Peter D. Thomas was an escaped slave who joined the 15th Wisconsin Regiment during its service in Tennessee.
Thomas was born around 1847. After escaping slavery, he served Lt. Charles B. Nelson of Co. G at Chickamauga and other battles, then enlisted in a USCT (United States Colored Troops) regiment. Later he followed Wisconsin troops back to Beloit and attended school there. In time he made his home in Racine.
Most of the black population of Racine were those who had escaped slavery. By the late 1850s, more blacks migrated to Wisconsin, and in 1858 there were 250 blacks living in Racine. At the same time, the Civil War was approaching.
Thomas later earned the distinction of being one of the first African Americans in the United States elected to public office. In 1883, he was elected Racine County Coroner. Thomas had a reputation for being a hard worker, which brought him respect in the community.