Jesse B. Thomas, D. D. was born at Edwardsville, Ill., July 29, 1832. He is the son of the late Hon. Jesse B. Thomas, judge of the Supreme Court of Illinois. He was graduated at Kenyon College, O., in 1850, and commenced preparation for the profession of the law. He was admitted to the bar in Illinois in 1855. In 1852 entered Rochester Theological Seminary to prepare for the ministry, but ill health obliged him to leave after a short period. For a time he was engaged in mercantile pursuits in Chicago. In 1862 he gave himself wholly to the work of the ministry, and became pastor of the Baptist church of Waukegan, Ill. In 1864 he accepted a call to the Pierpont Street Baptist church, Brooklyn, N.Y. He subsequently settled as pastor of the First Baptist church of San Francisco, Cal., of the Michigan Avenue Baptist church, Chicago, and in 1874 he took charge of the First Baptist church of Brooklyn. After the First
church edifice was burned its members held united services with the Pierpont Street church, which resulted in the union of the two churches and the erection of the fine edifice which they now occupy.
Dr. Thomas is by nature an orator. His voice, his manner, his wit, and his earnestness captivate and arouse his audiences to an unwonted degree. He is also a scholar in the broadest sense. His lectures on the theories of modern skeptics have been pronounced as equal, if not superior, to those of Dr. Joseph Parker, by their accuracy of statement, faultless rhetoric, and resistless logic. They have been received by learned assemblies with delight. As a lecturer, he uses brief notes, simply indicating the lines of thought. As a preacher, he employs none, yet his ideas are always clothed in appropriate expressions, and the repetition and redundancy of ordinary extemporaneous speakers never mar his discourses. He is genial and unassuming, with great powers of persuasion and a strong intellect. He never discusses the minor differences, but seeks by all means to bring men to Christ, and to strengthen the faith of the church in its divine Teacher. He is sometimes borne away by the strength of his emotions, and indulges in impassioned picturings of the realm of thought he is exploring. His audiences seem to be witnessing a drama where the towers and giants of error and doubt are falling on every side. If his life is spared, for which we devoutly pray, he will be the most influential minister in America, with a reputation as wide as Anglo-Saxondom.
==========[From The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881; rpt. 1988. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
Baptist History Homepage