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Pioneer of 1852

Benjamin Thomas

Benjamin Thomas was born in Ohio on July 3rd, 1803 (Family bible). He came to Oregon in 1852 and settled on Sauvie Island near his brother, Henry, and other relatives.


He married twice, his first wife was named Harriet Jones. They were the parents of 5 children;

Elizabeth was born January 18, 1829.

James was born January 18, 1831 in Champaign, Illinois.

Preston was born on October 17, 1834.

Henry was born on March 16th, 1840.

Louisa was born on October 26th, 1836.

*A11 the births, deaths and marriages were recorded in the family bible. Copies of the pages were sent by a family member who wishes to remain anonymous for now.

Harriet passed away and Benjamin remarried. His second wife was a widow, Martha (Rankin) Majors. They married during 1842 in Missouri. She had several children by her first marriage. Ben and Martha had three daughters of their own;

Harriet was born on March 20th, 1842 (family Bible).

Elsie was born on September 4th 1851 (family Bible).

Mary Ann was born on March 3,1854 (family Bible)..

Martha Rankins Majors Thomas listed three children from her first marriage in the family Bible;

Margaret Majors who was born on August 26, 1833.

John Majors who was born on March 3rd, 1835:

Absalom Majors who was born on October 26,1837.

1843   Birth of Daughter.

Harriett was born to Benjamin and Martha. She married twice. Her first husband was William Green, after his death in 1870 she married Eben Crie.

1860   Columbia Countq, Oregon

Census, Sauuie Island.

Dwelling #126


Thomas, Benjamin

age 57


age 48

Majors, Absalom

age 22

Thomas, Harriet

age 17

Thomas, Eley

age 08

Thomas, Mary

age 06

Swager, H.

age 37

Living near him in dwelling #124


Thomas, Preston

age 25

Thomas, Sarah

age 17

Thomas, James

age 28

Preston was the son of Benjamin and his first wife, Harriet Jones Thomas.


The Clark County Historical Society Publication, “A Centennial Salute ” states, “James Thomas was bom in Gallia county, Ohio in 1831.” Charles Frances Copeland and George Knox both signed for his Washington Donation Land Claim.

George Knox is related by his marriage to Jane Thomas. Charles Copeland was most likely a cousin on Janes maternal side. Her mother was Mary Copeland.

1842   Birth of Daughter

Harriett was born to Martha and Benjamin.

1850       Birth of Daughter

Elsie was born to Martha and Benjamin.

1854   Birth of Daughter.

Mary Ann was born to Martha and Benjamin.

1861    Marriage of Daughter.

    Harriet Thomas married William Gren/Green on 29 September 1861 in Washington County, Oregon (Columbia County Marriage Records, pg 2, GFO).


. William made barrels for the fisherman on the Columbia River. Green Point on the Columbia River was named after William. He passed away in 1870 and is buried in the Mayger cemetery.

`Her second husband was Eben Robert Crie. He was a boat builder. Harriett and Eben were the parents of three children; Myra Frances, Ira Thomas and Amy.


Myra married John Stockenberg. (Information on the Stockenbergs in CCHQ, Vol II, 1972. Pgs44, 48)

1868       Marriage of Daughter.

    Eley Thomas married William Wright Nichols on March 18 (Columbia County, Oregon Marriage Records, GFO).

1868         Death of Daughter.

    Mary Ann Thomas died on June 25th at Sauvies Island. She was 14 years old (Data from The Pacific Christian Advocate, vol 1).

1868         Death of Settler’s Wife.

Martha Rankin Thomas passed away in 1868 at Scappoose, Oregon.

1869         Marriage of Son.

    James Thomas married America Ann Orchard on December 25 in Portland, Oregon. She was the daughter of Jesse Orchard and Minerva Medford. They were the parents of 10 children; Henry Martin, Clara Ann, Floral L., Emma Abbott, Merritt Oscar, Lettie Elizabeth, Jasper Oren, Clarence Sherman, Miles Grant and Jessie Minerva (SPR).

    America’s sister was Sarah Orchard. Sarah married William H.H. Morgan, son of Edward Morgan of Sauvies Island.

Their daughter Laura was the wife of

Omar C. Spencer, a well known local historian. He wrote one of the few early books about Sauvie Island.

1870         City of Portland Census.

    Preston Thomas and Sarah are listed in the census with three children; Charles, Elnore/Elmer, Caroline.

1871         Clark County, Washington Marriages.            j

    Thomas, Henry 21+, resident of Clark county, Washington, July 5 married Lisham, Mary E. 21+ of Clark County,

Washington. Witnesses, George Knox.

1871        Death of Settler

    Benjamin died in 1874 at Rainier, Oregon. He is buried at the Winchester Place on Hiway 30.

1872        Death of Son.

    Preston Thomas passed away on May 31, 1875 at 40 years, 7 months and 14 days (family Bible).

Biographical material on Benjamin Thomas and family was found in the Columbia County Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. XI, 1972, pg 44-48, (Available at GFO, OHS and other local libraries).

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