Thomas Groome was born 12 May 1840 in the Shoreditch/Hoxton area of Greater London. He came with his family to America in 1850, arriving in New Orleans. By the middle part of the 1850's the family had settled in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
In 1861, at the outbreak of the American Civil War, Thomas and some of his brothers joined the Confederacy as members of the 28th Mississippi Cavalry, Company C. Following the war, he returned to Vicksburg where he was living in 1866 in the family home on Open Woods Street. The city directory for that year listed his occupation as that of a carpenter.
On 14 Mar 1867, Thomas married Laura Shores at the Christ Episcopal Church in Vicksburg. Laura was the daughter of Moses and Ann (Leason) Shores. Moses Shores was a veteran of the Union Army, having served in an Illinois unit at the Battle of Vicksburg. This may not have set well with the remaining brothers, or the community for both Thomas and Moses moved to Holmes County, Mississippi by 1870 where they were listed as farmers. [1870 Federal Census: Mississippi, Holmes County, Tehula District, page 10, household 98/100 and household 99/101]
By 1880 Thomas had returned to his first occupation of carpenter. It is interesting that he appears twice in the 1880 census. The Vicksburg census for that year [1880 Federal Census: Mississippi, Warren County, Vicksburg, page 374A] shows Thomas with Laura and their children, but Thomas also appears with his father-in-law in Texas. [1880 Federal Census: Texas, Red River County, District 98, page 159A] My guess is that he was visiting in Texas while doing some carpentry work, and perhaps Laura gave the census taker his name, neglecting the mention that he was in Texas. There are other possible explanations.
Sometime around 1883, Thomas and his family moved to Blossom, Texas, according to his obituary. He was killed on 16 Mar 1889 in an accident while working in Dallas, Texas, and the following obituary was printed in the local newspaper in Blossom.
The last earthly remains of Thos. J. Groome, who was accidentally killed in Dallas a few days ago, arrived on Monday's east bound train accompanied by his wife and Capt. N. W. Coile.
The life of this man has been an eventful one. For the last six years he has been a resident of Blossom and is well known to most of our citizens. He was a native of Vicksburg, Miss., and at the time of his death was about fifty seven years of age.
He was one of the few survivors of what is known in history as the ill-fated Walker expedition to Central America. He was one of the first to volunteer under the banner of Southern rights, and continued in the army until the last gun was fired, and no man in the Confederate army made a better or more faithful soldier. Many the time he acted as a Confederate scout, and when perilous duty had to be performed, and none could be drafted but the brave and true Thomas Groome was never passed for any other man. He went in and out of Vicksburg up to the very last days of its investment by Gen'l Grant. His reports to his superiors were always relied upon. A truer, braver, or nobler heart never beat ...[words missing due to crease in paper]... to a fault. Like all other men he had his faults, but he has gone to where he will be righteously judged.
The sympathies of Blossom go out for the bereaved wife and fatherless children. We should not mourn for the dead, the living should be looked after. Peace to his ashes. H.
It is difficult to know how much of this report was true, and how much was "family legend." If indeed he took part in the final Walker expedition to Central America, this occurred in 1860, just before the start of the American Civil War. At one point, William Walker had quite an influence on many Southerners, and it is possible that young Thomas went off with him on his final, ill-fated attempt to establish an empire in Central America.
Regarding his supposed exploits in the American Civil War, we have only the words of his obituary to sustain them. I suspect that Thomas was an average young Southern soldier, nothing more or less. In 1894 Laura applied for a widow's pension based on Thomas' service in the Confederate army. Information about it is located on this page.
Following his death, Laura returned to Vicksburg with her children. She continued to live there until about 1920 when she moved to San Diego, California with her daughter, Katie. She died there on 30 May 1922. Here is her obituary, published in The Vicksburg Evening Post [23 Jun 1922, page 5]:
Mrs. Laura Groome Died In San Diego, May 30th
The sad news has been received here of the death of Mrs. Laura T. Groome, which occurred at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. A. G. Schaef, in San Diego, California on May 30th. Deceased was the widow of the late Thomas J. Groome who preceded her to the grave many years ago. She had lived in Vicksburg most of her life until two years ago, having gone then to California on account of her health. She was nearly 75 years old and is survived by five children, Walter Groome, Mrs. R. L. Ross, Mrs. Annie I. Smith, of Vicksburg; Mrs. A. G. Schaef and Mrs. E. R . Easley, of San Diego, California. Interment took place in San Diego.
Thomas and Laura Groome had eight children that I can positively identify. Their first, Eoline, was born 10 Jan 1868, but died on 10 Sep 1874. She is buried at Vicksburg. The next child was John Groome, born in January 1872. We know from his mother's obituary that he was not living at the time of her death. Little more is known about him.
The third child was Walter Groome, born 4 Aug 1874, according to his World War I draft registration. Census records for 1900 show that Walter was married to a Maggie by that time. Later records, as late as 1930, do not indicate any children born to this marriage.
Edna Theresa Groome was the fourth child of Thomas and Laura. Edna was born 28 Aug 1877. She was baptized at Christ Episcopal Church in Vicksburg on 3 Mar 1878. Edna married Robert Lee Ross, Sr. on 14 Jul 1897 in that same church. Robert and Edna Ross had eight children: Katie, Lucy Edna, Robert Lee, Dorothy Ann, Ethel Katherine, Masie Noma, Edna Mae, and Christine Laura Ross. Edna died in Vicksburg on 18 Dec 1943, and Robert followed on 12 Mar 1944.
