The Back Rhodes of Our Genealogy

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Thanks to Phillip Wayne Rhodes of the Jones Memorial Library in Lynchburg, Virginia for bringing us this data.  Check out their website at www.jmlibrary.org.

Anonymous, Book of Biographies: This volume contains biographical sketches of leading citizens of Berks County, Pa. (Buffalo: Biographical Pub. Co., 1898), p. 582-584.

Dr. Thomas J. b: RHOADS of Boyertown is a gentleman of culture and inherited wealth, a graduate of Jefferson Medical College, and a descendant of a prominent German family of the Palatinate. His name has been prominent in the county for many years, and is associated with all that is best in the borough, while his services as a physician have been freely given alike to rich and poor. He is large-hearted and liberal and merits the name so freely accorded him, of public benefactor. He is a son of John and Catherine (Boyer) Rhoads, and was born September 26, 1837, on the old Rhoads homestead, now included in the corporate limits of Boyertown.

Mathias Roth, the great-grandfather, emigrated from the Palatinate, in Germany, to America some time in the early part of the eighteenth century. Soon after settling in Colebrookdale township, he became the owner by purchase from Rutter & Potts of several hundred acres of land with improvements, in what is now Morysville, near Boyertown. He was an extensive farmer and miller. Jonathan Roth, the grandfather, inherited the mill and a farm near Morysville, to which he added about 40 acres. About the beginning of the nineteenth century the orthography of the name was changed from Roth to Rhoads, through the instrumentality of the instructors of the children of that period.

John Rhoads, the father, succeeded to his father's property, and was an extensive farmer on the old homestead and also operated a still. He was a prosperous and wealthy man, and a member of the Lutheran Church. He was married to Catherine Boyer, whose father, Henry, and an uncle, David, were the founders of Boyertown. Her grandfather, Jacob Beyer, as the name was then spelled, was a native of Germany. This union was blessed with thirteen children, six sons and seven daughters, of whom four daughters and two sons are now [1898] living, the latter being Reuben B., a physician of Boyertown, and our subjetc.

Dr. Thomas J. b: Rhoads was the twelfth child of his parents, and was educated before the common school system was adopted in Berks County. His mental training was principally conducted by that grand man, who was a veteran in the ranks of teachers, Henry G. Stetler. Later he attended Mt. Pleasant Seminary of Boyertown, when that institution was at the height of its success. Still later he was a pupil under the Hon. Augustus S. Sassaman, from whom he obtained a practical knowledge of the higher branches of English literature and mathematics. At the age of eighteen he was secured by the directors of the Wise School, in Colebrookdale township, to take charge of the school, and during the following three years he taught the Gabletown School, which closed his duties as a teacher. During his leisure hours in 1857-58, he applied himself to the study of medicine with such good results that he had acquired a considerable knowledge of that science, and in the spring of 1859 retired from the teachers' ranks and entered the office of his brother, d: R. b: Rhoads, then a successful practicing physician of Zieglersville, Montgomery County, but later a resident of Boyertown. In the fall of that year, in October, 1859, he entered Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia, from which he was graduated in March, 1861. On May 23 of that year, he opened an office at Gilbertsville, Montgomery County, where he soon gained the confidence and esteem of the people of that section and built up a large and lucrative practice.

In September 1862, he responded to the call of his country for volunteers, and proceeded to Harrisburg, where he passed a creditable examination before the state board of medical examiners, and was commissioned as assistant surgeon, with the rank of first lieutenant, and assigned to the 169th Reg. Pa. Vol. Inf., then station at Gloucester Point, opposite Yorktown, Va. During the winter of 1862 he and his brother, Dr. R. b: Rhoads, had medical charge of all the forces then stationed at Gloucester Point, Fort Keyes, and a large settlement of "contrabands" as well as the brigade hospital. His brother being the senior officer, the onerous duties connected with the work fell to the share of our subject, and the unavoidable exposure to which he was subjected brought on an attack of typho-malarial fever, which prostrated him for several weeks, and came near cutting short a career which has been filled with usefulness. However, a strong constitution, and a determination to get well at length triumphed over disease, and he was once more able to return to his duties, but has ever since been subject to rheumatic attacks. When the campaign opened in 1863 he shared with the regiment the trials and dangers until they were mustered out of service in July of that year.

Returning home, he began the practice of his profession in Boyertown, where his extensive experience in medicine and surgery during his term in the army soon gave him a leading place in the medical fraternity, and caused him to be overrun with patients. He has been in the active practice of his profession for a period of almost thirty-seven years, with the exception of some six months in 1882, when he was laid up with a compound fracture of the right leg. This fracture was caused by a runaway horse. He has had several attacks of inflammatory rheumatism.

He was formerly one of the stockholders of the National Bank of Boyertown, organized in 1874, and was elected its first president, a position he occupied until January, 1883, when he declined a re-election. He was one of the original stockholders and directors of the Farmers' National Bank of Boyertown, which was organized on March 20, 1883, becoming its first president, which position he still holds. On January 2, 1886, he became treasurer of the Boyertown Mutual Fire Insurance Co. upon the organization of that institution, and still acts in that capacity. He is interested to a considerable extent in real estate, principally in Boyertown, where he owns and operated the Opera House, in which building the Farmer's National Bank is located. He is also the owner and manager of a large hardware store, which he opened in 1885, and in which he carries a full line of hardware.

Dr. Rhoads was married May 10, 1862, to Theresa F. Leidy, only daughter of Capt. Henry Leidy. This marriage was blessed with two sons and two daughters. Only one child is now living, Dr. Thomas Leidy Rhoads, a graduate of Jefferson College, and up to April, 1898, a practicing physician at 1703 Walnut street, Philadelphia, and clinical assistant to Prof. Kean of the Jefferson Clinical. On May 28, 1898, he was commissioned by President McKinley as an assistant surgeon of the navy, with the rank of ensign, and is stationed at the naval hospital in Washington, and as soon as the battleship Chicago is completed he will be assigned to her.

Dr. Rhoads is president of the board of health and has held that position since its organization in 1894. He is a Democrat of the Jacksonian type, and a member of the Lutheran Church. He has been commander of the Gen. Geo. Crook Post, No. 597, G.A.R., of Boyertown, and is a very worthy man and citizen. As a physician he is painstaking and sympathetic, as a citizen, public-spirited and energetic, and as a neighbor, kind and indulgent. His character is irreproachable, and he is beloved by the entire community.

In his latter years the Doctor has devoted considerable of his time to the writing of poetry. He is the author of several poems that have received much favorable comment from the press. Among the poems which have attracted most attention, are - The Old Musket; The Chimney

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