William Owen THOMAS 1857 – 1885

WILLIAM OWEN THOMAS 1857 – 1885

Florence Thomas 1857 – 1888

William Owen was born in 21 October 1857 at Tremerchion, Flintshire, he was the only son of Owen Thomas   and Martha Jones who were both from Llanfechell, which was close to Cemaes Bay, Anglesey. Owen was a corn dealer and the toll keeper at Bodengen before moving to Rhuallt where he had a grocery shop.

On 19 January 1881 William Owen married Florence Heywood at St Giles in Wrexham.

Florence was the daughter of Thomas Heywood and Elizabeth Pinnington. Her father was a watchmaker from Bangor, Caernarvonshire and her mother was from Liverpool. She was one of at least 9 children. From newspaper reports it seems Florence and her sisters were quite good pianists and singers and had performed in a number of local Temperance concerts.

The marriage was reported in the Wrexham Advertiser two days later, but it was Florence rather than her husband that was the subject.

MARRIAGE OF MISS F. HEYWOOD. On Tuesday Morning, the marriage of Mr William Thomas, North and South Wales Bank. Corwen, and formerly of Wrexham, to Miss Florence Heywood, youngest daughter of Mr Thomas Heywood, Queen Street, was solemnised at the Parish Church, where the ceremony was performed by the Rev. D. Howel, vicar, the bride being given away by Father.  The bridesmaids were Miss Lizzie Heywood and Miss Hampson, Liverpool, Mr J, R. Jones, cousin to the bridegroom, acting in the capacity of best man. The bride wore a rich dress of fawn coloured silk, with tulle veil and bridal wreath, the costumes   of the bridesmaids consisting of pale blue satine, trimmed with pompadour, and cream plush hats.

Wrexham Advertiser

After the ceremony the Wedding party, who on leaving the Church were greeted with showers of rice from the assembled bystanders, adjourned to the residence of Mr Heywood and after partaking of the bridal dejeuner the newly wedded and proverbially happy pair left Wrexham for Liverpool, amidst the hearty good wishes of relatives and friends. We may add that the bride received several valuable presents, including one of an especially interesting character consisting of an antique teapot, water jug, and tray, presented by the teachers of the Church Sunday School.

The young couple moved back to Corwen where William Owen was an accountant for the North and South Wales Bank.

Their first child was Arthur Heywood Thomas; his birth was registered in the March qtr of 1882 in the Corwen district and another son Charles Edward Thomas was born 9 January 1883 in Wrexham.  About January 1883 and for reasons unknown William Owen Thomas left his job in the bank and went to America, he completely changed his occupation and became a conductor on the North Pacific Railroad.

On 31 January 1885 there was an article in the Wrexham Advertiser, Florence`s mother had died, but it also told of the death of William Owen Thomas.

DEATH OF MRS HEYWOOD. Great sympathy is felt and expressed throughout Wrexham with our old and respected townsman, Mr T. Hey wood, High Street, on the death of Mrs Heywood, which took place on Monday morning at the age of 67 years. Mrs Heywood had been ill for some weeks, and the family were partly prepared for a fatal result. To add to the troubles of Mr Heywood and his family, a few days before Mrs Heywood’s death, a telegram was received from America stating that Mr W. O. Thomas, son-in-law of Mr Heywood, formerly of the North and South Wales Bank, Wrexham, and subsequently Corwen, and who about two years ago went to America, had lost his life through the breaking out of a fire on a travelling railway car, and that his widow was on her way home with the body.

Wrexham Advertiser 31st Jan 1885

The incident was also reported in the local papers in America.

The dining car on the Northern Pacific road which was attached to train No. 12, due here at 7 a. m., Sunday caught fire from a range in the kitchen and was totally destroyed. The fire was discovered near Bedford and the car cut off from the train at that place. Conductor W. O. Thomas broke his leg in two places in attempting to throw the car from the track.

Brainerd Dispatch, 16 January 1885

Further details state that he was taken to hospital in Brainerd but was too weak for amputation, but while they waited for him to get stronger but blood poisoning set in and he died.

W O Thomas, the dining car conductor of the Northern Pacific, who was injured on the morning of the 9th inst., died Friday morning at the Sanitarium. Mr. Thomas, it will be remembered, was conductor of the car burned last week at Bedford. Mr. Thomas was one of the most popular dining car conductors on the Northern Pacific and had been with the company since the first dining car was put on the road. He leaves a widow and two children. The remains were taken to St. Paul and the funeral was under the charge of the Northern Pacific Beneficial association, of which the deceased was a member.

