Knowledge of kindred and the genealogies of the ancient families deserveth the highest praise. Herein consists a part of the knowledge of a man's own self. It is a great spur to virtue to look back on the worth of our line." - Lord Bacon.


"There is no heroic poem in the. world but is at the bottom the, life of a man." - Sir Walter Scott.






Vol. II


NEW YORK              CHICAGO





James Thomas

Gen. William Lilly


Excerpt – Page 355 - 356



JAMES THOMAS, president of the Davies Thomas Co., Foundry and Machine Works at Catasauqua, Pennsylvania, was born in the city of, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 22, 1836. He is a son of Hopkin and Catharine (Richards) Thomas, who were of an old and honorable Welsh ancestry.


Hopkin Thomas (father) was born in Glamorganshire, South Wales, in 1793. His early education was obtained in the public schools of -the village in which he lived. When he reached the age of sixteen be became an apprentice in in the Neath Abbey Works, near Neath, South Wales, learning the trade of a machinist. In 1834 he emigrated to the United States, landing in Philadelphia, and at once secured employment in the Baldwin Locomotive Works, later entering the shops of Garrett & Eastwick. Leaving these people, he accepted a position as master mechanic of the roads and mines of the Beaver Meadow Railway Company, and while serving in this capacity he displayed remarkable inventive genius. It was through one of his inventions that anthracite coal was first used for fuel in locomotives. One type of coal breaker was also invented by him which is in use to the present day. Likewise he invented and successfully used the chilled cast-4ron car-wheel, also the most improved and successful mine pumps and machinery of that day. In 1853 he became a resident of the borough of Catasauqua, and from that year until his death, May 12, 1878, he very creditably filled the position of master mechanic of the Crane Iron Works.


His wife, Catharine (Richards) Thomas, a native of Merthyr-Tydvil, South Wales, bore him the following named children: William R., Mary, who became the wife of James H. McKee; Helen, who became the wife of John Thomas; James, hereinafter mentioned; and Kate M., who became the wife of James W. Fuller.


James Thomas came to Catasauqua. with his parents in 1853. In 1859 he went to Parryville to take the superintendency of the Carbon Iron Works. Leaving there in 1871 he went to Jefferson county, Alabama, and while there held the position of general manager of the Irondale and Eureka Iron Companies. He enjoys the distinction of having made the first coke iron in Alabarna. In 1879 he returned to Catasauqua and formed a partnership with George Davies, under the firm name of Davies & Thomas. This firm was the outgrowth of a small concern which was. established in 1865 by Daniel Davies. Shortly after its establishment a co-partnership was formed with William Thomas, and in 1867 the interest of William Thomas was purchased by George Davies, a son of Daniel Davies. They organized under the firm name of Daniel Davies & Son, this firm having been in existence until the death of Daniel Davies in 1876. In 1879 George Davies and James Thomas combined their interests under the firm name as given above, which continued in existence until the death of George Davies in 1894. The following year the heirs of George Davies and the surviving member, James Thomas, took out articles of incorporation under the laws of the state of Pennsylvania with the corporate name of Davies and Thomas Company. The authorized capital stock was two hundred thousand dollars, which was afterward increased to three hundred thousand dollars. The directors are James Thomas, Rowland T. Davies, James T. Davies, George Davies, Charles R. Horn, Rowland D. Thomas, and Hopkin Thomas. The officers are James Thomas, president; Rowland T. Davies, vice-president; Rowland D. Thomas, secretary and treasurer; Charles R. Horn, general sales agent; and George Davies, purchasing agent. Their offices are located at East Catasauqua, Pennsylvania, and 26 Cortlandt Street, New York City. The plant is classed with the largest in the country conducting general foundry and machine work. The capacity of the foundry is over three hundred tons per day, and the machine shop, blacksmith shop-and pattern shop are uf the largest capacity in the Lehigh Valley being equipped with the most modern tools for quick and accurate work. The plant covers more than twenty five acres. The product is sold throughout the United States, Canada, South America, -West Indies and all European countries.


Mr. Thomas is prominently identified with every enterprise calculated to promote the prosperity of Catasauqua. He is president of the Wahnetah Silk Mill Company, and a director of the Catasauqua National Bank. Through his efforts the borough secured the establishment of the Electric Light and Power Company, of which be was one of the principal stockholders. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and an adherent of the Republican party. Taking a keen and active interest in the cause of education, he served faithfully and efficiently for same years as a member of the school board. Among the political honors he has had thrust upon him might be mentioned his appointment as a delegate to the Republican national convention in Minneapolis in 1892.


Return to the James Thomas Page



Gen. William Lilly


Excerpt Page 200 – 202

Ed.  William Lilly came in contact with Hopkin Thomas as a lad of 17. He remained a life-long friend and his thoughts upon HopkinÕs death were recorded in the testimonial published by the Catasauqua Dispatch. J. McV.



GEN. WILLIAM LILLY. In the death of General William Lilly, the city of Mauch Chunk was deprived of one of its most talented and honored citizens, and the commonwealth of one of its most accomplished statesmen.


