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Col. David W. Thomas
THE RECORD of the life of such a man as the late Col. David W. Thomas, is worthy of perpetuation on the pages of history for various reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he was one of the efficient and gallant defenders of the national Union during its most trying period, the military record of the subject of this memoir being such as should inspire just pride in his family, descendants, and friends. He was for many years one of the well-known citizens and progressive business men of the city of Akron, Ohio, and he took delight in the general development of the same into the metropolis of that section of the Buckeye State. He was widely known to the contracting world, having been engaged in that line of endeavor during the major portion of his active life. He was popular in all the circles in which he moved, having been an industrious, honorable, genial, and kind-hearted man.
Colonel Thomas was born at Millersburg, Ohio, March 9, 1841. He was the son of George Thomas, one of the leading contractors of Akron in the early days. His father was twice married, his family consisting of three daughters by his second marriage and one son, our subject, by his first marriage. They are all now deceased.
David W. Thomas was educated in the public schools, graduating from the high school in Akron, after which he went to Tallmadge, Ohio, where he learned the trade of carriage trimmer, and while there the Civil War broke out. He proved his courage and patriotism by immediately enlisting in the defense of his country, in the spring of 1861, and served during the entire four years of that momentous conflict, developing into a splendid soldier, brave, daring, loyal, and showing a strong natural military ability. He was only absent from the front on one furlough during the entire period of his service. He was a member of the Twenty-ninth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, under Colonel Buckley, and he participated in a number of important campaigns and many of the great battles of the war, including Bull Run, Lookout Mountain, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and others. He was also with General Sherman on his march to the sea through Georgia.
He was promoted for bravery on the field of battle and was made captain of the Eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. A number of years after the close of the war, when the Eighth Ohio Regiment was organized, he was made colonel of this regiment, serving for a number of years, when he resigned in favor of Colonel A. L. Conger, of Akron. In later years, he assisted in selecting a spot on the field of Gettysburg for a monument to the Twenty-ninth Ohio Infantry, which was placed at the foot of Culp's Hill. Colonel Thomas was a very active member of the Loyal Legion.
After the war, Colonel Thomas returned home and entered into partnership with his father in the general contracting business in Akron, and he devoted the balance of his life to this line of endeavor, his business growing to large proportions under his industry, able management, and sound judgment. He took charge of the entire business upon the death of his father. He finally formed a partnership with John F. Gill, of Cleveland, and the firm took the contract for building the courthouse in Baltimore, Maryland, which was one of the many mammoth contracts he took during his career. It required four years' time and two and one-half million dollars to complete this immense undertaking. The great building in the Monument City is to-day one of the chief show-places and it will stand through coming centuries as a monument to the skill of Colonel Thomas as a builder. His death occurred in Baltimore, january 31, 1905, at the age of nearly sixty-four years, just about the time the courthouse job was finished.
Fraternally, Colonel Thomas was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and a thirty-second degree Mason; he drilled his lodge of Knights Templar for a long time, and for his valuable services the lodge presented him with a handsome sword. He was a man of striking personal appearance, having a military bearing and the general aspect of one born to leadership. He was very liberal in his gifts to worthy causes, often helping old soldiers and others needing charity, in fact, no one was ever turned away empty-handed who sought aid of him for a worthy cause.
Colonel Thomas was twice married, first, in the fall of 1868, to Alice Hale, of Akron, a daughter of James Hale. Her death occurred in 1880. To this union four children were born, namely: George Hale Thomas, is now manager of the New York City Branch of Cramp & Company, contractors; he married Adelaide Kernan, of Baltimore, Maryland, who died leaving two children, Anastasia Thomas, and Isabella Gage Thomas, both of whom live with their father in New York City; James Allen Thomas, the second son, who is married but who has no children, is a mining engineer and resides in San Francisco, California; Frank David Thomas, of New York City, married Gladys Woodside, of Elmira, New york, but the have no children; Elizabeth Thomas, who is unmarried, was graduated from Johns Hopkins Hospital of Baltimore, Maryland, and is now head of the Brady Institute of that city.
Colonel Thomas was married a second time on December 18, 1884, his last wife being Mrs. isabella Gage, of Akron, Ohio. She had two children by her first marriage, both of whom died very young, and she was a very intimate friend of the Colonel's first wife. She was the daughter of Charles Webster, a descendant of Daniel Webster. John Webster, an uncle of Charles Webster, was at one time governor of Connecticut; and the second Mrs. Thomas' mother's uncle was Governor Cushman of Massachusetts. The mother of Mrs. isabella Thomas was a descendant of Rev. Hope Atherton, who came to America on the Mayflower.
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