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Below is a family biography included in the book, Portrait and Biographical Record of Johnson and Pettis County Missouri published by Chapman Publishing Company in 1895.  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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REV. BENJAMIN F. THOMAS, an ordained minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, is a close and earnest student and a general favorite in the community in which he resides. He is also one of the most extensive land-owners in Johnson County, having in his possession three hundred and twenty acres of valuable land, located on section 23, township 44, range 26.

Our subject is a native of Tennessee, having been born in Rutherford County, August 18, 1821, to Wilie Winston and Hannah T. (Ragsdale) Thomas, both of whom were born in Franklin County, N. C. They were married in 1818, after emigrating to Tennessee, and about 1829 removed to Lafayette County, this state. Here W. W. Thomas entered a tract of land from the Government and resided until his decease, September 1, 1857. He was well-to-do in this world’s goods, and left to his family a tract of
three hundred acres. His wife departed this life on the old homestead in Lafayette County, in August, 1870, being at that time eighty-one years of age. In politics the father of our subject was an active worker in the ranks of the Democratic party, and kept himself well posted regarding the political issues of the day. While in Tennessee he held the office of Justice of the Peace for many years, serving with satisfaction to all concerned. He was an official member of the Missionary Baptist Church, prior to its separation from the Regular Baptist Church.

The subject of this sketch was reared to farm work and attended, very irregularly, the district school. He remained at home until attaining his majority, but being converted about that time, under the teachings of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, determined to enter the ministry. A year later he united with the congregation in Lafayette County, and soon began to prepare himself to proclaim the Gospel. He commenced the study of those branches which the Presbytery required him to be familiar with, and received his license to preach in 1845. At the same time he was a student in Chapel Hill College, in the above county, for two years, and at the end of that time was ordained.

Rev. Mr. Thomas began his ministerial work as a circuit-rider, having charges in Johnson, Henry and St. Clair Counties. Soon, however, he was given a regular charge, and has been the pastor of congregations in different portions of Jackson, Cass, Bates, Lafayette, Johnson, Henry, and St. Clair Counties. He is a man of more than ordinary ability, and as an able and forcible speaker conveys his thoughts in well chosen language, and presents his arguments with logic and directness.

Our subject was married in Henry County, Mo., June 16, 1851, to Mrs. Margaret Ann (Smith) Stone. She was born in Saline County, October 22, 1825, and was there reared to mature years. Her union with John C. Stone occurred October 22, 1846. In the year 1852 Mr. Thomas entered eighty acres of Government land, which is now included in his present farm, and in addition to preaching improved the tract. To this he added as he was able, until to-day he has one of the largest estates in the county.

During the Civil War and the troubles in Missouri Rev. Mr. Thomas was obliged to seek refuge in Arkansas. He would have cheerfully entered the service as Chaplain, but he was suffering from an injury he had received in 1862, which caused partial paralysis. During those times his wife and children remained on the home farm.

Of the family of five children granted our subject and his wife, two are now living. Mary E. was born in August, 1852, and died a few months later; Alice was born April 29, 1854, and died December 17, 1855; Hannah, born August 1, 1857, married Franklin Pierce Caldwell, and now makes her home in Post Oak Township; James Smith was born February 25, 1860; Laura’s birth occurred March 16, 1862, and she died March 8, 1882.

In politics Mr. Thomas has been a Democrat since casting his first Presidential vote for James K. Polk. Some time in the ‘50s he identified himself with the Odd Fellows’ fraternity, and has kept up his membership with that order ever since. He aided in the organization of Eureka Lodge, in Warrensburg, but of late years has not met with that lodge, as it is too far from his home. A Mason of high standing, he is identified with Peace Lodge No. 280, near Chilhowee, of which he has been Chaplain. He has always been actively engaged in some business, and as a citizen his life and character are above reproach.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Johnson County, Missouri portion of the book,  Portrait and Biographical Record of Johnson and Pettis County Missouri published in 1895 by Chapman Publishing Co.  For the complete description, click here: Johnson County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Johnson County, Missouri family biographies here: Johnson County, Missouri Biographies

View a map of 1904 Johnson County, Missouri here: Johnson County, Missouri Map

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