Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Historical marker says Thomasville was named after U.S. Civil War general

'Thomasville Early History' historical marker.
This week’s featured historical marker is the “THOMASVILLE’S EARLY HISTORY” marker in Clarke County, Ala. This marker is located on the south side of Wilson Street, between West Front Street and the railroad tracks, in Thomasville, Ala.

This marker was erected in October 2010 by the Alabama Tourism Department and the City of Thomasville. There’s text on both sides of the marker, and both sides are different. What follows in the complete text from the marker:

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“THOMASVILLE’S EARLY HISTORY: In the summer of 1887, a notice was published confirming that the route for the Mobile and West Alabama Railroad would be the Choctaw Corner route. Soon the sounds of building could be heard over the swamp that was the headwaters of the Bassett Creek. A new town was under construction to be named Thomasville in honor of General Samuel Thomas, president of the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad Company. The town grew rapidly and soon became the hub of commercial activity for this area. Lumber, timbers, forest products and hundreds of bales of cotton were being shipped by rail each year. As commerce grew, so did the residential area. Many families moved to the new bustling town and soon schools and places of worship were built. (Continued on other side)”

“THOMASVILLE’S EARLY HISTORY (Continued from other side): This growth, however, was halted in the summer of 1889, when an epidemic almost depopulated Thomasville. Many families moved away from town and businesses temporarily closed. This epidemic is now referred to as the ‘Thomasville Fever.’ When the epidemic had passed, the town quickly resumed its growth. In 1899, tragedy struck again. Fire destroyed the entire business section of town. In all, 23 wooden structures, a hotel, 700 bales of cotton, and one residence were wiped out. The town passed an ordinance requiring that all buildings in the business section be brick. Soon the town was rebuilt and much of the downtown section stands as rebuilt.”

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I was especially interested in the fact that Thomasville was named in honor of Samuel Thomas, who was a Union general during the Civil War. When Thomas learned that the town was being named after him, he responded by donating $500 for the construction of the town’s first school.

Thomas was born on April 27, 1840 at South Point, Lawrence County, Ohio. He enlisted in July 1861 as a second lieutenant in the 27th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He later took part in the Battles of Pittsburgh Landing, Chattanooga and Vicksburg and was also in the rear with reserve forces during Sherman’s “March to the Sea.” He was named a brevet brigadier general on March 13, 1865 and was confirmed on April 10, 1866.

After the war, he became a businessman as a pig iron manufacturer, coal mining industrialist and manager and financier or railroads. He died on Jan. 11, 1903 in New York and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, Westchester County, New York.

In the end, visit this site next Wednesday to learn about another historical marker. I’m also taking suggestions from the reading audience, so if you know of an interesting historical marker that you’d like me to feature, let me know in the comments section below. 

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