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W. I. Thomas
Pioneer Sociologist and His Kin
By Leland B. Tate

 

     With the encouragement of Talcott Parsons of Harvard University and others including James Brown, University of Kentucky, much time has been spent recently on a very interesting and revealing study of the life, contributions, appraisals, and extended family connections of W. I. Thomas, 1863-1947, "the most creative of the First Big Four Sociologists at the University of Chicago." (Reference 5, page 13; and others).
     Considerable is known about the contributions of Thomas to social science and several books and articles reveal these, but relatively little is known by most people about the background and kinfolks of Thomas and how these may relate to his dynamic nature, profound thinking, and scientific accomplishments. Since he was a (native and boy) of Russell County, Virginia, and later a youth in
Tennessee, and I was reared near his birthplace and boyhood home, I have an added incentive to know more than the minimum about this man's highly regarded work as a teacher and researcher, and his life, background, and extensive array of relatives.
     Dr. W. I. or William Isaac Thomas, who lived for nearly 85 years from 1863 to 1947 was an amazing American scholar of human behavior, attitudes, values, situations, personality, and social organizations. He was an outstanding sociologist in our Nation's first Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago for nearly a quarter of a century, and later a lecturer at the New School for Social Research in New York, a lecturer at Columbia and Harvard and President of the American Social Science Research Council, and President of the American Sociological Society for 1927. He was a colorful, dynamic, and creative person with exceptional physical and mental vigor. He was a speaker extraordinary who once gave a lecture in a room seating 250 persons and had such an overflow audience that he repeated the performance the next day in a room seating 1200 and had it full of intellectually curious listeners. He
was a teacher of outstanding sociologist Ernest W. Burgess, Kimball Young, Stuart Queen, and others, and an influential force in the lives of many American sociologists. He was discoverer of Robert E. Park with Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and responsible for Park's joining the Sociology staff at the University of Chicago. And as Park and Burgess became outstanding sociologists they were tremendously influenced by Thomas. He was the most active researcher of the first sociologists at the University of Chicago including A. W. Small, Charles Henderson, George Vincent and himself, and he produced more than forty publications. Some of these were Source Book for Social Origins, The
Polish Peasant in Europe and America, "The Problem of Personality in an Urban Environment," "The Behavior Pattern and the Situation," "The Configurations of Personality," "The Relation of Research to the Social Process," "The Comparative Study of Cultures," etc. (References 1-2-3-4-5-6)
     Donald Young of the Russel Sage Foundation has said that "friendly curiosity about people characterized the life of W. I. Thomas. He always wanted to know more about how they lived and why they behaved as they did." (Reference 3, Introduction).
     Florian Znaniecki, his research associate for the classic and internationally acclaimed study of The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, said of him some time later that "never have I known, heard or read about anybody with such a wide sympathetic interest in the vast diversity of sociocultural patterns and such a genius for understanding the uniqueness of every human personality. The famous statement of Terence, 'I am a man and nothing human seems alien to me' expresses the ideal which few men ever realized so fully as Thomas." (Sociology and Social Research, V, 32, Mar-Apr 1948).
     Edmund H. Volkart of Yale University has said that "the importance of Thomas in the development of American social science has been widely recognized, that he was a profound and versatile thinker, that his basic conceptions can be discerned in much of contemporary theory and research." (Reference 3)
     Ernest W. Burgess of the University of Chicago has said that "thousands of students who did not know him personally are indebted to him for concepts that have become common currency in Sociology." (Sociology and Social Research, V, 32, Mar-Apr 1948).
     On we could go with appraisals, but let's see some of this man's life, background, and family connections.
     W. I. Thomas was born August 13, 1863 on a farm in the Elk Garden locality of Russell County, Virginia, east of the courthouse town of Lebanon, and lived there during his first ten formative years. Over half a century later he told me in a letter from New York, "My memories of Lebanon and Russell County are very vivid, and in retrospect I consider the time spent there a big block of my life." (Thomas to Tate at Cornell University, January 12, 1832).
     His parents were scholarly, T. P. and Sarah Price Thomas, who seeking better educational opportunities for their children, moved to Morristown, Tennessee, in 1873 and on to Knoxville in 1874, where several of the children made outstanding records at the University of Tennessee. By age 23 in
1886, W. I. had earned three degrees in Literature and Languages, including the first Ph.D. given by the University, received special recognition for his high accomplishments, been Cadet Captain of the R.O.T.C., excelled in oratory, and was appointed instructor, and a year later Professor. (10) (24-V, 295- 97)
     On June 6, 1888, when nearly 25 years of age, W. I. was married to Harriet Park, daughter of Dr. James Park, a graduate of Tennessee and Princeton, who was Pastor of Knoxville's First Presbyterian Church for 50 years, 1866-1916. Soon after their marriage he and his wife traveled to Germany, the earlier habitat of the Thomas ancestors, where he had a year of special study. Upon their return to the United States he became Professor of English at Oberlin College in Ohio and remained there until 1893. (Leon Waterhouse letter, University of Tennessee records and others)
     Apparently, extended family influence, contact with Herbert Spencer's Sociology, German writings on Folk Psychology, and news that the Nation's first Department of Sociology was being established in the new University of Chicago stimulated W. I. to retrain himself for a new professional field. He became one of the first graduate students of Sociology, University of Chicago, 1893-94 under Small and Henderson, and received one of the University's first Ph.D. degrees in Sociology, 1896 - which for him was his second Ph.D. degree by age 33.
     After receiving this degree with highest honors, W. I. Thomas was on the staff of the University of Chicago for more than two decades, where he was a very prominent teacher and research sociologist. He and his wife were also active in the affairs of the city, and in rearing their children, William
Alexander and Edward. Following this period of service in Chicago, he was at the New School for Social Research in New York, on the American Social Science Research Council, a lecturer at Columbia and Harvard, and a researcher and lecturer in Sweden. Finally he was a semi-retiree in Berkeley, California.
Late in life he married for the second time his research associate Dr. Dorothy Swain who is well known professionally as Dorothy Swain Thomas, co-author of their book, The Child in America, and as a specialist in population studies. She still lives and we have had a pleasant exchange of correspondence.
     Although W. I. died in Berkeley, California, his ashes are buried in Knoxville, Tennessee, with those of his first wife, Harriett Park, in Lot 790 of the "Old Gray Cemetery", 543 Broadway, where his parents, T. P. and Sarah Price Thomas, are also buried, as well as his younger brother, Charlie. This cemetery is well preserved with a perpetual-care fund, and has an entrance office with a card file of records which was in charge of Mrs. Robert Dempster when I visited it in 1970.

