 issue of The North Carolina Almanack, William Thomas, Ast. wrote a description of the Orrery he had recently completed.
. In all, The North Carolina Almanack, as written by William Thomas, Ast., was printed in yearly issues from at least 1790, until his death in 1800. As recorded in THE NORTH-CAROLINA MINERVA and Fayetteville Advertiser, an obituary dated Tuesday August 19, 1800 simply read: "Died lately in Richmond County in this State, much lamented, William Thomas, Esq. Astronomer".
Dated 3 Mar 1789, and Per Richmond County Deeds B-355 for 200 acres, B-356 for 300 acres, and B-358 for 500 acres; William purchased land on Juniper Creek and Drowning Creek. This land would be sold in the middle 1790's to his son, John Thomas, and Samuel Brown. On 8 Dec 1799, "Ram Billy" sold 100 acres on Cartledge Creek to his son Nathan. This land was part of the original miswritten grant dated 6 Dec 1769, and part of an unrecorded deed that had been purchased on 21 Jan 1772. Two days later, on 10 Dec 1799, William, Sr. deeded (E-171) 140 acres on Cartledge Creek to his son William, Junior. Below the gristmill, this land was the combination of two tracts. Namely (K 209, Anson) dated 17 Jun 1774 and Grant # 1085 dated 7 Jun 1799.
Probated in Oct 1800, William Thomas wrote his Last Will and Testament. He left the Orrery, wearing apparel, Bible and books to sons William, Nathan, John, and George. His wife, five youngest children, and daughter Mary Everett would share the costs and all profits from his gristmill for the duration of eight years. The 200-acre Montgomery County estate left by Rachel's father, John Roe, was willed to son Stephen, and daughters Elizabeth Ratliff and Sarah Moorman. Wife Rachel and the five youngest children would share his "dwelling plantation" and remaining land.
William Thomas, Sr. was buried in the family cemetery at the homeplace, which was located 2 1/2 miles, south-east of Blewett's Falls. After his death, Rachel remarried on 18 Aug 1802 to Elijah Thomas. A cousin of "Ram Billy," he was the son of Daniel Thomas. As written in the administration papers, Elijah died in Feb 1816. Rachel was officially appointed guardian of the children in the Mar 1819 Richmond County Court of Pleas.
The children and descendents of Hannah Pratt Thomas and William Thomas, Sr. were:
WILLIAM THOMAS, JR.
William, Jr. was born ca. 1762 in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. Mistakenly written in his name, William, Jr.'s father received a grant for land in North Carolina on 10 Dec 1769. William, Jr. would have been seven years old when the grant was issued.
Volunteering for service in the American Revolution, William, Jr. joined the North Carolina Militia in 1780. From documents related to a pension request, we know that William, Jr. provided his own horse, and fought under Col. Crawford, Col. David Love, and Col. Thomas Wade. He was "wounded in a battle at Betty's bridge, and was taken at . . . own house by the Tories and chopped in the head with a sword". He received the pension. William Thomas, Jr. held the nick name of "Silver Heel." It is traditionally contributed to the belief he was shot in the foot in the battle at Betty's bridge.
About 1782, William, Jr. married first Sally Everett. They lived on Cartledge creek. The daughter of Lawrence Everett and Phyllis Eubanks, she had four children before dying ca. 1785. Their children were:
1. Hannah Thomas b. ca. 1782, married first to Samuel Curtis, Jr., d. ca. 1812 in Stewart Co., TN. Between 1808 and1809, Samuel purchased 1581 acres situated on the Cumberland River, Guice creek, and Elk creek. Hannah married second to Thomas Tomlinson.
2. Rebecca Thomasb. 1784 d. infant.
3. Mary Thomas b. ca. 1785 d. 1834, married Lawrence E. Everett. He was the son of her Aunt Mary and Lawrence Everett, Sr. Their children were:
4. William Thomas b. ca 1790 died in infancy with his mother.
5. Sarah Thomas
"Silver Heel" married second to Mrs. Sarah Tarbutton Ewing. She was the widow of Samuel Ewing. William, Jr. represented Richmond County in the House of Representatives for years 1810, 1814, 1816, 1819, and 1820. He was also a member of the State Senate in 1821 and 1822. His will was written in 1829 and he died in 1834. The children of William and Sarah were:
1. John Thomas b. ca.1792 d. , married on Elizabeth Covington. They lived on Mountain Creek. Their children were: (A) William Thomas, married Wilson Covington; (B) Sarah married John McKay; (C) John C. Thomas married first Jane Bennet and second Tobitha Copeland; (D) James Thomas married Elizabeth Bolton; (E) Calvin Thomas married Hasty; (F) Wiley F. Thomas married Ann Bennet; (G) Robert Thomas married Clementine Higgins; (H) Mary Jane Thomas married Angus McInnis; (I) Martha Thomas married first Daniel McCleod and second Thomas Garrett.
