Reuben Thom (1782-1868) was on the Vestry for 52 years and is the longest-serving Vestry member in our history and like McGuire served all 3 St. George’s Churches. (His life overlapped that of McGuire who served St. George’s 1813-1858). Remarkably he was senior warden for 40 of those 52 years. Like McGuire, he is buried in St. George’s graveyard and faces McGuire in death as he did in life. Thom worked as a postman and lived on Caroline Street in an 1822 home between George and William Street. The post office was on the first floor and he resided on the second. He also owned a warehouse on the river (the stone warehouse today).
The 1850s were a boom year for business and he had to enlarge the numbers of boxes on more than one occasion. Thom did well. In 1860 when he was 78, he had real estate worth $24,000 (approximately $500,000 in today’s market) and estate $5,500 (just under $150,000) . He had 4 children and owned 7 slaves. Like McGuire, he was a member of the local chapter of the American Colonization Society which wanted to send African Americans to Liberia in Africa as a just solution to the slavery issue. We have evidence of Thom freeing at two of his slaves during his lifetime.
Thom was a small man in statute – only five feet tall. Dabney H. Maury, the uncle of Matthew Fontaine Maury, wrote in his recollections the following story about Thom: “Once when the Episcopal Convention was assembled in Saint George’s, a dangerous crack was discovered in the gallery of the church, and great apprehension prevailed as to the safety of the building. The senior warden indignantly derided these fears, and, when the convention opened, the amazed congregation saw their warden seated in the gallery, his arms folded, and his back propping the dangerous crack.”
Maury provided some hints on her character and demeanor. “He was a man of strictest integrity and absolute sobriety, and was never known to take a drop of strong drink; but his ruddy face was adorned by a prominent nose of flaming and suspicious redness.” Based on the reading of accounts in his post office, he had a wry sense of humor.
More on Reuben Thom
Reuben Thom is buried our graveyard in an obelisk as was Edward McGuire.
Move toward the chancel just to the right of the pulpit for Phillips Brooks.