Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ya Never Know Till You Look: Benjamin Thomas (1793 - 1846)

Was working on my tree on Ancestry.com this morning. It's the really short and abbreviated version of the GEDCOM that Mom built (hers with over 60,000 individuals on it!) Specifically, was adding photos to the small handful of ancestors there because I think it's nice when people find old photos of their ancestors, and maybe they didn't know what they looked like or didn't have that particular picture.

So there I was and you know how those little green leaves go wagging around at you... and I started wandering off task. I knew that Benjamin Thomas (Abt. 1793, Wales - 1846 Lonaconing, MD) came over on the Tiberias in 1838 into the port of Baltimore but I personally didn't have a copy of the ship's manifest. And one of those leaves was wagging about that so I had to go check it out.

Let me tell you who Benjamin Thomas is to me. My Mom's Father was Cambria Williams (13 JUL 1897 Ocean Mines MD - 13 SEP 1960, Frostburg MD). Everyone called him Camey and he was named after the Cambrian Mountains of Wales. His Mother was Jane Price (5 May 1862 Mt. Savage MD - 2 Feb 1939 Frostburg MD), and her Mother was Diane Thomas (Abt 1832 Wales - 17 Jul 1871 Mt. Savage MD). Benjamin Thomas was her Father and my 3rd GGF.



OK, back to Ancestry and those leaves and the Tiberias. The search result had it at "Liberias" but his name was spot on as well as the birth year so I had to take a closer look. There he was: Benjamin Thomas, 45 and wife Hannah, 40 with children: John 23, James 20, Benjamin 18, William 15, Diana 6 (my GGGM), Joseph 3, Phillip 2 and little Jane an infant. A party of ten!

His occupation was listed as collier. But wait! Look at the rest of the men on the ships list: all colliers!! Now what was a collier? Googled and Wiki said that anyone who worked with coal was a collier. That seems about right for the region at the time. Then I took a zoom look at the ship's list page and saw a notation in modern hand that said " Invitation (? perhaps) is Georges' Creek Co. for all except Mary Bannista of Baltimore." And I do know about Georges' Creek Iron and Coal Company. See this link for real interesting bits about it from the site, Western Maryland's Historical Library, or WHILBR: http://www.whilbr.org/GeorgesCreek/index.aspx



So that was the deal: the Georges' Creek Co. recruited Welsh coal miners and shipped them with family over to staff their booming coal and iron business. Benjamin Thomas was 45. Was he a miner all his working life? Probably. Am thinking that they wouldn't have paid him to come all that way if he didn't know the business. However, he was long-in-the-tooth for a coal miner when they started kids working at about 16 years old and even younger.  But his son was coming too and he was a strong young man of 23.

I'm still amazed at how one thing leads to another in this genealogy stuff!

Photo of the day from Aunt Betty's archive.

And mother to my Grandfather, Cambria Williams.

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