Many Related Scholars and Educators

     Numerous relatives of W. I. Thomas have been excellent scholars, strong believers in education, patrons of schools, teachers, and school administrators. His father, T. P. Thomas, was a "man of very superior talent and a critical scholar, thoughtful, clear and fluent," a graduate of Emory and Henry
College in 1853, and afterwards an able teacher, tutor, and school official. (24-V-295-96) His mother, Sarah Price Thomas, was "a lady of superior talent and education," and a graduate of Greensboro College (24-V-297, and others). His grandfather, John W. Price, was "endowed with an intellect of high order and
discriminative powers, and sufficiently informed to feel at home in the best educated circles." He was the first chairman of the board of trustees of Emory and Henry College founded in 1836, and on the board for more than twenty years. (24-IV-330-31, and others) His grandmother, Mary Miller Price, was a "diligent
reader with a strong philosophical mind who could enter into the spirit of the profoundest discourses,
written or spoken." (24-IV-339) His uncle, Richard N. Price, was "a minister, teacher and historian of
much ability - positive, deliberate, and composed - who appealed to mind more than emotions." (From his memorial by Wiley, Holston Methodist Conference Records, 1923). Both his parents and his mother's parents changed their places of residence seeking better education opportunities for their children. (24)
Both his grandfather, John W. Price and his great-uncle, William Price, were school commissioners in Russell County, Virginia prior to 1835. (Reference 7) His great-grandfather, Joseph Miller, was a "a man of intelligence, integrity and great symmetry of character." (24-IV-328) His great-grandfather, Richard
Price, "a powerful robust person," specified in his will made and recorded in 1803 that his widow, Priscilla, use part of the income from the land left to her "to school and educate the children as well as it is in her power." Apparently he also gave the site for the first "school house" in the frontier Elk Garden,
Virginia settlement which is mentioned in his will, and which was only a short distance from his home. (24-IV-329+) and (7).
     As a consequence of these and other influences, the writer has discovered more than twenty relatives of W. I. Thomas who have graduated from Emory and Henry College, and several who have attended the University of Tennessee and other schools. W. I.'s older brother, Price Thomas, graduated from Emory and Henry, earned a Ph.D. at Tennessee, and later was a school administrator, and State Superintendent of Schools in Tennessee under Governor Bob Taylor. His younger brother, Thad, attended Tennessee and Vanderbilt, earned a Ph.D. at John Hopkins in 1895, and later was Professor of History and Sociology at Goucher College in Baltimore. His younger brother, Henry Bascom, attended
Tennessee, earned an M. D. at Northwestern, later taught there and was an orthopedic surgeon in Chicago. W. I.'s various relatives, including father, uncles and others, have been attending and graduating from Emory and Henry College for more than a hundred years and becoming useful and influential citizens. For example: his uncle Richard N. Price, who graduated in 1854, lived to be nearly 93 and had a ministerial service record of 62 years; Richard G. Waterhouse who graduated in 1885 and married W. I.'s double first cousin, Mary Thomas Carriger, after the loss of his first wife, was for sometime a teacher at Emory and Henry and subsequently president; Richard G. Waterhouse, Jr., who
graduated in 1920 earned a M. D. at the University of Virginia and since has been a surgeon in Knoxville, Tennessee; and more distant relatives, William D. Richmond, John A. Richmond and Phil Wynn, who were my fellow students and good friends at Emory and Henry College have been educators in Virginia. William D. Richmond, now retired, was recently Superintendent of Schools in Wise County,
and his brother, John, also retired, was recently Superintendent of Schools in Lee County.
     Other relatives of W. I. Thomas who descend from his grandparents, Isaac and Rebecca Barb Thomas, include Miss "Bashi" or Bathsheba Kincaid, retired teacher and counselor of Rose Hill, Virginia, her deceased brother, Charles M. Kincaid, Ph.D., former professor of Animal Science at Virginia Tech, her deceased sister, Nannie Kincaid Stickley, who did considerable research on the
Thomas family, and Mrs. Stickley's children: Mary K. Rose, Fred, and Sara, all of whom are teachers. Mary K. lives at Rose Hill, Virginia. Rose is the wife of Joseph C. Smiddy, Chancellor of Clinch Valley College, Wise, Virginia. Fred is Principal of the Thomas Walker High School in Lee County, and Sara is the wife of Richard Hummel, Blacksburg businessman, and a daughter-in-law of Professor B. L. Hummel (deceased), an Extension Sociologist at Virginia Tech for 27 years. (References 17-18, and others,including personal knowledge)

