- Mar 18, 2020
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Me, too, or I'd have got it for you. Maybe somebody here can still get in and grab it. Hope so!
So I made a pretty big discovery regarding my ancestor William C Thomas. As I previously outlined that record for a William C or "W C" Thomas who served in the 11th Georgia seemed to be a very good fit for my ancestor.Unfortunately since I don't know Jesse Thomas's parentage I know nothing of Williams roots up that line. Having recently discovered Rebecca's parentage I know some of that line though am still researching it.
Her parents were Christopher Baker married to Agnes Forrester. I know Christopher Baker served in the American revolution in the 2nd North Carolina Regiment.
On further research it seems the John Hewitt that Jesse and Eli B Thomas were accused of attempting to murder was married to another daughter of Christopher and Agnes Baker. So seems like the in-laws had some issues.
Finding information about William C Thomas has been challenging. Though it's not the first piece of evidence I found about them it makes sense to start with a family tree notes sheet I got from a wife of a cousin at the same generation as my grandfather, she took the notes from her mother-in-law making it even one generation further back. This is the furthest back family lore/info I've gotten on this line of my ancestry, one of the only ones. It's about my Bryant ancestry which leads up to William C Thomas.
I descend from an Elias Bryant who married Nancy Manassas Thomas daughter of William C Thomas and Amanda Langston
View attachment 212
It gets a lot of things wrong. It has Elias Bryant father as a John Gilbert Bryant Sr. Someone who never existed, his father was John Pinkney Bryant Sr. They also place his wife as a Martha Langston when it as actually a Virginia Cooper. Nancy's parents are listed as a Amanda & John Thomas. When it was William C Thomas and Amanda Langston.
Mostly mixing up names and people though some of the general details are right. It makes sense now that I know the full story, both Elias and Nancy were orphaned young and never knew there parents well (or at all). In Elias Bryant's death certificate filled out by his son (not my ancestor) it lists his father as George Bryant and mother Unknown. That was wrong as well. It seems like little of family info was passed down.
The most interesting part is here, a little story about Nancy's father.
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Where it says
was left an orphan at 7 days old
Her father killed in Civil War in the battle of Manassas.
She was named for the battle.
After her mother died
the children were found hiding in the leaves.
Most of that matches up. In the 1860 census I see William, Amanda, and children (two sons and one daughter) minus Nancy who was born Jan 1862 (living next to Amanda's parents John and Clarissa Langston). In the 1870 census William and Amanda are gone and their children are split up between relatives. Nancy and her sister are living with their grandmother Clarissa Langston (John their grandfather is dead by then), one son is living with William's mother Rebecca. Another son is living with William's sister a Mary Thomas who married a James Echols.
So I searched military records for William C Thomas. In 1860 he and his family were residing next to his in-laws (likely on their land actually) in Gilmer, Dawson County, Georgia. Dawson was formed partially from Gilmer in 1857 and there's a marriage certificate for a William C Thomas marrying Amanda Langston in 1854 in Gilmer County, Georgia (I assume Gilmer, Dawson County represents the portion formed from Gilmer County).
So I looked for him in either Dawson or Gilmer County. His Langston brother-in-laws enlisted in Dawson. No William Thomas that fits. I also don't find a William Thomas from Georgia that died at the Battle of Manassas, so I suspect that part of the story isn't quite right. Nancy does show up in her marriage records and some other records as "Nancy M Thomas"... additionally her sister had multiple descendants who passed down a middle name of Manassas, so the middle name is likely correct. Though I suspect she was named for the symbolism of Manassas to Confederates.
I looked through all the William Thomas records, William C Thomas, W C Thomas, etc... I do find one that is both unaccounted for, doesn't fit any other William, and matches up nicely for him.
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A William C Thomas (sometimes listed as W C Thomas) who enlisted July 3, 1861 in Company C of the 11th Regiment Georgia Infantry.
It says he was 27 years old, I'm assuming this is from enlistment date, though the bounty roll referenced is not dated. That would place his birth year around 1834, mine was born 1836-37 so not perfect but pretty close. The census could be off by a couple years or the enlistment records.
It says he was born in Lumpkin County, Georgia, though my William C. was born likely in Forsyth County, Georgia. Though Forsyth bordered Lumpkin at that time and his family moved around that area a lot as those counties were first formed. Additionally his family was living in Lumpkin County by 1850 so he probably spent a lot of his childhood there that he remembered.
Company C was formed out of Murray County, Georgia. Though William wasn't living there in 1860 his parents Jesse and Rebecca were (and possibly where he was living there before marrying Amanda), as it turns out his family was in Murray County, Georgia in 1840 as well. Looking in Murray Co., GA in 1860 there's only one William that could fit age wise, though he was born in Tennessee.
Additionally there is no pension record for William Thomas, or widow's pension, this fits with my William whose wife predeceased him.
After all this search I'm pretty confident this is the right service record. It's the record that fits best for my William C and my William C is really the only fit I've found for this service record.
Following that record he enlisted July 3rd of 1861 as a Private and the last muster roll recorded is March and April 1864 where he is listed as a 4th Sergeant. There is no death recorded or anything seemingly recorded about what happened to him. This left me puzzled for the last couple years though I assumed he died. Recently I solved this mystery with the help of another. They found this newspaper article for the casualty listing for the 11th Georgia published in June in 1864
View attachment 215
For Company C it lists "Killed - Sergt W C Thomas"
In looking at fold 3 for the casualties of the 11th Regiment for the 1864 Virginia campaigns I can find Company C's records here on page 7
Though the page is very faded and torn, it seems likely he was entered in that place that was torn and other than newspaper references to casualty lists (something I've seen some books mention they couldn't find) his death record was lost.
At the bottom of the casualty list it reads:
"The majority of these casualties were sustained June 1st, in driving the enemy's skirmishers and sharpshooters from their position behind the timer(?), while our line was exposed to a gatling (?) fir as it advanced across an open plain."
Which would place his death at the Battle of Cold Harbor. In some quick searches I do find that Tige's Brigade was involved in efforts on the 1st.
It seems William C Thomas served quite a while and through a lot of key battles. The 11th was originally commanded by George T. Anderson ("Tige") until he was promoted to command the brigade. Much of the war they served under Longstreet under Lee.
They missed First Manassas by 1 day though. Looking at the list of battles for the 11th Georgia from 1861 to June of 1864 it includes him surviving Sharpsburg/Antietam and Gettysburg. It seems the 11th Georgia had 65% causalities on a single day of Gettysburg.
Dated July 4th, 1864....
the undersigned desires to be appointed guardian of the persons and property of M J Thomas, A A Thomas, Jesse M Thomas, and Nancy M Thomas. Minor children of William Thomas, deceased, ....