Benjamin was born 24 May 1854 in Clarendon County, South Carolina and was the son of Thomas Lemuel Thames (1827-1863) and Rebecca Hannah Stukes (1830-1870). The 1860 Clarendon County, South Carolina Census shows the family living in the White's Bluff community. His father, Thomas, was an Overseer.
Life most likely was good for Benjamin and his sister Susan until the outbreak of the Civil War. Benjamin was 7 when his father enlisted and left to join Hampton's Brigade. Sickness affected Thomas for most of his time in service and he eventually was sent home where he died in March of 1863.
The War took a toll on the whole family. Benjamin and his sister Susan went with their mother, Rebecca to live in Augusta, Georgia. What took them to Georgia, I have not determined.
Benjamin's life changed again when in 1870, his mother died. He was 15 and his sister 17. The family story is that they were placed in homes and were sent to work in the cotton mill. This story is shown to be true as they are found living in different households in the Augusta, Georgia 1870 Census and each has cotton mill factory as their employment.
A Thames family member is said to have gone to Augusta to bring the siblings back to Clarendon County, South Carolina. Benjamin worked the land and Susan in the home.
Not long after returning to live with his relative, Benjamin took a job at a local sawmill owned by Benjamin Reese Gibson (1824-1907). It was while working there that he met his future wife, Margaret Frances "Fanny" Gibson (1854-1929), the daughter of his boss.
Ben and Fannie were married about 1872 and became the parents of 9 children. Census records show that Benjamin eventually farmed his own land. Other sources indicate that he was involved in his community by holding a Sunday School in his home before a church could be built and that he was a well loved by friends and family.
A family picture taken about 1910 shows that Benjamin Thomas Thames overcame the struggles of living through the Civil War and being orphaned at an early age. He did indeed prosper.
|Benjamin Thomas Thames and Family|
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