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Benton County, Iowa ~ Biography and Family Information

Thomas Way


THOMAS B. WAY (son of SETH, grandson of HENRY, great-grandson of PAUL,
great-great-grandson of JOHN, great-great-great-grandson of WILLIAM,
great-great-great-great-grandson of AARON, & believed to be the
great-great-great-great-great-grandson of HENRY )

THOMAS B. WAY was born November 15, 1805 in Center MM, Guilford, North
Carolina.
May 30, 1812

5-30-1812 Seth & son Thomas rocf (received by certificate) Center MM OH;
Sarah & daughters Lydia & Hannah rocf Center MM OH.  (NOTE: During  the
War of 1812 Seth Sr. was disowned by the Quakers because he helped in
military operations.  He helped build the blockhouse  in Green Twp
(township)  Wayne City IN)

November 05, 1821
Land Record:
In the 1st land entries  for Green Twp Wayne City Thomas is listed as
having the following land - T17R13E E1/2 SW Sec 1 80 acres - Nov. 5,
1821. This land was very close to several other Ways. Thomas would have
been quite young when he acquired the land but it might have come through
his father, Seth, who had some land that in the same section.

October 30, 1823
He married SARAH TAMER MASSEY   in Wayne County, Indiana.

August 14, 1824
He was discharged from the Quakers. On 4-10-1824 the meeting complained
that Thomas married contrary to discipline and he was discharged
8-14-1824

September 10, 1824
His first child, David S. Way, was born .In Wayne County, Indiana.

About 1826
His second son, Mayberry M. Way, was born in Wayne, Indiana

About 1828
His third son, Benjamin Way, was born in Wayne, Indiana.

About 1830
His fourth son, James Smith Way, was born in Wayne, Indiana.

1830
Green Twp (township), Wayne City, Wayne County, Indiana  CENSUS: Thomas
had in his household 3 white males under 5; 1 between 5-10 (which would
have been David); and 1 between 20-30( which would have been Thomas
himself). White females - 1 between 20-30 (Tamar, his wife); 1 between
15-20 (Perhaps a hired girl or maybe a sister living with them?).

1832
A baby was born and died in Wayne, Indiana.

Thomas Cranor Way, referred to as Thomas Way Jr. In the 1850 census,
appears to have been born between 1833 and 1836. His parents lived in
Indiana until about 1837, then in Illinois until 1839, so he could have
been born in either place.

September 22, 1834
A daughter was born, named Mary Jane Way, in Wayne, Indiana.

1837 to 1839
He moved from Wayne County, Indiana  (about 1837) to Illinois, where the
family stayed for a short time.

1837-1838
William Seth Way was born in Illinois

1839
He brought his family to Benton County, Iowa, in 1839. His son David's
obituary states: "Thomas Way settled on a farm in Polk township in
(1839). The early history of Benton county is replete with mention of the
part he took in the early organization of the county government. When he
came to the county at that early date the county was a part of Linn
county and was not set apart for a number of years after his settling in
Polk township."

>From page 117 of Pioneer Recollections - Benton County: "The name of
Thomas Way is historically associated with the county. He also came in
1839. When a homeseeker was looking for land, he was always hospitable
and ready to show him the best land in the locality. He was charitable
and generous to a fault."

>From page 90 of the  History Of Benton County: "... Somewhat later in
1839 Thomas Way settled near Lockhart, and still later accessions to the
neighborhood were received in the persons of James Downs and Thomas and
Price Kendrick. ... Thomas Way, who has been mentioned as one of
Lockhart's neighbors, also became one of the most popular men in the
county, and held a number of public offices. He was hospitable, almost to
a fault. His ambitions to have the county seat located on the farm which
he bought at a later day near Vinton has already been described.  "Uncle
Tom," as he was generally called, moved to California during the gold
excitement of 1849."

1840
An infant was born and died in Iowa in 1840.

August 10, 1842
John Asbury Way, the last child known of, was born in Iowa.

>From page 282 of the History Of Benton County: "The first term of the
district court was appointed to commence on the last Monday in August,
1846, another election for county officers having been held on the first
Monday of the month; but a clerk of the district court was not elected
until the following March. Upon the day named James Downs, the new
sheriff, and Jonathan R. Pratt, district clerk pro tem, with eighteen
grand and seventeen petit jurors, assembled at the cabin of Thomas Way,
two miles northeast of the present court house; but that was as far as
the proceedings progressed for the holding of court, as Judge James P.
Carleton, who was to have presided, did not put in an appearance ..."

>From page 114 of Pioneer Recollections - Benton County: "... to locate
and establish the seat of justice of the County of Benton ... The site
selected by the commissioners was in ... Northport. ... February 12, 1848
... the name was then changed to Vinton ... a special act was passed,
ordering an election to be held in April, 1849. An equal number of votes
were cast for the present site, and for one on the farm of Thomas Way, on
the opposite side of the river, three miles northeast of Vinton. A second
election was held the following August, and the seat of justice was
removed to it's present location."

>From pages 282 & 283 of the History Of Benton County: "... Although there
was a county seat, no court house had yet been built; so "Uncle Tommy"
Way's log house was again honored, and a session actually commenced May
31, 1847."

