Newspapers always have seemed to have a way of expressing hyperbole and extreme characterizations of individuals that they profile. One person that clearly illustrates the sway of journalists’ and the public’s opinion is a certain Thomas Wellington Thurston, Jr.
Excerpted from Who’s Who of the Colored Race, Vol. I:
THURSTON, Thomas Wellington, Jr., silk manufacturer, clergyman; born at Moorefield, W. Va., Apr. 9, 1866; son of Thomas W. and Betty (Jones) Thurston; grad. Romney High School, W. Va.; studied theology under Rev. Dr. J. A. Gayley, of Princeton Univ., N. J.; (hon. D.D., Lotta Univ., Raleigh, N. C); married Julia Lacey, of Washington, D. C, 1890; 7 children: Virginia, Pauline, Ruth, Marie, Derrick, Douglas, Dwight. Ordained Baptist ministry, 1894; pastor St. John Temple Church, Washington, D. C; principal Barnwell Normal and Farm Life School for Colored Youth, Fort Barnwell, N. C; editorial writer for Free-will Baptist Advocate. Began as silk manufacturer, 1895; established the Five Points Silk Mills that year at Columbia, Pa.; built the Mammoth Silk Mills, Fayetteville, N. C, 1900, the Twins Silk Mills, Kinston, N. C, 1906; now manager W. H. Ashley Silk Co.; employs average of about 600 operatives; only American silk manufacturer of African descent. Republican. Mason; member Odd Fellows. Address; Kinston, N. C.
For such a man as this and for such a time, the possibilities were plentiful for headlines of the day.
Thurston was survived by his wife, Ruth Mills Thurston, daughters—-Connie V. Ray, Pauline Griffin, and Marie Pittman—and sons, Douglas Thurston* and Dwight Thurston, per the above obituary. I learned about T.W. Thurston while researching my Brewington family lines. Thurston’s son, Douglas (1895-1962), married my grandfather’s first cousin, Esther King (1907-1985), in 1927. Esther was the daughter of Tilithia Brewington King Godbold Dabney.
By these historical newspaper accounts, T.W. Thurston seemingly had a full and controversial life. By taking a deep dive into collateral family lines, there’s really no telling what can be learned. Do yourself a research favor and check out a historical newspaper database or website today. You will be sure to discover something that you never would have guessed.
Here are additional links to learn more about the interesting life of T.W. Thurston:
The Genealogy Situation Room