Hannah Wallace was born in Corning in 1879. Sometime between 1900 and 1905 she married William Burdette Thomas. “Burt,” as he was known in Corning, worked for the J.M. Greig Department Store before moving with Hannah to Binghamton to take a position with Fowler, Dick, and Walker Dry Goods, rising through the ranks to become eventually President of the Mutual Fabric Company, a subsidiary of Fowler’s. William and Hannah had one child, a son named Wallace Burdette, who died in 1930 at the age of 13 following surgery for appendicitis.
As a young woman, Hannah studied voice in NYC and became a noted soprano soloist at Christ Episcopal Church in Corning. In Binghamton, she was a voice teacher and choir director at Tabernacle and Centenary Methodist Churches. Like many married women of means who did not work outside the home, Hannah was involved in many clubs and charities. She was a member of the Octo Bridge Club, Order of the Eastern Star, and Oteyokwa Lake Club (in Hallstead PA). She was very active in the Monday Afternoon Club (which met at what is now known as the Phelps Mansion), and was a charter member and once president of the Shakespeare Dramatic Club. She was a Board Member of the YWCA, Vice President of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Binghamton Permanent Fireman’s Association, member of the West Side Charity Club, and Vice President of the Genetaska Club (for wives of Kiwaniians before women were admitted to Kiwanis).
Hannah was a tireless promoter of music organizations. One of her biggest contributions to music was getting local music groups to join the NYS Federation of Music Clubs, of which she was Regional Director for the Southern Tier and later VP and then President. In 1937 she enlisted the support of the Binghamton Chamber of Commerce to lobby the Federation to hold its state convention in Binghamton in April 1938. In April, we’ll tell that story. In 1946, Hannah was elected to her second term as President of Harmony Club. In 1947 she began a Junior Harmony Club. She was VP of the Triple Cities Civic Music Association. Fully two years before Tri-Cities Opera began, Hannah Thomas was involved in discussions to form a civic opera in Binghamton.
Charter Member Edith Ryan wrote in 1970: “The memories of Hannah Thomas stir up many happy thoughts in the minds of those who knew her best. She went to her reward on November 4, 1948.” William had predeceased her in 1940, a stained glass Nativity window in his memory dedicated the same year at Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church where Hannah was a member. The Thomases – Hannah, William, and Wallace – are all buried in Floral Park Cemetery in Johnson City.