Several Related Public Officials and Prominent Citizens

     From frontier days to contemporary times, the relatives of W. I. Thomas have been active in public affairs. By the 1770's three of his forefathers had migrated to the fringe of westward-moving American frontier in southwest Virginia, almost as far west as present Michigan. His twice-great-grandfathers, William Crabtree and Humberson Lyon had located in the Holston Valley at a place called Big Lick, now present Saltville, and his great-grandfather, Richard Price and a brother, Thomas, had settled northward in the Elk Garden area of Clinch Valley which is now part of Russell County, east of the town of Lebanon. (17) (18) (20) (24)
     His twice-great-grandfather, William Crabtree, who died in 1777 was in 1773 one of the overseers of "a good horseway road" from the North Fork of Holston River to Clinch Mountain, appraiser of an estate with Archibald Buchanan, and a member of a jury in the frontier county of Fincastle, which existed for four years, January, 1773, to January, 1777, and extended indefinitely westward from the eastern edge of the Mississippi River basin at present Blacksburg, Virginia. (20)
     His twice-great-grandfather, Humberson Lyon, who died in 1784 was a member of a jury with Simon Cockrell and others in 1773, security with Abraham Crabtree for Hannah Crabtree, administrator of the William Crabtree estate in 1777, one of the appraisers of the John Hargis estate in 1779, a provider of "venison for public service" prior to 1782, a member of the Washington County militia, and a participant in the Revolutionary War Battle of Kings Mountain, South Carolina, in 1780, which some historians say was the favorable turning point in the struggle for American Independence from Great Britain. In earlier years he was also an explorer and "long hunter" with friends for several months per year beyond the frontier settlements of that time. Such exploring and hunting took great courage, stamina, skills, and knowledge to survive. (8) (20) (21)
     His great-grandfather, Richard Price, was justice on the Russell County, Virginia court of governing board for several years starting in 1787. Previously he had been a member of the local militia, one of the men at the Elk Garden Fort in 1774 for protection of settlers from Indians, an appraiser of estates, an overseer of the poor, etc. Later he was county sheriff, and twice one of the county's delegates in the Virginia Legislature of the 1790's. (7) (20)
     His great-grandfather, Joseph Miller, was a justice on the Washington County, Virginia court of governing board for several years, and one of his county's delegates in the Virginia Legislature in 1825 at the time of General Lafayette's second visit to America after the Revolutionary War. (8) (24-IV, 328).
     His great-uncle, Crabtree Price, was a justice in Russell County, Virginia, for 20 years, 1818-1838, before moving to Missouri, where his son, William Cecil Price, became a prominent lawyer and judge and Treasurer of the United States under President James Buchanan. W. C. could have been Treasurer under President Abraham Lincoln, but declined Lincoln's offer. (7) (24-IV-330)
     His great-uncle, William Price, was a justice in Russell County, Virginia, for 19 years, 1818-1837, a school commissioner and treasurer of the school board for several yeears, an overseer of the poor one of his county's delegates in the Virginia Legislature in 1821, and Lieutenant Colonel in the county militia in 1825. (7) (24-IV-329+)
     His great-uncle, Thomas Price, who moved to Kentucky after his marriage "had eight sons who served in the war between the States - four on one side and four on the other - and all of them were either killed or died during the war." (24-IV-339)
     His twice great-grandfather, Martin Thomas, of German-Swiss descent, came to America from Heidelberg, Germany in 1749, helped to found the Heidelberg township in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and served as a ranger on the frontiers during the French and Indian Wars. (17) (18)
     His great-grandfather, Jacob Thomas, was born in Pennsylvania, served in the Revolutionary War for Independence from Cumberland County, and afterwards moved to Sullivan County, Tennessee, between present Bristol and Blountville. (17) (18)
     His grandfather, Isaac Thomas, was a justice in Claiborne County, Tennessee for more than 20 years prior to 1850, and while a justice performed many marriage ceremonies. In later life he lived at "Oldtown" near Cumberland Gap, but previously had been born and lived in Sullivan County near present Bristol, married Rebecca Barb of nearby Washington County, Virginia, served in the War of
1812, and participated in a campaign against the Creek Indians under General Andrew Jackson. (9) (17)
     His uncle, William S. Thomas, an older brother of his father, was also a justice in Claiborne County, Tennessee, prior to 1850. He participated in the Civil War as a Confederate and died in a Federal Prison in Illinois. (9) (17) (18)
     His cousin, James Bishop, son of Polly Thomas and Elisha Bishop, served in the Civil War as a Confederate and was killed at Kernstown, Virginia.
     His aunt, Ann Vance Price, wife of Richard N., had a brother, Robert Vance, who was a General in the Confederate forces, and later a U. S. Congressman; and a brother, Zebulon Vance, who was twice Governor of North Carolina and a U. S. Senator. Prior to that he was a graduate of the University of North Carolina and a lawyer. (24-IV-385, V-207, et al) 
     His uncle, William Humberson Price, was a surgeon with General "Jeb" Stuart in the Civil War, and a physician in Washington County, Virginia for several years before entering another occupation, to be mentioned later. His memoir says he was educated at Emory and Henry College, the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, and the New Orleans School of Medicine, and his father's will reveals he also had been in Richmond, Virginia, and the State of Georgia. (24-Martin-406) (8)
     His cousin, John W. Price, son of William Humberson, was a lawyer in Abingdon and Bristol, Virginia, a member of the Virginia Legislature in 1899, and later a judge in the city of Bristol. (Summers, History of Washington County, VA)
     His wife, Harriett Park Thomas, while in Chicago, "maintained close connections with social work," and in 1915 she was active in Henry Ford's Peace Party, part of which Henry led on a pilgrimage to Europe hoping to bring an end to World War I. (4) (15) (17)
     His son, William A. Thomas, MD, has been a prominent physician in Chicago. (15) (17) (18)
     His son, Edward B. Thomas, has served as a diplomat in the Consular Service of the U. S. Government in Japan, China and Russia. (15) (17) (18)
     His cousin, Dr. Richard G. Waterhouse, a surgeon of Knoxville, Tennessee, has been a trustee of Emory and Henry College for 39 years, and as such is walking in the footsteps of John Wesley Price, one of the first trustees, who was the grandfather of W. I. Thomas and great-grandfather of Dr. Waterhouse.
Dr. Waterhouse was born on the Emory and Henry College campus while his father was president of the school. (15 and interviews)
     His younger relative, Richard G. Waterhouse, III, is an officer in the U. S. Air Force. (15)
     His relative, William S. Richmond, son of William D. Richmond, mentioned previously, graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 1959, entered the U. S. Navy and out of 1800 trainees was chosen to receive the American Spirit Honor Award for the display of outstanding qualities of leadership.
(17) (18)

