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Thomas S. Wilson (1838-1847)

Chief Justice

Thomas S. Wilson

Served on the Iowa Supreme Court from the formation of Iowa Territory in 1838 until he resigned in October 1847.

Born October 13, 1813, at Steubenville, Ohio. He was graduated from Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, in 1836, and was a boyhood friend and neighbor of Edwin M. Stanton, later Secretary of War. Justice Wilson was but twenty-five years of age when appointed to the Supreme Court.

The first court session held in Iowa Territory was conducted on September 11, 1838, by Justice Wilson at Prairie La Porte (now Guttenberg) in Clayton County. This was a session of the District Court, presided over by a justice of the Supreme Court.

As a practicing lawyer, he was instrumental in extinguishing the Spanish land grant titles in Iowa, thus securing to the early settlers, in Iowa Territory, their homes against ouster at the hands of land speculators. He was a member of the Eleventh and Twelfth General Assemblies. He served later on the District Bench. He had missed by one vote becoming the first United States Senator from Iowa.

Justice Wilson died in Dubuque May 16, 1894.

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