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William Holland Thomas and James Robert Thomas Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MS-2072

The William Holland Thomas and James Robert Holland Thomas collection consists of five boxes of materials broken down into two series. The collections spans the years 1812-1939. the first series contains William Holland Thomas's personal Bibles, correspondence, and business papers. The correspondence is one of the most interesting parts of the William Holland Thomas series. One of the more notable items in this series is the large bound letter book spanning the years 1839-1840, when William Holland Thomas was in Washington fighting for the claims of the Eastern Cherokee. The second series in this collection contains James Robert Thomas's personal items, business materials, legal documents, correspondence, maps, newspaper articles, and supplemental materials. James Robert Thomas's business papers and legal documents reveal the extent of the Thomas family's influence and land holdings in the Western North Carolina region.

Dates

  • 1812-1939, 1968

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.

Extent

7.5 Linear Feet

Abstract

The William Holland Thomas and James Robert Thomas collection consists of five boxes of materials broken down into two series. The collection spans the years 1812-1939. The first series contains William Holland Thomas's personal Bibles, correspondence, and business papers. The second series contains his son James Robert Thomas's personal items, business materials, legal documents, correspondence, maps, newspaper articles, and supplemental materials.

Biographical/Historical Note

William Holland Thomas was born in 1805 on the Western North Carolina frontier. He was born fatherless and raised by his widowed mother, Temperance Thomas, and the native Eastern Band of the Cherokee people. Known as Wil-Usdi or Little Will, William Holland Thomas was schooled in the Cherokee languages and customs. He was later named a chief of a small group of North Carolina Cherokees in 1839. Due to his unique friendship with the indigenous Cherokee people, he was positioned as a unique transcultural figure. He fought to keep his Cherokee friends from being forced off their land. He later served as a Confederate Colonial, a state senator, a businessman, the builder of railroads, and an ambitious developer. William Holland Thomas spent much of his later life in and out of mental health institutions. Thomas died on May 10, 1893.

James Robert Thomas, William Holland Thomas's son, was born in 1860. He was a socially prominent businessman in North Carolina. He spent much of his life managing the estate and business affairs of his father. He died in 1936.

Arrangement

Collection consists of five boxes divided into two series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: William Holland Thomas Papers
  2. Series II: James Robert Thomas Papers

Acquisition Note

This collection is property of the University of Tennessee Libraries, Knoxville, Special Collections.

Digitized Materials

The William Holland Thomas Letterbook, 1839-1840, has been digitized by DLI.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

Contact:
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA
865-974-4480