Related Methodists, Lay Leaders, and Ministers

     Numerous relatives of W. I. Thomas have been Methodist church members, lay leaders, and ministers since the late 1700's. Soon after his great-grandfather, Richard Price, came from Pennsylvania and a Quaker background to the frontier settlement of Elk Garden, Virginia, he married Priscilla Crabtree of present Saltville, and for some time afterwards they attended Methodist religious meetings at Keywoods many miles south of their home. It is also likely that they attended some meetings in the home of William and Elizabeth Russell at Saltville, for in the 1780's the Russells were the most prominent converts to Methodism in that area - she being a sister of Patrick Henry and former wife of General William Campbell, deceased, and he being a former Colonel and General in the Revolution for Independence and a prominent person in local and state affairs. (24-IV, 327) (23-1, 570)
     In order to have nearer services for his family and neighbors, Richard Price initiated the organization of a small Methodist society in his locality, became its first lay leader, helped to provide a meeting place, and after was a host to the traveling ministers who came there. The first Methodist Bishop, Francis Asbury, who was the most widely traveled American of his time, was a guest in the Price home two or more times from 1790 to 1801. On September 22, 1801, Bishop Asbury wrote in his journal that he had a service at the Elk Garden meeting house, and dined with Richard Price, who was growing infirm. After Mr. Price's death the Rev. Jacob Young was a guest in the household and wrote in his diary that his hosts were Methodists of the right sort. (24-1, 1959; 23-11, 307; and others)
     Apparently the Prices were strong sprouts capable of multiplying their influence and combining their talents with others. John Wesley Price, son of Richard, and grandfather of W. I. Thomas, married Mary Miller and had nine children, eight of whom became adults. "The three sons became Methodist
ministers, and three of the daughters married men who became Methodist ministers," at least part-time. The three sons were Joseph H. Price, first a teacher, Richard N. Price, minister, teacher, historian, etc., and William H. Price, first a physician and surgeon. The three daughters and their husbands were Sarah and her husband, Thaddeus Peter Thomas; Virginia and her husband, Francis Asbury Buhrman, and Margaret and her husband, Henry Fuller Kendrick. (24-IV, 328)
     There are sufficient facts about several of these persons to consider them separately, and some background items which may help to better understand them as Methodists. Methodism started about 1727 as a rational, methodical movement among some students of Oxford University in England and within the Church of England. Later it became a growing and revitalizing force in England and America
before it became a separate religious denomination in our country in 1784, after American Independence. In the first Methodist headquarters building in London, John Wesley  and associates emphasized the educated head, better health, the warm heart, and the helping hand, by having a school and a library, a chapel, and a clinic, and much concern for persons less fortunate than themselves. They even had a handcranked machine with which to give mental and emotional patients shock treatments. (References, misc. Methodist history, facts from two trips to England, and other sources.)
     John Wesley Price, grandfather of W. I. Thomas, carried the name of the early Methodist leader in England, had a father who was a frontier Methodist lay leader, and had an early teacher, Will Webb, who was partly trained at Oxford. Out of this background he became a concerned patron of education for his children and others, and a very active Methodist layman. "He was an authority on Christian doctrine and church policy. He often discussed religious questions with his neighbors, visitors, and ministers He was a friend of the poor and granted poor men the privilege of cutting trees and building homes on his land - He made it a rule to try to bring a knowledge of salvation through Christ to his tenants and their families, and he generally succeeded - He declined to be licensed as a local preacher, but was always ready to speak as a lay leader. Frequently, he occupied pulpits at camp meetings - His exhortations often displayed genuine eloquence and spiritual power." (24-IV-333-34-35)
     Mary Miller Price, grandmother of W. I. Thomas, "was a professor of religion for more than three-score years, and never known to say or do anything inconsistent with her profession - in her prime she was a faithful church goer, and an attentive and intelligent hearer of the Word - No sermon was so poor or dry that it did not have food for her soul - She loved the church - Her faith in God never staggered - In her religion she was not noisy not demonstrative - Her experience was deep and intense - Her religion was lived rather than professed - She had a tender and merciful concern for everybody, and could not bear to see cruelty inflicted on any living creature." (24-IV, 338-39-40)
     T. P. Thomas, father of W. I., "was a prominent local preacher for several years, but apparently never a full-time minister." He graduated from Emory and Henry College in 1853, and was licensed to preach in 1854 at Marion, N. C., where he was teaching. Seemingly he felt that his ministerial work was a worthy service he could render in addition to his other successive jobs as teacher, principal, farm operator, and marble-business man, and for a short while co-owner and co-editor of a publication entitled The Holston Methodist. He was a man of much talent. "But for his heart weakness, he had capabilities of high order - One year he was employed as the preacher at Abingdon, Virginia, where his sermons were held in high repute and his people were much attached to him - Once he was a lay delegate to the General Conference of his Church." While he was farming at Elk Garden, Virginia for 16 years, 1857-1873, he apparently served well the local Elk Garden Methodist Church which his wife's grandfather had a hand in starting. His son, Henry Bascom, visited this church with much sentiment in the 1950's and left it a legacy of $5,000 as a token of his appreciation for what it had meant to his people for three prior generations. (24-V, 295) (25 and others)
     Sarah Price Thomas, mother of W. I., was a talented and well-trained person, and "a devoted Christian wonderfully unselfish and self-sacrificing. She was earnest in church work and always felt a keen interest in the poor and oppressed." Her son, Henry Bascom, was named for a prominent Methodist leader. (24-V, 197, and others, including letters from Thad Thomas to Richard N. Price - Ref. 11)
     Richard G. Waterhouse, Sr., whose second wife, Mary, was a daughter of James D. Thomas and Julia Price, and a double-first cousin to W. I. Thomas was a Methodist minister, college teacher, college president and Methodist Bishop. Five times from 1894 to 1910 he was a delegate to the General Conference of his Church, and for some time while he was President of Emory and Henry College he had the unique distinction of a pleasant home life with two mothers-in-law as members of his household. (13- 14-15-24-25)
     William H. Price, a younger brother of W. I. Thomas' mother, spent several years of his life as a physician, then became a Methodist minister for an active period of 28 years. "He served as both pastor and presiding elder (now called district superintendent), and was quite successful as a leader of revivals and church building." (Ref. 24-Martin's Methodism in Holston, p. 406)
     Francis Asbury Buhrman, brother-in-law of W. I. Thomas' mother, was a combination teacher, farmer, and part-time local preacher for several years, and had a son, William P. Buhrman, who was a teacher and minister. Both father and son were graduates of Emory and Henry College. (14) (24)
     Richard Nye Price, an older brother of W. I. Thomas' mother, had a most unusual career as a Methodist minister. He lived to be nearly 93, and his Memoir written by E. E. Wiley says, "Nearly a century of eventful years ran their course between the birth and death of this distinguished man. He was born in Elk Garden, Russell County, Virginia, July 30, 1830, and died in Morristown, Tennessee, February 7, 1923. His life was older in years and longer in ministerial service than any other in all the annals of Holston Methodism. He also served in a larger number of relationships than any other member of this body, past or present. He served as local preacher, junior preacher, circuit rider, chaplain, station pastor, presiding elder, Conference secretary, General Conference delegate (six times), college professor, college president, founder and first editor of the Holston Methodist, and finally Conference historian and author of five volumes on the history of Holston Methodism. In each of these, by all accounts, he acquitted himself with credit. The officer was equal to his office. He leaves behind a worthy record. Perhaps he will be longest remembered as an author after he was three-score and ten. He lived into the third generation of his times and knew by personal contact what others knew, if at all, only by tradition." (13) (24, Price, misc., & Martin, p.404)
     Much more about Richard N. Price may be learned from his unpublished manuscripts in the Emory and Henry College Library, and his five volumes on Holston Methodism. In his autobiographical materials he says, "From infancy I had an unusual thirst for knowledge. I first went to my cousin Richard
Price's school in Elk Garden, soon learned to spell and did much practice. I think I could read at the age of 4. After we moved to Washington County, I attended a school taught by my father, and another near Saltville before going to Emory and Henry College in the preparatory department. I began to study Latin
at the age of 14 and later studied Greek. At Emory and Henry College I became a member of the Calliopean Literary Society, and for some time had my uncle William Miller and my brother Joseph as roommates. I left Emory and Henry College in my senior year 1850 without graduating, but later made up the delayed work with T. P. Thomas as my tutor, took a special examination with Prof Longley, and received my A. B. Degree in 1854." (Reference 11, autobiographical portions)
     From the available evidence, it is easy to conclude that a shocking teenage experience provided part of the thrust that propelled Richard N. Price into his extremely dedicated and active life, as did another experience for another man of his time, the gifted lecturer, Russell H. Conwell. As Price refeals in his early journal at about twenty years of age he says in essence, "In college I had many good companions, but temporarily associated with some who were bad, became rude and wicked and emotionally upset, and left school and the church. That year brother John died, and I resolved to reform and start anew for heaven." Stated in another way, he did some "reflective thinking" prior to its emphasis by educator John Dewey, he arrived at a "definition of the situation" prior to its emphasis by his nephew W. I. Thomas, and he started in search of "Acres of Diamonds", or opportunities nearby, prior to their emphasis by lecturer Russell H. Conwell. In starting anew Richard N. Price became a young Methodist minister on trial October, 1850,at Abingdon, Virginia, and soon left for Asheville, North Carolina with David Sullins, G. W. Alexander, and G. A. Regan under whom he had been appointed junior preacher. He continued on and up in his church until his last historical writing in 1912.  On his first circuit in Nort Carolina he met Ann Vance who became his wife in May, 1855. Shortly before their wedding his journal reveals a young man once again happy and in love with his world. In one place he said, "This the month of My is the month of birds and flowers, of music and beauty. All the sounds and scenes awaken in the heart emotions of gratitude towards the great Creator." Fifty-seven years later at the age of 82 he still had a remarkable use of words in his description of the mother of Governor Bob Taylor of Tennessee. He said, "Her whole nature was a perpetual May morning. Her heart, as young at sixty as at sixteen, was a veritable tropical paradise, overflowing with sunshine, music and flowers. She was a perfect impersonation of a joyous Christianity - She had an optimism that was rooted in an immovable faith. In the presence of danger she was dauntless, and she laughed in the face of adversity. She was as full of hope as a rainbow and of energy as a dynamo. She was not only a marvel of efficiency in the practical affairs of life, but she was by nature a poet and a dreamer, and her ideals were as high as the heavens." (Reference 11, autobiographical misc., & 24-V, 383)
     Like W. I. Thomas, his uncle Richard had a way with words.
     At present, information is limited about the children of Richard N. Price, but it is known that his son Vance Price, a first cousin of W. I. Thomas, was a Methodist minister. In 1882 he served the people of the Dickensonville Circuit in Russell County, which included both the Copper Creek and Moccasin Valleys, and while there he had much association with the lay leader William B. Aston and his wife, who was Margaret Alderson and a descendant of Elder John Alderson, an early Baptist minister from England, buried at Fincastle, Virginia. (13-24, and others)

