James Thomas

Source: Lambert, James F. and Reinhard, Henry J., A History of Catasauqua in Lehigh County Pennsylvania,  1914


James Thomas was born in Philadelphia, September 22, 1836, and was the youngest son of Hopkin Thomas and his wife Catherine (R.ichards) Thomas, both of South Wales. In 1853 he came with his parents to Catasauqua from Philadelphia. He went to Parryville in 1859 to take the superintendency of the Carbon Iron Works. In 1871 Mr. Thomas left Parryville and  went to Jefferson County, Alabama, and while there became the general manager of the Irondale and Eureka Iron Company. He enjoys the distinction of having made the first coke iron in Alabama. In 1879 he returned to Catasauqua and formed a partnership with George Davies under the name of Davies and Thomas which continued until the death of George Davies in 1894. The following year the heirs of George Davies and the surviving member of the firm, James Thomas, took out articles of incorporation under the laws of the State of Pennsylvania with the corporate name of Davies and Thomas Company. With every enterprise calculated to promote the prosperity of Catasauqua, Mr. Thomas was prominently identified and received the heartiest support. Through his efforts the Borough secured the Electric Light and Power Company of which he was one of the principal owners. He was president of the Wahnetah Silk Company and a director of the Catasauqua National Bank. Though he took no active part in politics, he was frequently chosen to occupy positions of trust and responsibility, and represented the Republican Party as delegate to the National Convention in Minneapolis in 1892. For six years he was a member of the School Board, taking an active interest in the welfare of our schools.


Mr. Thomas was married to Miss Mary Ann Davies, June 11, 1861. They are the parents of the following children: Blanche T., wife of Charles R. Horn; Mary C. Thomas (deceased); Rowland D. Thomas; Mrs. Ruth (Thomas) McKee; Helen T., wife of Dr. James L. Hornbeck; Catherine R. Thomas (deceased); Hopkin Thomas.


In religious belief, Mr. Thomas was a member of Grace Methodist Episcopal Church and was instrumental in securing the erection of the edifice adorning the corner of Fifth and Walnut Streets. Mr. Thomas was one of the best informed men, reading broadly upon all matters of general interest and carrying his investigations into the best of literature. He was public spirited, which, together with his high social standing and courteous manners, made him a very popular and honored citizen.


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