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Thomas, John R. (1834-1898)

Submitted by Nancy Malone

John R. Thomas was born in Abberdale, Wales on February 24, 1834.  He worked as a salesman for a firebrick company in Binya, Wales.  

Margaret Morgan was born in Carmarthenshire, South Wales on May 12, 1834.  John and Margaret were married on Easter Sunday, April 8, 1855 at Margaret’s home, Brynfroidd.  Three sons were born in Wales. John came alone to the United States in 1866, and returned to Wales in 1868.  He then brought his wife and three sons first to Youngstown, Ohio, and then to Niles, Ohio.

By 1871, John was engaged in the manufacture of firebrick, founding the Niles Firebrick Company in 1872.   In 1877 he purchased, rebuilt, and greatly enlarged the William Ward furnace, which some twenty years later passed into the Carnegie Illinois division of the U.S. Steel Corporation.  After his death, leadership passed to his son, John E. Thomas, and later to a grandson, John R.T. Clingan. 

Two daughters were born in the United States.  Margaretta was born in Youngstown, Ohio in 1869.  She was married at the Thomas House in Niles in 1888 to Dr. T. O. Clingan.  Mary Ann was born in Niles in 1879 and married Jacob D. Waddell in 1919.  She lived in the family home at 503 Brown Street until her death in 1969.

The family home in Niles, which had been the James Ward home built in 162, was passed on to Margaret Morgan Thomas, July  1, 1887 at a foreclosure sale by Sheriff’s deed.   John R. Thomas died in 1898 and Morgan died in 1918.