Related Property Owners and Businessmen

     Several relatives of W. I. Thomas were substantial land owners and farm operators. Some were merchants, and a few were money lenders before banks were started in their localities.
     His parents, T. P. and Sarah Price Thomas owned and operated nearly 500 acres of land while they lived in Elk Garden, Virginia, for 16 years, 1857-1873, part of which was inherited by his mother from her father, John W. Price. There they first lived in the log house built by the pioneer, Richard Price, which apparently was the birthplace of W. I. Thomas, of his mother, and of her father. Later they built a brick house which is still a residence near the Elk Garden Methodist Church. When they moved to Tennessee, this property was sold to William Alexander Stuart, brother of General "Jeb" Stuart, and father of Henry C. Stuart, later Governor of Virginia and a large land owner of Elk Garden. At the time, Henry C. Stuart was a student at Emory and Henry College, but the Thomas house became successively his parental home and his own for several years before he moved a mile or more southwest to another dwelling now occupied by the widow of his nephew, Harry Stuart, a state senator at the time of his death in Richmond, a few years ago. (Reference 7, 14, and others)
     W. I.'s grandfather was Isaac Thomas who lived mainly in Claiborne County, Tennessee, was a regular buyer of land for several years, and apparently obtained some for his military service with General Andrew Jackson. Although most of the Claiborne County records have been destroyed by fire, some duplicates in the McClung Collection of the Lawson McGhee Library in Knoxville show that Isaac Thomas made at least twenty land purchases from 1820 to 1859. Acres were not listed, but the amounts paid, ranged up to $5,500 per purchase, which was considerable for that time. (9)
     His grandfather John W. Price, owned about 1200 acres of lland in Russell and Washingto counties, Virginia, including 600 in Elk Garden and 600 south of Glade Spring. The latter became his home place with the founding of Emory and Henry College a few miles west at Emory, so his boys could take advantage of the nearby educational facilities and services. Mr. Price farmed his lands with the use of tenants, and some Negroes who were personal property, one of whom was an able overseer of farm operations; so, he had or took time for many other activities, educational, religious and economic. "He had shrewd business talent, a capacity for utilizing the skill and industry of his workers, excellent judgement of livestock, and high trading ability." He accumulated some money and did some money lending. (References 7, 8, 24-IV, 331-32)
     His great-grandfather Richard Price, who came from Pennsylvania to Elk Garden, Virginia about 1770, accumulated several thousand acres of land in southwest Virginia and east Tennessee prior to his death in 1803. A former native of the area has said that he probably didn't know exactly how many acres
he had. His long will recorded in the Russell County Clerk's Office in Lebanon, Virginia, provided that his widow, Priscilla, and each of his nine children, Hannah, Mary, Richard, Thomas, Crabtree, William, Joseph, John Wesley, and Henry Carr, receive specified tracts of Elk Garden land. Also the will stipulated that his children received in addition an equal child's part of his remaining 4600 acres. Of these about 800 acres were in three tracts in Russell County, 800 acres in one tract in Lee County, and 3,000 acres in one tract in Knox County, Tennessee. (Ref. 7)

