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Past and present Vermilion Co. IL

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M. L. Thompson

Since 1883 Morton L.Thompson has been a practitioner at the Bar of Vermilion County, where he has won distinction as a .most able lawyer because of his learning. His careful preparation of cases and his keen analytical mind and his strength in argument. He is now filling the position of circuit judge and upon the bench he has added new laurels to his already creditable life record. Mr. Thompson is one of Vermilion County's native sons, his birth having occurred on the 23d of May, 1858.   In the paternal line he is of Irish and Scotch ancestry. His father,  John R .Thompson, was a native of Greene county Pennsylvania, and from there he removed to Vermilion county, Illinois, in the year 1853, driving across the country with a drove of three thousand 'sheep, which he pastured here that season and then drove to the Chicago market. The following year he returned to Pennsylvania, again secured a large flock of sheep and once more brought them to Vermilion county, where he fattened them for c i t y markets. He was pleased at this location and the prospects and he resolved to make his home here, and continuing to be a resident of Vermilion County throughout his remaining days. He was an extensive stock-raiser and farmer and prospered in his business undertakings. In Champaign, Illinois, in 1856, he was united in marriage to Elizabeth A. Wright, who was born in Vermilion County and was -

of German lineage. Her birth occurred in 1837 and her death in 1897, while the father of the Judge who was born in 1832.and passed away in 1896.  They reared a family of seven children. Named: Morton W.; David L.; Anna. the wife of E. J. Boorde: Nellie: John R., who is

proprietor of the Thompson restaurants of Chicago; Ulysses S.: and Gertrude, the wife of R. S. Swaine.  At the usual age Judge Thompson entered the public schools and after mastering the common branches of English learning he further continued his studies in the Danville High School, in which he was, graduated 11 th in the class of 1879. He then returned to the home farm where he remained for a period of two years. Subsequently he entered the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, pursuing a law course there and in1883 he was graduated the degree of

Bachelor of Laws. Returning to his native county he established his office in Danville and acted as assistant state’s attorney under W. J. Calhoun. In 1889 the law firm of Calhoun & Thompson was organized and this connection was maintained until 1896, when Mr. Calhoun went to Chicago as attorney for the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad Company. The following year he

was elected judge of Vermilion county at a special election to fill out an unexpired term, and in November, 1898, he became the regular nominee of the Republican party for re-election for a full term.  Such is the personal popularity and such is the confidence reposed in his judicial powers by the public that the Democrats placed no opposing candidate in the field. It was a merited tribute to his capable service during the period in which he was filling out the unexpired term.  In September 1902, Judge Thompson was appointed by Governor Yates to fill out the

unexpired term of the late Judge Bookwalter of tile circuit court and immediate1y entered

upon the duties of that office.  He has just been nominated for the full term as circuit judge of the fifth judicial circuit by an overwhelming majority, which is equivalent to his election next June. A local paper said of him:  "While in active practice Judge Thompson was engaged in some of the most important litigation in this county and was always considered an honorable honest and

careful.   In 1897 he was elected county judge of this county to succeed Hon. John G.  Thompson. who resigned to accept the office of assistant attorney general of the United States at Washington. During his term as court judge he was always courteous and accommodating and ready at all times to explain any business in his court to all who might inquire. as well as to advise those who sought information in reference to the business of the office-in fact. The affairs of the county court of this county were never conducted more ably and carefully and carefully than by him, as thousands of people in this county will cheerfully testify. One of the highest

recommendations of Judge Thompson's ability and honesty is the fact that not a dollar was ever lost to the widows and heirs of estates while he was county judge, and it was almost universally regretted by the bar and people generally when he announced a year ago that he would not accept a re-nomination to that office.

Judge Thompson was frequently called to other counties to try important cases. In Chicago he has tried some of the most important cases in this state.  Notably; the State Street and Cottage Grove Avenue special assessment cases and the tax cases of Cook County, tried by him under the new revenue law of 1898. While involving millions of dollars. In the big tax cases all parties interested agreed upon Judge Thompson and requested him to come to Chicago and try that docket, and so ably did he succeed that the supreme court of this state affirmed his decision in every case.

Last September Governor Yates appointed him to fill out the unexpired term of

the late lamented Judge Bookwalter and he at once assumed the duties of circuit judge

and held the October term of-our circuit court, which has just closed. For the past

three months Judge Thompson has held court every day, and succeeded in disposing

of every case ready for trial, and his manner of holding court and promptness of disposing of the business and his uniform courtesy and fairness has won the respect and confidence of the bar as well as the people of this county, and proved him to be one of the

most poplar and fair-minded judges in this part of the state.

The Judge was united in marriage to Miss Mollie W. Steen, a daughter of Captain E. D. Steen, of Danville, the wedding having been celebrated in 1 887.  Fraternally he is connected with the' Knights of Pythias, with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, with the Benevolent and Protective Order of' Elks and in the Masonic fraternity he is a Consistory Mason, having attained the thirty-second degree. In private life he is found as a genial, courteous gentleman, who has a very wide acquaintance in the county of his nativity and is not only esteemed and honored but has that warm personal friendship which arises from kindliness and deference for the opinions of others.  The practice of law has been his real life work, and at the bar and on the bench he has won marked distinction. A man of unimpeachable character, of unusual intellectual endowments, with a thorough understanding of the law, patience, urbanity and industry, Judge Thompson took to the bench the very highest qualifications for this responsible office of the state government, and his recognized as a judge has been in harmony with his record as a man and a lawyer, distinguished by unswerving integrity and a masterful grasp of every problem which has presented itself for solution.