Matthews, Alfred and Austin N. Hungerford, History of the Counties of Lehigh & Carbon, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Everts & Richards (Lippincott), Philadelphia 1884, p. 261
Hopkin Thomas, for many years master-mechanic of the Crane Iron Company and one of the oldest residents, as also one of the influential citizens of the Lehigh Valley in connection with its industrial interests, was born at Glamorganshire, South Wales, in 1793. He remained with his parents on their farm until his sixteenth year, when he was apprenticed to the Neath Abbey Works, near Neath, South Wales, to acquire the trade of a machinist. He early developed a fertile brain, and on fulfilling his apprenticeship speedily attained a high position among his fellow-workmen. In 1834 he determined to emigrate with his family to America, and on landing in Philadelphia in 1834 obtained employment without difficulty in the establishment of the Baldwin Locomotive-Works. He later entered the shops of Garrett & Eastwick, from whence be engaged with the Beaver Meadow Railroad and Coal Company as master mechanic of their roads and mines. During this period his inventive genius was first developed, and made invaluable to his employers. In his mechanical inventions and appliances he was conceded to be the pioneer of the Lehigh Valley. Through one of these inventions anthracite coal was first made available for use in locomotives, and in this application of coal as fuel he was at least twenty years in advance of all others. He invented and successfully used the chilled cast-iron car wheel, as also the most improved and successful mine-pumps and machinery of the day. In all mechanical matters he was far in advance of his day, and in the railroad and coal interests of the country be may with justice be regarded as filling the position of an eminent benefactor. Mr. Thomas was peculiarly modest and unassuming in his character, a fact which prevented his attaining either distinction or wealth. Content that the world should be benefited by the productions of his genius, he cared little whether they brought him either fame or profit. In his business relations he was upright, in his social intercourse true-hearted and faithful, and in his home the typical bead of a cheerful and happy domestic circle.
Mr. Thomas was united in marriage to Miss Catharine Richards, of Merthyr-Tydvil, South Wales. Their children are William R., Mary (Mrs. James H. McKee), Helen (Mrs. John Thomas), James, Kate M. (Mrs. James W. Fuller). The death of Mr. Thomas occurred on the 12th of May, 1878, at his home in Catasauqua, to which place he removed in 1853, on being appointed master-mechanic of the Crane Iron Works.
Rev. September 2010