October 29, 2022

Thomas Jefferson Majors, 1841-1932 [RG2189.AM]


RG2189.AM: Thomas Jefferson Majors, 1841-1932

Papers: 1859-1932
Peru, Nemaha County, Neb.: Army officer; U.S. Senator
Size: 1.0 cu.ft.; 2 boxes


Thomas Jefferson Majors was born on June 25, 1841, the son of Sterling P. and Ann (Brown) Majors of Libertyville, Jefferson County, Iowa. Majors received his early education in Libertyville and later attended the State Normal School at Peru, Nebraska. Majors spent his childhood attending school at Libertyville and working in his father’s mercantile business. At the age of eighteen, Majors and his brother Wilson left Libertyville loaded with supplies from their father’s store. Their intent was to establish a mercantile business in the heart of the newly discovered gold region surrounding Pike’s Peak. Arriving in Nebraska and hearing stories of failure from returning miners, Majors determined to push no farther westward. After staying in Nebraska City for a brief period, Majors migrated to Peru, Nebraska, and became actively engaged in the mercantile business. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Majors brought his mother and father to Peru to maintain his business and enlisted as a First Lieutenant in Company “C” of the First Nebraska Cavalry.

Majors served with the First Nebraska at the battles of Black Water, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, Memphis and Vicksburg. In January of 1862 he was promoted to the rank of captain and was breveted to Major in 1864. Upon re-enlistment in 1864, Majors served with the First Nebraska at Forts Kearny, McPherson and Laramie. It was during this enlistment that he saw action against the Sioux and Cheyenne at the battle of Plum Creek (Lexington, Nebraska). In 1865 Majors gained promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and retained this rank until his discharge on June 30, 1866.

In 1866 Majors embarked upon an active political career, being elected first to the Nebraska Territorial Council, and in 1867 gained election to the first state senate. It was during this term that Majors was instrumental in the founding of the State Normal School at Peru, Nebraska. Majors remained on the board of directors of the normal school throughout his lifetime and is credited as being the father of the state normal system. He was re-elected to the Senate in 1869 and served until 1870, when her received an appointment as the Internal Revenue Assessor for Nebraska under the Grant administration. In 1878 Major won election to the U.S. House of Representatives, filling the seat vacated by the death of Frank Welsh. Following this term Majors returned to Nebraska and was again elected to the state senate in 1886. Two years later he gained election to Nebraska’s lower house and in 1890 was elected as Nebraska’s Lieutenant Governor. Majors remained at this post until 1894, when he received the Republican Gubernatorial nomination. He was unsuccessful in this election bid, meeting defeat at the hand of fusionist candidate Silas Holcomb. Majors retired from active politics in 1910, following his final term in the Nebraska Senate.

Thomas Majors married Isabelle Bushon in 1870. This union was to produce five children; four sons, Frank P., James H., Thomas A., Charles W., and one daughter, Gladys (Mrs. Clarence Gale).


This collection consists of two boxes of manuscript material arranged in seven series: (1) Correspondence, 1863-1893; (2) Military Documents, 1863-1866; (3) Financial Records, 1883-1891; (4) Certificates, 1860-1909; (5) Printed Matters; (6) Biographical Data; (7) Miscellaneous Material.

The collection relates to the political and military history of Nebraska during its territorial and early statehood years. The military documents deal with activities of the First Nebraska Regiment during the Indian War of 1864.

Correspondence constitutes the bulk of this collection, with most of the material from the 1863 to 1893 period. Correspondents include: Phineas W. Hitchcock, 1871-1880; William A. Polock, 1874-1876; Algernon S. Paddock, 1880-1891; Martin Van Fleet, 1882; Church Howe, 1889; John T. Mallaliev, 1889; Charles F. Manderson, 1890; John M. Thayer, 1890-1891; Samuel Maxwell, 1891; Thomas J. Oliver, 1891; George Holland, 1891; Robert W. Furnas, 1891; and Frederick Renner, 1891.

Note: A more detailed supplementary index to the correspondence is available in the repository.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1863-1893

Box 1

  1. December, 1863-October, 1871
  2. March 1874-1889
  3. 1890
  4. January, 1891-May, 1891
  5. June, 1891-August, 1891
  6. September, 1891-December, 1891
  7. June, 1892-June, 1893
  8. Undated Correspondence

Series 2 – Military Documents, 1863-1866

Box 2

  1. December, 1863-March, 1865
  2. April, 1865-April, 1866

Series 3 – Financial Records, 1883-1891

  1. 1883-1891

Series 4 – Certificates, 1860-1909

  1. 1860-1909

Series 5 – Printed Matter

  1. Printed matter

Series 6 – Biographical Data

  1. Biographical data

Series 7 – Miscellaneous Material

  1. Miscellaneous material

Subject headings:

Furnas, Robert Wilkinson 1824-1905
Boyd County (Neb.) — History
Fort Cottonwood
Fort Heath
Fort Kearny
Grand Army of the Republic. Deptment of Nebraska
Hitchcock, Phineas Warrener, 1831-1881
Holland, George 1850?-1917?
Howe, Church, 1839-1915
Indians of North America. Wars. Nebraska. 1864
Majors, Thomas Jefferson, 1841-1932
Mallalieu, John T.
Manderson, Charles Frederick, 1837-1911
Maxwell, Samuel, 1825-1901
Nebraska. State Normal School. Peru
Nemaha County (Neb.) — History
Oliver, Thomas J.
Paddock, Algernon Sidney, 1830-1897
Peru (Neb.) — History
Polock, William A.
Renner, Frederick, 1830-1922
Thayer, John Milton, 1820-1906
United States. Army. Nebraska Volunteer Regiment, 1st, 1863-1866
United States. Congress. House
United States — History — Civil War, 1861-1865
Van Fleet, Martin
White Stone Hill, Battle of, 1863

Revised 10-19-2009 TMM

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