THOMAS, SIDNEY JOHNSON (1868~1913) Former Superintendent of the Texas School for the Deaf Sidney J. Thomas was born September 23, 1868, at Edom, Van Zandt County. At the age of nine years he was sent to school at Tyler, Texas. In 1883 and 1884, he attended Summer Hill Select School, near Tyler, and then Southwestern University, at Georgetown, where he graduated in 1888.
While he was studying law, he taught school at the Texas School for the Deaf at Austin for two years. When he was twenty-one years old he took the Texas State Bar examination, got his license to practice law and moved to Comanche, Texas, where he was the junior member of the firm of Lindsey, Goodson and Thomas.
In March 1892, he married Nellen Sellers at Georgetown. In November he was elected County Attorney of Comanche County, where he practiced his profession until December, 1896, when he purchased the Comanche Chief, and became its editor as well as owner. He attended the Texas Press Association regularly, and was elected president in 1904. Thomas moved to Austin in January, 1911, where he returned to the Texas School for the Deaf as Superintendent.
He is credited with eliminating the school's waiting list by accommodating every deaf child that applied for admission. Thomas made other improvements to the school such as reorganizing the business office for fiscal accounting, installing a telephone system in every office and adding vocational programs to the school's curriculum such as typing, bookkeeping and domestic science.
He died suddenly due to peritonitis from a ruptured appendix on May 7, 1913. Funeral services were held at the Texas School for the Deaf with burial following at the Texas State Cemetery. Students from the school participated in both ceremonies. His wife, Nellen Sellers Thomas finished his two year term as superintendent.
Throughout Thomas's life he authored three books, "In a Sense Abroad" describing a trip through the western U.S.A., "Six and One Abroad" relating his travel through Europe and the Holy Land, and "Scrap Book", a compilation of his newspaper editorials and articles, poems, and philosophical comments.
He was survived by his wife, Nellen Sellers Thomas, and two sons, Sellers J. Thomas, a lawyer in Houston, and Sidney J. Thomas, Jr., who had an automobile agency in West Texas.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "History of the Texas Press and the Texas Press Association," Compiled by James H. Lowry, Signal, Honey Grove Under Direction of Sam P. Harben, Secretary, Texas Press Association: Wichita Falls, June 1929; "Tidbits & Tidings from Texas School for the Deaf's Past", Sesquicentennial Special Issue, Texas School for the Deaf; "Body of Sidney Thomas is Consigned to Earth", Austin Daily Statesman,
May 9, 1913; found in file statements from family descendents.