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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Monroe County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1890.  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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Judge James S. Thomas is an attorney at law, of Clarendon, and is a member of the legal firm of Ewan & Thomas. He was born in Anson County, N. C, in 1844, and is a son of A. J. and Eliza C. (Smith) Thomas, of South Carolina and North Carolina, respectively, the former’s birth occurring in 1813. They were married in North Carolina, in 1844, and moved soon after to Weakley County, Tenn., and in 1858 to Prairie County, Ark., where his wife died in October, 1867. Mr. Thomas is still living, and is a planter by trade, and a member of the Methodist Church and the A. F. & A. M. John Thomas, the grandfather, was of Welsh descent, a native of South Carolina, who died in Weakley County, Tenn. Our subject’s father has been married three times, his second wife bearing him seven children, of whom James S. is the eldest. He was reared to the duties of a farm life and acquired a limited education in the country schools. In 1861 he joined Company E, First Arkansas Infantry, and was discharged at Fort Pillow on account of ill health, but soon recovered and rejoined the army, becoming a member of the Fourth Arkansas Battalion. He was captured at Island No. 10, and was confined at Camp Chase for some time, after which he was removed to Johnson’s Island, and was exchanged in 1862. He was then given a position in the commissary department, and in 1863 was transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department, and served in the quartermaster’s department until the close of the war. He held all the ranks, from that of a private to captain, being made the latter in December, 1862. He surrendered at Gilmore, Tex., in June, 1865, and returned to his home and friends, and took up the study of law. After becoming thoroughly prepared to enter upon his practice, he located in Des Arc, where he was a successful practitioner until 1888, since which time he has been in Clarendon. In 1870 he was elected to represent Prairie County in the State legislature, and in 1874 was chosen tax collector, filling this position until again elected to the legislature in 1876, which position he held by re-election until 1880. In 1882 he was elected county and probate judge, and served by re-election six years, continuing during this time the practice of law. He spent five or six years in the newspaper business, being editor of the Prairie County Appeal, and afterward edited the Des Arc Citizen until his removal to Clarendon, and during his editorial career served for some time as president and vice-president of the Arkansas Press Association. He edited his papers in the interest of the Democrat party, with which he has always affiliated, and by his pen did much to sway the politics, of not only his county, but the State also. He has shown his brotherly spirit by joining the Masons and the Knights of Honor, and is a member of White River Lodge No. 37, of Des Arc in the former order and Clarendon Lodge in the latter. In 1867 he was married to Anna, a daughter of E. B. and N. N. Powell, who were born, reared and married in Tennessee. They removed to Prairie County, Ark., in 1861, and are there still living. Mrs. Thomas was born in Tennessee, and by Mr. Thomas is the mother of one son and two daughters. She has been a member of the Methodist Church for many years. Mr. Thomas is a large real estate holder, and owns 1,500 acres of land in Prairie County. The first of the family to come to America, was shipped from Wales in a box to avoid punishment, as he had participated in a rebellion, and one of his descendants was afterward a general in the Revolutionary War.

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This family biography is one of 86 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Monroe County, Arkansas published in 1890.  For the complete description, click here: Monroe County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

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