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Below is a family biography included in the book,  Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company.  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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WILLIAM R. THOMAS has for many years enjoyed a reputation not only as one of the finest mechanics in Catasauqua, but also as a man who is thoroughly posted in public affairs. He is now in the employ of the Davies & Thomas Company. A man of more than ordinary ability, he has had a vast amount of experience in his work, and every transaction is characterized by good judgment. He was born in Glamorganshire, Wales, May 30, 1829, and is the son of Hopkin Thomas, whose life history will be found in the biography of James Thomas. The paternal grandfather of William R. Thomas, who was also a native of Wales, was a miller, which occupation he followed in his native land during his entire life.

Hopkin Thomas, who was also a fine machinist, crossed the Atlantic in 1834, and located for a time in Philadelphia. Thence he went to Beaver Meadows, where William R. Thomas, his son, received his education in the district school, and when sixteen years of age learned the machinist’s trade in the shops located there. He remained thereuntil attaining his twentieth year, when, desiring to perfect himself in his line of work, he went to New York City and received special instruction in the navy-yards. For two years he worked there, and in 1854 emigrated to La Salle County, Ill., and thence to Amboy, where he engaged as an engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad, running between that city and Centralia.

After a service of two years on the road Mr. Thomas’ health failed, and he returned to this city, and after recuperating entered the employ of the Crane Iron Company as master mechanic, remaining with them until 1868, and only leaving their employ to become a partner in the McKee, Fuller & Company Car Wheel and Axle Works. He was Superintendent of the plant for two years, when he disposed of his interest in the business, and became connected with the Coleraine Iron Works in the building of furnaces, managing the work shop until 1875. That year he went South to Georgia, where he built the Rising Fawn Iron Furnace in Dade County. From there he went to Helena, Ala., and superintended the operations of the Helena coal mine for a month. At the expiration of that time he returned home and accepted the superintendency of the Coleraine Iron Company for one year, after which he went to Hokendauqua to fill the same position for the Thomas Iron Company. After being seven years in their employ he was, in March, 1887, made Superintendent of the Crane Iron Company, and continued in this position until 1891, when, in company with A. and C. H. Fuller, he started the Globe Metal Works. With this he was connected a year, when he sold out, and, coming again to this town, became connected with Davies & Thomas’ Foundry and Machine Works.

William R. Thomas was united in marriage in Janesville, this state, in 1856, to Miss Martha Mayhew, a native of England, and the daughter of Francis Mayhew. Of the nine children who were born to them eight are now living: James, a machinist in this city; Katie, Mrs. Agthe, of Philadelphia; John, a chemist in this place; Helen, Irene, Mary, William and Fritz, at home with their parents. Frank, who was Superintendent of the Franklin Iron Works in New York, died in that city.

In social affairs Mr. Thomas is a Free and Accepted Mason, a Royal Arch Mason and Knight Templar. Politically he is a supporter of the candidates of the Republican party, and although not actively interested in political affairs, he maintains a deep interest in everything calculated to promote the best interests of the county, and is a loyal and public-spirited citizen.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the book, Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company. 

View additional Lehigh County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Lehigh County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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