THOMAS, Robert, one of the most prominent and substantial citizens of Macomb, McDonough County, Ill., where he is successfully engaged in buying and shipping live-stock (having retired from active farming operations), was born in Pickaway County, Ohio, July 27, 1849, a son of William and Catherine (Anderson) Thomas, natives of Virginia, where the father was born in 1807, and the mother in 1810. The paternal grandfather, Eli Thomas, was a Kentuckian, while James and Catherine (Phelps) Anderson, the maternal grandparents, were natives of Virginia. William Thomas removed to Fairfield County, Ohio, with his parents, when a boy, and lived on a farm until his death, in 1858, sometimes working at the shoemaking trade. He and his wife were the parents of twelve children — eight boys and four girls— of whom Robert is the tenth in order of birth. In 1859, the mother came to Pennington's Point (now in Salem Township), McDonough County, with her family of six children and located on a farm. Robert remained with his mother until he was fourteen years old, when he enlisted at Springfield, Ill., in Company I, Eighteenth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under Col. Mike Lawler. His regiment was stationed at Little Rock, Ark., six months, and at Pine Bluff, Ark., four months; was afterwards sent to Fort Steele, Ark., where he was mustered out in December, 1865. He then returned to his home in McDonough County, and remained with his mother until 1871, when he married and went to farming in New Salem Township. In 1882 Mr. Thomas abandoned farming and engaged in the stock-buying business in Macomb. This he continued until 1894, when he was elected Sheriff of McDonough County. After serving four years in this office, he resumed business and is still buying and shipping stock.
Mr. Thomas was married February 19, 1871, to Mary B. Jones, who was born and schooled in McDonough County. The children resulting from this union were: Edith (Mrs. James L. Barkley); Nellie, who died at the age of three years: Fannie (Mrs. Theodore Hainline); Samuel, who is at home; Melvin, Velasco, and Margaret (Mrs. Walter Sowers) of Macomb. In politics, Mr. Thomas is a Republican, and has served as Road Overseer, and Tax Collector of Scotland Township, beside the office of Sheriff in 1894-9S. During his term as Sheriff he had the custody of 404 prisoners, and of these, he took twenty-seven to Joliet, twenty to Pontiac, six to Geneva, and thirty-two to the Jacksonville Insane Asylum. All but two of these he conducted in person. While he was Sheriff he earned for the county $13,200. Of this amount he collected $8,000, his salary for the four years being $6,000. Religiously, Mr. Thomas is an adherent of the Methodist Episcopal faith, and fraternally, he is a member of the G. A. R. In every relation of life he has done his duty, and done it well, and his record is that of one of the conspicuous and useful citizens of McDonough County.
Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907, volume 2, page 1019, extracted 07 Aug 2020 by Norma Hass.
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