Mr. Thomason is known as a man of high attainments and practical ability as a lawyer, and as one who has achieved success in his profession because he has worked for it persistently and in channels of honest endeavor. His prestige at the bar of Clay county stands in evidence of his ability and likewise serves as a voucher for intrinsic worth of character. He has used his intellect to the best purpose, has directed his energies along legitimate courses, and his career has been based upon the wise assumption that nothing save industry, perseverance, sturdy integrity and fidelity to duty will lead to success.
John W. Thomason was born in Blair township, Clay county, July 5, 1874, the son of William B. Thomason, who was a native of Indiana. He came to Bible Grove township when a boy, where he settled on a farm and continued to live in this county until his death, about 1878, when only about twenty-eight years old. Allan Thomason was the subject's grandfather, a native of North Carolina, who emigrated to Kentucky and then to Indiana, residing on a farm in Washington county. He was a soldier in the Mexican war. The subject's mother was known in her maidenhood as Caroline Kellums, whose people were natives of Indiana, she having been born in Greene county, that state. She was called to her rest in 1900, when living at Iola, Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. William B. Thomason were the parents of three children, only two of whom are living at this writing, Walter L. Thomason living at Madison, Illinois, and John W.
Mr. Thomason spent his early life on the farm. His father was called to his reward when John W. was four years old, and the mother and son lived with the latter's maternal grandfather. The mother remarried when John W. was eight years old. His stepfather was J. W. Fender, of Iola, Illinois, by which union six children were born.
Mr. Thomason attended the district schools until he was eighteen years old when he entered Orchard City College, at Flora, from which he graduated in 1894, having made a splendid record for scholarship. He taught school one year before graduating and a few terms afterward, with much success attending his efforts. He then went to Mercer county, this state, where he engaged in the grain and stock business with an uncle, having been associated with him for four years making a success of this line of work in every particular. But a business life was too prosaic for him and he decided to enter the profession of law, and accordingly began study at Aledo Mercer county this state. He attended Kent College of Law one term, in Chicago, and was admitted to the bar in 1899, in Clay county, where he at once began practice and has continued ever since in a manner that has stamped him as one of the leading representatives of the bar in this part of the state. He first practiced alone.
In 1900 Mr. Thomason was elected State's Attorney on the Democratic ticket, for a term of four years, which office he filled with much credit and to the satisfaction of all concerned. He was a candidate for re-election, but was defeated by one vote only, the rest of the ticket being defeated by majorities ranging up to four hundred and seventy-three. This shows Mr. Thomason's great popularity in the county with his party. He then formed a partnership with H. R. Boyles, which continued until Mr. Boyles died in 1905. He practiced alone then until 1907, when he formed a partnership with H. D. McCollum, which now exists. The firm has a very large and complete library, which is kept well replenished with late decisions and the most standard works, in fact, it is one of the best in Clay county, and few firms do a more extensive business than this one.
Mr. Thomason was united in marriage March 28, 1900, to Margaret L. Downing, daughter of John Downing, of Joy, Mercer county, this state. She is the worthy representative of an influential family of that locality. To this union two winsome daughters have been born; Corrinne and Helen. Mr. Thomason has a farm in Blair township, and he is interested in the stock business, always keeping some good breeds on hand. His farm is a valuable one and is kept well improved.
Our subject is chairman of the Democratic County Central Committee, and is very active in politics. He was appointed Master in Chancery in March 1908, and is now ably serving in this capacity. In his fraternal relations he is a member of the Masonic Order, and at this writing Master of the Louisville Lodge No. 196. He is a member of the Knights of Pythias, being Chancellor Commander. He is also a member of the Woodmen and Ben Hur.
It stands to Mr. Thomason's credit that he has attained prosperity and definite success through his own efforts, since he started out in life with no further reinforcement than that implied in a stout heart, willing hands and a determination to succeed through honest and earnest effort.
Extracted 27 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay & Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 367-368.