James S. Thomas

 

James S. Thomas

Term: 1864 - 1869
Party: Republican
Born: May 25, 1802
Maryland
Died: September 26, 1874
St. Louis, Missouri
 
James S. Thomas (Mayor 1864-1869)-Background
Mayor (1864-1869). James S. Thomas was born in Maryland on May 25, 1802. His early education was gained in the East. In 1825 he came to St. Louis, and a year later opened a small bank, the first in the City. His assets at the start were $270 in cash and an eastern credit of $3,000. In 1838 Thomas entered partnership with L.A. Benoist in a more extensive banking business. This partnership was dissolved in 1850 and Mr. Thomas retired to private life. His first marriage was to a daughter of Curtis Skinner of St. Louis. Thomas was married a second time, to Miss Susan H. Hackney, and they had one daughter.

The Civil War brought Mr. Thomas back into public affairs. While St. Louis was under martial law, he held many civil positions by military appointment. It was during this time that he served as President of the Board of Assessment.

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James S. Thomas (Mayor 1864-1869)-Administration
In 1864 James S. Thomas became the twenty-third Mayor of St. Louis.

James S. Thomas was elected Mayor as a Republican, in April of 1864, to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Chauncey I. Filley. He continued as Mayor until 1869, the second longest period of service of a St. Louis Mayor to that time.

The City was growing rapidly. Its population increased from 160,773 in 1860 to 310,864 in 1870. Mayor Thomas advocated City purchase of the Gas Works but was unable to bring this about. Thomas did see his program for the improvement of public health enacted. Further development of the Sewer System included provision for the Mill Creek, Rocky Branch and Arsenal Street sewers. He took the leadership in establishing a new Waterworks System. In 1867 construction of a well designed plant was started at Bissell's Point. This plant consisted of a low service station to pump the water from the river to four sediment basins and a high service station to pump the clear water to Compton Hill reservoir at Grand and Lafayette Avenues. The East Grand Water Tower was a part of the whole project. This Tower was completed in 1870.

Cholera had broken out again in 1866. The Mayor appointed sanitary committees in each ward. The mortality rate decreased shortly. In March of 1869 the State Legislature authorized the Mayor to appoint a new Board of Health. This new board organized and started it's work on March 16, 1869.

The present house numbering system was approved by Mayor Thomas on December 18, 1865. North and south streets were numbered from Market Street. East and west streets were numbered from the wharf. Each block west, north or south represented one hundred numbers, as distinguished from the old system where numbers had been assigned without regard to blocks.

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James S. Thomas (Mayor 1864-1869)-Post-Administration
James S. Thomas took great interest in helping to develop Tower Grove Park from the land Henry Shaw had given the City. He was a member of the Park Board of Commissioners throughout the rest of his life.

James S. Thomas died September 26, 1874. Burial was in Bellefontaine Cemetery.

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