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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Cleveland County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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James S. Thomas is of Scotch-Irish descent, an agriculturist by occupation, and seems by nature to have been designed for a planter, for he is now the owner of 1,600 acres of fine land, and has 300 acres under cultivation. He was born in Jones County, Miss., March 6, 1832, and is a son of John C. and Sarah (Tarral) Thomas, who were born in North Carolina and South Carolina, in 1785 and 1801, and died in Cleveland County, Ark., in 1861 and 1870, respectively. They were married in West Tennessee, whither they had come with their parents, and after making that State their home for a few years, they moved to Mississippi, and until 1851, resided in different counties of that State. At that date they moved to Drew County, Ark., and six years later settled in what is now Cleveland County, where they spent their declining years, both being members of the primitive Baptist Church. The father was a Democrat in his political views, and advocated States’ rights, and while a resident of Jasper County, Miss., he was a member of the State Legislature for fifteen years, and was probate judge and justice of the peace, for many years. Of twelve children born to him, nine are now living: William (a farmer and minister of the gospel residing in Texas), Susanna (wife of James Anderson, deceased), John (a farmer of Drew County, Ark.), Mary (wife of John Eager, a farmer of Texas), Sarah (wife of John C. Covington, a farmer of Arkansas), Julia Perry (wife of J. C. Perry resides in Texas), Martha (wife of Henry Williams, a tiller of the soil in Texas), Jane Bawnds (wife of Berry Bawnd, resides in Texas), and James S. The latter spent his school days in Jasper County, Miss., and Drew County, Ark., and until he was twenty-four years of age, made his home with his parents, and being the eldest son at home, it became his duty to assist his father in managing the home property. In 1862 he enlisted under Col. Pastlack, in a regiment of Arkansas Infantry, and was in the service until the close of the war, but during the latter part of the war was in the cavalry, and was with Price on his raid through Missouri. While on detail duty during the early party of his service, he was taken prisoner at St. Charles, Ark., but was only retained a short time, and although he was taken captive twice afterward, he was soon released. After his return home he found himself without means, but being determined to accumulate property, and possessing the constitution to put his resolution into practice, he has become one of the wealthy agriculturists of the county. January 18, 1857, he was married to Elizabeth, the daughter of J. B. and Mary Ann Fryar. She was born in Alabama, in 1839, and died in 1863, having borne three children: John (who is in the livery business in Texas), James (who is a farmer of Cleveland County), a child who died in infancy, and Jenette (died at the age of eighteen years, June 22, 1877). In 1866 Mr. Thomas married Miss Bettie Williams, who was an ornament to society; she was a daughter of Shebeck and M. E. Williams. This wife was born in Mississippi, in 1846, and died May 20, 1884, leaving a family of five children to mourn their loss: Daniel, Red, Charles, Mary S. and Edward; Julia (died when a child). Mrs. Nancy Reepe became his wife in January, 1885. She was born in Alabama, in 1846, and was the widow of Richard Reepe. They have two children: Ben and Ara. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and he is a Democrat, and a member of the Masonic fraternity.

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This family biography is one of 75 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Cleveland County, Arkansas published in 1890.  For the complete description, click here: Cleveland County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

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