John Thomas, Jr.

Birth: 06-01-1827
Death: 01-01-1911

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John Thomas, Jr. was born in Ballemore Township, Rosecommon County, Ireland in June, 1827. In 1845 the potato famine hit Ireland and subsequently in 1847 he emigrated to America at the age of 20.  In 1852 he married Catherine Connor in Joliet, Illinois. Together they had 8 children as follows:

Francis (1853-1868) Andrew (1855-1908) Mary Ann (1857-1890) Ellen (1859) Sarah (1862-1911) George (1863-1911) Teresa (1868-1891) Katie (1871-1897)

In August of 1858 they packed up there things and set out in a covered wagon  to follow John's parents (John Thomas Sr. and Mary (Gillispie) Thomas) west  to eventually settle in Sarpy County near the Elkhorn River in Forest City in the Nebraska Territory.

There was a fellow named Jack Nolan. He was a bachelor, a blacksmith, and blind in one eye. He had his shop set up in the woods on the bank of the Elkhorn River. He was a bad hombre and he and John's brother, Anthony, never could get along together. He came down to Anthony's store one day and got himself some of that "forty-rod" whiskey. He got liquored up and decided to "clean up the joint." He ordered all the people in the store to "skedaddle" and proceeded to pull his six shooter "cap and ball" cavalry revolver and started shooting up the place. When the smoke cleared, it was discovered that Anthony had been shot in the arm, the ball entering the wrist and exiting at the elbow, and his brother John Thomas Jr. had been shot in the side.

Jack Nolan left for his place and the locals rushed in to give first aid. They put John on his horse and Mrs. Joe Cleburne gave John her father's sword to protect himself with on his way home. John got as far as the Welch house before he grew weak from loss of blood and fell from his horse. Mrs. Welch and Mrs. Dolan helped him back onto his horse and while one led the horse, the other held him on the horse, until they came to Mrs. Dolan's dugout. They sent word to his family that he was injured. Old Fitzgerald the schoolmaster came down and tried to remove the ball. In trying to dig the ball out with the handle of a spoon, he ended up pushing the ball into the abdominal cavity. It remained there for the rest of his life and reportedly always caused him a lot of trouble.

A short time after that, Jack Nolan went up to Elk City and got into a dispute about a bet and shot a fellow. He thought he had killed the man, so he skipped town. That was the last he was seen on the area of Forest City, but P.J. Melia caught site of him in Wyoming some 20 years later.

For 40 years, John Thomas Jr. served as Justice of the Peace of the area.  Among other judicial duties, he performed marriages in Sarpy County.  John Thomas Jr. died in 1911 at the age of 84 and was buried in Thomas Calvary Cemetery.