Don’t look now, but Thomasville and Thomas County have a big birthday coming up that will be here sooner than any of us think. In 2025, now less than 60 months away, the place many of us call home will turn 200, meaning our own personal bicentennial is beginning to peep just over the horizon.
And then, believe it or not, this year — in three short weeks — our nation as a whole will begin the official recognition of our national semiquincentennial, or 250th birthday, with the upcoming remembrance of the Boston Massacre up in Massachusetts the first week in March. The national commemoration of the anniversary of our independence will last 13 years overall, but of course will come to a peak in 2026, the 250th birthday of the Declaration of Independence.
Given the fact that it seems the months are now peeling away in the same approximate amount of time a day used to take (tell me I’m wrong), it would seem that now is the time to start making some plans about how to best celebrate both here in our home.
For those not in the know, Thomas County was formed in December of 1825 by legislation introduced by Thomas J. Johnson, owner-builder of Pebble Hill Plantation. One year later, on December 22, 1826, a location was established for the new county seat, Thomasville. The city and county are believed to have been named for Major General Jett Thomas, a member of the State Militia during the War of 1812.
In fact, many of the original 1825 settlers of the new county of Thomas were soldiers who had fought for America in that war, some of whom brought their families with them — including several Revolutionary War soldiers (quite probably 1812 veterans' fathers). Right now, I know of at least a half dozen or so men who are buried in Thomas County who served in the fight for our national independence.
My own fifth great-grandfather, Allen Wilson, came to the newly founded Thomas County as one of those original settlers in 1825 from Effingham County to settle land given to his father, a Revolutionary captain, and his brother, a War of 1812 captain, in a land grant as payment for their service to our nation.
Which means, if you think about it, our county has a direct connection to every major American conflict, dating all the way back to the very revolution that founded our nation. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s very cool, and is a claim not every community in our region (or in our nation for sure) can make.
And for those even further not in the know, The Boston Massacre was a deadly riot that occurred on March 5, 1770, on King Street in Boston. It began as a street brawl between American colonists and a lone British soldier, but quickly escalated to a chaotic, bloody slaughter. The conflict energized anti-British sentiment and paved the way for the American Revolution.
It is absolutely worth noting that the first casualty of the American fight for national independence and liberty was Crispus Attucks, a free man of color who would became a martyr for the American patriots, and whose name a battle cry for the overall American cause.
Those of us old enough to remember our national bicentennial back in 1976 remember it being a very big deal. It truly was a national celebration. The nation was caught up in the 200th birthday of America, and rightfully so — you don’t get to live for a couple of centuries and not be a big deal.
The same can be said for Thomas County.
And make no mistake, we are doubly blessed to live in a place that actually appreciates and protects its history, and has done a tremendous job overall embracing all of it — the good, the bad, and the ugly. As we’ve talked about here many times, you almost have to include the bad and the ugly into the narrative to truly be able to appreciate the incredible good that is a part of our story.
What would be a tragedy is for these important birthdays to come around and kind of be overlooked or even forgotten, kind of like what happened with the recent 150th commemoration of our Civil War. Our country made a huge deal out of the centennial of that awful conflict from 1961-65, but barely a peep was heard anywhere during the sesquicentennial held just 50 years later.
No way around it, that fact is an out and out shame.
I know the forces of political correctness are now in play in proportions never before witnessed or even considered possible in our national history, but missing the opportunity to exploit something like a significant birthday or anniversary of a major historic event as an educational tool is truly an opportunity missed that can never again be repeated.
And if I know Thomasville and Thomas County, when it comes to planning an adequate birthday party for our home and our country, that won’t be a concern.