Thomas, Rees &
Sophia. Rees E. Thomas has for a number of years been one
of those active business leaders at Burrton who carry many
responsibilities having to do not only with his individual prosperity but
with the welfare of the entire community. Mr. Thomas first
knew Burrton, Kansas, as a boy, but has spent his life in many different
localities. He was born in Fillmore County, Minnesota, April 2, 1877. His
father, William R. Thomas, who died at Burrton, Kansas, in December, 1913,
was a very capable worker and business man and his spirit of enterprise
caused him to taste new experiences in many widely separated fields of
endeavor. He was born in 1845 at Penmachno in North Wales, and grew up
there and did work as a slate quarryman. In 1865, at the age of twenty, he
immigrated to the United States, spending a short time in Pennsylvania,
later was in Wisconsin, and then went to Fillmore County, Minnesota, and
joined the pioneer agricultural element of that state. Returning to Wales,
he married there in 1876, but soon brought his bride back to America and
in 1877 again located in Fillmore County, Minnesota, where he bought a
farm. About that time his oldest child, Rees E., was born. In 1882 William
R. Thomas moved to Minneapolis and in 1883 went back to Wales, where he
spent three and a half years and again resumed his trade as a quarryman.
In 1886 he returned to the United States for the third time, and in that
year located at Burrton, Kansas, where he was a farmer four and a half
years. From Kansas he went to the Northwest, locating on a farm at Almira
in the State of Washington. He continued farming for fifteen years and
finally returned to Burrton, Kansas, where he died. He early became an
American citizen, and at first followed the fortunes of the republican
party and later voted as a democrat. He was reared a Congregationalist but
for many years was active in the Presbyterian Church. William R. Thomas
married Ann Jones, who was born in North Wales in 1855 and died in July,
1896, at Almira, Washington. Besides Rees E. they had two daughters,
Jennie C. and Gwen. Jennie is now living with her brother at Burrton. The
youngest child died unmarried at Almira, Washington, March 26, 1904.
Rees E. Thomas spent portions of his early childhood and youth in
Minnesota, Wales, Kansas and the State of Washington. He received his
first instruction in the public schools of North Wales, also attended high
school at Burrton, and in the winter seasons went to school near Almira,
Washington. In the fall of 1906 he returned to Kansas and has since
been a permanent resident of Burrton. In January of that year he had
bought 160 acres of land here, but sold that in 1914. For one year he was
in the mercantile business at Burrton with W. H. Osborne trading his
interest in the store for a farm. Mr. Thomas is now engaged in the land
and loan business. He is also interested in oil property, has some leases,
and some of his productive wells are now sending oil to refineries. Mr.
Thomas owns real estate in Hutchinson, his residence at Burrton, and his
varied interests at one time connected him actively with the newspaper
business. On December 10, 1914, he bought a half interest in the Burrton
Graphic and retained it until June 1, 1916, when he sold to R. G.
Williams, the present editor of the paper. At this writing Mr.
Thomas is president of the City Council at Burrton, having been elected in
the spring of 1917, secretary of the Burrton Commercial Club, and vice
president of the Burrton Chautauqua Association. He is one of the leading
young men in the democratic party in Kansas, and is a worker for the
interests of that organization both in county and state conventions. In
the fall of 1912 he was candidate of his party for county clerk of Harvey
County. This county is normally republican by about 1,500, but that year
the republican candidate for county clerk had a majority of only 100 votes
over Mr. Thomas.
In 1903 at Burrton Mr. Thomas married Miss Sophia Rowlands, daughter of J.
M. and Mary Rowlands, who live on their farm a mile east of Burrton. Mr.
and Mrs. Thomas have one daugher, Mary Jane, born July 26, 1913. Mr.
Thomas is active in fraternal matters, especially in the Masonic order. He
is present worshipful master of Burrton Lodge No. 182, Ancient Free and
Accepted Masons, is a member of Hutchinson Chapter 34, Royal Arch Masons,
Hutchinson Council No. 13, Royal and Select Masters, Reno Commandery No.
26, Knights Templar, and Burrton Chanpter No. 129, Order of the Eastern
Star. In the Scottish Rite he is affiliated with Wichita Consistory No. 2
and also belongs to Midian Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Wichita. He is a
member and trustee of Burrton Lodge No. 251, Independent Order of Odd
Fellows, and belongs to Hutchinson Lodge No. 453, Benevolent and
Protective Order of Elks, and to the Anti-Horse Thief Association. (A
Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E.