Like the River: The Big Book of the Thames Family History

Cover illustration, The Thames Family of North Carolina, Circa 1735-1805

This project is only just beginning (started February 2023), but it’s been years in the making. It is the culmination of research into our Thames family – both ancestors and descendants. Walt and Maxine Gabennesch first published their book The Thames Family of North Carolina, Circa 1735-1805 in June 2006. Later in the year, November, they published the second edition, adding new information and making a few corrections when new information necessitated. I received permission from the family of Walt and Maxine Gabennesch (both now deceased – rest in peace) to use their well-written book as a basis, and the purpose of this book is to add new information based on discoveries made since 2006 and to carry the work forward into states beyond North Carolina.

Whenever possible, hyperlinks to cited documents are provided, so that you can view the documents yourself. Clicking on the links will open them in a new window; this way you can easily return to the book. I have done my best to provide links that are free; in cases where a subscription is required, I have noted them as such with “$” preceding the link. When linking to records on, you may need to log in to your account; if you don’t already have an account, you can set one up for free.

The version on this website is intended to provide information about the Thames family in North Carolina and beyond, and it will incorporate newly discovered information as it’s discovered and is intended to be dynamic – meaning, it will be revised and updated as new leads and information come to light. For this reason alone, it’s best not to copy and paste information from this website into another website or an ancestor page on,,,,, and the like. Instead, please consider simply adding a link on one of those websites to this website.

This book is a collaborative effort, so I encourage and welcome your contributions, comments, feedback and corrections. Any information you have (or your great-grandmother had) tucked away that can help corroborate or correct information in this book is welcomed. After all, we all want an accurate family tree, right? So without further ado, please feel free to dive in.

Table of Contents



Prologue – Imagine That

Index – Every Name Index

Before North Carolina

Thomas Thems in Virginia 1732-1734

Marcy/Mercy – First Wife of Thomas?

North Carolina

Thomas (c1700-1758) in North Carolina

One of the most revealing Thames deeds – 1779

Cornelius and Mary (Evans) Thames

Joseph and Martha (Newberry) Thames – Part 1

Joseph and Martha (Newberry) Thames – Part 2

Recollections of George Washington Marsh (1828-1911)

The Two Jesse Thames’s – Part 1

The Two Jesse Thames’s – Part 2 (draft mode)

The Mysterious Mary Thames

Finding Lucy, the wife of Rev William Thames

More to come!

South Carolina

Information about the Thames family in South Carolina is far from complete, and I’m afraid it must remain that way until I can conduct onsite research at the archives and various counties around the state – Spring 2024!

Beyond the Carolinas

Here is where we’ll see how big this family grew and spread out, and fast! I’ve also been compiling information on several men who I call our Orphans – men who started out in the Carolinas but who migrated westward, to states like Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and so on. We even have one who stopped in Tennessee before heading to Mississippi. Whew.

Richard Thames c1790-1851, South Carolina to Mississippi

Orphans (or, Who’s Your Daddy?)

Timothy Thames c1775-1826, SC>MS>LA

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