>From page 115 of Pioneer Recollections - Benton County: "The first term
convened May 31, 1847, at the cabin of Thomas Way, which was then
considered the best house in the county. Mrs. Way removed the  kitchen
utensils to a sheltering tree, for the session of the court. ... The
court dispatched the business rapidly, and adjourned at the second day's
session. As was customary in that early day, the jug was brought forth to
strengthen the bonds of good fellowship, and the result may be guessed
at.  The second term of court was held at the same place, and opened
April 24, 1848. An interesting transaction of that session was the
repudiation of the county debt. The county was unable to pay the
outstanding warrants; in fact they had become worthless, and Mr. Way
suggested that the court relieve the county of its indebtedness by
burning all the warrants and records, which was done accordingly, with
'neatness, accuracy and dispatch.' "

>From page 283 of the History Of Benton County: "Way's cabin was in the
midst of thick timber, and to make room for the august assemblage, Mrs.
Way removed her pots, kettles & other household utensils to the shelter
of a neighboring tree. Having done this, she coolly seated herself on a
stump near the open door of the cabin and gazed with respectful wonder at
the collection of learned heads assembled within to administer the law to
the backwoodsmen of Benton county. The judge was perched on a
three-legged stool, behind a rough deal table (the only one in the house)
at the farther end of the little room. At the left of his honor, seated
on a low milk-bench, with his books and  papers spread out before him,
was Simison, the clerk..."

>From page 291 of the History Of Benton County: "The grand jury was called
and sworn ... the jury found a number of bills, one of which was lodged
against open-hearted Uncle Tom Way for selling liquor to the Indiana.
Undoubtedly, like many other early pioneers, he was technically guilty,
although his more usual custom was to offer his jug & his larder freely
to red man & white, minister or horse thief, bond or free. While he lived
in the country the log house of Mr. & Mrs. Way was open to all, & this
large hearted sociability & liberality more than once threw a suspicion
over the character of Uncle Tom that he was a real pal of the outlaws
himself; but the cloud never rested on the good old man overnight. As
testified to by his old neighbor and friend, Mr. Rice, the foreman of the
grand jury, which reestablished law in Benton county, Thomas Way was
"one of the most charitable, open-hearted, generous men I ever knew." He
was one of the characters  of these times who lightened and braced the
hearts of the pioneers and helped to lift them  bravely over their
hardships and dangers.

1850 Federal Census, IA, Benton Co., District No. 11, page 53B, line 28,
family/dwelling #28:
Thomas WAY            43,  male, farmer, real estate =$1000, b. NC
Sarah [J?] WAY        44,  female, b. IA (Indiana was abbreviated as IA)
Daniel O. SLUPER      24,  male, farmer, real estate =$500, b. VT
Thomas WAY Jr.        17,  male, farmer, b. IA, attended school
Mary Jane WAY         15,  female, b. [ILL?  IA?], attended school
William WAY           13,  male, b. IA, attended school
John A. WAY           09,  male, b. IA, attended school
James WAY             20,  male, farmer, real estate = $600, b. IA,
attended school

>From pages  291 & 292 of the History Of Benton County: "But Uncle Tom had
a son Berry, and he was  a horse thief &  desperado; also the cause of
the indictment which the grand jury placed against the father. During the
election of 1849 Berry Way assaulted Tom Kendrick & nearly killed him. He
was arrested & taken before Justice Cox, of Marysville,  with whom Uncle
Tom arranged to allow his wayward son to plead guilty & pay a fine of $5
& costs, a goodly portion of which was to go into the pocket of the
squire as fees. Justice Cox assessed the fine accordingly & accepted, in
payment, county warrants at their face value, thinking that they would be
readily received by the commissioners of the school fund to whom they
were legally paid. But when he tendered them, Commissioner E.H. Keyes
refused to take warrants at full value which he could sell for only about
$0.30 on the dollar, & demanded good yellow gold. Thereupon Justice Cox
was wroth. He paid the gold into the school fund, but, as he considered
that Uncle Tom was responsible for his loss, he made the complaint
against him of selling liquor to the Indians  which the grand jury voted
as a true bill.
"Uncle Way  was arrested, as a matter of form, and there was a general
stampede among his neighbors to see who could first get on his bail bond.
Before the day fixed for the trial, the following year, he had decided to
go to California & his family had already started. Uncle Tom was ready to
remain & be tried, but his friends urged him to leave, feeling certain
that the charge against him would hold & agreeing to pay his bail. He
started, but, to the surprise of his neighbors, on the day fixed for his
trial he rode up to the court room & dismounted from his horse, being
convinced, he said, that he would be acquitted.
"On the trial, the principal witness appeared to have had a complete
lapse of memory & the jury disagreed. James Harlan, then prosecuting
attorney, became convinced that Way could not be convicted, & suggested
to the court an assessment of the costs against the defendant. Uncle Tom
agreed to this, paid over about thirty dollars, mounted his horse, wrung
the hands of his warm friends who had gathered around him, bade them a
husky good bye, and rode away, never more to be seen in Benton County."

>From The Way Family (author unknown): "Thomas B,. Way was a California
pioneer.  He crossed the continent by the most rugged transportation,
either on foot, Horseback or ox-drawn wagon, from NC to the Pacific
Coast. He left Iowa with his family in May 1852, came across the plains
and over the Rockies, arriving in Illinoistown, now Colfax, California in
October 1852.  Here, like the other men of his Overland Caravan, he tried
his luck at prospecting, mining and teaming until the fall of 1857, when
he again moved on, this time to the promising shore of a secluded
mountain lake, now called Clear Lake, where they arrived October 28,
1857.  They acquired a large tract of land two miles from what is now
Upper Lake, California.  Here they made friends with the neighborhood
Indians, who for years found employment and stability in working on the
ranch, helping with the crops, care of the sheep and other livestock. He
built a two story house of logs with living quarters on the bottom floor.
It became a stage stop, with the upper floor used for guests. Descendants
still lived on and owned the land in 1968. Thomas and his wife are buried
in Upper Lake Cemetery."

October 07, 1871
Thomas B "Uncle Tommy" Way died  in Upper Lake, Lake County, California.

Submitted by Terri Rene (DaVar) Howard
© Terri Rene (DaVar) Howard




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