Colonel John Thomas and His Family
On March 9, 1779, Capt. McJunkin was married to Miss Ann, second daughter of Col. John and Jane Thomas. So that amid the bustle of arms and the dangers of war he found time to attend to matrimonial alliances. And though his choice was made in times that tried men's souls he certainly never had cause, if reports be true, to regret it; his wife was worthy to be reckoned among the generation that won the independence of this Nation.
It may not be disagreeable to the reader to know something of Col. Thomas, the father‑in‑law of Major McJunkin. In consideration of the fact that he occupied a prominent place in his own region of country during a considerable portion of the War of Independence and as he is now almost unknown to those who enjoy the benefits of his skill, efforts and privations, I shall make a short digression to introduce him to the reader's acquaintance.
Col. Thomas was a native of Wales, but brought up in Chester County, Pa. He married Jane Black, a sister of the Rev. John Black of Carlisle, Pa., and the first President of Dickinson College.
A number of years before the war Mr. Thomas removed to South Carolina, resided for some time upon Fishing Creek. Before hostilities commenced with the mother country he was residing upon Fairforest Creek, in the lower part of what is now Spartanburg District. He was one of the founders of Fairforest Church, and his wife was one of its most zealous members. He was a militia captain and a magistrate under the Royal Government. He was industrious, intelligent, patriotic and highly distinguished for his devotion to the public welfare.
Upon the refusal of Col. Fletchall to accept a commission under the authority of the Province, an election was held and John Thomas was chosen Colonel of the Spartan Regiment, having previously resigned the commissions that he had held under the Royal Government. He directed the movements of this regiment until Charleston fell, soon after which he was taken prisoner by a Tory Captain by the name of Sam Brown and confined at Ninety Six and in Charleston until near the close of the war. The said Brown carried off his Negroes and horses.
Col. Thomas had four sons, two of whom watered the tree of liberty with their blood. Robert was killed at Roebuck's Defeat. Abraham was wounded and taken prisoner at Ninety Six and died in confinement. John succeeded his father in command of the Spartan Regiment and made his mark in many a well‑fought battle. The other son was a youth in time of the war. Col. Thomas had also four daughters. The husband of each was a Whig, and all held commissions in the war and rendered their country most substantial service in securing victory and freedom. The ladies of South Carolina were proverbial for being true to the cause of independence, but the zeal and fidelity of Mrs. Thomas and her daughters will compare favorably with the brightest of that bright galaxy that adorns the history of the State. Soon after the war closed Col. Thomas removed to Greenville District, where he resided until the time of his death. His descendants are widely dispersed over the land and generally unknown to the writer.
The following incidents may illustrate what has been stated of the ladies of this family. In the early part of the war Gov. Rutledge had sent a quantity of arms and ammunition to the frontiers for the use of the Whigs. These were deposited at the house of Col. Thomas and kept under the protection of a guard of twenty‑five men. Col. Moore of North Carolina, with 300 Tories, was approaching to take possession of the magazine. Col. Thomas deemed his force inadequate to a successful defense of the house and retired, the guard having taken off and concealed as much of the military stores as time permitted. Josiah Culbertson, a son‑in‑law of Col. Thomas, refused to leave the house. He had been brought up on the frontiers and was a first rate marksman. With William Thomas, a youth, and the women of the family, he remained, and as soon as Moore and his party came within gunshot a fire was opened upon them from the house and maintained with such vigor that Moore and his party soon withdrew from the conflict and left them in peaceful possession of the premises.
Some time after the fall of Charleston Mrs. Thomas was at Ninety Six on a visit to her husband and two of her sons who were prisoners with the British at that post. While there she heard two women in conversation, and one remarked to the other: "On tomorrow night the Loyalists intend to surprise the rebels at Cedar Spring." This intelligence was interesting news to her, for the Cedar Spring was within a few miles of her house, and among the Whigs posted there were several of her own children. She therefore determined to apprise them of the attack, though the distance was at least fifty miles. The Whigs were informed of their danger in time to provide for their safety, which they did by withdrawing from their fires until the enemy rushed within their light in confidence of an easy victory. Instead, however, of butchering a slumbering foe, they received the well‑directed blows of their intended victims, and on that night victory perched upon the standard of liberty. The Whigs were in number about sixty, the Loyalists 150.