Colonel John Thomas - The Thomas family emigrated from Wales to Virginia and arrived in Illinois by 1807. The family constructed a portion of the old stage-coach road from Vincennes, IL to St. Louis, MO (known as the Great Western Mail Route and later the National Road). Thomas participated in formulating the first State of Illinois Constitution and in the formation of the Republican Party.
Three generation of the Thomas family were capitalists who were influential in the manufacturing and business life of Belleville. Colonel John Thomas built Main Street’s Thomas House in 1854 and became President of the Pump & Skein Works in 1877. In 1880, he published the Advocate Newspaper, and he became the owner of the Short Line Railroad in 1884. Thomas family members served as Circuit Judges and members of the State Legislatures.