Calhoun County

1891 Biography - Levi Thomas

LEVI THOMAS, one of the early settlers of Belleview Precinct, Calhoun County, has been identified with the history of the county since an early day and is well worthy of representation in the volume where is recorded the lives of its prominent settlers and honored pioneers. He is a native of Kentucky, his birth having occurred on the 4th of July, 1832, in Simpson County. His parents, John and Rebecca (Butler) Thomas, were also natives of that State and his father served in the War of 1812. Until about fourteen years of age Levi remained in Kentucky, when with his parents he removed to Shelby County, Mo., where he was reared to manhood. His educational advantages were very limited. The school which he attended was built of logs and the furnishings were slab seats and desks. A puncheon floor, clapboard door and immense fire-place completed the structure. The boys attending generally carried with them their rifles, for wild animals were still quite numerous in the settlement. On one occasion our subject, when a lad of sixteen years, shot and killed a bear while on his way to school. Although his scholastic training did not carry him much beyond the rudiments of knowledge, Mr. Thomas has always been a great reader, a deep thinker and possessing a retentive memory, has become a well-informed man. The year 1851 witnessed his arrival in Illinois and he chose Calhoun County as the scene of his future labors. The succeeding four years he spent in procuring raw material used in making barrels of various kinds in a coopering establishment of the county, after which he purchased eighty acres of land, the farm on which he now resides, although it bore little resemblance to the cultivated fields which to-day pay tribute to his care and labor. He took up his residence in a small log cabin and began the development of the raw prairie. The improvements have all been made by him and to-day stand as monuments of his thrift and industry.

On the 3d of August, 1853, Mr. Thomas was joined in wedlock with Miss Mary Cloninger, a native of Virginia and their union has been blessed with nine children, eight of whom are now living: John, the eldest, now of Oregon: William, also living in that State; Elizabeth, wife of Turner Lumley, of Calhoun County; Edward, a resident of this county; Emma, at home; James, a successful school teacher in the county; Anne, at home; and Charles. The deceased member of the family was a daughter, Mollie.

As before stated, Mr. Thomas is the owner of eighty acres of land and is accounted one of the leading farmers of the community. Beginning life without capital and steadily working his way upward, he may truly be called a self-made man. The difficulties and disadvantages arising from lack of education and financial help he overcame and by fair and honest dealing, good management and perseverance has acquired a comfortable compotency. Not afraid of work, he eagerly grasped every opportunity which would better enable him to provide for the wants and comfort of his family. He has also faithfully discharged his duties of citizenship and for many years he served as School Director. He helped to raise the first log schoolhouse erected in Belleview Precinct and has ever been a friend to education or any interest which would advance the social and moral welfare of the community. In politics he is a Democrat, and religiously is a Baptist. His memory goes back to the days in the early history of Calhoun County when ox-teams were used in place of horses even when going to church, when the land was in its primitive condition and when the settlements were few and far between, but all this has now changed and no one has taken a deeper interest in the advancement of the county or done more to promote its welfare than Levi Thomas. This gentleman is well known for his integrity and honesty and enjoys the confidence of the business community.

Extracted 13 Feb 2017 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published in 1891, pages 330-331.


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