Civil War Blog

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Death of Major Findlay I. Thomas at Lykens, 1922

Posted By on October 26, 2015


Information about Civil War veteran Findlay I. Thomas of York County was first presented to the Civil War Research Project by researcher-writer Dennis Brandt.  Although Thomas spent most of his life outside the Lykens Valley area, he died in Lykens Borough, Dauphin County, in 1922.  Despite this connection with Lykens, he was previously ignored by not being included on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument and he was not included in the original list of Civil War veterans with some geographical association to the Civil War Research Project.

In an e-mail dated 18 July 2011, Dennis Brandt wrote:

This soldier may be of interest to you.  Findlay Isaac “Fin” Thomas was born 20 August 1842, in Cashtown, Adams County, the son of Phillip Thomas & Anna Thomas.  He was a student at the Pfeiffer Collegiate Institute in New Oxford when he joined with Thaddeus Stevens Pfeiffer‘s militia that headed off in York to enlist.  Thomas did so on 27 August 1861, and mustered 12 September with the Thomas A. Scott Infantry Regiment, which soon became the 87th Pennsylvania Infantry.  He was elected Sergeant and later promoted to Sergeant Major, date unknown.  Reenlisted as a Veteran Volunteer and suffered a hernia of the left testicle on a charge outside Petersburg, Virginia, on 22 June 1864, when he stumbled over a fallen tree.  Promoted to Captain of Company I on 26 January 1865.  Wounded 2 April 1865, during the final assault on Petersburg and brevetted major for “meritorious service.”

After the war, he attended Dickinson Seminary in Williamsport and later lived in Mechanicsburg.  Married Agnes Elizabeth Kirk 27 August 1872, in Harrisburg and sired Amy Blanche Thomas (born 25 May 1873) and Alfred Kirk Thomas (born 24 October 1874).  In 1890, he lived in New Cumberland.  In 1920 was vice-president of East End Trust Company in Harrisburg and was heavily involved with post-war 87th Pennsylvania reunions.  He died 18 March 1922, in Lykens, although that is the only connection to Lykens I have uncovered.  He is buried in Paxtang Cemetery.  His first name was also spelled “Finley” and “Findley.”

His brother, David Newton Thomas, was a Sergeant in Company I, 87th Pennsylvania Infantry, and is buried in Vernon Cemetery in Baltimore County, Maryland.

At the time of his death in March 1922, several obituaries of Findlay I. Thomas appeared in the Harrisburg newspapers:


Major Thomas Dies at Daughter’s Home

Major Findlay I. Thomas, 80 years old, a veteran of the Civil War, and father of Al K. Thomas, prominent banker of this city, died early this morning at the home of his daughter, Mrs. W. C. Espenshade, in Lykens.  He served in the 87th Pennsylvania Veterans Volunteers Infantry [87th Pennsylvania Infantry] during the Civil War attaining the rank of Major.  He was a member of the A.O.K.M.C., the Knights of Malta, the Loyal Legion of the United States, the Dauphin County Historical Society and the Stevens Memorial Methodist Church.

Funeral services will be held from the latter’s home, 2107 Jonestown Road on Tuesday afternoon at 2 o’clock, the Rev. William Moses, former pastor of the Stevens Methodist Church officiating.  The veteran had written out the complete details as to the funeral arrangements, which are to be carried out according to his desire.




Funeral services for Major Findlay I. Thomas, 80 years old, veteran of te Civil War, and father of Al K. Thomas, banker of this city, who died Saturday morning at the home of his daughter, Mrs. W. C. Espenshade, in Lykens, will be held tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock from the home of his son, Al K. Thomas, with the Rev. William Moses officiating.  Burial will be in the Paxtang Cemetery.

Major Thomas for the past forty years was a school teacher.  During the Civil War he served with the 87th Pennsylvania Veterans’ Volunteer Infantry [87th Pennsylvania Infantry].  He was a member of Post 58, Grand Army of the Republic; Ancient Order Knights of the Mystic Chain, and of the Loyal Legion of the United States.  He was also a member of the Stevens Memorial Methodist Church.



