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Below is a family biography from the book, History of Kentucky, Edition 8a by J. H. Battle, W. H. Perrin and G. C. Kniffin and published by F. A. Battey Publishing Company in 1888.  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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THOMAS LEWIS JEFFERSON was born in Baltimore, Md., February 15, 1826. He was the eldest son of Thomas Jefferson, and came of good, strong stock. His father was a blacksmith, and his grandfather was a sailor. His mother was a woman of fine business qualities, and to her, quite as much as to his father, did Mr. Jefferson owe his business sagacity. While her husband was busy in the shop the mother started a little grocery store. This was after the family came to Louisville, in 1831. The little store that his mother started prospered wonderfully. Soon the father had to be taken from his shop. Then Thomas, a lad of sixteen, had to be removed from school to lend his help to attend to the thriving trade. The boy had no time to get a fine education; but what he missed in ‘ologies and ‘onomies he gained in a practical insight into business affairs. The schooling that he did get, however, was thorough, for he was under such teachers as Noble Butler and John H. Harney. It was in 1842 that he began his long and eventful business life as a clerk in his mother’s store. When he was twenty-six years old he formed a partnership with Mr. Charles Gallagher in the wholesale grocery business. After a few months the firm dissolved by mutual consent, and Mr. Jefferson branched out for himself on Market street, below First, in a wholesale and retail grocery. He was successful from the start, and soon built himself a fine store on the southeast corner of Market and First streets, where he remained twelve years, and established a fine trade. He was the sole agent for the Kanawha salt manufactories during this period. By this time the wholesale feature of the business had grown so enormously that he was forced to open a wholesale house on Main street, with himself, his two brothers, and A. N. Jennison, under the firm name of T. L. Jefferson & Bros. He went along, never dabbling in speculations, never mixing his name up with rings or cliques, and by shrewdness and ability made his business a great success. In 1875 he was appointed executor of John Bull’s estate. The interests of this estate were so great that Mr. Jefferson had to devote to its management all his time and energy. He therefore resigned from his Main street house, making room for his eldest son, T. L. Jefferson, Jr., and John W. Day, who had been for years a faithful and trusted clerk. In 1879 he resigned his position as executor, owing to the litigation that grew out of Dr. Bull’s will, after which he devoted himself to managing his own estate, and was not afterward actively engaged in business. It is not strange that a man of Mr. Jefferson’s active mind should turn to politics. He was not in any sense a politician, but did much to see that the city in which all his interests were should be well governed. In 1851 he was elected to fill a vacancy in the Board of Council. He was re-elected for three consecutive terms; and in 1860 he was elected to the Board of Aldermen. In 1867 he was elected to the lower house of the State legislature, and was re-elected at the expiration of his term. When his second term was over he was elected to the State senate for one term. He refused to go a second time. He was a member of the Democratic City Executive Committee, and also a member of the State Central Committee for several years. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention which met in New York in 1868. While a member of the council he was trustee of the Louisville Marine Hospital, the Alms House, the Work House, and the Pest House. He served from 1870 till his death on the directory of the House of Refuge. For a number of years he was trustee of the Louisville Female Seminary. In 1874 he was appointed by Gov. Leslie a trustee of the Kentucky Institute for the Blind. He was re-appointed by Govs. McCreary and Blackburn. Mr. Jefferson was also a trustee of the American Printing House for the Blind, and did valuable service in organizing the method of keeping the accounts at this institution. Mr. Jefferson was one of the incorporators of the Masonic Widows’ and Orphans’ Home. He was elected director at its organization in 1867, and was president of the board from 1869 until his death. In 1861 Mr. Jefferson took all the degrees of Symbolic Masonry, and afterward of Capitular and Chivalric. He was at the time of his death Past Master, having been elected Master in 1882 of Excelsior Lodge No. 258, Free and Accepted Masons; he was also Master of King Solomon Royal Arch Chapter No. 18, and member of DeMolay Commandery, No. 12, Knights Templar, of which he was also treasurer from 1873 until death. He was known to all the Masons of Kentucky for his untiring and unselfish zeal for the Home. The Board of Directors of the Home adopted the following resolutions on his death: “Resolved, That in the death of our brother the members of this board have lost an active co-laborer, ever earnest, sincere and candid, a presiding officer, attentive, courteous and impartial in the discharge of his duty, and the Home a wise, thoughtful, vigilant and faithful guardian of its interest. In everything that he undertook our brother was earnest and devoted, and if there was any object of a public nature he had in life which was nearer and dearer to his heart than all else, it was the welfare and success of our Home. At all times, and on all proper occasions he was its advocate, cheerfully giving time, labor and means to advance its interest. We feel that to him more than to any single individual is due its present and permanent usefulness. He labored for and watched over its material and domestic interests, very often to the exclusion of his private business matters, and gave to it such exertions and patient, thoughtful care as only could have been given by one who loved the Home with his whole heart. Resolved, that the inmates of the Home, with the members of the board, attend the funeral of our brother in a body; that these resolutions be spread upon the minutes and published in the daily papers, and an engrossed copy be sent to his sorrowing family with the heartfelt and sincere expression of our sympathy in their great bereavement.” He was also an active member of the Sons of Temperance, and was for a time the presiding officer of his division, and D. G. W. P. of the district. Mr. Jefferson joined the M. E. Church, South, in 1848. He was a member of the Board of Managers of that body in 1854, and remained such until the principal offices were removed to Nashville. He was secretary of the Louisville City Missionary Society of the church for years; for fifteen years he was superintendent of the Bethel Sunday-school, which he organized, and he also assisted in organizing the Senon Chapel, M. E. Church, South. He was a member of its official board, and recording steward and superintendent of the Sunday-school connected with it, which he also organized. Mr. Jefferson was one of the most active business men of Louisville. He had been a member, director and vice-president of the Board of Trade. He had served since 1859 as a director of the Bank of Louisville. From 1872 to 1874 he was a director of the Louisville & Frankfort and Lexington & Frankfort railroad companies. In 1878 he was elected director of the Kentucky and Louisville Mutual Insurance Company, and in July, 1880, was made its president, and held that position until his death. Besides all this, he was ever active in the cause of charity. He was identified with the South western Relief Commission of 1866, which helped the Southern destitute. He was chairman of a committee to receive and disburse funds raised by the Masons of Kentucky for the relief of the Chicago fire sufferers in 1871. Mr. Jefferson was married to Elizabeth Ann Creagh, May 28, 1848, by Rev. James Craik. They had nine children, four daughters and five sons, three of whom are dead. Most of their daughters are married to prosperous merchants, and have families of their own about them. This is an outline of a long, busy and active life. At his desk he was prompt, careful, honest. At his fireside he was cheerful, social, hospitable. He lived to see a large family grow up about him, all of whom have prospered. He felt the full force of the consolation which the Good Book speaks of, for his children “rise up and call him blessed.” Mr. Jefferson died March 23, 1884. His fatal illness began in November preceding, and at that time was not considered serious, but it gradually grew worse, until his malady was pronounced cancer of the stomach; nevertheless his stomach resisted the advances of the disease much longer than his most sanguine relatives and friends expected. Thomas Lewis Jefferson represented a class of men; who in their day won for England wealth and respect — the honest and industrious merchants. He was not a brilliant man, neither a poet nor an orator, but a plain, steady, common-sense man, who took a deep interest in his adopted city and all that affected it, and who led an active business life. The people of Louisville were so long accustomed to hear his name mentioned first in every enterprise that would benefit the city that his death came to all like a personal bereavement. A man of clear head, of clean morals, of pure habits and of strong friendships; a man of solid worth, of rare business sagacity, and of immense energy and resource, he was as much a loss to the city as he was to his own family. He left a large fortune, and he also left, what is infinitely better, a name that has never been dishonored and a memory that no man will attack. He was so well known, he has gone in and out among this people for so many years, that it looks almost like an unnecessary work to tell how often and on what occasions his name has figured in public enterprises. He was a model business man, honest, reliable, clear of head and pure of heart; of a temperament at once aggressive and conciliatory, of rare sagacity and wonderful foresight, and above all of extraordinary executive ability.

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This family biography is one of 195 biographies included in the Jefferson County, Kentucky section of the book, The History of Kentucky, Edition 8a published in 1888 by F. A. Battey Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: History of Kentucky, Edition 8a

View additional Jefferson County, Kentucky family biographies here: Jefferson County, Kentucky Biographies

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