He is seen in his grandmother's household in 1861, listed as her grandson. The Deseret News roster indicates his grandmother, Amelia, was traveling with her two "sons." It is believed that one of the "sons" was actually Joseph M. Thomas, her grandson. His obituary confirms that he came to Utah in 1868. Joseph's mother and other siblings came to Valley in 1874, funded by his grandmother, as indicated in the PEF account.