2. James Thomas b. ca. 1794 d. 1874, married Charlotte Roper. She was the daughter of Thomas Roper and Hannah Hunter. James and Charlotte lived in north-west Richmond county. Their children were: (A)Lewis Robert Thomas b. 18 Apr 1821 d. 19 Jan 1893, married first to Elizabeth Jane Terry(1817-1856), second in 1863 to Louisa Bolton, and last in 1883 to Sophronia Hearne; (B)Rachel Thomas b. 1822, married John Monroe; (C)George Thomas b. 1824, married Julia A. Covington; (D)John W. Thomas b.1825, married Lucinda Covington; (E)William Jackson Thomas b. 27 Nov 1827 d. 30 Dec 1890 bur. Eastside Cem, Rockingham, married Mary Jane Covington; (F)Benjamin M. Thomas b. 24 Apr1829 d. 25 Mar 1906 near Troy, N.C. married on 10 Nov 1867 to Elizabeth Williams Warner; (G)Stephen W.. Thomas b. 1830; and Henry T. Thomas b. 1833 d. 1861 CSA Co. D, 23rd Reg. NC.
3. George Thomas b. 1797, married to Mary Adams of Adamsville, S.C. He served three terms in the North Carolina State Legislature. The election counts within the Richmond County Court records provide a look at his popularity. George published the following notice in the Carolina Observer:
To WILLIAM ADAMS THOMAS
Rockingham, Richmond County, NC.,
April 5, 1839.
DEAR SON: Having lately understood that you had been engaged in business at Hillsborough, and having passed through Fayetteville about the First of March, and being anxious for you to return or go to the Wake Forest Institute and complete your education. If you prefer the latter, and will inform me, I will send on the necessary funds to that place, but if your business is such that you cannot conveniently accept of the above proposition at present, I hope you will not writing to me, so that I may be able to open a correspondence with you, as it will afford me and your mother the greatest pleasure at any time to hear from you.
N.B. --Any information concerning Wm. A. Thomas, or Wm. Adams, as he is sometimes called, will be thankfully received.
In 1840, George Thomas resigned from his duties as legislator of Richmond County. Buying land in Lowndes County, Alabama, George Thomas wrote the following letter of resignation which is found in the Governor E. B. Dudley Papers:
Richmond County No Ca October 28th 1840
Please accept this my Resignation as a Member of the General Assembly in the House of Commons for the County of Richmond
PS. My reason for tendering my resignation as a member of the ensuing Legislature is that I have bought land in the state of Alabama and expect to move to it some time in the month of December, and cannot therefore attend the duties of the Legislature.
I would sugest to you the propety of issuing a writ of Election amediately so as to have the election to fill the vacancy on the Second Thursday of November (the day the Presidential election is held) by an arangement of that kind it will ensure a full turn acct of the voters of this Whig County and thereby ensure the Election of a whig Member if this should not reach you in time to send a writ of election in time by the mail, I hope you will send it to the Sheriff by EXPRESS the above however is only suestions for your Consideration yours obidiant Servent
4. Rachel Thomas b. ca. 1800, married Charles Hailey and removed to Indiana ca. 1840.
Mary was born ca. 1763 in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. Moving to North Carolina with her parents, she married first to neighbor Lawrence Everett ca. 1783 in Richmond County. After Lawrence died, she married to Thomas Plummer Williams.
Ca. 1765, Stephen was born in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. He married Mary Covington ca. 1783 in Richmond County, N.C. Stephen served in the N. C. Militia during the American Revolution. On 14 Jul 1786, he purchased the mistakenly written 200 acres of land on Cartledge Creek from his father and brother. From Revolutionary War pension files, we know that Stephen received a disability pension in 1787, and removed to Montgomery county, Tennessee ca. 1796. This squares with the fact that on 10 Mar 1796, Stephen Thomas and wife Mary sold to Benjamin Covington the land purchased from his father and brother (C 645, Richmond).
