A highly respected and public-spirited citizen of Maryville is Roland E. Thomas, an active and successful farmer and stock man. He was born near Galesburg, Knox county, Illinois, April 26, 1867, the son of Milam and Eliza (McMurtry) Thomas, the father a native of Ohio and the mother of Indiana. They were married in Illinois, both having come to that state with their parents when young, during the days of the early settlers. Capt. William McMurtry raised a company there for the Black Hawk war and served for sixty days. He was a brother of John McMurtry, the father of Mrs. Thomas. It was in 1883 that Milam Thomas came to Nodaway county. M issouri. and bought of William Garrett a fifty-acre farm where his son Roland E. now lives, in the southeast part of Maryville, also two hundred and forty acres nine miles northeast of the city in Polk township. He was even then a retired farmer, and he put his daughter. Sarah A. Jordan, on this farm. He had a farm of six hundred and forty acres in Knox county. Illinois, including his wife’s old home, the John McMurtry homestead. He there entered land at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre. In 1883 he sold out at forty-five dollars per acre, and this same land is now worth one hundred and twenty-five dollars or more per acre. He paid one hundred and ten dollars for the fifty acres and thirty dollars for the farm, which is now worth eighty dollars or more per acre. He finally gave one of the farms to his daughter and his eighty-acre place to his son, Roland E. The house was built by William Garrett. Milam Thomas died August 14, 1895, having reached an advanced age, his birth occurring on July 22. 1817. He was a man of splendid characteristics and was admired by all who knew him. Mrs. Milam Thomas was born March 3. 1830, married November 1, 1849. and died October 12, 1889. They were the parents of four children. Elias E., who is living with Roland E., of this review; John W. is living retired at Skidmore, Missouri, being interested in a hardware store with his son; Sarah A. married Thomas D. Jordan, living at Hydro, Oklahoma.
Roland E. Thomas was sixteen years old when he came to Maryville. He attended the public schools and graduated from the Normal Business College in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1884. On August 14, 1887. he married Alice Thompson, daughter of Lewis and Mary Alice (Arnett) Thompson. Mrs. Thomas was horn in Sullivan county, Indiana, in which state her mother died; soon after this event Alice came to Polk township, Nodaway county, Missouri, accompanying her father, who purchased a farm here on which he lived until his death. He died in Maryville in August, 1903, at the age of seventy-two years. His second wife was Josephine Gaskill. daughter of David Gaskill.
To Mr. and Mrs. Roland E. Thomas three children were born: Robert Raymond was born January 17, 1890, and died September 9, 1890; Mary Ann, who graduated from the conservatory of music in 1910, is the possessor of rare talent in music and both she and her sister, Vernie Irene, who is a high school student, live at home, being young ladies of refinement and favorites in the younger social set of the city.
Mr. Thomas bought the old Adam Terhune farm, containing two hundred and sixty acres, three miles southeast of Maryville, and there farmed successfully for several years, but finally sold this. He owns eighty acres in Polk township which he rents. He was formerly well known as a breeder of Poland-China hogs, and is a member of the Poland-China Breeders’ Association. He is a member of the Maryville Commercial Club, taking an active interest in the welfare of the vicinity in every way. He is the owner of twelve and one-half acres of valuable land within the city limits, which has been laid out into lots, being a part of Chamberlain’s first addition. His place is largely in fruit of choice varieties.
Mr. Thomas served as a member of the city council from 1907 to 1909, having been elected on the People’s ticket, but in national affairs and local issues as w r ell he is a Democrat and active in the affairs of his party. Fraternally, he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Rebekahs; also the Modern Woodmen and the Royal Neighbors. He enjoys outside sports, and often takes a pleasant outing with rod and gun. He has a very pleasant and attractive home, and personally he is a very pleasant gentleman to meet, hospitable, genial and straightforward in his relations with his fellow-men.
Source: B. F. Bowen & Company. Past and present of Nodaway County, Missouri. Indianapolis, Indiana: B. F. Bowen & Company. 1910.