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Home: Regional: U.S. States: Ohio: Jefferson County

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1903 Bio ~ Thomas S. Wilson ~ born October 13, 1813
Posted by: Deborah Brownfield - Stanley (ID *****1616) Date: December 12, 2003 at 13:29:25
  of 925

THOMAS S. WILSON was born at Steubenville, Ohio, October 13, 1813. He
graduated at Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, in 1832, and immediately entered upon
the study of law. He was admitted to the bar in 1834 and located in Dubuque
in October, 1836. In 1838 he was appointed by President Van Buren one of the
judges of the Supreme Court of the new Territory of Iowa. He accepted the
position and entered upon the duties of the office before he was twenty-five years
of age, serving until Iowa became a State. The first Legislature having
failed to elect Supreme Judges, he was one of the three appointed by the Governor
to fill the vacancy. He lacked but one of being nominated for United States
Senator at the time General Jones was chosen. In 1852 he was elected judge of
the District Court, holding the position until 1863. He was employed as
counsel in one of the most important suits ever tried in Iowa involving millions of
dollars. The Chouteau heirs claimed title through the grant to Julien
Dubuque of the vast tract of land embracing the lead mines and the city of Dubuque.
Reverdy Johnson, one of the greatest lawyers of the country, was employed by
the St. Louis heirs to prosecute the claim. The city of Dubuque employed
Judge Wilson and Platt Smith to defend in the United States Circuit and Supreme
Courts. They were successful in both courts in defeating the claim. While
judge of the Territorial Court, Mr. Wilson rendered the first decision liberating
a slave brought by his master into Iowa. He died on the 16th of May, 1894,
after having served as a lawyer and judge for fifty-eight years. He outlived
nearly all of his pioneer associates of 1836.

Debbie Clough Gerischer
Iowa Gen Web, Assistant CC, Scott County
IAGENWEB: Special History Project:
Gerischer Family Web Site:

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