Funeral services for Major Findlay I. Thomas, aged 80, a veteran of the Civil War, whose death occurred Saturday at the home of his daughter, Mrs. W. C. Espenshade, Lykens, were held this afternoon at 2 o’clock at the home of his son, A. K. Thomas, 2107 Walnut Street.  The services were conducted by the Rev. William Moses, pastor of St. Paul’s Methodist Church, and burial was made in the Paxtang Cemetery.

The pallbearers were J. W. Barker, Charles H. Hoffman, John P. Snyder, Jacob Morsch, A. W. Black and A. J. Pugh.


The Civil War record of Findlay I. Thomas:


According to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Index Card, Thomas I. Findlay enrolled in the 87th Pennsylvania Infantry at York, Pennsylvania, on 27 August 1861.  He was mustered into Company I as a Sergeant on 12 September 1861.  At the time, he was 21 years old, was 5 foot, 8 inches tall, had brown eyes, brown hair, and a fair complexion.  According to other information given at enrollment, he was born in Adams County, Pennsylvania and resided there at the time of the Civil War.  On 1 January 1864, he re-enlisted at Brandy Station, Virginia, and transferred from Company I to Company C along with a promotion to Sergeant Major.  On 26 January 1965, he was promoted to Captain.  The card shown above is from the web site of the Pennsylvania Archives.


Following the war, on 31 December 1879, Findlay I. Thomas applied for a disability pension, which he received and collected until his death in 1922.  The Pension Index Card (shown above) is from Ancestry.com and references the application file available at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  Findlay I. Thomas survived his wife, who had died in 1908.  Her obituary is given below.


He was active in G.A.R. affairs and in honoring veterans of the Civil War as the following picture and article indicate:



Findlay I. Thomas‘s post Civil War activities included active participation in Post 58 of the G.A.R., and while the Principal Teacher of the Webster School in Harrisburg, he often involved his students in recognizing the veterans who fought in the Civil War:



On Friday exercises at the Webster School Building, Thirteenth and Kittatinny Streets [Harrisburg], were carried out in the most interesting detail by the scholars under the instructions of Quartermaster Findlay I. Thomas, of Post 58, G.A.R., and his efficient corps of teachers. The rooms of the four different grades where the exercises were held (the ten schools being combined with the schools in the four rooms) were handsomely decorated with flowers and flags.  The children all carried flags in their hands, made a scene that will long remain a bright memory to those that witnessed it.  Captain George addressed he children in each room where the exercises were held.


Mrs. Findlay I. Thomas died in 1908 and her obituary as it appeared in Harrisburg newspaper is presented below.  The obituary is followed by a tribute paid to her by her comrades in the Dauphin County Women’s Christian Temperance Union:




Well-Known Resident Of East End Died Today

Mrs. Findlay I. Thomas, wife of the well-known retired principal of the Webster School building, died at the Thomas residence, 416 South Sixteenth Street, this afternoon at 12:57, aged 63 years.  Besides the husband, two children survive — Al K. Thomas, Cashier of the East End Bank, and Mrs. Willis C. Espenshade, Cochransville, Pennsylvania; also one sister, Mrs. Caroline Grove, North Sixth Street, Harrisburg. 

Mrs. Thomas was before her marriage Agnes Elizabeth Kirk, daughter of the late Jacob Kirk, of New Marke.  She was a member of the B. F. Stevens Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church.  Mrs. Thomas was an active Christian worker.  Her death was the result of a week’s illness.

The funeral arrangements will be announced later.




The following memorial of Mrs. Findlay I. Thomas was passed by the County W.C.T.U.:

With sad hearts we have heard of the death of Mrs. Findlay I. Thomas, the beloved secretary of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of Dauphin County.  As such time words seem feeble to express the feelings of the heart.  Conscious, however, of the great loss our Union has sustained, we would pay loving tribute to her faithfulness as an official for many years, and to her worth as an active member of the organization.  At the same time each member of the Executive Committee feels that she has lost a personal friend, whose sympathy and regard have been most precious possessions.

We humbly bow to the decree of an overruling Providence, and hereby consecrate ourselves anew to the great work which was so close to the heart and life of our departed do-laborer.

We would recommend that a copy of this memorial be spread upon the minutes of the Executive Committee; a copy forwarded to the family of our deceased sister, and a copy furnished the press of the city.

In behalf of Dauphin Count Women’s Christian Temperance Union,

R. Elma Nickleson

Edith E. Mulford,



News clippings are from Newspapers.com and the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.



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