Josiah Thomas, the subject of this sketch, was born in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, March 9, 1804. His parents, George and Mary Beam Thomas, were natives of Pennsylvania. The ancestors of his father came from Wales, and those of his mother from Germany. George and Mary Thomas, with their family, removed to Brooke County, Virginia, in about 1807, and remained there about one year, when they came to Ohio and settled in Harrison County. Mr. Thomas was, by trade, a tailor, and followed that business until old age compelled him to relinquish it. From Harrison County the family came to Mifflin Township, in the present county of Ashland, about 1817, and after about seven years again removed in 1824, this time to Orange Township, where he purchased the farm now owned by his son, Josiah Thomas. Here he died at the age of eighty-two years. His widow survived him some five years, and died aged eighty-five years. They had a family of eleven children, of whom but two representatives now remain; Mrs. Elizabeth Jaques, in Illinois and Josiah Thomas, the youngest son, on the old homestead. Josiah Thomas worked on the farm of his father during his boyhood and youth, doing his part toward redeeming the wilderness, clearing, log-rolling, rail-splitting, building fence, and other hard manual labor, until his brothers and sisters, having left the farm, died, or married and made homes for themselves, when, by will, he inherited the property, after paying certain sums to the other heirs. He was married September 2, 1830, to Eliza Zimmerman, who was born in Union county, Pennsylvania, December 25, 1809. Her father died when she was small, and she came to Ohio with other members of the family, when about twenty years of age. To them have been born ten children, two of who died in early childhood; Sanford, at the age of three years, three months and seven days; Jefferson, aged one year, seven months and three days. Adeline died aged seventeen years and one month. Those now living are; George, Henry, C., Warren R., Mary, Elizabeth, Freelove, and Harriet, all of whom are now married except Warren and Harriet, who remain at home with their parents.
Mr. Thomas was one of the first commissioners of the present county of Ashland, in which office he served three years and six months, when he declined to further serve. He has also held the office of township trustee some seventeen years. He has never been an office-seeker, but the people of his township, appreciating his worth, have continued him in office. Both himself and his wife are members of the Disciple church, with which they have been connected some thirty years. His first vote was cast for Andrew Jackson, and he has ever since adhered to the principles of the Democratic Party. He has a good home the southern part of Orange Township, comprising the old homestead of one hundred and sixty acres.