Thursday, June 11, 2009


Jonathan Thomas (1800-1864) was the father of Caroline Thomas (1830-1889) who married Marshal C. Owen (1833-1892). Marshal & Caroline were the parents of Nancy Jane Owen (1859-1901) who married W.D. Wade (1859-1935). They were also the parents of Thomas Owen (1857-1937) who married W.D. Wade’s sister Martha Ellen Wade (1861-ca.1902).

The following was written by Maudie Stanton Vaughn in 1976:

Jonathan Thomas, son of Jacob Thomas, a Revolutionary soldier and my great great grandfather, came to McMinn County when he was about 21 years of age. He had married in Sullivan County, Tennessee to Jane Carmack, daughter of John Carmack who fought in the first battle of the American Revolution.

John was born in 1800 and his father, having received a land grant in Sullivan County (Holston Valley) for his services in the war, Jonathan grew to manhood in the pioneer settlement once known as Paperville, Tennessee.

Jonathan entered land in the Roger's Creek community west of Athens near the Meigs County line. He was very industrious and soon after he came to McMinn County, he began acquiring land until he had about 2500 acres.(In the 1850 McMinn County census, Jonathan is listed as owning 3400 acres). He had a number of slaves and wagons, which he used to haul freight from far distances, there being no railroads in this area at that time. A thread mill was located on the creek at Mt. Verd, and Jonathan hauled this thread to many places. He would not come back from these trips with empty wagons; bringing sugar, flour, and many other things needed by the people in this area.

Jane was also very industrious, having a large family to feed and clothe as well as the slaves, she never had an idle moment. She had to weave cloth for clothes and bedding for both her family and the slaves, and knit socks and other items of warm clothing for both. It has been told down through the family that when she went in the wagon or buggy with Jonathan to Athens, she would always knit a sock on the way to town and a sock on the way back home.

They first lived in a log house across the road from the brick house they would build later and which is still standing. The brick was made on the place and carried to the building site by the slaves. Jonathan's little boys and the little slave boys would help carry this brick. A large tree stood in the vicinity of the Thomas house, and the Cherokee Indians would hold council under this tree. This was before their removal to the West in 1835.

Their home being on the main road from Athens to Decatur, they had many interesting visitors. Andrew Johnson who was to become president of the United States spent a night there while seeking votes for one of his political offices.

Jonathan was a Justice of the Peace, and many weddings were performed in the then parlor of the home. He would hold court in this room, and his children would lie in the adjoining room, which is the dining room, there being a large crack under the door, and listen to the cases being tried. They were careful not to let their father catch them as they were supposed to be at their chores.

As each of Jonathan and Jane's children married, they were given a farm and two slaves; a field hand for the groom and a house slave for the bride. My great grandfather (Jacob Wattenbarger) declined to accept the slaves as he had strong feelings about slavery so Jonathan gave he and Louisa some extra land. This pleased my thrifty Pennsylvania Dutch ancestor, Jacob Wattenbarger, and he made good use of his land. He also added to his holdings and had a large acreage at his death.

Jane was concerned about the spiritual life of her children and slaves and encouraged Jonathan to help get a church near them. He gave the land for the Roger's Creek Baptist Church and cemetery and a log building was constructed on the site. The church, heated by a large fireplace, burned down one night after services had been held there and a frame building replaced it, which is still standing and is still used. The old church records were burned in the fire that destroyed the church clerks home, a Mr. Spradling, so we do not know who all the original members were. We do know the Harts, Spradlings, Dennises, Thomases, and Rogers attended the early services.

To the north of Jonathan's home is the home he gave to his son, John Lilburn Thomas. It was originally a log structure but through the years rooms were added on and now it is owned by Mr. and Mrs. E. B. Bohannon Sr. Mrs. Bohannon, before her marriage, was Lonnie Mae Thomas. The old brick which Jonathan built is owned by Mrs. James Thomas. She was Liza Bohannon before her marriage. Another home given to his daughter who married the Owen is still standing to the west of the brick house.

One of the daughters married Marshall Arnwine and they lived near Niota. He founded the church, which is called Marshall Hill. The home he gave to Louisa and Jacob Wattenbarger, my great grandparents, was a two story log and it is said it was once used as an inn for the stage coach passengers that passed on this road. It too is still standing, though in bad shape. A great granddaughter bought this piece of ground (Maggie Wattenbarger Wade Morgan) on the death of her father to keep the old house from being torn down.

After Jonathan died, his daughter, Harriett Thomas, married a Mr. Fike and Fike built a store in the crossroads near the Thomas home and the Roger's Creek Baptist Church. A post office was established there and this little community became known as Fiketon. All this is gone now.

