THOMAS SHERMAN GERHART.
One of the most prominent men in Sumner is Thomas Sherman Gerhart. He is a lawyer and is undoubtedly one of the best in this section of the state, but his prominence in his home town does not come so much from the fact that he is a clever lawyer as from the fact that he is public spirited and is eager to do his share towards the advancement of the public weal. He has been a resident of Sumner for a few years only, but he has shown himself so sincere in his desire to assist in the onward march that the citizens of the town are making that he has won the friendship and confidence of all who know him, as a proof of this he has been elected city attorney. He is highly respected in his profession, not only for his intellectual gifts and for his abilities as an orator, but also for his moral strength, which the men of his fraternity can appreciate far more than others. He is possessed of a strong will and a determination not to succumb to the many temptations that beset the path of the young lawyer today. He will not stoop to the tricks of his trade, and trusts to his powers of persuasion and to the righteousness of his cause to win his cases for him. He has the gift of eloquence in a generous degree and whenever he is speaking, he holds his audience enthralled. He is now at the point where he has gained a rich experience and a maturity of thought, and adding to these his eloquence and his logical mind he has the full equipment of the successful lawyer.
Thomas Sherman Gerhart was born on the 20th of April, 1868, in Whitley county, Indiana. His father, Jacob Gerhart, is a native of Ohio, having been born on the 14th of September, 1840, in Greene county. In 1868, soon after the birth of his son, he came to Lawrence county, Illinois, and here settled to the life of a farmer. During the Civil war he had been one of the Indiana Home Guards, and it was a great sorrow to him that he was physically incapacitated to serve in the regular army. It seemed hard that he who wanted to go to the front, should not be able to, while some men who would have preferred the peace and comfort of their own firesides were forced to go. However, he met his disappointment as he met all the troubles in his life, philosophically and cheerfully. He was married on the 24th of March, 1864, to Margaret Anne Norris, of Whitley county, Indiana. Seven children were born of this union, and of these Thomas S. was the second child. In politics Jacob Gerhart is a staunch Republican and a worker in the party. He is active in the public affairs of the community, and some of the best work that he did for his fellow citizens was performed when he was highway commissioner for his county. His religious affiliations were with the German Baptists or Dunkards, of which denomination he was a very loyal member.
Thomas Sherman Gerhart spent his childhood and boyhood on a farm in Lawrence county, and his early education was received at the hands of the country school teachers in that county. After he had finished these, he attended Vincennes University and pursued the commercial and scientific courses during the four years he spent there. He was graduated from the above institution in 1894, with the degree of B. S. He then turned to the profession for which he seemed best fitted, at the same time determining that he would take up the study of law as soon as he was able. The profession which he chose was that of a school teacher and until 1899, he conscientiously tried to impart knowl edge
to children of his home county — Lawrence. During his vacation he took various courses in the State University of Indiana, and in the evenings throughout the long winters he was never too tired after his day's work to pore over his law books. In 1901 he was graduated from the State University and received the degree of LL. B. His admission to the bar occurred during the same year and he at once began to practice, saying good-bye to the school room with a glad heart, for he had for so long looked forward to his moment when he should be a full-fledged lawyer.
He first began to practice in Kokomo, Indiana, and remained here for seven and a half years, during which time he became a very popular and influential member of the community. He was active in the political circles of the town, and was one of the most efficient members of the city council. He was also appointed city judge by the governor of Indiana and filled this position to the satisfaction of every one. He moved from Kokomo to Sumner, Lawrence county, Illinois, in 1909, and was soon holding a place of the same prominence in Sumner as he had in his former home. His term of service as city attorney has been mentioned, and during this term he added to his popularity tenfold through the able way in which he discharged his duties. His career as a school teacher was undoubtedly a fine preparation for his career as a lawyer. He gained self confidence and became accustomed to the sound of his own voice. As a teacher he also showed the executive ability which has been of so much aid to him in his political work. He was not only principal, but also superintendent of the Lawrenceville public schools. His ability as an orator was forecasted during his career as a student, when he was attending Vincennes University.
Mr. Gerhart is a member of the Christian church, and is an active, earnest worker in the church. He is a trustee of the church and for some time was superintendent of the Sunday school. In the fraternal world he is a member of the Knights of Pythias and is master of the exchequer Sumner Lodge, No. 702. His ability as a lawyer has been greatly enhanced by his thorough understanding of many of the technical points of business which he gathered during a business course of study which he took in Vincennes University, Indiana.
Mr. Gerhart was married on the 15th day of June, 1898, to Caroline Jennings Clark, a graduate of Indiana State University, and a daughter of Reverend T. J. Clark, of Bloomington, Indiana. Mr. and Mrs. Gerhart are the parents of three sons: Francis C., Charles T. and Emerson T.