He was born at Penn Yan, New York, June 3, 1821. He was a lad of seventeen when he came with his parents to Mauch Chunk, and he at once entered upon a life of industry and responsibility, at that early age being entrusted with the duties of a conductor on the Beaver Meadow Railroad. He rendered acceptable service in that capacity for a period of six years, and then became identified with the Hazelton Railway, a branch of line which included the Penn Haven inclined-plane track to Hazelton, this branch also connecting with Parryville by canal, and each in the coal carrying, business. Mr. Lilly later became associated with Ario Pardee, J. Gillingham Fell, and George B. Markle, in the coal business at Jeddo. The last but by no means least important enterprise which engaged his attention was the management of the extensive colliery at Park Place, in which he was associated with the firm of Lentz, Lilly & Company. In all these relations, he displayed the best qualities of a well equipped man of affairs, and he contributed in large degree to the development of the mining and transportation interests of the region, and, was ranked among the leading promoters and  managers along those lines.


While General Lilly thus bore a prominent part in industrial and commercial affairs, he was mote widely known for his services in public life. He first came into prominence in connection with the military establishment of the state. At the age of twenty-one he enlisted in the ranks of the militia, and through successive promotions, won by his courage and fine soldierly qualities, he arrived at the rank of colonel, and finally that of brigadier-general


In politics, General Lilly was a Democrat of the old school, and his first presidential vote was cast for James K. Polk. He acted with the party until 1862, when, the Civil war being then in progress, and the fate of the nation at stake, he gave his allegiance to the party then headed by President Lincoln. He remained a Republican thenceforward and to the end of his life, and was one of its most radical and uncompromising exponents, advocating its principles and policies with enthusiasm and ability. To him the maintenance of the Union was dependable upon a continuance of power in Republican hands. This end obtained, the party appealed to him on industrial and economic grounds. The party had inaugurated a new tariff system in order to provide means, in part, for carrying on the war, and now it had elaborated the system to promote American industries by affording them protection against foreign merchants and. manufacturers. Pennsylvania, by reason of its great mineral resources and manufacturing capacity was particularly interested, yet there were many opponents to the doctrine of protection, and advocates of the home mechanic and manufacturer were long kept in active employment in the work of political and economic education. Among these advocates nonewas more zealous, more capable, more aggressive or more invincible than was General Lilly. He frequently sat as a delegate in the state and national conventions of the Republican party, and his influence was at various times discernible in the language of its platforms with reference to the protective tariff. In 1868 he was prominently mentioned for the gubernatorial nomination, and in the nominating convention he was defeated by so small a plurality as to make it evident that he would have been made the candidate had he conducted a personal campaign, a course to which he was disinclined by reason of want of particular political ambition, and of the exactions of his business. In 1892 he was elected congressman-at-large, and his personal popularity found attestation in the fact that he led his ticket, receiving 32,391 votes as against 32,215 cast for General Harrison, his plurality being 176 more than was that of the. distinguished presidential candidate.


As a member of Congress, General Lilly acquitted himself most usefully and honorably. A forceful speaker he cherished no ambition of oratory and spoke but seldom. He was reckoned, however, among the most industrious members of the house, and his services in the committee room were of much value. At his death he was the senior member of the body in point of age, and, as a striking coincidence, may be mentioned the fact that within a few days. occurred the death of  Hon. Charles O'Neill, the "Father of the House" in point of duration of service. Between these two men, much alike in disposition, habits of thought and conceptions of principle and policies, subsisted a long and most, intimate personal friendship.


The death of General Lilly, which occurred on December 1, 1893, was regarded as a severe loss to the community, which held him in honor for his ability and nobility of character and in affection for his worth as a citizen and neighbor. He was by nature a leader of men, whether in business or in public affairs, yet holding authority with so light a hand that no resentment was kindled against him. The expressions of regret at his taking off were many and touching, nor was there among them any more full of significance than the sentences of one obituary sketch: "Even death failed to stamp out the strong lineaments that denoted the leading characteristics of the man - nobleness of purpose on the open brow; firmness and determination in the strong lines of the face; and yet, withal, a kindly gentle expression."  His character was well summarized in the resolutions adopted by the board of directors of the First National Bank of Mauch Chunk, of which body he had been a member from the founding of the institution:


"Resolved, That our community has been deprived of  one of its most excellent and enterprising, members. He was just and honorable in all his ways, fearless for the right, and openhanded where there was need. Beginning life in humble circumstances and with limited educational facilities, by energy and application he succeeded in self-education and in making a princely fortune.


"'Resolved, That the state and nation had need of his counsel and civic virtues, for in times, of distress, financial and industrial depression, his voice and experience would have been invaluable in measures for relief and encouragement."


The funeral was attended by an immense concourse, among which was a large delegation representing the congress of the United States. That body also took appropriate action, and its tribute to the life and character of the deceased statesman, as expressed by various members of congress upon the floor of the house, was given permanence in a memorial volume issued from the government printing office.


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Rev. July 2010