In 1798, the first tax list for the newly formed Montgomery Co., TN. lists Stephen Thomas with no land. Near friends from North Carolina, on 28 Jul 1801, he purchased land south of the Cumberland river along the west fork of Budd(formerly Lick) creek. On 25 Jul 1803, he was appointed guardian of Elizabeth, Charlotte, and Hannah; the daughters of William and Hannah Cobb, Dec'd. Stephen was shortly appointed Justice of the Peace. On 14 May 1814, Mathew Morgan deeded one acre of land to Stephen Thomas and Selmon Edwards, "Trustees for the Baptist Church." This land was on the middle fork of the east fork of Yellow Creek.
On 12 Aug 1817, Stephen made an inquiry at the federal office that was located in Palmyra, a bustling shipping hub along the Cumberland River. Pension records from this office indicate that Stephen died on 10 May 1825. In his will, probated Jul 1825 in neighboring Dickson County, was mentioned children John C. Thomas, William Thomas, and unnamed daughters. His wife Mary was the executor.
1. John Covington Thomas He purchased 100 acres adjoining his father's land on 24 Sep 1805, and sold it on 21 Feb 1806. In the 1820 Mississippi Census, John is listed as living in Covington County. In 1850, he is listed as living in Jasper County MS.
2. William Thomas
Possibly born in Maryland ca. 1767, Elizabeth married Zachariah Ratliff ca. 1793. He was the son of William and Susannah Thomas Curtis Ratliff. Susanah was the daughter of Thomas Thomas, of Anson county. Zachariah lived in Anson county before marrying Elizabeth. Dated 16 Oct 1793, Zachariah Ratliff purchased 110 acres in Richmond County(C 439). He may not have lived on the land, as on 22 Jan 1796(C 596), it was sold by "Zachariah of Anson County". This information thankfully came from the writings of Mr. Howard Hazelwood.
1. William Ratliff b. 9 Dec 1794 d. 24 Jun 1834 in Madison Co., Ms.; married on 6 Oct 1814 in Stewart Co., TN. to Susannah Tatum.
2. Rebecca Elizabeth Ratliff b. 7 Jun 1796 and d. 1 Sep 1870 in Leake or Hinds Co, MS., bur. Tinnin Cem. In Clinton Ms.; married 20 Mar 1822 to Tinnin Fletcher.
3. Zach Ratliff b.ca.1797 d. 24 Dec 1849 bur. Tinnin Cem. In Clinton, MS.; married ca.1828 to Susan Tinnin.
4. John Ratliff b. 16 Aug 1799 d. 5 May 1849 bur. Pisgah Cem. In Rankin Co., MS.; married ca. 1823 to Catherine 6 Nov Denson.
5. Hannah Ratliff b. 21 Apr 1800 d. 1883 bur. Hagan Cem. In Limestone Co., TX, married ca. 1821 to James Herrod.
6. James Ratliff b. ca. 1805 Stewart Co., TN. d. ca. 1850 in Hinds Co., MS.; married 22 Dec 1826 in Washington Co., MS. To Elizabeth Clanton.
John Thomas was possibly born in Maryland, ca. 1769. He married ca. 1790 to ????. On 22 Nov 1794, he purchased land on Little Juniper creek from his father. John married 1794 to Mary Saunders. John moved to Montgomery County TN.
Nathan was born in Anson (now Richmond) county in 1772. He married ca. 1793 probably in Richmond county. On 8 Dec 1799, he purchased 100 acres on Cartledge creek from his father. After his father's death, Nathan sold the land to Elijah Thomas. Elijah had just married Rachel Thomas, who was Nathan's stepmother.
Sarah was born on 8 May 1773. In 1793, She married to John Moorman who was a Quaker born on 9 Dec 1769. They lived in Richmond county on land situated below the mouth of Hitchcock's creek. On 24 Oct 1816, John sold(L 7, Richmond) several parcels of this land, which he had purchased via land grant on 10 Nov 1791. Dated 22 Mar 1817, John and wife Sarah sold 8 1/2 acres, which was her interest of her father's estate. Attending Piney Grove MM, their children's names and birth dates were recorded as:
1. Hannah Moorman b. 11 Feb 1794.
2. Chuza Moorman b. 24 Sep 1795 d. 15 Dec 1798.
3. Mary Moorman b. 5 Sep 1797.
4. Anna Moorman b. 4 Aug 1799.
5. Ruth Moorman b. 30 Oct 1801.
6. Liza Moorman b. 8 Aug 1803.
7. Benjamin Moorman b. 12 Feb 1808.
8. Selia Moorman b. 26 Mar 1810
9. John Moorman Jr. b. 12 Nov 1813.
On 15 Nov 1774, George was the last child born to William and Hannah Thomas. He married on 29 Aug 1795 to Jenny Flake. After she died, George married Elizabeth Couther, ca. 1797. George and Elizabeth removed to Montgomery County TN before buying land in the Jackson Purchase of KY. They later moved to Pickens County, Alabama where he died on 14 May 1850.
