This Biography of Philo Thomas, introduces one of the earliest settlers in Richland Township, whose life story is pieced together through external sources rather than direct biographical records. Making his first settlement in 1850 and a subsequent one in 1865, Thomas’s pioneering efforts laid the foundation for future developments in the area. Not only a general farmer, Thomas also owned a blacksmith shop, contributing significantly to the early infrastructure and daily life of his town. His legacy includes a family lineage that continued to impact the community through subsequent generations, with descendants running local businesses. This narrative explores the adventurous life of Philo Thomas, underscoring his role in shaping the community’s history.
by Lorenz H. Loesel
Next, we will meet one of the very early, if not the earliest, settlers of Richland Township. In giving the biography of the other settlers, we have no great difficulty since we could follow biographical records. However, in the case of Mr. Philo Thomas, we have to rely mainly on outside sources. We will attempt to give as much pertinent data of his life as possible.
Mearl Thomas, a nephew of the late Philo Thomas, reported that his uncle made two settlements in this area. The first settlement was as early as 1850.
The second settlement was made in 1865. Even though the first settlement was not permanent, yet it will help to clarify some of the apparent conflicting dates and events that we will meet in this biography. Permit me to list some of the quotes dealing with the history of Philo Thomas,
“General Farmer… Also proprietor of the blacksmith shop.”
“The years were full of adventure, and the first adventurous settler was Philo Thomas and his wife Arminda… their home still stands in the northwest section of the town” (Many of the readers will remember this dwelling. It was torn down several years ago.)
“The first settler to take up a homestead and actually make a home in the wilderness near the present location of Hemlock, was Philo Thomas, who came in 1850.”
“Mr. Strobel built a hotel across the street from Philo Thomas of Hemlock City.”
Our subject, Philo Thomas, was born September 11th, 1831, and died February 8th, 1903. His spouse, Arminda Thomas, was born in 1833 and died in 1912.
Philo Thomas was the father of the late Albert Thomas and the grandfather of Lloyd Thomas, the present owner of the Thomas Hardware Store.
At this time, we should also mention Dighton Thomas, a brother of Philo. Dighton was the grandfather of Mearl Thomas and Miss Thelma Thomas. Both men, Philo and Dighton Thomas, came here from Ohio.
Mearl Thomas related to me that his grandfather had a family of sixteen children but only four of his sons accompanied him to Michigan. It may be of interest to note that a son of Dighton Thomas was named Philo. This Philo Thomas was the father of our present Mearl Thomas. Later, we will meet Philo Thomas again when we will concern ourselves with the postal offices of Hemlock City.
According to a fairly reliable source, we learn that this Mr. Thomas had the first telephone at Hemlock City.
- History of Saginaw County, Michigan 1881.
- Atlas of Saginaw County F, W., Beers.