Lee County Biography

Evans C. Thomas
Franklin Grove, Lee County IL


Evans C. Thomas, a retired farmer residing at Franklin grove, was born in Batavia, Genesee County, N.Y. November 9, 1813. He is a son of Silas and Rebecca (Campbell) Thomas, who, soon after his birth, removed to Niagara County, N>y>, where the mother died, leaving three children; Mary, who married William Duncan, died in Genesee IL (Whiteside County); Samuel, who resides in Florida, and our subject.

Evans C. Thomas of this sketch married Mary Ann Nichols, who was a native of Niagara County, N.Y. The young couple removed to Oakland County, Mich. in 1836, where our subject was engaged in clering land, splitting rails, etc. Three years later he came to Lee County and passed the first winter in Franklin Grove. The following spring he purchased a claim near the Grove and there resided until 1871, and then removed to the village of Franklin Grove. On locating here, he became the possessor of 260 acres of land, but now owns only 100 acres. The father of our subject came West, and departed this life in 1876.

The first wife of Mr. Thomas died in 1842, having become the mother of three children, tow of whom, William H. and Ruba are living. In 1845 he married Harriet A. Whitman, who was born in N.Y. and died in 1867. By that union were born 10 children, 8 of whom are living - Julia, Martha, Mary, Belle, Ann E., Lillian, Evans W. and Abraham. In politics our subject is a Republican.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County 1892 Pg 752

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E. C. Thomas, of Franklin Grove, Illinois, was born at Batavia, New York, November 9, 1813. His mother was Rebecca Campbell, of Scotch descent. His father, Silas Thomas, was of Puritan stock. When yet a babe, he moved with his parents to East and West Bloomfield, New York. In 1823 he moved to Porter, Niagara County, New York, and in 1835 married Mary Ann Nichols, of Wilson, Niagara County, New York.

In 1836, with his wife, he started for Michigan going via canal from Lockport to Buffalo, and steamer to Detroit, settling in Oakland County, Michigan. They remained here three years, Mr. Thomas working for $13.00 a month. During this time they were visited by John Nichols, father of Mrs. Thomas, who went to Illinois and reported so favorably of the country, that Mr. Thomas and wife concluded to move there, and, purchasing a team and wagon they, with their two children, Mary and William Henry, started for Illinois in 1839. On their way they passed through Chicago which was then a small town built in a low marshy place and they stopped in the vicinity of what is now Franklin Grove. Their first night in this vicinity was spent in Whipple’s cave, and the next day they moved into a shanty twelve feet square, built by Mr. Nichols. In building the shanty a fallen tree was used as one side of the building. The roof consisted of split hollow logs. The next spring they moved into a house built near the old homestead.

In August, 1842, Mary Ann Thomas, wife of E. C. Thomas, died leaving a babe, Ruby Thomas, and the two children before mentioned. Soon after her death Mary Duncan, sister of Mr. Thomas, took the three children to McHenry County, Illinois, and cared for them.

The sickness of Mrs. Thomas completely exhausted the resources of Mr. Thomas, and as a result the sheriff levied on and sold his property to satisfy the doctor’s bill.

In the winter of 1842 Mr. Thomas went to the lead mines near Galena, Illinois, where for some time he worked at fifty cents a day in order to get money to make another start. He brought back to his former home $30 in silver with which he purchased a yoke of three-year-old steers and a sled. In October 1845, Mr. Thomas married Harriet A. Whitmore and again commenced farming with his oxen and sled. At that time there were only about five wagons in that part of the state.

As a result of this union there were ten children, of whom all are now living except Ella Josephine, who died at the age of two and one-half years.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, among many hardships and privations, lived and prospered. Mr. Thomas had the misfortune to lose his beloved wife in October 1867. Thereafter he devoted himself to his children and at the age of 79 years is remarkably active and well.
Mary C. Thomas

Contributed by Caron Schwahn
From “Recollections of the pioneers of the Lee County, “Dixon, IL: I.A. Kennedy, 1893, 581 pages.

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