Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Family Gathering, 1942

On the back of this photo, Ada has written that it was taken at the home of her daughter, Clara Tyson, in Coshocton, Ohio, just before Ada's elder son Ray Thomas went into the service.

In the back row: Lillian Thomas, Ray Thomas, Ada Thomas, Edwin Thomas.
In the front row: Tom Tyson, Eva Thomas, Clara Tyson holding Gary Tyson, Roland Tyson.

(Reminder: to see any of these photos in more detail, CLICK to enlarge.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Family Tree

Here is a family tree that I cobbled together. I did none of the primary research; rather, I put together information found on the internet:

The Thomases were German Protestants from Alsace. They emigrated to Muskingum County, Ohio, in the 1850s.

The Gadds are descended from Thomas Gadd, who was born in Hackney (now part of London). Thomas Gadd seems to have been a (minor) criminal - he spent some time in a penal colony in Jamaica. He arrived in Baltimore ca 1668 and married Elizabeth Swaine.

William Gadd (1759-1835) fought in the Revolutionary War.

After moving westward through Pennsylvania to Ohio, this branch of the Gadds intermarried with Kings, Kinneys, Lanes, and Swopes, among other families prominent in the history of Muskingum County.

My grandmother, Ada Ellen Gadd Thomas (1886-1988), was very proud that her father's mother was a Lane. I had no idea why this was so important to her, but now that I've done some research on the internet, I understand:

The Lane family traces its ancestry back to Adam de la Lone, a Norman who came to England with William the Conqueror. The Lanes were prominent both in England (where they intermarried with the Parrs, thus earning a place in the English Peerage), and in the colonial United States (where the first governor of Virginia was Sir Ralph Lane, born 1530).

(A CAVEAT concerning the family tree: fascinating as it has been to trace my ancestry back 26 generations to Richard Fitzgilbert de Clare (1024-1090), I'm skeptical - not because I doubt the historical records that professional genealogists have so painstakingly pieced together, but because modern DNA testing reveals that a surprisingly high percentage of people are in fact not the genetic offspring of their legal fathers. On the other hand, I'm confident that just about anyone living today is indeed descended, in one way or another, from kings and conquerors, soldiers and criminals!)

Cemeteries and Tombstones

Prospect Methodist Church, near both Dresden and Adamsville, Ohio, was founded by the Thomas family. Many members of the family are buried here:

The Gadd family worshipped at nearby Salem Methodist Church. The Salem parish was devastated by strip mining, and the church building was demolished in the 1960s. Still, the graves remain:

If you consult the family tree, you will see that Anna H. (Kinney) and Winfield S. Gadd are the parents of Ada Ellen Gadd, who married my grandfather, Ira Wilbur Thomas.

Although at least one family tree posted on the internet identifies Glenford as a son of Anna and Winfield, he was actually the child of their youngest daughter, Dorothy, and her first husband, Virgil Spragg. (Obviously Anna, born in 1854, could not have given birth in 1916!) Glenford was raised by Anna and Winfield after Dorothy and Virgil divorced. Glenford was only a teenager when he died in a car accident.

They change to a high new house,
He, she, all of them--aye,
Clocks and carpets and chairs
On the lawn all day,
And brightest things that are theirs....
Ah, no; the years, the years;
Down their carved names the raindrop plows.
--from "During Wind and Rain," by Thomas Hardy

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ada and Ira Thomas

Ada Gadd and Ira Thomas were married on March 27, 1910. Ada has written on the back of this photograph that her dress was "steel blue silk":

Ada became a widow when Ira died of cancer in 1934.

Ada in the 1950s:

Saturday, April 22, 2000


Edwin Ira Thomas, born in 1922, was the youngest of four siblings. His sisters were Clara and Lillian; his brother was Raymond.

Edwin Ira Thomas at six months, 19 pounds:

During Edwin's childhood, the family lived on various farms. By the time Edwin was twelve, however, they had moved into the town of Adamsville, where Ira worked as the custodian of the local school. After Ira died in 1934, the two boys took over his job in order to support Ada and themselves.

When World War II broke out, Ada and Edwin moved from Adamsville to Columbus, Ohio. They rented, and eventually Edwin purchased, a house at 267 E 12th Avenue, near the Ohio State University Campus. Ada rented out the upstairs bedrooms. In the early years, many of her "boarders" were old friends and neighbors from Adamsville. She also rented rooms to students, and to single men.

The next photo was taken just across the street from the house on 12th Avenue. On the back of this photo, Ada has written, "Edwin and his Ford just before going to the Navy":

Christmas, 1942? The tree:

Christmas, 1942? Edwin, Ada and Raymond:

Edwin in his navy uniform:

After returning from the navy, Edwin, who was an expert pool player, opened a pool hall called (I believe) "Eddie's Billiards." It was in the 1800 block of N High Street, a few doors down from Long's Bookstore, and just across from Ohio State University.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the pool room flourished. Many of the men who frequented the pool hall were veterans, attending Ohio State on the G.I. Bill.

1950 was an important year for Edwin: In January, he married Carole Joanne Daley. Soon after their marriage, he purchased a four-family-row on E 20th Avenue, near the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Ed and Carole moved into the four-row, and Patricia was born in October. Soon after Patricia's birth, Edwin was severely injured in a car accident. In this photograph, he stands, on his crutches, in the back yard of the four-row:

Patricia in the backyard:

The family was still living at the four-row when William Eugene Thomas was born in 1953.

Edwin in the 1950s:

By the mid-1950s, Eddie's Billiards was no longer a flourishing concern. Times had changed, and old-fashioned pool halls were no longer in fashion. The student population was changing, also: the older veterans were being replaced by younger students who lived in fraternities and played pool at the new Student Union building, constructed in 1957, almost directly across the street from Eddie's Billiards.

Ed and Carole divorced in the 1950s. Ed sold the four-row to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Carole and Patricia and Bill went to live in this house, at 2435 Bretton Place, in the Columbus neighborhood of Linden:

Ed remarried, to Connie Stamper. The next picture was taken at Christmas, 1959, in their home at 805 S. Ohio Avenue. From left to right: Ada Thomas, Linda Stamper, Connie Stamper, Ed Thomas, Bertha Stamper:

Ed and Connie closed the pool room and opened the "C&E Grill" at 984 Livingston Avenue. The next picture, taken in June 1966, shows Edwin tending bar: