5th Great Grandparents Ephraim and wife Elizabeth

Ephraim Thomas

Born: Pennsylvania – 1764

Died: Rush County, IN – 12 Feb 1845

Father: Phineas Thomas

Mother: Elizabeth Thomas


Spouse: Elizabeth Thomas

Born: Unknown – 1760

Died: Rush County, IN – 16 Aug 1840

Parents Unknown


Ephraim was born about 1764 either in Wales or in Pennsylvania with reports of both locations being found in old family histories. According to the ‘Find A Grave’ record Ephraim was born in 1764 and that his age was 81 years, but does not offer a birth location. I have visited the graveyard of Ephraim Thomas in Rush County Indiana and know the date of death is February 12, 1845 and it appears to read that his age was ’81’ years on the tombstone.

The Thomas family reportedly settled near the Old Redstone Fort on the southeast side of the Monongahela River near where Brownsville is now in Fayette County - about 40 miles south of current day Pittsburgh. Fayette County, PA is a possible birthplace of Ephraim Thomas in 1764.

When Ephraim was about 11 or 12 his parents moved the family from Pennsylvania to present day Mason County Kentucky.

The following excerpt is from a sketch of John M Thomas, a grandson of Phineas and Elizabeth Thomas and can be found in the ‘Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County, Indiana’, compiled by B F Bowen, Logansport, IN, 1902, page 744.

“Phineas Thomas at first located in Pennsylvania, but later, hearing glowing accounts of the rich soil of the Kentucky country, migrated thither with several other pioneer families and laid claim to a tract of land upon which he erected a small cabin and made a few improvements. At that time the ‘dark and bloody ground’ was the common battlefield of numerous hostile tribes, all of which in an early day combined for the purpose of driving the hated white settlers from the land. It was during one of the most terrible periods that the Thomas family settled on disputed territory. Fearing that massacre would eventually overtake them, as it had so many of the pioneers of Kentucky, Mr. Thomas, during a lull in the war, loaded his family and a few belongings on a wagon and returned without serious hindrance to Pennsylvania where he and wife died a great many years ago.”

It is not clear when the Thomas family moved back to Kentucky but it is believed that the patriarch, Phineas stayed in Pennsylvania and died there about 1790.

This account of their return to Kentucky comes from the diary of John M. Thomas, the son of Phineas Thomas Jr. taken from “A History of the Thomas & McComas Families”

“My grandfather Phineas Thomas came from Wales to Pennsylvania near the old Redstone Fort where he died. His widow and 4 sons moved to Kentucky and went into a block house called Flemmons station near where Flemmonsburg stands, there they stay one year, they had many ______ with the Indians.”

Ephraim and his brothers probably returned to Kentucky in 1784 or 1785. John Filson published a book “The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke” in 1784 whose work gave Kentucky ‘an unabashedly optimistic account of the western territory’. Filson may have hoped to enhance the value of land he had purchased.

Ephraim and Elizabeth’s son David was reported as being born in Mason County Kentucky in about 1786 and Ephraim’s brothers were probably there as well.

Ephraim was listed in the Kentucky tax list of 1790, as a resident of Fayette County and paid his taxes on January 11, 1790 along with brothers James and John. There was also a Charles Thomas paying taxes in Fayette County on the same day but I have seen no records showing a Charles Thomas in the family of Phineas and Elizabeth.

Thomas Taxes in 1790's Kentucky

And according to Lisa Kremer’s research there are records of Ephraim’s land holdings. He purchased 60 acres from Charles Pelham on Dec 18, 1797, and on July 12, 1798 he purchased an adjoining 25 acres for a total of 85 acres.

Life was still dangerous in Kentucky in the 1790’s. In his diary, John M Thomas, a nephew of Ephraim, goes on to say that his father, Phineas Jr. moved to Clermont County Ohio about 1810 and had this to say of the brothers.

“The other 3 brothers, 1 was killed by Indians, 1 taken prisoner and tied on the ground until he got loose and came home but died soon after he got home from cold, 1 moved to Fayette County, Indiana and raised a large family noted for fighting and drinking.”

