Biography of Philip Thomas' Sons
Oneida County, NY Biographies





The firm of Philip Thomas' Sons, lumber dealers, receives its name from Philip Thomas, who was born in Newport, Herkimer county, New York, March 27, 1815. His parents Thomas and Sarah (Phillips) Thomas came from Pembrokeshire, south Wales, in 1796. After living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for four years they moved to Newport, New York, in 1800. Eight sons and two daughters were born to them, the latter dying in infancy. Philip was the sixth son. When about twenty one years of age he came to Utica and engaged with his brother Daniel in the building business, their shop being located on Union street. The Thomas brothers were inteffigent, industrious, and reliable and made a success of their vocation as builders. Later Daniel moved to New York Mills and Philip carried on the business alone. He was an architect as well as builder, drawing the plans for many of the buildings constructed by him.

In 1845 Philip Thomas married Fanny Thomas of Utica, and to them were born three daughters and one son, the eldest, Margarete Frances, alone reaching maturity. She died July 5, 1872, aged twenty five years and the mother died in 1855. June 5, 1857, Philip Thomas married Frances Baker also of Utica, daughter of Arthur and Harriett (Silver) Baker who came to: this country in 1823 from Havre, France, although both were born and educated in England. The children of the second marriage were three Sons and one daughter: Arthur Baker, Frederick Silver, Herbert Norris and Marion Phillips. When the two younger sons arrived at maturity they entered business with their father under the name of Philip Thomas and Sons.

Among some of the buildings erected under the supervision of Mr. Thomas may be named the City Hall, the First Presbyterian church, Grace church, Calvary and St. George's Episcopal churches, Bethany church, the Utica Orphan Asylum and many of the old time residences on Genesee street. He died May 17, 1886, aged seventy one years, having ably and conscientiously performed his part during a long and active life. He was a man of unwearied industry, undaunted perseverance and remarkably good judgment, his name being an honored one in the city in which he had resided for fifty years. In his dealings he was entirely reliable, and he enjoyed the good will and esteem of the best people of the City and county. He served at one time as a member of the common council. During the war Mr. Thomas was an active abolitionist, although beyond the age limit to be drafted: into the army he became a commissioned officer in a cavalry company. This company was formed and drilled chiefly as a protection to the city of Utica which, it was feared by many, would be attacked, but was also to be called into active service for the country if needed.

Arthur Baker Thomas, the eldest of the sons of Philip and Frances (Baker) Thomas, was born in Utica, May 18, 1859. He received his education in the public schools. After laying aside his school books, he went to work in the mill of William B. Williams & Company, in Whitesboro, in 1879, leaving there in 1882 to take a position in the mill of General Sylvester Deriug in Utica where he remained until the death of his father in. 1886, when he and his two brothers formed a partnership tinder the name of Philip Thomas' Sons. On March 21, 1889, he was married to Miss Wilhelmina H. Winter. For twenty years they journeyed together and then, on November 14, 1909, the beloved wife died leaving two children, Raymond Phifip and Frances Louise. Mr. Thomas is a valued member of Faxton Lodge No. 697, A. F. & A. M.; Oneida Chapter No. 57, R. A. M.; Utica Commandery No. 3, K. T.; and Ziyara Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S. He has a host of friends in the city and county where he has been well known since his boyhood and ranks as one of the leading business men of Utica.

Frederick Silver Thomas, the second son, was born July 19, 1862. He grew up in a happy home and after taking advantage of the usual opportunities for education in the public schools, became identified with his father in the building business. He was married June 19, 1896, to Miss Blanche T. Carr of Oriskany, and two children were born to them, Philip Carr and Cicely Baker. Mr. Thomas holds membership in. Oriental Lodge No. 224, A. F. & A.M.

Herbert Norris Thomas, the youngest son, was born July 26, 1864, and after graduating from the Utica Free Academy associated with his father and brother in business. On September 18, 1902, he was married to Miss Millicent A. Brown, of Utica. He is a friend and promoter of education and served as a member of the school committee from 1908 to 1909. Fraternally he holds membership in. Faxton Lodge No. 697, A. F. & A. M.; Oneida Chapter No. 57, R. A. M.; Utica Commaudery No. 3, K. T.; and Ziyara Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.

After the death of the father the sons gradually began concentrating their attention upon the lumber business and the name of the firm was changed to Philip Thomas' Sons which still continues. In 1896 the old site of the firm on Kemble street was disposed of to the city, upon which was erected the beautiful new Free Academy, and the frm moved to its present site, at No. 153 Kemble street, where ample accommodations and every facility for handling lumber on an extensive scale are provided. The strict integrity which has characterized this firm in its dealings has won for it an enviable reputation wherever its name is known and it enjoys a large and lucrative patronage. The Thomas Brothers have all enjoyed excellent advantages of education and train. ing and recognize the duty they owe to their country and to society. They are genial and pleasing gentlemen and thorough and progressive business men who by honorable methods have gained the confidence of their associates and all with whom they are connected. They are true representatives of well directed energy and of such men the community may well be proud.

From:
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1912


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