On this day, 8 May, in the year 1901, Joseph Thomas passed away. He was my 4th great-grandfather.
Joseph Thomas was born on 5 September 1815, in Washington County, Maryland. He was the son of Michael Thomas and Mary Painter, who were married on 19 November 1805, in Hagerstown, Washington County, Maryland.
For 25 years, Joseph Thomas resided with his parents and his siblings in Washington County, Maryland.
However, Joseph Thomas’ residence would soon change, when he married Mary Ann Johnston in Washington County, Maryland on 22 July 1840.
A year later, their first child was born on 1 August 1841, in Washington County, Maryland. They named their daughter Lucinda Thomas. (She was my 3rd great-grandmother.)
Circa 1844, their second child, a son named William H. Thomas, was born in Washington County, Maryland.
In January 1845, son Emory E. Thomas was born in Washington County, Maryland.
The next year, son Franklin Thomas was born on 7 May 1846, in Washington County, Maryland.
On 7 September 1850, Joseph Thomas, his wife Mary, and their children Lucinda, William, Emory, and Franklin were still residing in Washington County, Maryland. Joseph Thomas was a farmer. Also residing with their family was a 14-year old male named Joseph Huntsberry, who was probably a farm hand, as Huntsberry is not a family surname.
On 19 June 1853, tragedy struck the Thomas family, when Joseph’s mother Mary (Painter) Thomas died in Washington County, Maryland. She was buried in Fairview Cemetery, Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland.
On 25 November 1856, Joseph’s daughter Lucinda Thomas married William Francis Long (my 3rd great-grandfather) in Washington County, Maryland.
On 29 August 1860, Joseph Thomas, his wife Mary, and their three teenage sons William, Emory, and Franklin were residing in Sharpsburg, Washington County, Maryland. Also living with them was Joseph’s elderly father, Michael Thomas. Joseph was still farming. His real estate was valued at $6,000, and his personal property was valued at $1,200. Daughter Lucinda, her husband, and their baby girl were living a few miles away.
Then, on 1 June 1861, tragedy struck the Thomas family again, when Joseph’s father, Michael Thomas, died in Washington County, Maryland. He was buried next to his wife Mary in Fairview Cemetery, Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland.
Just like William Ferguson Taylor, my 3rd great-grandfather whose life I documented previously, the Civil War would soon arrive smack dab on the Joseph Thomas’ doorstep. On 17 September 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, the Battle of Antietam was waged. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history. This battle pitted the Army of the Potomac, numbered at 87,164, against the Army of Northern Virginia, numbered at 38,000. After the last shot was fired and the dust and smoke had cleared, 2,108 Union soldiers were dead, 9,549 were wounded, and 753 were captured or missing. For the Confederates, 1,567 soldiers were dead, 7,752 were wounded, and 1,018 were captured or missing.
Farms in and around the battle were decimated. Crops waiting to be harvested were raised by bullets and cannons or trampled in the troops. Harvested crops were requisitioned by the military to feed the troops. Smaller animals, like pigs and chickens, were confiscated to feed the masses, as were the eggs from laying chickens. The military also requisitioned horses and mules to replace dead, wounded, or exhausted military draft animals. Wooden fences were destroyed during the battle or were dismantled for fire wood. Thousands of wounded required care; consequently, barns and homes were converted into makeshift hospitals. The area around the battlefield was littered with debris—thousands of muskets, bullets, and other military equipment, as well as hundreds of unexploded artillery shells. Wells were depleted, and streams were polluted by human refuse and decaying bodies and horse carcasses. Many farmers in and around Sharpsburg were impoverished as a result of the Battle of Antietam.
Less than two months later, on 11 November 1862, Joseph and Mary’s youngest son, Franklin Thomas died in Washington County, Maryland. He was only 16-years old. Whether his death was caused by an accident, injury, or illness is unknown. Perhaps his cause of death was directly related to the battle or its aftermath? Franklin Thomas was buried in in Fairview Cemetery, Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland.
The family somewhat rebounded from the devastation caused by that infamous battle. By 20 July 1870, census records show Joseph Thomas still living with his wife Mary and son Emory on his farm in Sharpsburg, Washington County, Maryland. Daughter Lucinda (Thomas) Long and her daughter Ellen (my 2nd great-grandmother) lived with them. Joseph was listed as a retired farmer, and Mary was keeping house. The farm was valued at $7,800, with personal property valued at $300. (It is interesting to note that although the value of the land/property had increased in ten years, the value of Joseph Thomas’ personal property had significantly diminished over the course of a decade.) Son William Thomas lived on the farm next door, along with his wife Ellen and daughter Edith.
On 4 June 1880, Joseph Thomas and his wife Mary lived on a farm in Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland. Still living with them are daughter Lucinda (Thomas) Long and granddaughter Ellen V. Long. Son Emory and his family live next door. At first glance, one would assume that Joseph Thomas had moved; however, upon closer inspection, it is discovered that the town of Sharpsburg is less than four miles from the town of Keedysville. My educated guess is that the Thomas family did not move; instead, their town “affiliation” probably changed.
On 7 August 1895, Joseph’s wife Mary. E. (Johnston) Thomas died in Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland. The couple had just celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. Mary was buried near her son Franklin in Fairview Cemetery, Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland.
On 14 June 1900, Joseph Thomas still resided in Washington County, Maryland. Daughter Lucinda (Thomas) Long was keeping house for her father. He owned his home, mortgage free, but no longer had a farm. Joseph Thomas’ profession was listed as capitalist, which leads me to assume he invested monies. Son Emory and his family live two doors down on a farm.
Then, on 8 May 1901, at the age of 85, Joseph Thomas died in Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland. He was buried next to his wife in Fairview Cemetery, Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland.