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Henry H. Thomas (1843-1908)
Born in Stafford, N.Y. Owned a dyanamite factory in Kawkawlin.
Added April, 2014.

The History of Bay County, Michigan, by Augustus H. Gansser, 1905


Henry H. Thomas, a prominent citizen of Bay City, has been extensively engaged in the manufacture of dynamite in Kawkawlin township for many years. He is a veteran of the Civil War, bearing an honorable record for service in the Union Army. Mr. Thomas was born in Stafford, New York, December 13, 1843, and is a son of Henry and Catherine (Collins) Thomas.

Henry Thomas was born in Bideford, Devonshire, England, his parents having come from Wales. He came to America at the age of 21 years and located at Stafford, New York. He first engaged in farming, and later established a factory for the manufacture of potash, continuing in that business the remainder of his life. He married Catherine Collins, who came of an old pioneer family of Genesco, New York. They had six children, as follows: Emma, wife of Solomon Ford, of Buffalo, New York; George H., deceased; James P., of Titusville, Pennsylvania; Henry H.; Horatio, deceased and Daniel W., of Raton, New Mexico. Religiously, the family were Methodist, the father being a devout Christian and a class leader in the church.

Henry H. Thomas left home at the age of nine years to learn photography, and it was this work which gave him a taste for chemistry. He made daguerreotypes and later ambrotypes, commonly called tintypes. After the Civil War broke out, in 1862 he enlisted in Company G., 129th Reg. New York Vol. Inf., which afterward was reorganized as the Eighth New York Heavy Artillery. He served in all the engagements of the regiment, and was seriously wounded before Petersburg, being sent to the general hospital at Buffalo, New York. In 1864, he was made a sergeant and upon more than one occasion covered himself with glory, although unjustly deprived of the honors in the official records. The War Department refuse to entertain his claims for recognition of his services, although accompanied by the recommendations of his comrades, as it was claimed no reference to the events, upon which his claims are base, had been made in the records of the office. The colonel of his regiment, however claims that a full statement of the facts were included in the history of the regiment. Mr. Thomas has in his possession the following statement, signed and sworn to by Lieutenant LeRoy Williams, 1st lieutenant of Company L, Eighth New York Heavy Artillery, relative to his bravery and valor on the battlefield, a tribute deserving of preservation in an imperishable form:

The following statement of facts, relative to Sergt. Henry H. Thomas of Co. G., 8th N. Y. H. Art., during the Civil War, are such as came under my personal observation, (viz.) at the battle of Boynton Plank Road on Hatcher's Run, as we called it. On the 28th day of November, 1864 (I think it was), Sergeant Thomas displayed wonderful coolness. The enemy advanced a column of infantry across the Run and deployed them as skirmishes in front of our battalion, which was at the time lying down in line of battle some forty rods distant across an open field. Sergeant Thomas discovered the move and at once ordered the men near him to open fire, setting the example himself by loading and firing his own piece repeatedly while urging the men to more active work. Our fire seemed to waver the advance of the enemy and he at once took in the situation and commanded the men to follow him and drive the enemy back across the Run, which was done, he being in the extreme advance. And again, at the battle of Five Forks (or as we knew the place, Crow House,) on the morning of April 2, 1865, the regiment was ordered to charge the enemy's works through a slashing of timber, which had been felled and burned over, and Sergeant Thomas again led the advance of his company and scaled the breastworks into a fort which was afterwards name Fort Porter, ordered the men in the fort to thrown down their arms and surrender, and later marched 30 of the prisoners out of the sally-port at the rear of the fort and turned them over to an officer who praised him for his gallantry and said to him he “should receive a commission therefor,” but taking the prisoners in charge reported them himself to headquarters and was, I am told, breveted captain for Sergeant Thomas' gallantry and the sergeant not mentioned. I believe this sergeant should even at this late date receive from the War Department some token or mark of recognition in the form of brevet rank or service medal, which could be handed down to his children, and proper mention of his personal service be made on the records at Washington.
(Signed) Lieut. LeRoy Williams,
1st Liet., Co. L, 8th N.Y.H. Art.
(Sworn to before Jasper W. Garlich, Not. Pub., Lansing, Michigan.)

A similar statement, not quite so complete in detail, signed by John R. Cooper, captain of Company G. and assistant general, is in Mr. Thomas' possession.

After the war Mr. Thomas returned to Stafford, New York, for a short stay, then went to Titusville, Pennsylvania, in the days of the oil boom of 1865. He worked first as an engineer, then became an owner of wells and continued as a producer there until 1869. He then began operations in the oil regions of West Virginia, where he was an active producer until 1872, in which year he came to Bay City, Michigan, where he has since been located. He first engaged here in the manufacture of all the various forms of high explosives in which nitro-glycerine and dynamite are used. His output is from 800,00 to 1,000,000 pounds of dynamite of various grades per year. His plant is located in Kawkawlin township. In December, 1904, his new factory was completely destroyed by fire, but undaunted he rebuilt immediately and has his factory in running order and in full operation. On April 3, 1905, his store house in which a quantity of high explosives was kept, was destroyed in a terrific explosion of its contents. Three men, employees of the works, but who had no business at the storehouse, were blown to atoms, while windows for miles around suffered severely.

Mr. Thomas is a man of great energy and enterprise, honorable in every act, and has attained success through his own industry, never profiting by another's misfortune. He possesses a strong personality and is highly esteemed by his many acquaintances.

Mr. Thomas was first united in marriage with Maria L. Smith, a daughter of Thaddeus Smith of Bay City, who died leaving three children: Elizabeth M.; James P., of Bay City; and Henry Randall, who died at the age of four years. Mrs. Thomas was a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Our subject formed a second matrimonial alliance with A. Delia Stewart, a daughter of John A. Stewart of Southfield, Michigan, by whom he has a daughter, Ida Belle. They attend the Presbyterian Church. Fraternally, Mr. Thomas is a member of the Joppa Lodge, No. 315, F. & A. M.; and H. P. Merrill Post, No. 491, G. A. R.

Additional Notes.

    1881 - Michigan Marriages: Bay City, Bay, Mich.

  • Date: May 12, 1881.
  • Groom: Henry H. Thomas age 36, born in NY
  • Bride: Maria L. Smith age 28, born in Canada
  • Official: Alford A. Bulter, Episcopal glergy man
  • Withnesses: Thaddious Smith and Benjamin Whipple

    1900 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.

  • Thomas, Henry - age 57, b. NY
  • Anna D, wife - age 45, b. NY
  • Bessie M. daughter - age 16, b. MI
  • James P., son - age 15, b. MI
  • Idabelle, daughter - age 8, b. MI
  • Stewart, Helen B., mother-in-law - age 86, b. Scotland

Related Pages

Henry H. Thomas

Related Pages:
Bio, (People)
People Referenced
Bulter, Alford A.
Collins, Catherine (mother)
Cooper, John R.
Ford, Solomon
Garlich, Jasper W.
Smith, Maria L. (1-wife)
Smith, Thadeous (f-inlaw)
Stewart, Delia (1-wife)
Steward, Helen Mrs. (m-inlaw)
Steward, John A. (f-inlaw)
Thomas, Emma (sis)
Thomas, Daniel (bro)
Thomas, Elizabeth (dau)
Thomas, Geo. (bro)
Thomas, Henry (father)
Thomas, Henry H. (subject)
Thomas, Henry R. (son)
Thomas, Horatio (bro)
Thomas, Ida Bell (dau)
Thomas, James (bro)
Thomas, James P. (son)
Whipple, Benj.
Williams, LeRoy
Subjects Referenced
8th NY Artillery 129th Reg. Inf. NY
Bay City, MI
Bideford, England
Buffalo, NY
Civil War
Devonshire, England
Genesco, NY
Kawkawlin, MI
Stafford, NY
Raton, NM
Southfield, MI
Titusville, PA
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.