Transcribed from History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its people ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm. [Vol. 2 contains biographical data. Paged continuously.] p. 668-669 transcribed by students from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, on December 1, 2000.


William B. Thomas

WILLIAM B. THOMAS. - Beginning for himself the struggle for advancement among men at the early age of fifteen, learning a trade as a means to the accomplishment of his purpose in life, and adhering to one line of effort for a continuous period of thirty years, William B. Thomas, who conducts a very successful and profitable business enterprise in Kansas City, Kansas, has made his way steadily to worldly comfort and independence, albeit his path has been beset with obstacles and his progress has been several times stayed by adversities of a severe and trying nature.

Mr. Thomas is a native of McDonough county, Illinois, where he was born on April 17, 1864. He is a son of W. O. and Mary (Broaddus) Thomas, the father a native of Ohio and the mother of Illinois, and residents of McDonough county, Illinois, until 1886, when they moved to Kansas City, Missouri. There all the subsequent years of their lives have been passed in comfort, and they have been rich in the esteem and good will of all who have known them well enough to have cognizance of their worth. Their son, William B. Thomas, obtained a limited education in the district schools of his native county, attending them during the winter months for a few years with as much regularity as his circumstances allowed. Early in life he was filled with a strong desire to carve out a career for himself, unaided by family influence and independent of family considerations. In 1879, therefore, when he was but fifteen years old, he went to Chicago on his own account wholly and started out in life for himself. In that city he learned his trade as a paper hanger and decorator, acquiring a thorough knowledge of it in three years. At the end of that period he changed his residence to Kansas City, Missouri, arriving there in the winter of 1883 and at once opening a shop of his own for a paper hanging and decorating business, which he carried on for one year.

Desire for another change and the promise involved in a good opening induced him to move to Arkansas City, Kansas, at the end of a year, and in that location he prospered and made substantial advancement until 1889. There, as elsewhere, he followed paper hanging and decorating on his own account, and by his skill, good taste and conscientious attention to his business won a high and widespread reputation in his craft and considerable favor and esteem among the people.

The field for his operations in Arkansas City became too small for his ambition, and he determined in the year last mentioned to seek one of wider scope and greater opportunities. Accordingly he came to Kansas City, Kansas, and established himself in the suburb of Armourdale. Here he remained and flourished fourteen years, and was on the high road to big business success when a disastrous flood swept away his property and his attachment to the place. The next three years were passed by him in the city of Wagoner, in what was then Indian Territory but is now a part of the new and highly progressive state of Oklahoma.

Kansas City, Kansas, still had a hold on his regard, however, and he found himself longing to return to it. His three years in Oklahoma had intensified his desire, and at the end of the period he sold all his interests there and came back to gratify it. He at once opened another paper hanging establishment in Kansas City, locating at 946 Central avenue, where he is still conducting an extensive business, handling wall paper, room moldings and other decorative and finishing materials, and doing a great deal of work in putting them up in all kinds of structures. His business is so considerable as to necessitate his employmeant of several men, and it occupys all his own time and industry, except what has been required for the active duties of citizenship and efforts to promote the welfare of the community by efficient help in the administration of its public affairs. Mr. Thomas has long been very zealous and energetic in connection with the political, fraternal and social life of his city and county, and is regarded as one of their most useful and representative citizens. Fraternally he is connected with the Order of Elks and the Modern Woodmen of America, belonging to organizations of these fraternities in Kansas City. Politically he is a firm and faithful member of the Democratic party and at all times effective in its service. In 1902 he was elected a member of the city council for a term of two years. In the fall of 1910 he became the nominee and successful candidate of his party to represent his district in the Lower House of the State Legislature, of which he is now (1911) a member. In public office as in private life he has been true and faithful, diligent and capable, attentive to every duty and strictly upright, working out a career that is creditable to him and has been of great service to the people whose interests he has had in charge.

In 1883 he was married in Kansas City, Kansas, to Miss Ada C. Toland, a daughter of Nelson and Sarah (Cox) Toland. Five children have been born of the union, all sons and all living. They are: Dayton T., Ralph B., Roy N., Walter O. and J. Earl. They have all been educated in the public schools of their native city, attending the lower grades and the high school and making good records in both. Like their parents, the young men are highly esteemed as worthy and useful citizens in all parts of the city and wherever else the people have knowledge of them.



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