In 1988, The Centennial History of Hurricane, WV was published to commemorate the town’s 100th anniversary. Since the Centennial History is now out of print, the Breeze is reprinting articles from the book as space allows. This week’s selection will be the 230th installment of the Centennial History.
THE THOMAS-LEADMAN FAMILY
Submitted by Mark S. Meadows
As was so often the case during the dark days of the early 1860’s, the commencement of hostilities between north and south witnessed the separation of friends and loved ones, some for all time and eternity. Such was the fate of the Thomas branch of the Thomas-Leadman family, as its origins are inextricably woven into the tragic consequences of the War Between the States.
Susanna America Smith, daughter of Bartley and Nancy Thomas Smith was born near Big Hurricane Creek, Putnam County, Virginia, in 1843. In November, 1860, she became the bride of George P. Thomas, son of William and Susan Thomas, of Giles County, Virginia. The first of the young couple’s two children, Araminta Frances, or ‘Minty’ as she was more commonly known, was born in December, 1861. A son, Allen Benton, was born in March, 1864.
Not long after little Ben’s birth, the family moved to Gallia County, Ohio, where George enlisted as a private in Company ‘H’ of the 43rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He saw active service throughout eastern Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Unfortunately, however, tragedy struck in August, 1865, when George died from wounds received in battle some months earlier. Records indicate that he was convalescing at Newton Hospital, North Carolina at the time.
Faced with the prospect of rearing two small children with no means of support other than charity, Susanna filed a widow’s pension claim with the government, and began receiving benefits shortly thereafter. In the winter of 1865, she met Reuben Leadman, who lived in nearby Green Township. Reuben, who had served with Company ‘L’ of the 7th Ohio Cavalry Regiment, was some twenty years her senior, and according to some, possessed a violent temper. Despite this, the couple was married at Gallipolis, Ohio, on February 14, 1866.
The family first took up residence in Clay Township, Gallia County, Ohio. In early 1867, the first of eight more children, James Franklin, was born. He was followed by Nancy Alice in 1871, Reuben C. in 1872, and Mary Matilda in 1874.
It was about this time that the family moved back to Putnam County, West Virginia. Shortly after their arrival, another daughter, Lizzie M., was born 1877. In May, 1878, Reuben purchased a farm containing some 438 acres on Big Hurricane Creek. It was here that the rest of the Leadman children were born – Pearl C. in 1880, Valera L. in 1884, and John in 1886.
As the children grew older, they each married into families that were well known throughout the Hurricane community. Minty Thomas married Peter C. Davis in 1886, and Ben Thomas married Mahala Ann Sovine in 1890. Marriages of the Leadman children included James Franklin to Leah East in 1890, Nancy Alice to Ezra Meadows in 1892, Reuben C. to Cora A. Sovine in 1894, Mary Matilda to Solomon D. Gilfillen ‘in 1891, Lizzie M. to Aaron Gibson (date unknown), Pearl C. to Robert L. Swann in 1901, and Valera to Robert Neal in 1902. At present, it is uncertain to whom John was married, but it is known that he was a resident of Lincoln County for several years.
Susanna America Smith Thomas Leadman passed away June 10, 1894, and was buried next to her parents in the Smith Family Cemetery. Reuben had by this time, grown quite feeble. Having suffered a gunshot wound at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, in 1864, he qualified for and received a disabled veteran’s pension, and was able to live his declining years in reasonable security. He passed away in October 1898, after a long period of illness, and was buried next to Susanna in the family burial plot.
A digital copy of the Centennial History can be obtained from the Hurricane City Hall for a small donation. For more information, call the City of Hurricane at (304) 562-5896.