6th Great Grandparents Phineas and wife Elizabeth

Phineas Thomas

Born: Wales – 1739

Died: Pennsylvania – Before 1790

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Elizabeth

Born: Wales, Somerset, England – 1743

Died: Somerset, Pennsylvania – Date Unknown

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Phineas Thomas was born in Wales in about the year 1739. The Thomas name is a common one in Wales so little may ever be known of his parents. The family stories say that he married Elizabeth Smith in Wales before coming to America and that they may have had children in Wales or their children may have been born in America.

There are also records for a Phineas Thomas and Elizabeth Harper getting married in Pennsylvania on Oct 21, 1765 and that is a possibility. Did Phineas marry Elizabeth Smith before leaving Wales or Elizabeth Harper after arriving in Pennsylvania? Perhaps one day the answer will be clear. Either way it seems they began having children in the mid-1760’s having arrived in America from Wales.

We do know that Phineas and Elizabeth crossed the Allegheny Mountains and traveled into western Pennsylvania and made a home near the Old Redstone Fort in Fayette County, PA. They probably settled on the southeast side of the Monongahela River near where Brownsville is now about 40 miles south of current day Pittsburgh, PA.

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Phineas and Elizabeth had at least 6 children over 10 years and I believe they were all born in Pennsylvania. Kentucky was pretty wild with virtually no settlers before 1775.

Ephraim, my 5th great grandfather, born 1764, died 1845 in Rush County, IN

Deborah, born about 1769, death unknown

John, born 1771, died 1809 in Mason County, KY

Phineas Jr., born 1771, died 1849 in Hancock County, IN

James, born 1773, died probably in Kentucky

Levi, born 1775, died 1796 in Mason County, KY

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James Harrod and a band of 37 men founded the first permanent settlement in Kentucky on June 16, 1774. It was abandoned the same year and restored in 1775 as Harrodsburg, KY. They had traveled from the Old Redstone Fort in Pennsylvania by going down the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers to the mouth of the Kentucky River and crossing the Salt River into the heart of Kentucky, present day Mercer County. The Thomas family probably took the same river route from their home near the Old Redstone Fort. But the Thomas family stopped in Maysville, Kentucky about 60 miles upstream from present day Cincinnati, Ohio. Maysville is now the county seat of Mason County Kentucky.

Prior to 1780, Kentucky was simply the very western part of Virginia.  In June 1780 the territory was broken up into 3 counties: Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln. After 1785 there were nine counties with Bourbon County taking over much of Fayette County. Then in 1788 Mason County was created out of the eastern part of Bourbon County. Finally, by 1800 Mason County had become much smaller as more counties were created but Mason County was still the home of the Thomas family. To recap, the Thomas family settled in current day Mason County that had previously been Fayette and Bourbon Counties.

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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.

“Paternally, the Thomas family is of Welsh origin. The subject’s grandfather, Phineas Thomas, was born in Wales and there married Elizabeth Smith, who with several children accompanied him to America early in the Colonial period. 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. They reared a family consisting of the following children: Ephraim, Phineas Jr., Deborah, who married John Smith, John and James, all of whom are long since dead.”

Some years later the Thomas family returned to Kentucky and settled in Mason County. History says the Phineas did not return but rather died about 1790 in Pennsylvania. It is not clear whether his wife, Elizabeth, died in Pennsylvania or returned to Kentucky with her sons. But it is clear that Ephraim, John and James returned to Kentucky prior to 1790. Phineas and Levi also ended up in Kentucky. Deborah, the daughter may have married and stayed in Pennsylvania or moved with the brothers to Kentucky.

The Thomas family story continues with Ephraim, my 5th great grandfather and his wife Elizabeth.

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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