Saturday, November 17, 2012

Frederick Thomas, Fruit Merchant

Frederick Thomas married into my Butler family line when he wed Nellie Eliza Butler in Milwaukee on June 28, 1893. Nellie was my 2nd great grand aunt, sister to my great-great grandfather, William M. Butler, Jr.
This photo is believed to be of Frederick Thomas with his wife, Nellie, and their daughter, Dorothy.
Frederick had been married previously and had one son, Herbert. He was a business man in Chicago and was a prosperous fruit shipper. Frederick, who owned the fruit shipping business F.A. Thomas and Son, originated the idea of refrigerated fruit cars for the shipping of fruit from California to Chicago. He created a private line of rail cars that specialized in fruit, making it possible to ship fruit from California and have it arrive in Chicago without being rotten.
Printed in the Daily Inter Ocean, May 11, 1895.
Note above that F. A. Thomas announced the first shipment of fruit from California to Chicago in 1895. The F.A. Thomas & Son business was located at 104 South Water Street among other produce packers and shippers.
The biography below was printed just prior to Fred's marriage to Nellie Butler. They married later in Fred's life, he was 61, and although it seems improbable, they had one daughter, Dorothy. Note that Fred already had grandchildren by the time he had his second child.

From the Hand-Book of Chicago Biography, 1893 edition.

Frederick's first wife, Frances, died October 31, 1891 on board a train.
Printed in the Ogden Standard, Ogden, Utah, Nov. 1, 1891.
Frederick married Nellie Butler in Milwaukee two years after his first wife's death. Their child Dorothy was born July 20, 1895. Frederick died December 6, 1908. I have yet to find his obituary. Thanks to Frederick's foresight, we can all now enjoy fresh fruit and I, for one, am grateful! 


Karen said...

A very interesting life story - and a notable accomplishment for which I, also, am grateful!

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Thanks, Karen! Even though he is not a direct relation, I couldn't help but be interested in his story. Thanks for stopping by!