Recollections and Sketches of Notable Lawyers...Iowa - 1915 - N

1915 Index

Recollections and Sketches of Notable Lawyers and Public Men of Early Iowa
by Edward H. Stiles. Des Moines: Homestead Publishing Co., 1915.


Unless noted, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.

Thomas W. Newman

These men [Thomas W. Newman, William E. Blake and Daniel M. Hammack] were for a time partners. Mr. Newman was the elder of the two. He was a Marylander by birth and was admitted to the Bar of that State. He came to Burlington and entered the practice in 1850. He became a lawyer of note. For a time he was a partner of Joshua Tracy, under the firm name of Tracy & Newman, and subsequently of Mr. Blake under the name of Newman & Blake. These names will be found along the line of the Iowa Reports during their time. In 1874, he was appointed by the Governor, Judge of the District Court. Upon the expiration of that term, he was elected by the people for a new one, and upon the expiration of that, re-elected for another. He served some ten years in that position with marked efficiency. He was a good lawyer and a good judge. Nature had not been niggardly in the bestowal of his mental endowments.

He was born in Summerset County, Maryland, in 1829. His father having died, his mother with her family, when he was eleven years of age, removed to Baltimore where he was reared to manhood. He received an Academic education, and his associations in a large city like Baltimore naturally brought him in contact with or as the observer of many notable men and distinguished orators. This had the effect of accentuating his oratorical gifts. The result was that he became an attractive and forcible speaker, both in the forum and on the hustings. In politics, he was originally a Democrat, but in the slavery agitation following the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854, he abandoned his party and joined that of the Republicans, which was then just coming into existence. He supported James W. Grimes for Governor, Mr. Lincoln for President and continued to adhere to that party throughout his life.

At the breaking out of the Civil War, he entered the service, and through the influence of Mr. Grimes, was commissioned a Captain in the Eleventh United States Infantry. Under that commission, he entered upon the duties of Recruiting Officer and Military Commander, at Burlington, in 1861. In the year following, he was made Commander of the Post at Indianapolis. After nearly three years of military service, he was obliged to resign on account of severe and prolonged illness. Upon his recovery, he resumed his practice in Burlington. After this, he used to occasionally visit our Court at Ottumwa, and in this wise, I first became acquainted with him. He was a fine conversationalist, pleasingly vivacious, a favorite with ladies, a gentleman of charming manners, in whose company it was a pleasure to be.

In addition to the public services mentioned, he was from 1855 to 1857 County Judge of Des Moines County, and in 1855-6 one of the Directors of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Company, now the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. He was an early, staunch and continual friend of the Burlington University, from the time of its organization in 1852, and became one of its trustees and general officers.

He died at Burlington in 1908, after having devotedly followed his profession as lawyer and judge for fifty-eight hears, with the exception of the time covered by his military service. He was a man of decided character, and positive opinions which he was always ready to heroically express on proper occasion. By his long and useful service, and by his strong personal influence, he did much in shaping the jurisprudence and institutions of the State.