Coincidental and Marginal Discoveries

     W. I. Thomas was a native and a boy of the country locality of Elk Garden in the bluegrass area of Russell County, Virginia, only seven miles east of the courthouse town of Lebanon, where the writer was mainly reared. Another earlier sociologist, Charles Johnson of Fisk University, was born and reared in Bristol, less than 40 miles southwest.
     The writer's study of the Lebanon, Virginia community, published by Virginia Tech in 1843 included the Elk Garden locality as part of the town's outlying high school service area, a brief case story of W. I. Thomas imaginatively entitled, "A Boy and Four Wishes," and a hypothesis suggested at a meeting of the Southern Sociological Society by Robert E. Park, retired Chicago sociologist who was discovered and enticed to Chicago by Thomas. (After receiving a copy of the study, Thomas wrote me that he "read it with great pleasure and thought it a fine piece of work.)
     The first person to make me aware of W. I. Thomas was my close professional friend and major professor, Wilson Gee, of the University of Virginia, who was an acquaintance and admirer of Thomas, a co-founder of the Southern Sociological Society, and its second president.
     Dwight Sanderson, my major professor at Cornell University, his former Dean, Albert Mann, and Floyd House, one of my teachers at the University of Virginia, all had training in Sociology at the University of Chicago, and apparently were influenced by Thomas. It's interesting to see that Thomas
stressed the study of social organization and that for some time at Cornell University there was a Department of Rural Social Organization started by Albert Mann and later directed by Dwight Sanderson, the 32nd president of the American Sociological Society.
     One of my most dynamic teachers at Emory and Henry College was John C. Orr, a distant relative of W. I. Thomas, and several of my fellow students there, including four Richmonds and two Wynns, were Thomas relatives and my friends.
     Several relatives of W. I. Thomas who attended Emory and Henry College were members and officials of the Calliopean Literary Society of which I was a member and president and recipient of two awards.
     W. I. Thomas' great-grandfather, Richard Price, who died in 1803 and my ancestor, John Tate, who died in 1828 were both frontier settlers of the 1770's in present Russell County, Virginia, and both were fellow justices on the county court or local governing board for many years starting in September, 1787 after appointment by the Governor of Virginia. Sometimes they were half of the quorum of four necessary to conduct monthly and quarterly county affairs, and sometimes they were writers of the proceedings in a form quite attractive and readable. Richard Price also served in the Virginia Legislature of the 1790's as a fellow delegate from Russell County with my ancestor Thomas Johnson. (Ref. 7 and others)
     Two great-uncles of W. I. Thomas and five of my ancestors were fellow "Gentleman Justices" for a special session of the Russell County Court, August 2, 1825, when James P. Carrell was appointed the second county clerk - "one of the best in Virginia," according to Governor David Campbell of Abingdon. W. I.'s relatives participating in the appointment were Crabtree Price and William Price, and mine were Col. John Tate, Rev. Ezekiel Burdine, Robert Fugate, John Jessee, Jr., and Benjamin Sewell. A few years later Benjamin Sewell moved to Claiborne County, Tennessee, northeast of Knoxville, and there became a fellow justice with Isaac Thomas, W. I.'s grandfather. (Refs. 7-9 and others)
     By strange coincidence, W. I. Thomas was the 17th president to the American Sociological Society, the writer was the 17th president of the Southern Sociological Society; and, each of us had had a relative who was a Methodist Minister for 62 years, according to church and tombstone records. His was the outstanding Richard N. Price, and mine was the less illustrious Ezekiel Burdine, a native of Virginia, partly reared in South Carolina, who as a young man in early 1800 served our church in Blacksburg, Virginia, and subsequently settled in "Russell County."
     The parents and Price grandparents of W. I. Thomas had both black and white workers on their homesteads and observed their relative behavior, and W. I. as a teacher in Chicago quite early presented evidence to show that people of all races had great mental potentials. (Ref. 24, and Sociologist Ernest W.
Burgess).
     The father of W. I. Thomas, while living near Lebanon, Virginia was an affirmative debater of women's rights, and W. I. as a teacher in Chicago marshaled facts to show that women had equal mental ability with men. (References, earlier Judge William Hendricks, Lebanon, VA, and sociologist Ernest W. Burgess of Chicago.)
     Ernest W. Burgess, both student and colleague of W. I. Thomas at the University of Chicago was a teacher of Leonard S. Cottrell, Jr., a graduate of Virginia Tech 1922, who has relatives in Blacksburg and whose niece Fanny Apperson was one of my students and a graduating major in Sociology. Leonard was the 40th president of the American Sociological Association, earlier called the American Sociological Society when W. I. Thomas was president in 1927.
     From contact with evidence concerning W. I. Thomas, and his array of relatives for 200 years or more, I have detected only a few apparent or alleged cases of deviant behavior in terms of idealized norms, including W. I.'s alleged case in Chicago, and I surmise this is a normal revealed minimum to expect from so many dynamic persons. I've found a similar number of revealed cases for my extended family members, and other family lines.
     T. P. Thomas, who became the father of W. I. and his older brother James D., were twice recorded persons or double statistics, in the U. S. Census of 1850. They were listed in the records for Claiborne County, Tennessee, as members of their father's family, and in the records for Washington County, Virginia as students at Emory and Henry College.
     W. I. Thomas was the third son and fourth child among the seven children of his parents; his mother was the third daughter and fifth child among the nine children of her parents; and his father and grandfathers were among the youngest children of their parents.
     W. I. Thomas was from a family of scholarly persons, and one of three brothers who earned early Ph.D degrees. He had another brother who earned a M. D. degree, and a sister who was scholastic head and valedictorian of her class at former Martha Washington College in Abingdon, Virginia.
     Recently I've discovered that Fred Wygal, retired Virginia educator, is another distant relative of W. I. Thomas. Fred has served well in various positions, including Superintendent of Radford City Schools, member of the Virginia State Department of Education, Dean of Ferrum College, twice Acting President of Longwood College, and once Acting President of Virginia Commonwealth University. And again there are connections of Thomas relatives with the writer. Fred and I were students together at Emory and Henry College, his sister Sue and his Uncle John Orr were two of my teachers and now Fred
and I are members of the Virginia Methodist Commission on Higher Education.

