Hon. Thomas M. SHAW, judge of the eighth judicial circuit of
The subject of this sketch grew to manhood on the old farm, and from
early childhood did his part in the cultivation and improvement of the
place. He received his primary education in the common schools of the
neighborhood, which was supplemented by partial courses in the colleges of
In the year 1857, when but twenty years of age, he was admitted to the bar, after an examination by a committee appointed for that purpose by the circuit judge, then holding court at Lacon. Still pursuing his studies he remained another year at Lacon and then removed to Hennepin, Putnam county, and there commenced practice.
After a residence of five years at Hennepin, where he met with as good
success as could reasonably be expected, he returned to Lacon richer in
experience and better able to cope with the older attorneys at the bar. Mark
BANGS, now one of the leading attorneys of
In his profession, the judge never made a specialty of any particular line, but attended to general practice, being a good all-around lawyer, a safe counselor in every respect. He never resorted to any of the clap-trap peculiar to some members of the profession, but gave his whole thought, time and attention to the business in hand. Few attorneys have exercised the caution displayed by him in the preparation of a case. He must know he was right before he would proceed. If a client came to him with a case, he must know that it was a good one, and that law and equity was upon his side. Never did he hesitate to tell a client that his case was not good if so convinced. A good, fat fee was no temptation to him, if he knew the law was against him. A point made by him in a trial was seldom overruled by the presiding judge. His practice was not local, but extended throughout adjoining counties in the various circuit and county courts, and in the supreme court of the state, and of the United Sates courts, before which honorable body he argued many cases.
Among his associates at the bar the judge always stood high. They recognized his abilities, knew his studious nature, his conservative opinions and actions, and by them was he first suggested for the bench. In the spring of 1885 he was duly nominated and at the regular June election of that year he was triumphantly elected. After serving his term of six years he was re-nominated and re-elected in 1891. The same points that characterized him as an attorney at the bar have followed him upon the bench. While quick to grasp a point, and with a breadth of perception enabling him to see a case from every point of view, he must feel assured that he is right before a decision is rendered. His impartiality and absolute fairness is acknowledged by every member of the bar comprising the district, and none fear to leave the decision of a case in his hands. But few of his decisions appealed from here have been reversed by the higher courts.
Politically Judge SHAW has always held to the principles of the democratic party, especially as advocated by the fathers. He is not a partisan, however, his judicial mind forbidding it, but in the advocacy of his political views he asks no favor. By his party he was given the nomination for congress in 1878, but the district being overwhelmingly republican, he suffered the expected defeat. Two years later, in 1880, he was nominated and elected a member of the state senate from the district comprising the counties of Putnam, Marshall and Woodford. He served the term of four years with credit to himself and constituents, serving on several important committees, among which was the judiciary. This was the only political office he ever held, unless we except that of mayor of Lacon, an office he held two terms to the satisfaction of all concerned.
On the 24th of December, 1863, Judge SHAW and Miss Nellie F. HIRCH, of
Metamora, Woodford county,
Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois published in 1896, page 599.