Col. J. W. B. Thomas Sr.
Another true and enthusiastic speciman, one of the most untiring of the "Old Guard," and withal a gentleman of the finest qualities of the head and heart, has passed to the "shadow land," leaving a void in that circle that can never be filled. Col. J. W. B. Thomas departed this life at his home, four miles southwest of Columbia, on the night of the 26th of January, aged 75 years and 18 days. The funeral services were conducted at his residence by Rev. M. E. Gabard, who paid a high tribute to the dead, alluding particularly to his love for his wife and children and his devotion to his church, of which he had been a faithful and efficient officer for over twenty years. He was a member of McCain's Cumberland Presbyterian Church and in its interest he applied all the energies of his heart and head. His religious character evidenced itself in every emergency, and when an effort was made a short time since to get up funds to purchase literature for the Sunday-school at Sunnyside, he offered the necessary means for that purpose, exerting a potent influence in leading the young to a higher and better life. Occupying the home where he died for nearly half a century, he had the amplest opportunity for knowing and being known by the community of which he formed a part. He was a man of pronounced integrity of character, positive and strong in his convictions; thouroughly consiencious, strong in his feelings and warm in his friendships. The large concourse of people which attended the funeral services and followed his remains to their last resting place, attested the universal esteem in which he was held, and also expressed the sympathy of the public with the widow and children, so sadly bereaved of a companion, a counsellor, and a tender father. He was buried at Zion, and the pall-bearers were his old sporting friends, who associated with him in the wild woods and around the camp-fire. Col. Thomas was favorably known to the sporting fraternity as "Bulger," and his name has become famous as a deer hunter and a crack shot. As it is his memory is enshrined in their souls, and they will mourn him as he should be mourned. Often on the banks of some murmuring stream in the grassy hassocks, will thoughts of him be near the sportsman's heart, haunting it as with real presence. Often when in the heat and hush of a summer noon we recline, weary and worn with fatigue on the mossy banks of some lone spring, down deep in the emerald woodlands, will the tear steal down the cheek to the memory of him who cherished so those hours of sylvan rest and knew so sweetly how to enjoy them. Green be the grass above him! His very bones would pine beneath the weight of marble, he should lie in the shadow of some deep woodland, where the whispers of the wind should make wild music in the vocal boughs; where some clear streamlet, rippling along its pebbly bed, should wake that melody beside his ashes which his ear loved so well while living; where the hum of the bee and the carol of the bird and all the calm soft harmonies of nature should sing requiescat of our sportsman friend.
Others more capable will write for you the obituary of our friend; others yet living will write of the few of the "Old Spirits" left, but none can more warmly appreciate the living, and more sincerely mourn for the departed, than
Yours ever truly, WAT.
Mt. Pleasant, Feb 1st, 1892
J. W. B. Thomas Jr.
"The days of our years are three-score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be four-score years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away."
"I hold the world but as the world is a stage, where every man must play his part in the great drama of life. Every day is a new scene in that greatest of all plays, the Play of Life. Each day is a new page upon which we write our record for weal or for woe. The curtain is drawn; the record is made; the book is closed. ‘What I have written, I have written.' "
There was an era in the history of the world, when all nations had become steeped in sin, had forgotten God, when there was not even a ray of light and hope to penetrate the unseen and mysterious, and reveal a Father's watchful care and everlasting love. Even in that classic period of Greek culture and civilization, when such great minds as Socrates, Arostotle, and Plato, dominated and set the bounds of human thought and philosophy, they could not feel and understand, that somehow and somewhere there must be a guiding hand, a Supreme Being. But who He was, where His habitation, and from whence He came was a problem, unanswered and unknown. Under divine providence all ages have had their beacon lights, lest humanity in shear ignorance, superstition and sin, might plunge headlong into the abyss of everlasting abstraction. At length, and in the course of time, there appeared a colossal figure; a man of vision, adventure and faith: - the father of the faithful. In whose lineage at the proper time and place, according to prophacy, Christ appeared "in us the hope of glory, and in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed."
In this great company of splendid Nobility of the Faith, our good friend and neighbor had taken his place, and played a noble part. He lived and was indeed, a man among men and every inch a man.
"Some men are born to greatness, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." Perhaps no other citizen of his day and generation, was called upon by his friends and neighbors to assume so many of the duties and responsibilities, in both civil and ecclesiastical life. In every relationship of life, faithfullness seemed always to be his watchword. The rule and motto of his life must certainly have been: "I shall pass this way but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I may show to any human being, let me do it now; let me not defer it nor neglect it, for I shall never pass this way again."
He had fought the good fight, he had finished his course, he had kept the faith, and passed the test: "Am I a soldier of Cross, a follower of the Lamb, and shall I take to own His cause, or blush to speak His name?"
"Must I be carried to the skies On flowery beds of ease, While others fought to win prize, And sailed through bloody seas?"
His life had not been one of perpetual sunshine; upon his long and weary pilgramage, many clouds had cast their shadows; many trials and tribulations had left their impress. Just as the golden and glorious sunset of a long summer's day, so typical of the morning, noon, and evening of a long and useful life; so the sun of his earthly race, went down beneath the western horizon, to rise again in resplendent glory, in the new Jerusalem. Peace and sweet rest to his worn and weary body; a joyful, happy and glorious resurrection to his immortal spirit.
Robert T. Perry