The children of William "Ram Billy" Thomas and Rachel are:
Esther was born ca. 1792 in Richmond county. She married ca 1808 to Henry Thomas.
Jane was born ca. 1790 in Richmond County. She married ca. 1812 to Thomas B. Covington. Jane died in 1822.
Robert was born ca. 1794 in Richmond county. He probably died in Mississippi.
Samuel was born ca. 1796, and died in Richmond County by 1808. William, Sr. bequeathed his "Living plantation" and remaining land to his five youngest children. In settling the estate of William Thomas, Sr., dated 19 Apr 1813, adjustments in the division of land was made, relative to "Samuel and Patsy Thomas," Dec'd.
MARTHA [PATSY] THOMAS
Born ca. 1798, Martha died before 1808. She never married.
To the Honorable the General Assembly of North Carolina
The petition of William Thomasof Richmond County humbly sheweth --That wheras your petitioner humbly conceivith that your Honors zeal for promotion of literature and every species of useful knowledg; especially when reduced to practice so as to becom a public utility will induce you to give proper rewards and encouragements to those who shall excell therin --Your petitioner therefore humbly conceivith himself in some degree entitled to your Honors attention as being the first in this state who has brought the science of Astronomy to practice so as to become usefull to the public in respect of the Almanac which he has calculated not only in the common way by the Tables, but has also contrived a Machine which will calculate all the essentials of an Almanac in less than 10 minutes of time.
--Your petitioner therefore humbly prays that your Honors as a reward and encouragement for Sd. enterprise and undertaking may ennact and ordain that no person or persons in this state shall print an Almanac for the term of 14 years without first obtaining a license from under my hand (provide I shall continue to furnish copies) under such penalty as your Honors shall think expedient --Also that no Almanacs printed in any other state shall be vended in this state without licence as aforesaid and under like of the police of this state, and of the United Stateswill admit of such a prohibition --And your petitioner as is duty bound will pray &c.
24 Demr 1794
Petition of Wm. Thomas
The House of Commons --2nd Jany 1795
read & ordered to be sent to the Senate
By order ___________
The Senate 2nd Jany 1795, read and ordered to list on the table.
1800) The Last will & testamnet of William Thomas (80
In the name of God Amen
I William Thomas of Richmond County in the State of North Carolina being of sound mind & memory (but considering the mortality of mankind) Do make & ordain this my last will & testament in manner & form following (Viz) In primis I give & bequeath to my sons William Thomas Nathan Thomas John Thomas & George Thomas, all my wearing apparel with all my books my Bible & testament excepted & my Orrary to be equally divided among them. Item I give & bequeath to my wife & my five youngest children Easter, Jane & Martha Samuel & Robert as also to my daughter Mary Everette all the profits of my Griss Mill for eight years after my death share & share alike each & every one being at equal expense in repairs & charges of all kinds whatever & at the expiration of Sd time I give & bequeath my sd mill with all the profits arrisen therefrom to my wife during her natural life life and likewise to my five youngest children above mentioned. Item I give & bequeath to my son Stephen Thomas and my two daughters Elizabeth Ratliff & Sarah Moorman two hundred acres of land in Motgomery County on Hamers Creek left by will by John Roe to my wife Rachek to be equally devided amongst them. Iten I give and bequeath my dwelling plantation with all the remainders of my real personal estate to be equally divided between my wife & my five youngest children Easter Jane Martha Samuel & Robert share & share alike my wife to have her part laid off __ to land including my dwelling house at the discretion of a majority of my executors my five youngest children to have their equal parts laid off when the oldest child comes of age but not to receive their equal part till they severally come of age. and also I will that my wife should occupy & enjoy all & every part of my five childrens last mentioned portion to enable her to shool & clothe & raise Sd children and when they arrive to age to deliver up to my Sd children the equal parts as above mentioned-- and Lastly I constitute & appoint Wm Thoms Junr MAthew Covington Rachel Thomas Executors of this my last will & testament Evoking all others heretofore made, signed, sealed & delivered in the presence of the subscribing witnesses & at the testators request.
No Carolina, Richmond County October Session 1800.
Then the written last wil and testament of Wm Thomas was proved in open court by the oaths of Mathew Covington Benjamin Covington and John Roe. Ordered to be recorded
Test Eli Terry Clk
Forbush Family Info
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