Brainerd Dispatch, 23 January 1885

There was a service and funeral card were printed, but no burial took place. Florence arrived home and a daughter Florence Agnes Thomas was born 3 April 1885 in Cambridge Terrace, Talbot Road, Wrexham.

Finally, on 28 May 1885 William Owen was buried in Wrexham.

MR W 0. THOMAS. On Thursday the remains of Mr W. Owen Thomas, formerly of Wrexham and son-in-law to Mr Thomas Heywood, jeweller and watchmaker. High-street, were interred in the new Cemetery, the Vicar officiating, it will be remembered by a large number to whom Thomas was well known that he accepted a post upon the North Pacific Railroad in the United States. While fulfilling the duties of his position, one of the cars of the train he was on caught fire. Mr Thomas with some the officials attempted to uncouple the car when the chain snapped and in rebound smashed his leg. He was taken a distance of three hundred miles to the hospital at Brainerd, Minnesota where he died on the 16th of January. The body was embalmed by the directions of his widow, and it was kept in the ice house of the cemetery at Brainerd until a short time ago, when it was enclosed in a handsome casket and sent to England at the expense of the Railway Company. The casket or coffin was covered with black cloth, adorned with six massive handles of oxydised silver and gold. In the lid was a large sheet of plate glass, and on the top was a solid silver plate bearing the inscription, “Born October 21st, 1857. William Owen Thomas. Died January 16th, 1855.” The body came over in the “City of Rome” and was buried exactly four months and a fortnight after the death. During the week large numbers of persons visited the chapel of the Cemetery where the body lay.

(Surely many of these just came out of a morbid curiosity to take a peep through the glass).

On 9 April 1888 Florence died at 79 Upper Warwick Street Liverpool, she was only 31.    Probate records state she was late of Derby Street, Manchester, her will was proved by her two sisters, Lucy Ann Thomas widow and Elizabeth Emily Hampson (wife of William Lester Hampson) both of Wrexham. Florence was brought home to Wrexham and buried with her husband.   Their three young children were orphans.

In 1891 the eldest son Arthur Heywood was with his grandparents Owen and Martha in Dymeirchion, Owen was the postmaster and they were living in the post office. Arthur Owen was a scholar so possibly at a school there.  

By 1901 his Grandparents had both died and he had got a job as a bank clerk, he was a boarder in a house in Rhyl.

On 29 December1903 he married Jessie Evelyn Reynolds in Wrexham.  Jessie had been born in Brymbo about 1879. By 1911 they were living in Liverpool, and had 2 sons and 2 daughters.  The odd thing about this census is that Arthur Heywood states he was born in London and was a music hall artist/musician. Jessie says she was born in Chester. As a daughter is named Florence, and a son has the middle name of Heywood it`s definitely them. Another son was born 27 May 1915 in Liverpool. By September 1917 Arthur Heywood must have died as Jessie Evelyn Thomas married James T Gent in Liverpool. His death has not been found for sure.

In 1891 Charles Edward Thomas was with his Aunt Elizabeth and her husband William L Hampton, they are living in West Derby.  By 1901 he is back in Wrexham, he is working as iron mongers apprentice and living with his Aunt Fanny and her husband William Robert Williams in Watery Road.  By 1906 he is in Ontario, Canada working as a printer, and on 24 December 1906 he married Catherine Ann Tufts.  His marriage entry confirms his parents.

In 1914 Charles Edward joined the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force. He was sent over to England from October 1914 till February 1915, and then went out to France. In April he was at Ypres and suffered from cloud gas inhalation and shell concussion, he also fractured his foot. He was admitted to Monks Horton Canadian Convalescent Hospital in Kent. He returned to Canada suffering from severe chest and breathing problems, insomnia, fatigue and mental strain with the result that he was finally discharged from the Army in November 1915. At that time his home address was in Toronto. He died there on 8 March 1954 having had two daughters.

Florence Agnes Thomas was born on April 1885 in Cambridge Terrace, Talbot Road, Wrexham.  She would have never known her father,

In 1891 she was in Smithfield with her Aunt Lucy Ann Thomas (Heywood) who was a widow, and by 1901 they had moved to Kings Mills Road. In 1911 Lucy Ann was on her own and Florence was in Broughton, Salford. She was a domestic nurse employed by Marco Lisbona who was a shipping merchant in the cotton trade.

Lucy Ann Thomas died in 1914 leaving effects of £1309, so was a relatively wealthy lady. Florence Agnes has not been found. All marriages only have an initial for her middle name, there are no matching deaths and she isn`t found on any family trees.

Researched by Annette Edwards. Sourced from Family Trees and Canadian War records. January 2019.

Wrexham Cemetery 07/03/2018

Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery J-02782