Thomas Thomas, the father of the subject of this biographical sketch, married Keturah Hughes, both natives of Pembrokeshire, South Wales. Their children were William, Elizabeth (Mrs. Tenbrook), Ellen (Mrs. Cotrell), Richard, Thomas H, Hannah, Nancy (Mrs. Chase), and John, all of whom, with the exception of the latter, are deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas emigrated to America during the present century and settled in Bound Brook, N. J., where the former engaged in building. Later he removed to Utica, where he was an early settler, and continued actively employed until a few years before his death. He served in the war of 1812, and, while acting as lieutenant of his company, was severely wounded at the battle of Sacket's Harbor. His son John was born July 5,1816, in Utica, N. Y., and at an early age left fatherless. In his eighth year he became a member of the family of a farmer in Trenton, Oneida Co., N. Y., and later found a home in Herkimer County.
From thence he removed for one year to Johnstown, N. Y., after which seven years were spent with a brother-in-law in Delaware County, N. Y. He then determined upon acquiring an independent trade, and, having entered a machine-shop in New York City, served an apprenticeship as a general machinist. During his residence of twelve years in New York and the immediate vicinity, a portion of the time was spent in the pursuit of his trade and the remainder in active business as a dealer in produce. His vocation of machinist, however, having proved more attractive and profitable, he became an employee of Peter Cooper's rolling-mills in New York and Trenton, N. J. Mr. Thomas, on leaving the latter place, purchased a farm in Delaware County, N. Y., upon which his family were placed, and engaged for other parties in the construction and management of mills in Utica, N. Y., and Wyandotte, Mich. He was induced in July, 1857, to remove to Indianapolis with a view to erecting and operating the property of the Indianapolis Rolling-Mill Company. His connection with this mill has been continued, first as a salaried officer, later as a stockholder and director, and as the present treasurer and largest shareholder. After a brief connection with the manufacturing interests of the city, Mr. Thomas realized the importance of a cheaper and better quality of coal than was in general use, and securing the services of Dr.Brown, the State geologist, made a prospecting tour through the coal-fields of the State. In Brazil, Clay County, a shaft had been sunk and a small quantity of the now popular block-coal was being mined. This Mr. Thomas converted to practical use in his mill, and was instrumental in securing its general use for manufacturing purposes. It is now in great demand in various parts of the State.
The subject of this sketch has been since largely identified with the business interests of the city. He has aided in the establishment of three machine-shops and foundries, is president and treasurer of the Indianapolis Cotton Manufacturing Company, president of the Hecla Consolidated Gold and Silver Mining Company of Montana, which has proved a profitable enterprise, and interested, as projector or otherwise, invarious minor business schemes. He is also a director of the Citizens' National Bank of Indianapolis.In his political associations he is a prominent Republican, and, although not ambitious for office, has served two years in the City Council. Mr. Thomas was in 1840 married to Miss Ann Barber, a native of Manchester, England, who, having lost both parents, came to America with a relative when eight years of age. Their children are Richard Z.(of Montana), William H. (of Indianapolis), Learned J. (deceased), Martha A. (deceased), Charles J. (deceased), Edward L. (of Arkansas), and Julia A. The death of Mrs. Thomas occurred March 5, 1879. One of the stockholders of the second company, who was always active and interested in its work, and who contributed largely to its success in obtaining its own coal mines, was William 0. Rockwood, one of the leading citizens and among those most respected. The death of Mr. John Thomas occurred at Indianapolis in 1898 and was laid to rest in the Crown Hill Cemetery.