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Thomas, Mitchell W.

Posted by ceddleman 
Thomas, Mitchell W.
March 05, 2007 06:36PM
HISTORY OF KENTUCKY AND KENTUCKIANS, E. Polk Johnson, three volumes, Lewis
Publishing Co., New York & Chicago, 1912. Common version,
Vol. III, pp. 1236-37. [Full page photograph of Mr. Thomas included with
[Boyd County]

MITCHELL W. THOMAS--Since 1891 Mitchell W. Thomas has maintained his home
at Ashland, Kentucky, where he has extensive lumber and property interests
and where he has won wide repute as a man of enormous energy and unusual
business acumen. In 1908 he retired from active participation in the
lumber industry and is now devoting his entire time and attention to his
various financial interests, which are of good proportions.
Mr. Thomas was born in Smith county, Virginia, on the 5th of January
1850, and is a son of Abijah and Priscilla Cavinett (Scott) Thomas, both
of whom were likewise born and reared in Smith county, Virginia. The
father was of Welsh descent and the mother of Scotch-Irish ancestry. Abijah
was identified with agricultural pursuits during the early part of his
business career and later he was a manufacturer. He built the first woolen
mill in southwestern Virginia, the same being located six miles distant
from Marion, the county seat of Smith county. It was constructed in the
days prior to the Civil war and was successfully operated before the
inception of the war and a part of the time during that conflict. Mr.
Thomas also owned a large iron furnace, which was destroyed during the
raid of General Stoneman, in December, 1864. He was active in developing
the natural resources of the country in which he lived and during the war
operated both his mill and his furnace, disposing of his entire output to
the Confederate government. He was summoned to eternal rest in Smith
county in 1876, at the age of sixty-three years. His wife, who survived him
for nine years, died on the same day of the month as her husband--December,
9. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas became the parents of twelve children, eight of
whom are living in 1911, Mitchell W., of this review, being the seventh in
order of birth.
Mitchell W. Thomas was reared to adult age in his native place. His
educational training was of meager order, the war and its ravages
militating against any consistent system of schooling. He worked on the
home farm during his boyhood days, having charge of the same while his
father and brothers were employed at the factories. When twenty-three
years of age he engaged in the lumber business, establishing a factory,
together with a retail and wholesale trade, near Glade Spring, Washington
county, Virginia. He had a large portable mill and moved the same later
to adjoining counties, continuing to be identified with the lumber
industry for a number of years, during which time he organized the M. W.
and A. P. Thomas Lumber Company, his partners being two of his brothers.
In 1889 Mr. Thomas of this review sold his interest in the above lumber
company and came to Kentucky, where he was identified with the Thomas
Lumber Company at Catlettsburg for about two years, at the expiration of
which he removed to Ashland, where he purchased a small saw mill, which he
subsequently enlarged and which he operated with increasing success for
several years. The latter concern eventually grew into the Ashland Lumber
Company, which was organized in 1898 and which is still doing a thriving
business. For a number of years after its organization Mr. Thomas was
president and active head of the company. Operations were begun at Ashland
with fourteen rafts of logs purchased on the Ohio river, this being the
beginning of successful lumber operations at Ashland, as prior to that time
none of the mills had been able to carry on a successful and lucrative
business. After thus building up several large enterprises in the lumber
industry Mr. Thomas retired from active participation therein in 1908,
since which year his whole time has been devoted to his extensive property
interests in Ashland. With that keen foresight which is a natural
instinct with the big business man and capitalist Mr. Thomas has invested
in local real estate and improved the property.
In 1906 was begun the construction of one of the finest modern
business and office buildings in the city, the same being known as the
Thomas Block. It was completed in January, 1907, and is fifty by one
hundred feet in lateral dimensions and three stories in height. The
material used for construction was fire-burned brick with the outside walls
of concrete, and the top floor of the building is devoted to the exclusive
use of the Park City Club. Mr. Thomas was one of the organizers of the
Citizens' Bank & Trust Company, in which he is a director and stockholder.
In politics he accords a staunch allegiance to the cause of the Democratic
party in all matters of national import while in local affairs he is
non-partisan, giving his support to men and measures meeting with the
approval of his judgment. In religious matters he and his wife are devout
members of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, to whose charities and
benevolences they are most liberal contributors. Fraternally Mr. Thomas
is affiliated with various local organizations of representative character
and as a citizen his intrinsic loyalty has been a potent influence in the
general progress and development.
In the year 1873 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Thomas to Miss
Margaret C. Smith, a native of Washington county, Virginia, and a daughter
of Pleasant Smith, who was an extensive land owner in southwestern
Virginia, where he passed the latter years of his life. Mr. and Mrs.
Thomas became the parents of one daughter, Mary Cavinett, who was summoned
to eternal rest at Catlettsburg in 1890, at the age of fourteen years.
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