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Below is a family biography included in History of Union County, Iowa published by S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., in 1908.  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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Among the men of broad public spirit and marked enterprise and achievement whose labors have resulted beneficially to the community in which they live, and who in the direction of both private and public interests have won the success which is the merited reward of all persistent and honorable endeavor, is numbered Charles H. Thomas of the firm of C. H. Thomas & Company, at Kent, the leading mercantile establishment in the county outside of the county seat.

Mr. Thomas was born in a log cabin near Roseville, Warren county, Illinois, September 29, 1860, his parents being Mathew and Emaline (Raybourn) Thomas, both of whom were natives of Jackson county, Indiana. The name is Welsh, the family tracing its lineage back through Kentucky and Virginia to the arrival in that colony of five Thomas brothers from Wales. The maiden name on the maternal grandmother’s side was Taylor and she was a near relative of President Zachary Taylor. Mathew Thomas was a volunteer soldier in the Mexican war, and his brother fills a soldier’s grave near the city of Mexico. Returning from the war, he was married and emigrated to Warren county, Illinois, in 1851, where the subject of this sketch was born. After twenty-five years’ residence there the family, including five brothers and five sisters, came to Cromwell in this county, March 4, 1876.

Charles H. Thomas attended his first school at Monmouth, Illinois. Following the usual course of a farmer boy, he helped his father on the farm, attending the village school only in the winter until he had completed the course in the Cromwell school. A college education and the law was his ambition, but unexpected financial reverses wiped out his father’s resources and the son was compelled to seek employment. On August 20, 1880, he accepted a position with W. M. Sparr, the lumber and hardware merchant of Cromwell, and began a business career which he has since followed, being connected with the above firm for ten years. In 1886 he took up a homestead in western Kansas, engaging temporarily in the land and loan business at Garden city. In a few months he accepted a position with Crumbaugh & Fitzgerald, a law, land and loan firm of Dodge City, Kansas, the senior member of which held the position of probate judge and under whom he commenced to read law. Mr. Fitzgerald is the present lieutenant governor of that state. Returning to Iowa in the fall of the same year, he arranged to continue the study of law with Judge Wilson of the superior court of Creston, but deciding to get married, he abandoned this plan and re-entered business at Cromwell. In January, 1902, the firm of Thomas & Dougherty opened a retail hardware store at No. 114 Maple street in Creston and was succeeded later by Thomas Brothers. In the spring of 1895 this firm opened a branch business at Kent, and in the fall they built a brick store room there and re moved their entire business to that point, where the firm of C. H. Thomas & Company now conduct one of the largest mercantile establishments in Union county, handling a complete line of lumber, hardware, harness and paints. Grant M. Thomas, the brother died in 1899. In 1901 the firm erected a brick store room, thirty-six by eighty feet, two stories and basement, one of the best business buildings in the county.

Mr. Thomas is president of the board of education, a member of the city council and a trustee and steward of the Methodist church, of which both he and his wife are active, loyal members. Mr. Thomas is also superintendent of the Sunday school. He is a charter member of Kent Lodge, No. 666, I. O. O. F., belongs to the Modern Woodmen and was a charter member and first consul commander of Cosmopolitan Camp, Woodmen of the World, at Creston, where he still holds his membership. He is a leading spirit in all public enterprises for the upbuilding of his home community and county, giving liberally of his purse as well as of his time and talent. A republican in politics, he has served as secretary of the county central committee and frequently a delegate to the state conventions. At the congressional convention in Osceola in 1894 he was made both temporary and permanent chairman his address winning high praise from the convention and press as a terse and eloquent statement of party principles. He has made numerous public addresses that have added to his acquaintance and popularity. In the republican county convention of 1906 he received sixty-one votes on the informal ballot for representative in the general assembly, and had he not withdrawn his name over the protests of friends, would have been nominated on the first formal ballot. Mr. Thomas is one of the heaviest taxpayers in Platte township and has expended more money on buildings and permanent improvements than any other citizen in its history and his name is a synonym for enterprise, integrity and success. His latest enterprise in company with A. A. Wright, is “Thomas & Wright’s” addition of thirty-one acres to the town of Kent, including a liberal proposition for a much needed public park.

On the 7th day of September, 1886, he was united in marriage to Miss Jemima I. Brown, of Cromwell, a daughter of the late John H. Brown, a prominent pioneer settler of Douglas township. To Mr. and Mrs. Thomas have been born four children: Grace Erla, a maiden of sixteen years; Hobart McKinley, eleven years of age; Mary Belle and Carnot Hamilton, who are aged respectively eight and two years. They have a fine residence in Kent with modern conveniences and a splendid library, and their home life is ideal. Their farm of one hundred and eighty acres joins the town and is well im proved, being the old Kent homestead after which the town was named. They also have eighty acres in Douglas township.

The author of this volume is indebted to Charles H. Thomas for the excellent article he has contributed in another place on the early settlers and history of Douglas and Platte townships, where he has been an honored resident for thirty-two years.

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This family biography is one of 247 biographies included in The History of Union County, Iowa published in 1908.  For the complete description, click here: Union County, Iowa History and Genealogy

View additional Union County, Iowa family biographies: Union County, Iowa Biographies

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