The Thomas family cemetery is on a hill above the old brick house and is kept in beautiful condition by Mrs. E. B. Bohannon, Mrs. James Thomas, and Jacob Wattenbarger's grandchildren. Mrs. Bohannon has replaced some of the old tombstones and had others re-lettered. Some of Jonathan's slaves are buried near the family with natural stone markings. One of Jonathan's slaves, an old man, who had been with Jonathan for many years, was found dead one morning by his bedside. He was on his knees and had apparently been praying when death came to him. Since Jonathan had a fondness for this old slave, he buried him on a little knoll near the home. He placed a paling fence around the grave and Jane planted box-woods at the site.

When Jonathan freed his slaves, one, a woman, refused to leave and Jonathan let her live on in one of the brick cabins he had built for his slaves. When she finally left, she slipped away in the night. My father, Lee A. Stanton, could remember seeing her sitting at the spring house churning. Another slave called Doc, knowing he was to be freed, made a little song about it and sang it as he worked. He sang, "I'se gwine to Noo Yawk, I's gwine to Noo Yawk" over and over as the slaves used to sing as they worked.

The Civil War brought many changes to the lives of Jonathan and Jane and after the war was over and Jonathan having passed on, Jane had a hard time holding on to the land Jonathan left her. Though much diminished in size, the property has stayed in the Thomas family until this year of our Bicentennial. Coming to this land when the Cherokees still roamed the hills and valleys, Jonathan died when the land was torn apart by the great Civil War.

(copied 2/6/00 by Vanessa Stanton Butler)


HUSBAND: Jonathan Thomas
BORN: 07/25/1800 PLACE: Sullivan County, TN.
DIED: 01/11/1864 PLACE: McMinn County, TN.
FATHER: Jacob Thomas
MOTHER: Louisa Shultz
WIFE: Jane Carmack
BORN: 07/1798 PLACE: Washington Cty, VA.
DIED: 11/14/1883 PLACE: McMinn County, TN.
FATHER: John Carmack
James Thomas BORN: 1824
John Lilburn Thomas
BORN: 01/23/1826 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: Mary Ann Wattenbarger 02/18/1849
DIED: 01/05/1905 Monroe County, TN.
Louisa Thomas
BORN: 07/10/1828 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: Jacob Wattenbarger 02/22/1849
DIED: 03/24/1893 McMinn County, TN.
Caroline Thomas
BORN: 10/19/1830 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: Marshal C Owen 10/19/1854
DIED: 02/19/1889 PLACE: McMinn County, TN.
Harriet Thomas
BORN: 09/23/1832 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: J E Fike 07/19/1878
DIED: 02/22/1901 McMinn County, TN.
Alfred Carroll Thomas
BORN: 09/08/1836 McMinn County. TN.
MARRIED: Malinda Faulkner
DIED: 03/04/1924 McMinn County, TN.
Angeline Thomas
BORN: 02/02/1839 PLACE: McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: Marshall Arnwine 08/22/1856
DIED: 09/05/1908

Saturday, June 6, 2009


When William D. Wade married Nancy Jane Owen February 5, 1880, he moved to and worked on the property of his father-in-law, Marshal C. Owen, who owned over one thousand acres.

By 1886 W. D. and Jane had evidently earned enough to purchase the southwest quarter of Section 33, Township 1, Range 2, from Marshal and Caroline, consisting of one hundred and sixty acres. This property lay to the north of and joined what is now known as the W. D. Wade homeplace.

This was evidently where W. D. and Jane lived until they did a land swap with Marshal in 1889, following Caroline’s death. The swap involved trading half of their 160 acres for the 80 acres which is now known as the W. D. Wade homeplace. This gave W. D. and Jane access to the main road where they in 1891 constructed the white two story house which still stands.(See FRED SILAS WADE post below for picture.)

Not much is known about Nancy Jane as she died in 1901 at age forty two. From the pictures we have, she appears to be a beautiful lady. The family was naturally devastated, as evidenced by the memorial W. D. wrote and placed in the newspaper. The writing concludes with these words:

The wife of our love and affection,
We have laid to her long last rest;
When God made his choice it was cast
on the treasure we prized the best.

‘Tis hard to break the tender cord,
When love has bound the heart;
‘Tis hard, so hard to speak the words,
“We must forever part.”

Dearest loved one, we have laid thee
In the peaceful grave’s embrace,
But thy memory will be cherished
‘Til we see thy heavenly face.

Oh mother, thy gentle voice is hushed,
Thy warm true heart is still,
And on thy true and peaceful face
Is resting death’s cold chill.

Thy hands are clasped upon thy breast,
We have kissed thy marble brow,
And in our aching heart we know,
We have no mother now.