Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Lewis Foulk Thomas

Ohio & Missouri

Lewis Foulk Thomas, Inda, a Legend of the Lakes: With Other Poems
(St. Louis: V. Ellis, 1842)

William Turner Coggeshall, The Poets and Poetry of the West: With Biographical and Critical Notices 243 (Columbus, Ohio: Follett, Foster and Company, 1860):

LEWIS FOULKE THOMAS is a native of Baltimore county, Maryland. He was born about the year 1815. His father, E[benezer] S. Thomas, having moved to the West [to Cincinnati] in 1829, Lewis F., in connection with his brother, Frederick William, assisted in the conduct of the Commercial Advertiser, and the Evening Post, at Cincinnati. When the Post was discontinued, in 1835, Lewis F. became a student of law. He was at that time an acceptable contributor to the Western Monthly and to the Cincinnati Mirror. In 1839 he published and edited the Louisville (Ky.) Daily Herald. In 1841 he removed to St. Louis, where he edited and published a quarto pictorial work called "Valley of the Mississippi Illustrated." Parts of it were republished in London, and were translated into German, and issued at Dusseldorf.

In the year 1842, Mr. Thomas had the honor of publishing at St. Louis the first volume of poems ever printed west of the Mississippi River—"Inda and other Poems"—a duodecimo, containing one hundred and thirty-two pages. It was embellished with a portrait of the author, and two steel engravings illustrating the principal poem. V. Ellis was the printer, at the Bulletin office. About one thousand copies were printed, but soon after they were published a fire occurred in the building where they had been stored, and only a few copies were snatched from the flames. It is, therefore, now a very rare book. "Inda" was delivered before the Lyceum at Cincinnati, in 1834, and having been repeated in St. Louis in 1842, was published at the request of the members of the Lyceum of that city. In the preface to his book, the author claiming to be a "pioneer of poesy on this (west) side of the Great Valley," declares that he publishes with "Inda" some juvenile indiscretions, against the advice of friends, merely to gratify his own whim. One of those indiscretions, "The World," was originally written in the Album of John Howard Payne, which was sold in Washington City, in 1859, at a very high price.

Since 1842, Mr. Thomas has written much but published rarely. The only series of poems given the world from his pen, are "Rhymes of the Routes"—published in Washington during the Mexican war. They celebrated the principal victories by the American army. In 1838 he wrote a drama entitled "Osceola," which was successfully performed at Cincinnati, Louisville, and New Orleans. He was therefore encouraged to dramatic studies, and has given elaborate thought to a tragedy entitled "Cortez, the Conqueror," which he proposes to put upon the stage sometime within the present year. Mr. Thomas is now an attorney at law in Washington City.

[By most accounts, Thomas's birth is reported to have been 1808. His middle name is sometimes spelled Foulke.]

Lewis Foulk Thomas is identified as a "lawyer and literary man of St. Louis" in John Francis McDermott, J.C. Wild and Fort Snelling, 32 (1) Minnesota History 12, 14 (1951). Thomas moved from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. where he practiced law until his death. [James Grant Wilson & John Fiske (eds.), Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography 83 (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1889).

Lewis Foulke Thomas
Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography


Lewis Foulk Thomas, Inda, a Legend of the Lakes: With Other Poems (St. Louis: V. Ellis, 1842) [online text]

________________, Rhymes of the Routs, in Mexico (Washington, D.C.: W. Adam, 1847)

________________, Cortez the Conqueror, a Tragedy in five acts founded on the Conquest of Mexico (Washington, D.C.: B.W. Ferguson, 1857) [online text]


J.C. Wild, The Valley of the Mississippi; Illustrated in a Series of Views (St. Louis, Missouri: Published by the artist, printed by Chambers and Knapp, 1841)(Lewis Foulk Thomas ed.)