Thomes and Toomes — part 2

thomes2Let’s find out about Robert Hasty Thomes. He was born in Cumberland County, Maine in 1817, a direct descendant of Mayflower pilgrims. He started his westward journey as a young man and in 1839 he joined the Bidwell-Bartleson Party in Missouri. John Bidwell later said:

When May came, I was the only man that was ready to go of all who signed the pledge [of the Western Emigration Society]. In Weston, however, there was a man who had said from the beginning that he would go to California when May came. This was Robert H. Thomes, a wagon maker at that time. (John Bidwell, Dictation to S.S. Boynton, 1877)

Robert Thomes left only a brief account of his journey, dictated to his old friend and partner, Albert G. Toomes in 1868, who sent it to the San Francisco Evening Bulletin.

I sat down with my old partner, THOMES, a few days ago and got to talking of old times in California, and all that sort of thing. It occurred to us to make a list of our early companions in the hard journey we made from Independence a long 27 years ago, and our hairs are getting gray, and we often remember those blessed old bailies and merianders of gay Monterey. I claim that we were the 1st regular emigrants who ever started from the States to California, and those who arrived in the country before us dropped in by mere chance, as old trappers, whalemen and sailors from the Island and Boston ships.

Albert Toomes (of which more later) also came to California in 1841 by the southern route, in the Workman-Rowland Party. The two men met up in San Francisco and worked as carpenter and builders there. In 1843 Thomes and Toomes moved to Monterey and went into partnership as builders. They are frequently mentioned in the papers of Thomas O. Larkin, the American consul in Monterey.

They built a house in Monterey for Don Manuel Jimeno Casarin, secretary of state (and sometimes acting governor) of Alta California under Governor Micheltorena. This was a job that paid off handsomely for the two men, As Toomes relates.

You know when THOMES and self got the ranchos up here from MICHELTORENO and JIMENA the place was out of the world, and league farms to be had for the asking; but it is quite different now. The Indians, once so numerous, are nearly all gone, and the rail cars will soon rush by our doors, and land is worth $20 per acre. That house we built in Monterey for Governor JIMENA in 1845, was one of the best jobs we ever did in our lives; for the old gentleman not only paid us well, but got us our farms without any of the trouble others had.

68098647_135371383173Thomes’s ranch was Rancho Saucos, where the town of Tehama is now located. As far as I know, he never married. He died March 26, 1878, and is buried in the Tehama Cemetery.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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