Mary Katie Bell Groome was born 28 Aug 1879 in Mississippi. On 5 Oct 1898 she married William French in Vicksburg and they had two daughters: Eunice Eudora and Laura Gertrude. It is not yet clear what became of William, but by 1910 he was not with the family. [1910 Federal Census: Mississippi, Warren County, Vicksburg Beat 1, ED 53, page 17B, line 90] By 1920, Katie was living in San Diego, California with her daughters and her mother. Interesting, she is no longer Katie French, but is now Katie Shaef. It appears from her mother's obituary that Katie married A. G. Shaef, but by 1920 he is not with her. [1920 Federal Census: California, San Diego County, ED 260, page 6A] Finally, we have an 1930 census record [1930 Federal Census: California, Ventura County, Ventura Township (Oak View Gardens), ED 56-33, page 14A] that shows Katie married once again, this time to Gale Whitehill. Katie apparently died before 1940 as she does not appear in the California Death Index that begins that year.
Annie Inez Groome, sixth child of Thomas and Laura Groome, was born 8 Jan 1882 in Vicksburg. She married James Henry Rees Smith in Vicksburg on 9 Oct 1901. James was born 19 Apr 1875 in New Orleans to Alexander Smith and Nida Levere Hewett Smith, his wife. Nida Hewett was a descendant of three Mayflower passengers: Richard Warren, James Chilton, and Edward Fuller through her father, Leander Hewett.
James Henry Rees Smith participated in the Spanish-American War and was in Havana where he was appointed corporal in the 2nd regiment of the Louisiana Volunteers on 7 Aug 1898.
James and Annie Smith had five children: Alexander Purnell, Inez Beulah, James Rees, John Howard, and Yerger Augustus Smith. James, the father, died in Monroe, Louisiana on 1 Jun 1917 according to the following obituary printed in the Vicksburg paper the next day.
REES SMITH DIED IN MONROE LA. YESTERDAY AT 6 P.M.
News was received in this city last night of the death of James H. Rees Smith, which occurred at an infirmary in Monroe, La., yesterday evening at 6 o'clock following an illness of several weeks and after an operation for erysipelas. He was 42 years of age and lived here during his whole life.
James H. Rees Smith was known to practically the entire population of this city, was born and raised here and lived here during his whole life time with the exception of the past four years, during which time he has been in Monroe connected with the street railway company of that city. He was in the employ of the Vicksburg Light and Traction Company and in the street car service in this city for thirteen years, previous to his accepting his position in Monroe.
He was a veteran of the Spanish-American war, and had seen service in Cuba under the stars and stripes. He had a wide circle of friends in this city, and was highly esteemed by all of those who knew him, and the news of his death will come as a shock to many of his Vicksburg friends who were his playmates during his school days.
His mother, Mrs. Nida L. Smith of this city, had been at his bedside for more than a week and was with him when the end came. Relatives here telephoned of his serious condition yesterday, and his father, Alexander Smith and his brother, Gus, left on the afternoon train for Monroe, but arrived after death had overshadowed him.
Besides a wife and four children, he is survived by his father and mother, three brothers, Augustus H., R. Quin, and C. Y. Smith of Gulfport, and one sister, Mrs. E. J. Davis of Austin, Texas.
The body will be shipped from Monroe today and will arrive over the V. S. and P. at 12:15. The funeral will be held from the residence of Mrs. W. A. Hopper, 720 Farmer street, this evening at 4:30 o'clock, the Rev. Dr. J. S. Hillhouse officiating.
Annie Smith died on 6 Jul 1924 according to the following obituary published in the Vicksburg Evening Post, Monday, 7 Jul 1924, page 5.
Mrs. Annie I. Smith Dead, Buried Tuesday
Mrs. Annie Inez Smith, widow of Reist Smith, well known and having relatives here, died last night at 11:50 o'clock after having been desperately ill for several days.
The funeral will take place Tuesday morning at 11 o'clock from the family home, 711 Dabney street, Rev. J.C. Johnes officiating.
Mrs. Smith was a woman of many fine traits, and her untimely death will be sincerely mourned.
She had made her home here following the death of her husband some years ago, having before Mr. Smith's death resided in Monroe, La.
Mrs. Smith is survived by five children, Purnell, Mrs. H.G. Rogers, Reis, John, and Yerger.
Three sisters and a brother survive. They are: Mrs. R.L. Ross, Vicksburg; Mrs. A.G. Scheaf, Lost Hills, Cal.; Mrs. E.R. Easley, San Diago, Cal.; and Walter F. Groome of Vicksburg.
Mrs. Smith was born January 8, 1882.
Alberta L. Groome was the seventh child of Thomas and Laura. She was born 25 Jul 1886 in Lamar County, Texas. She married Ernest Robert Easley sometime before 1909, and they had three children: Annie Eudora, Forrest, and June Carlee Easley. By 1920 the family was living in California in San Diego County. Ernest Easley died there on 6 Jan 1953; Alberta died in nearby El Cajon on 18 Jan 1966.
Thomas and Laura's last child was a daughter they named Emma B. Groome. Emma was born in May 1888, but died in 27 Jul 1889, as reported in The Daily Commercial Herald. This was four months after her father's death.
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