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Thomas, Michael J.


Posted By: Karon Velau (email)
Date: 6/13/2021 at 18:00:46

born Jan 1, 1832, W.VA.
Rev. M. Thomas, a minister of the Brethren Church in New Virginia, Iowa, is a gentlemen whose labors and influence have been directed in a way that they have brought about most gratifying results. For more than twenty years he has been a prominent factor in advancing the best interests of the place. He is a native of what is now West Virginia, born in Preston county, January 1, 1832. His father, John M. Thomas, was a native of Fayette county, Pennsylvania, and one of a family of nine brothers, all of whom lived to be over sixty years of age. Several of the number are still living, some of them having passed the ninetieth mile-post. John M. was seventy-four at the time of his death. His life was devoted to agricultural pursuits. He was married three times and was the father of fifteen children. His first wife, whose maiden name was Mary Ringer, and whom he wedded in Preston county, was the mother of five children. His second wife, nee Elizabeth Meyers, bore him two children, and by his last wife, formerly Miss Sarah Lambert, he had eight children. The subject of our sketch is the eldest of them all. Mrs. Mary Thomas, the mother of M. J., was a daughter of George Ringer, who was blind and who died in Preston county, West Virginia. Of the fifteen children above referred to, only seven are now living, viz.: Rev. M. J., whose name graces this article; Susannah, widow of William H. Thomas, resides in Adams county, Ohio; Isaac, a farmer of Virginia township, Warren county, Iowa; George, a retired farmer residing in New Virginia; Mary, wife of Hamilton Welch, a carpenter, living in Fayette county, Pennsylvania; Harriet, wife of David Dennis, of West Virginia; and Isabel, of Preston county, West Virginia, is the widow of Thomas Fischer. When the subject of our sketch was two years old his parents moved to Pennsylvania, and in Fayette and Westmoreland counties, that State, he was reared and educated. He was for some time a student at Mount Pleasant College. His first visit to Iowa was in 1856, and since 1875 he has made his home here, New Virginia and Varren county being the seat of his labors. His whole life has been given to the work of the ministry. It was largely through his efforts that the fine Brethren church in New Virginia was erected. He and his brother personally quarried the rock for the foundation, in the quarry two miles and a half west of New Virginia, and it was some years before they had the means with which to build, but earnest and persistent efforts finally were rewarded with success. In the spring of 1892 the building was completed and dedicated, the dedication sermon being preached by H. R. Holsinger, of Waterloo. Besides his ministerial work in Iowa, Mr. Thomas has preached in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. He was married May 10, 1862, to Miss Sarah Ann Zimmerman, a native of Preston county, West Virginia, and a daughter of Joseph Zimmerman. The children of this union, two in number, are as follows: James Winfield, born March 4, 1863, died March 12, 1871; and Ida Barbara, born May 13, 1870, in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, is the wife of D. F. Hurst, station agent at New Virginia. Source: A Memorial and Biographical Record of Iowa, Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago, Illinois, 1896, vol.1, p.40


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