from Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa by Manoah Hedge The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1906
Robert Thomas, living on a farm near New Sharon, has led a very busy and active life. There is, an old Japanese adage that opportunity is hard to find and easy to lose, and, realizing the truth of this, Mr. Thomas has improved every chance that has come to him for the upbuilding of his fortunes and is today one of the substantial residents of the community in which he resides. He was born in Harrison county, Ohio, October 5, 1834, a son of Isaac and Annie (Ladd) Thomas. The paternal grandparents were Peter and Mary (Thompson) Thomas, both of whom were natives of North Carolina, while, the maternal grandparents were Robert and Mary (Terrell) Ladd. Isaac Thomas was born in Ohio, June 1, 1813, and became a farmer by occupation. He was also one of the first sheep-breeders of Harrison county, Ohio, and as the years passed by he prospered in his business undertakings and became the owner of one of the finest farms in his county. He was also a director in three banks and was a prosperous, prominent and influential business man and citizen. His early political support was given to the Freesoil party, and his home was a station on the famous "underground railroad." Following the death of his first wife, he married a Mrs. Gibbons and removed to Mount Pleasant, Ohio, where his last days were passed. Unto Isaac and Annie (Ladd) Thomas were born eleven children, namely: Robert; Joseph, who died at the age of twenty-seven years; Peter L., who died in Oskaloosa, Iowa; Israel, who died in Ohio in the spring of 1905; Mrs. Martha Ann Cope, who resides in Ohio; Mrs. Mary Jones, a widow living in Michigan; Mrs. Edna Bronson, a resident of Ohio; Lucy, the deceased wife of Abraham Branson; Oliver, of Mount Pleasant, Ohio; Mrs. Anna Lupton, of Mount Pleasant, Ohio; and Mrs. Sarah Woodard, of Barnsville, Ohio. The parents were very strict adherents of the Society of Friends, or Quakers. Robert Thomas, the eldest of the family, began his education in a log schoolhouse and therein mastered the common branches of learning, while later he became a student in a Friends school at Richmond, Indiana, but was obliged to leave school on account of becoming ill with the measles. For three years he and his brother conducted the old home farm. He then started west, driving across the country, and he earned from three to five dollars per day repairing wooden pumps. In 1862 he received a diploma from the Scott County (Iowa) Agricultural Association for the best wooden pump displayed at the fair held in Davenport. He afterward made his way to Benton county, Iowa, and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land from Benjamin Cope. He held that land for eight years, and then sold it for sixteen hundred dollars, which was double the price that he paid for it. For a time he resided in Springdale, Cedar county, Iowa, and there he engaged in selling pumps and also in shearing sheep for about a year. Later he returned to Ohio, being upon the road on the memorable cold New Year's day of 1864. Afterward he drove again across the country in Iowa, bringing some colts with him, and located near Vinton, in Benton county, where he lived for five or six years. He then sold out and in 1870 came to Mahaska county. Here Mr. Thomas purchased one hundred and sixty acres of hand on section 36, Prairie township, where he my resides. One crop had been taken from about one hundred acres of the land. There were, however, no buildings or fences upon the place and not a tree on the farm. Mr.Thomas has since erected a large frame residence, two big barns and other buildings and there are now beautiful pine trees in front of his house fifty feet high, which Mr. Thomas set out when they were only five feet high. The splendid appearance of the place is due to his earnest and untiring labor and the farm is a monument to his energy and perseverance. He has always been interested in raising and breeding sheep, which he has carried on extensively and is still interested in the sheep industry, although not to as great extent as in former years. Mr. Thomas has been in the dairy business for seven years and delivered butter in Oskaloosa for a long time, and has made and sold five thousand dollars' worth, keeping a thoroughbred Jersey herd for this purpose. Mr. Thomas was married on the 1st of October, 1867, to Miss Deborah Ladd, who was born in Harrison county, Ohio, and died in 1870, at the age of thirty-seven years. On the 1st of January, 1873, he married Ruth T. Green, who was born in Harrison county, Ohio, and died in 1891. In 1893 he wedded Mrs. Jane Stewart Pickrell, who was born in Carroll, Ohio, February 3, 1853. In his political views Mr. Thomas has always been a republican where national issues are involved, but at local elections is inclined to cast an independent ballot. He has served as postmaster and for years was county sheep inspector, but has never sought nor desired office. He is a member of the State and County Wool Growers Association, both of which he helped to organize, and has been secretary of the latter. His life has been one of activity crowned with success and his force of character and genuine worth have been manifest in an upright life and in the attainment of prosperity in business interests. He has a wide and favorable acquaintance in this county, where he has long been accounted one of the valued representatives of farming and sheep-raising interests.
Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa
Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy