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Below is a family biography included in The History of Greene County, Illinois published by Donnelley, Gassette & Loyd in 1879.  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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THOMAS, JOHN I. farmer and stock raiser, Sec. 33, Tp. 10, R. 12. Mr. Thomas was born in Madison County, Ill., March 15, 1818. During the Autumn of this year, his father, the late Honorable Samuel Thomas, settled on the western prairies of Illinois, that portion now comprised in Greene, locating three miles from the present city of Carrollton. John Thomas, who heads this sketch, relates that, at this early day, within 600 yards of his father’s cabin, he at one time counted twenty-six deer. Bears were also frequently seen. Deer abounded, while wild cats and panthers were frequently seen. One incident here, as related by Mr. Thomas, is worthy of remark. Close to the Mississippi, on the margin of a small stream in Pike County, there stood an old mill, used by the early settlers for pounding grain; it was made in a similar manner to the mills in use, with the exception that a large wheel, revolving through the water, kept the mortar in motion, rapidly or otherwise owing to the rising or lowering of the tide. One day, at low tide, an opossum, discovering no one near, made his way to mill, discovered the corn or other grain, and, heedless of danger, proceeded to help himself. While doing so the mortar, slowly descending, snuffed out the life of the poor ‘possum, the inanimate remains being found by the pioneers shortly after. John I. Thomas received his education in a log cabin, where greased paper was in use for window glass, and a large fireplace occupied one end of the cabin. Mr. Thomas has followed farming from boyhood up to the present time, and now takes rank among the leading farmers of the Northwest But those early days of log cabins, of the many happy days of pioneer life, are vividly impressed upon his memory. His wonderful success in life is due to untiring efforts in the agricultural walks of life. In 1840 he was united in marriage to Miss Ann Corn, by whom he had five children, four living: Elmira, Alice, Samuel, and Lenora. Mr. Thomas owns over a thousand acres of as good land as lies in the State of Illinois. During the present year he was elected to fill the responsible position of president of the Carrollton Banking Institution, one of the soundest organizations in the West.

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This family biography is one of 744 biographies included in The History of Greene County, Illinois published in 1879.  View the complete description here: The History of Greene County, Illinois

View additional Greene County, Illinois family biographies here: Greene County, Illinois Biographies

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