Jane Thomas' Ride
The impact of the Thomas family on the area that became known as Spartanburg cannot be overstated. It was John Thomas who, upon arriving in the region before the Revolution and settling on Fairforest Creek, raised a regiment of militia and called it the Spartan Regiment, the namesake of the town and county. Col. Thomas led the regiment in many battles and his children served valiantly, as well. His wife, Jane, also played an important role. Not only did she help defend her home against a Loyalist attack during the war, but a specific exploit of hers in the late spring of 1780 made her a legend.
In the spring of 1780 after Charleston was surrendered to the British, Col. Thomas was captured. By June he was being held prisoner in the jail at Ninety Six which was being used as a base of operations by the British in the backcountry. As was customary at the time, Col. Thomas received a visit from his wife, Jane, who brought him food and was looking after his well-being. While there, Jane overheard a conversation among some women that there was to be an attack early the next morning on a group of Patriots camped at Cedar Spring. This news attracted her attention since the Cedar Spring was located near her home on Fairforest Creek and since the Patriots camped there included men from the Spartan Regiment now being commanded by her son, Col. John Thomas, Jr.
Mrs. Thomas bid her husband a hasty farewell and began the journey towards Cedar Spring, hoping to get there in time to warn her son of the impending attack. Ninety Six was about 60 miles from Cedar Spring. She traveled on horseback during the night through sparsely settled and potentially dangerous country. This was not a simple undertaking for anyone and especially not for a woman traveling alone. With a mother's drive and sense of purpose, Jane Thomas made the journey in plenty of time to warn her son. Instead of a surprise attack by the Loyalists, the result was a successful ambush of the Loyalists by the Patriots at Cedar Spring.
The Thomas family was, indeed, a remarkable one during a remarkable time. No doubt the bravery and resolution of its matriarch contributed to all the family did to help America win its independence.