William G. Thomas III is the John and Catherine Angle Professor in the Humanities and Professor of History at the University of Nebraska. He currently serves as the Chair of the Department of History. He is a Faculty Fellow of the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. In 2016-2017 he is a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He has produced award-winning digital history projects, and his research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. His most recent book is The Iron Way: Railroads, the Civil War, and the Making of Modern America (Yale University Press, 2011). He is currently working a history of slavery and freedom in early Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County, Maryland, “A Question of Freedom”: The Ordeal of an American Family in the Age of Revolution.”

3 Responses to About

  1. Jeff Minnich says:

    I was looking at old VA plantations and Clarens came up. I enjoyed reading the Wikipedia entry and the history. And then your delightful post. I, too, grew up on Quaker Lane, at #12. I was born in 1958, the eldest of 4–you may know one or more of my siblings: Rod (who is now deceased); Loren; and Kristen. I spent so many happy hours playing on the Clarens grounds with Johnny and Betsy Velke, Eugene Hooff, the Fannons, Robbie McDonald, etc. I could map out those grounds from memory. I’m sure my time on those grounds helped shape my career as a landscape designer. I do remember the old ladies Strong, who my mother knew as a child (she grew up in #12, also, and knows all the Thomas family of her generation). My grandmother was Mary Lillian Jones Godfrey Seaman. She grew up in a house on Duke St. where Hechinger’s stood. I could go on and on. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your post.
    All the best,
    Jeff Minnich
    Arlington, VA

  2. wthomas says:


    My father bought Clarens from Mrs. Strong. She kept a beautiful English rose garden, and, yes, the memories of that landscape and the Civil War historical landscape are still powerful.

    I posted a piece on James Murray Mason’s purchase of Clarens and the letter I found in the Greenwich National Naval Museum records about how he described the grounds in 1869. I’ll try to post the whole letter. You might be very interested in its layout and Mason’s rather typically antagonistic views regarding reconstruction.

    See: http://railroads.unl.edu/blog/?p=57


    Will Thomas

  3. I believe this web site holds very excellent written content content.

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