THOMAS J. NEWLIN.
The story of the life of Thomas J. Newlin is like unto that of his brother's, Enoch E. Newlin, judge of the circuit court, in that during his early years life was a struggle, and that only by his own efforts was he able to succeed. The only aid he found outside of himself was the inspiration of his mother and the encouraging words of his elder
brother. Men like Mr. Newlin, who have paid a price for their success in life, know how to value it when it at last comes to them. We hear much about the inferiority of those who possess ancient lineages, and it is often true that through intermarriage or a generation or two of self indulgent men and women the family does become degenerate, but often if the young scion of an ancient house were cast upon his own resources he would show considerably more strength of character than people had given him credit for. The test of character that Mr. Newlin underwent would be too strenuous for many men, perhaps, but observe the result. He not only obtained a fair classical education, but studied law, was admitted to the bar and became a successful lawyer. He then turned from the law to business, and is now one of the most prominent business men in Robinson, Illinois. His early lessons in self dependence, and the splendid mental training that the study and practice of the law gave him, he turned to great profit in his career as a business man, and his ability in his newer vocation is undisputed in the town where he makes his home.
Thomas Jefferson Newlin was born on a farm two miles south from Bellair, Crawford county, Illinois. The date of his birth was the 2nd of April, 1863. His father was Thomas Newlin, and his mother was Mary E. (Ruckle) Newlin, who was a native of Hebron, Ohio. Thomas J. was the youngest of four sons, George A., Enoch E., LeRoy and Thomas J. His father enlisted in the Seventy-ninth Illinois Regiment, and succumbed to the deadly climate of the southern swamps, dying at Murphysboro, Tennessee, on the 7th of April, 1863. At the time of his father's death, young Thomas was only five days old and the soldier father never saw his youngest son.
Of the first years of hardship when the widow and her older sons toiled desperately to keep a roof over the heads of the younger and to provide clothing and food, just the bare necessities of life, Thomas J. knew little. In 1872 his oldest brother died, at the age of fifteen. Although Thomas was only nine at the time, yet he rendered his small services as willingly as the older boys. During the winter he was sent to the district school, for his mother was determined that all of her boys should have an education. In the summer he worked on the farm with his brothers, and in time he saved enough money to take an eighteen weeks college course at Merom, Indiana. His quick mind and clear comprehension won him the approbation of his teachers and inspired him to further effort. He therefore turned to school teaching as a way to earn enough money to continue his studies. For forty-nine months he labored conscientiously with the problems of the district school, from how to handle the young ruffians that sometimes came under his charge to the greater problem of how to make the fire go in the old stove. At last he had saved up enough money to take a ten weeks course in the Danville, Indiana, school, and after having completed this course he came to Robinson and began to read law with his brother, Judge E. E. Newlin. He took the examinations for the bar at Mount Vernon, Illinois, in 1891, and was admitted on the 28th of August, 1891. He had no way of living while awaiting for clients, so that winter he returned to Robinson and taught school.
In 1892 a solution to his difficulties came in his election to the office of circuit clerk, and for four years he held this position. His courage and determination to succeed is well illustrated by the step that he took during this year. With scarcely anything but prospects he was married in 1892 to Sarah F. Kirts, a daughter of Isaac and Mary Kirts, of Oblong, Illinois. Mrs. Newlin possessed as much courage as her husband,
and the success that came to them proved them right in their belief that they could advance more rapidly together than alone.
On the 1st of January, 1897, Mr. Newlin began the practice of law. He formed a partnership with Judge W. C. Jones and Judge S. C. Eagleton, taking the place made vacant by the resignation of his brother, who had just been elected to the bench. This partnership continued until 1900, when he retired from the firm and entered into partnership with Valmore Parker. Then followed nine years of very successful practice, marked by honesty and sincerity on the part of Mr. Newlin. On the 1st of October, 1909, he retired from the firm and from active practice in order to devote more of his time to his business affairs, In the meantime he had been appointed master in chancery, and filled this position with honor for twelve years.
In 1909 he became deeply interested in the oil business. Mr. Newlin has quite an income from royalties on oil lands that he owns, and he is also a member of the firm of Moren, Newlin and Adsit Oil Company, which is operating on an eighty acre tract of leased land. Shortly after he retired from the law business he purchased the stock of a hardware store that had gone into bankruptcy and has succeeded in establishing a prosperous hardware business. He is also a stock-holder in one of the banks of Robinson, and occasionally accepts a case, which he handles with all of his old skill. With all of these concerns it may be seen that Mr. Newlin is an extremely busy man, yet he has time to interest himself in the affairs of his town and county, as well as in those of larger import.
In politics Mr. Newlin is a Democrat, and in his religious affiliations he is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. He is active in the fraternal world, being a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, of the Knights of Pytbias and of the Elks. He and his wife are the parents of two children, Floy, who is a graduate of the Robinson high school, of the class of 1911, and Ralph, who is yet a student in the same school, being a member of the class of 1913.