JUDGE DAVID B. THOMAS, Justice of the Peace, and general agent for the
Hartford Life Insurance Company, also several fire insurance companies, is a
well known citizen of Murphysboro, and a man highly esteemed for his
sterling qualities. He possesses those characteristics which win him
friends, and by his pleasant and cordial manner and upright life has gained
the confidence and good will of all who know him.
The subject of this sketch was born in the parish of St. Clair, Wales, September 1, 1828, and is a son of Benjamin and Jane (Lewis) Thomas. His father was a Welsh farmer, and died in that country at the age of sixty-five. The mother also spent her entire life in her native land. Our subject is the youngest and only surviving child in a family of eleven. He was reared upon the home farm until twenty-five and attended the subscription schools. He then became a railroad porter, and from that position worked his way upward until he became one of the leading conductors. He was offered the position of Division Superintendent, but for some time he had hoped to come to America, and resolved that he would now seek a home in the New World.
In Wales, Mr. Thomas wedded Frances Jones. They were married in 1850, and her death occurred in 1862. She left three children: Joseph B., who is now clerking for his brother; Thomas B., a merchant of this place; and Jane, wife of James Mark, of Murphysboro. In 1864 Mr. Thomas came with his children to America, sailing on the vessel "Old Webster" from Liverpool to New York, where he arrived after a voyage of six weeks. Going to Scranton, Pa., he secured a railroad position, and in 1867 came to Murphysboro with the Superintendent of the Mt. Carbon Coal Works. For two years he had charge of the lumber department, and then engaged in coal mining for ten years, after which he became general agent of the transportation department of the Carbondale Coal and Coke Company. Later he was made Superintendent of the coke ovens, having charge of their one hundred and eight ovens at Harrison for two years.
In 1884 Mr. Thomas organized the Bryden Coal and Coke Company, of Ora Township, and purchased the drift mine, of which he was Superintendent two years, when he sold out. He next turned his attention to the insurance business, becoming general agent for the Hartford Company between the Wabash and Mississippi Rivers, and for eight years he traveled over southern Illinois. Having through good management and business ability acquired a handsome competence, he is now living a retired life, save that he is serving as Justice of the Peace. For three years he served as Supervisor of his township, was elected Collector for two terms, and in the spring of 1893 was made Justice of the Peace, receiving a large majority. He has ever been a stalwart advocate of the principles of the Democratic party.
Since coming to this country, Mr. Thomas has again been married. He wedded Miss Tennessee Couns, who was born in Tennessee and died seven months after her marriage. In 1873 Miss Eliza Wilson, a native of Jackson County, became his wife. They reside on Cherry Street, and are well known people of this community. Mr. Thomas is ever found on the side of right and is an active worker in the Methodist Episcopal Church South, as is also his wife. For some years he was Superintendent in the Sunday-school, and he is also a stalwart advocate of temperance. He belongs to the Odd Fellows' society of Mt. Carbon, and to the encampment, and has represented his lodge in the Grand Lodge. For two years he served as School Director in Mt. Carbon, and the cause of education finds in him a faithful friend.
Extracted 26 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass from 1894 Biographical Review of Jackson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 619-620.
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