The account is of 3 other brothers besides Phineas Jr. who went to Ohio but I believe there were actually 4 other brothers in Kentucky: Ephraim, John, James, and Levi. Levi is known to have written a will in 1793 and died in Mason County Kentucky in 1796. Perhaps James and John were the brothers who died because of the confrontations with the Indians.

The subject of this story, Ephraim Thomas, my 5th great grandfather was the brother that moved to Indiana. In 1815, Ephraim, Elizabeth and their family registered a quarter section of land in Wayne County, Indiana on August 3, 1815 in Wayne County through the land office in Cincinnati, Ohio. The description was the NW ¼ of Section 1, Township 14, North of Range 13, East of Second Principal Meridian. This land was located on the east fork of the Whitewater River and the purchase price was $2.00 per acre. Ephraim had 4 years to complete payment. The patent deed was issued to Ephraim on May 6, 1819.

His son David registered the 160 acres to the east of his father’s quarter, the NE ¼ of Section 1 on Dec 27, 1816. (See the drawings of this land below – copied from “A Trace of Thomas” by Mabel Dodele, page 42.

Ephraim and Elizabeth sold their 85 acres in Kentucky on Sep. 2, 1815 to Alexander Edwards for $310. Their new farmland in Indiana was about 125 miles northwest of Mason County Kentucky. The trip may have been done by flatboat on the Ohio to Cincinnati and then overland to Wayne County or the entire trip may have been by land.

Over the course of the next ten years Ephraim divided his 160 acres into 40 acre plots. He transferred the NW ¼ to his son David on Jan 5, 1821, the NE ¼ to his son James on Sep 7, 1825, the SE ¼ to his son Ephraim Jr. on Apr 27, 1825, and the SW ¼ to Richard G Paris on Sep 20, 1824.

The connection between Richard G Paris and the Thomas family has not been discovered. One suggestion was that Richard married Elizabeth, a daughter of Ephraim and Elizabeth but that has not been proven. Richard was married to Evaline Conn according to several sources and they are buried together in the Paris Cemetery just outside of Boyleston, Indiana.

I visited the Paris cemetery in early 2016 and found the graves of Richard and Evaline Paris but they were not the reason I was there. I actually was there searching for my 4th great grandmother Nancy Gregg Edwards whose daughter would marry the grandson of Ephraim and Elizabeth Thomas. I found her tombstone in the Paris Cemetery dated May 20, 1852.

I also found a tombstone for Phineas F M Thomas (1799-1861) buried with his wife Anna Conn Thomas, a sister of Evaline Paris. I did not know at the time but Phineas F M was a son of Ephraim and Elizabeth Thomas.

At some point Ephraim and Elizabeth moved from Wayne County to Rush County, Indiana. Both Ephraim and Elizabeth are buried in Rush County which is about 30 west of Brownsville, IN where they had purchased land in 1815 when they relocated from Kentucky.

I was able to locate their burial sites. They are buried a few miles southwest of Rushville, Indiana in Rush County in a rural setting. Mull Cemetery is located in the midst of farmland about ¼ mile off the gravel road. There are four Thomas graves there. Ephraim and Elizabeth Thomas are there alongside two of their grandsons named Perry and John, two sons of James Thomas and wife Elizabeth.


Ephraim and Elizabeth had at least 6 children, all born in Mason County Kentucky:

David, my 4th great grandfather, born 1786, died 1848 in Clinton County, IN

Mary, born about 1788, death unknown

John, born 1794, died 1866 location unknown

Ephraim J, born 1796, died in Union County IN

Phineas F M, born 1799, died 1861 Clinton County, IN

James, born 1804, died 1885 in Monroe County IA


A great deal of the information here has been taken from two sources. I greatly appreciate the hard work and efforts of the two women who worked to uncover the stories and put them in print.

 “The Thomas Family History” by Mabel M. Dodele. Publisher M.M. Dodele, 1984. Mabel Thomas Dodele’s 4th great grandfather was Phineas Thomas, born in Wales in 1739.

A Trace of Thomas” - First Edition, 1992 - was compiled by Lisa Kremer, whose 6th great grandfather was Phineas Thomas, born in Wales in 1739.

© Alan 2017