The Important Topics

     The preceeding coincidental discoveries are revealing bits of knowledge, but they are marginal to the main part of this presentation.
     The main story tells first of the talented and dynamic W. I. Thomas, a native of Russell County, Virginia, who became an outstanding man, an extraordinary teacher, a trail blazer in research, and a significant contributor of social science concepts and principle based on his profound thinking, observations, and investigations. The main story also reveals that W. I. Thomas came from several generations of talented and dynamic ancestors who produced numerous creative and successful persons.
     Some apparent influences back of these persons include many of the factors affecting behavior emphasized by W. I. Thomas as a professional sociologist, such as attitudes, values, social origins, situations, definitions of situations, personality, culture, crises, social organization, and the four wishes for recognition, response, security, and new experience. Also quite evident is the on-going family and Methodist-member emphasis on education as a concern of high rank.

References to W. I. Thomas and His Kinfolks

1.   Articles and books by W. I. Thomas and his research associates, 1893 to the 1940's.
2.   The book, Social Attitudes by Kimball Young and others in honor of W. I. Thomas, 1931
3.   The book, Social Behavior and Personality: Contribution of W. I. Thomas to Theory and Social Research, edited by Edmund H. Volkart, and published by the Social Science Research Council, New York, 1951.
4.   The book, W. I. Thomas on Social Organization and Personality, edited by Morris Janowitz,and published by the University of Chicago Press, 1966.
5.   The book, Chicago Sociology, by Robert E. L. Faris, published by the Chandler Publishing Co.,1967.
6.   Related articles by former students and colleagues of W. I. Thomas, in sociological journals,some of which have been abstracted to show appraisals.
7.   The records of Russell County, Virginia in the County Clerk's Office, Lebanon, Virginia.
8.   The records of Washington County, Virginia in the County Clerk's Office, Abingdon, Virginia.
9.   Some duplicate records of Claiborne County, Tennessee, in the Lawson McGhee Library,Knoxville, Tennessee.
10.  The alumni and old catalog records of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
11.  The papers of Richard N. Price in the Emory and Henry College Library, Emory, Virginia.
12.  The collection of Isaac P. Martin in the Emory and Henry College Library, Emory, Virginia.
13.  The Holston Conference Records of the Methodist Church in the Emory and Henry College Library, Emory, Virginia.
14.  The alumni records of Emory and Henry College, in the Emory and Henry College Library, Emory, Virginia.
15.  Family records of Dr. and Mrs. Richard G. Waterhouse, Jr., 3829 Dellwood Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee.
16.  Office and tombstone records of The Old Gray Cemetery, 543 Broadway, Knoxville, Tennessee.
17.  Family records of Miss Bashi Kincaid and Miss Mary K. Stickley, Rose Hill, Virginia.
18.  Family records of Mrs. Richard Hummell, 601 Preston Avenue, Blacksburg, Virginia.
19.  Old U. S. Census records for Russell and Washington Counties, Virginia and Claiborne County, Tennessee, in the National Archives Building, Washington, D. C.
20.  Annals of Southwest Virginia, prepared and published by Lewis Preston Summers, Abingdon, Virginia.
21.  "The Long Hunters," by Emory L. Hamilton in Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia. Publication No. 5, March 1970, pages 29-61.
22.  The book of cemetery records of Washington County, Virginia, called High on a Windy Hill, prepared and published by Catherine S. McConnell, Abingdon, Virginia.
23.  The Journal and Letters of Francis Asbury, in three volumes, edited by J. Manning Potts and others, the Abingdon Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 1958.
24.  The history of Holston Methodism, in five volumes, written by Richard N. Price, an uncle of W.I. Thomas, and issued by the Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, Tennessee. Here "Uncle Richard" tells a great deal about the Prices and W. I.'s father, T. P. Thomas and others. (More is told in a later book on Methodism in Holston by Isaac P. Martin)
25.  "A History of the Elk Garden Methodist Church," by William Smith, Post Office, Rosedale, Virginia (deceased November 1973)
26.  The papers of Dr. James G. Johnson, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Virginia. Dr. Johnson, (like W. I. Thomas, was a native of Elk Garden, Virginia) a Ph.D, University of Virginia, 1909, and Superintendent of Schools in Charlottesville, Virginia, for 36 years. In his papers he has mentioned relatives of W. I. Thomas, and others, and has revealed an unusual affinity with his native locality in these words: "The magic of Elk Garden is something that will forever be in the physical and mental makeup of anyone who has been so fortunate as to see its beauty, breathe its air, and yield to its charms in the plastic days of his youth."
     Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, published by the Historical Society of Southwest Virginia, Publication 8, June 1974, pages 5 to 25.

 
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