My grandmother’s brother, Herbert Batie THOMAS, was born 11 March 1889 in South Carolina.
Herbert’s parents, Dan THOMAS (1858-1946) and Maggie GRANT THOMAS (1870-1948) met in Chesterfield County when Dan came to Chesterfield to help his sister who’d been recently widowed and left to raise five young children on her own. Maggie was the sister of Dan’s deceased brother-in-law.
Herbert was the oldest of seven children born to Dan and Maggie: Herbert, Wilford, a unnamed son, Florrie (my grandmother), Aggie, Daniel, and Griffin. Wilford, Daniel, and Griffin died as children. I wrote about Wilford here. The unnamed son was likely stillborn.
Dan farmed turpentine, and more, in Chesterfield County. He and Maggie owned property in Chesterfield County, too. Between 1900 and 1905, Dan and Maggie moved to Richland County, where Dan was from. There, he took care of his parents, and he farmed on their property.
Herbert starts a family
In 1910 Herbert appears in the census twice. On 18 April he was with his uncle, Zack Grant, in Chesterfield County. On 24 April he was with his parents and siblings in Richland County.
He is listed as single on both of these, and sometime between then and the end of 1019 he married Leila Hulda DAVIS (1894-1970) in Chesterfield County. Their first child, Eletha Mae, was born there in 1912.
According to his WW1 draft registration in 1917, Herbert, Leila, and Eletha Mae lived in Chesterfield County. Herbert was a farmer. Herbert was tall and had a medium build. He had light brown hair and light brown eyes.
The 1920’s and 30’s
I couldn’t find Herbert and his family in the 1920 census but he was likely still farming in Chesterfield County. In 1921 their second child, Orrin Rudolph (called Son), was born.
In 1930, Herbert was the keeper of the county home on Scotch Road in Chesterfield, South Carolina. He and his family were still in Chesterfield in 1935 as well.
Herbert leaves South Carolina
During the Depression work was hard to find. Between 1935 and 1940, Herbert and Leila moved to Fairfax County, Virginia, where Herbert worked as a farm laborer. Son and Eletha Mae stayed behind in Chesterfield County.
By 1942, Herbert had moved in with his sister, Florrie, and her family, in Foneswood, Richmond County, Virginia. Florrie’s husband was Herbert’s contact person on his WW2 draft registration. For reasons unknown, Leila went back to Chesterfield County. She and Herbert never reunited.
On his own…for a while anyway
Herbert eventually moved to Howard County, Maryland, where he likely worked as a farm laborer. There he met Alice OREM (1911-1984), a sweet single lady. He and Alice eventually married.
My grandparents, and their children still at home, moved to Maryland, too. Their youngest son, my Uncle Tommy, went to work in Prince George’s County.
Eventually Uncle Tommy bought a mini-farm in Marriottsville, Howard County, Maryland. He built a small 2-bedroom single level house for Herbert and Alice on the property. I expect Herbert helped Tommy on the farm as much as he could.
Herbert passes away
Herbert died 7 Dec 1964. I was 4. I don’t remember much about my Uncle Herbert. I remember a picnic at Uncle Tommy’s when I was 3, probably because there are photos from the picnic.
I don’t remember his voice, but I remember his smile and how he moved. I remember how my grandmother, his sister, laughed with him. And I remember how joyful the day was.
Family members say Herbert was soft-spoken and a nice man. I can believe that.
Herbert is buried in Randallstown, Baltimore County, Maryland, at Wards Chapel Methodist Church where he was a member. Alice continued living in the little house. Uncle Tommy and his wife, Hazel, took care of her until she passed away. She is buried next to Herbert.
NOTE: It was brought to my attention from a cousin that I was incorrect about who owned the land were Herbert and Alice lived. I researched the land and wrote a 3-part story about the land and it’s owners. The 3 parts appeared in the 3 weeks immediately following this blog post. Here is a link to the first part.
Copyright © 2017 Nancy H. Vest All Rights Reserved
I wonder if Herbert, like many men during this time period, worked for the Works Progress Administration? You may want to contact the National Archives in St. Louis to see if his name is among their records. I did this for each of my direct male ancestors of working age during this time period.
Good idea, Michael. He may have worked for them. I will contact St. Louis and see if he’s there. Thanks!
I guess finding useful, reliable intrfmaoion on the internet isn’t hopeless after all.
Nancy H. Vest says
Thanks for commenting. No, it’s not a hopeless endeavor to find useful and reliable information on the internet, but it sure seems that way some days, doesn’t it. Are you related to Herbert or to Alice’s family?