CHARLES RAINEY THOMAS, M. D.
Dr. Charles Rainey Thomas, who was born December 12, 1863, on his father's farm three miles southwest of Carrollton, is a representative of one of the oldest and most distinguished pioneer families of this county, but as a life work he chose a profession in which family or pecuniary advantages count for little or naught but where advancement must depend solely upon individual merit, and as a member of the medical fraternity, he has, through careful preparation and conscientious performance of his daily duty, steadily worked his way upward until he now has a large practice in Roodhouse and enjoys as well the regard of his professional brethren throughout this part of the state, by reason of his strict conformity to a high standard of professional ethics.
The family is of English or Scotch lineage and was founded in America by his great-grandparents, Irwin and Elizabeth Thomas, who established their home in South Carolina in the seventeenth century. Irwin Thomas was a farmer and was a shrewd trader. It is told of him that on one militia day he traded horses, always getting something to "boot" and when evening had come he had gotten back his original horse and also had three cows and calves. He died when his son Samuel, the grandfather of the subject of this sketch and the youngest of five children, was only a year old. The mother worked hard to support her children for a year and then married William Hamilton, a currier, shoemaker and farmer. They became the parents of five children and about 1802 they removed with their family to Caldwell county, Kentucky, where Mr. Hamilton died when Samuel Thomas was seventeen years of age. Later Mrs. Hamilton married John Flint, by whom she had one son, Jesse Flint, a resident of Caldwell county, Missouri. Mr. Flint died in Kentucky and his widow afterward came to Greene county, Illinois, where she lived for a year. In 1823 she went to Adams county, this state, where her death occurred in 1840.
Samuel Thomas was born in Pendleton county, South Carolina, September 13, 1794, and spent his youth upon a farm in Caldwell county, Kentucky. He had little opportunity to attend school but his training at farm labor was not meager. In 1813 he came to Illinois with his two married sisters and their families and settled at the fork of Wood river. The following year he joined a company of rangers under Captain Judy and later served with Captain Whiteside until peace was declared. On one of these trips he crossed Greene county, in 1816. It was on the 4th of June, of that year, that Samuel Thomas married Elizabeth Isley, who was born in Sullivan county, Tennessee, September 2, 1796, a daughter of Philip and Margaret Isley. In August, 1818, he came to Greene county and built a cabin on the section on which he long lived, and on the 9th of November he installed his family in their new home, making the first settlement in the county north of Macoupin creek. The Indians were frequently hostile, and on the 10th of July, 1814, a band of red men slaughtered the settlers on Wood river. Mrs. Reagan, a sister of Samuel Thomas, and five of her children being among this number. The male portion of the population had gone with Captains Judy and Whiteside to quell the Indian bands then on the warpath, leaving the women and children near the forts for safety. Though the Thomas family were in danger, as were the other settlers, they were unmolested, but in establishing a home in Greene county they had to endure all the hardships and privations that fall to the lot of frontier settlers. The marriage ceremony of Samuel Thomas and his wife was performed by the Rev. William Jones, a Baptist minister, for they were of that religious faith and were among the founders of the church in this county. Samuel Thomas possessed considerable mechanical ingenuity and many articles of his workmanship were seen in the homes and on the farms of the early settlers. He lived in his first cabin for two years and cleared seventeen acres of land, after which he sold the place for one hundred dollars. He then removed from the Wood river settlement to Greene county, where he built his second cabin and on that farm he lived and died. He was a man of undaunted courage and strong purpose, well fitted to cope with pioneer conditions. The family subsisted largely upon corn bread, wild honey, wild meats, etc. It was several years after he removed to Greene county before Samuel Thomas owned a wagon or a plow, but he made a wooden cart for himself and afterward had a plow with a wooden mold board. He dug his first well in 1827 and it was sunk deeper in 1872. In 1839 he built a commodious brick residence, although all of his twelve children were reared in the log cabin. As the years passed he added to his landed possession, which, increasing in value, made him a wealthy man. He cast his first vote for James Monroe and became an ardent Democrat. He served his country in the war of 1812. He was a man of natural ability, a good reasoner, self-reliant and a worthy pioneer. He was the founder of the first Old Settlers Association of Greene county, for which he issued a call October 21, 1871, and in response to which a large concourse of people gathered at his residence. The meeting was called to order by David Pierson, the Carrollton banker, and Jacob Bowman was made temporary chairman. Many progressive movements owed their inauguration to Samuel Thomas, who contributed in large measure to reclaiming this district for the purposes of civilization. He was among the early stock-breeders of the county and raised more young cattle than any other man in the county. His death occurred about 1873. His wife died about 1875.
William D. Thomas, son of Samuel Thomas, was born in 1835, and throughout his entire life carried on agricultural pursuits, his death occurring upon his farm near Carrollton, in November, 1902. He wedded Mary Rainey, who was born January 1, 1838, and who died March 23, 1891.
Dr. Thomas pursued his education in the public schools of Carrollton until he had completed the high school course and then became a student in the preparatory department of the Missouri University, where he spent one year. His professional training was received in the St. Louis Medical College, from which he was graduated with the class of 1887. He is the only member of the family that has entered upon a professional career, and in no calling is success more largely attributable to individual merit. After careful preparation he located for practice in Roodhouse, in April, 1887, and has here remained, building up a large patronage as his ability has become recognized through his able handling of important and complicated cases.
Dr. Thomas was reared in the faith of the Christian church, to which his parents belonged, and his wife belongs to the Baptist church. On the 10th of November, 1895, he was married to Miss Lida Thomas, who though of the same name was not a relative. They now have two daughters: Mary A., who was born October 24, 1897; and Lida Lucile, born August 11, 1900. Dr. and Mrs. Thomas have many warm friends in Roodhouse and other parts of the county, the hospitality of the best homes being cordially extended to them, and he is equally prominent professionally.