Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
THOMAS J. GIDEON. Upon the role of representative professional men of Greene county of a past generation was the late Thomas J. Gideon, prominent lawyer and esteemed citizen of Springfield, having possessed those qualities of head and heart which not only bring material success but always commend themselves to persons of intelligence. He was a man who took a pride in the advancement of his city and county and heartily supported such movements as made toward that end. He came of an honest, rugged pioneer family, the Gideons having been active and well known in this locality in its early history.
Thomas J. Gideon was born on his father's farm in Christian county, Missouri, January 28, 1845. He is a son of William C. and Melinda (Bird) Gideon. He sprang from Irish-Scotch ancestry of Colonial American stock. James Gideon, the great-grandfather of our subject, was the founder of this branch of the family in America. He came from Dublin, Ireland, with his brothers, Reuben and Edward, and bringing his wife, Nancy. His sons were: Edward, William, Isham, James and John. They all settled on land in southwestern New York. Edward, brother of James, was killed in battle during the Revolutionary war. All of the family moved to North Carolina about 1781 and settled on the Yadkin river. James Gideon moved to what is now Hawkins county, Tennessee, in 1821, where he settled on a farm, or rather wild land, which he developed into a farm. He took with him the apple trees with which to plant his orchard. Several members of the Gideon family went with him besides his own immediate family. He was a substantial farmer and lived to be an aged man, passing the remainder of his days in Tennessee. William Gideon, his son, and the grandfather of our subject was born in the state of New York in 1789, and went to North Carolina with his family. He married there Matilda Wood, and to them were born the following children: James H., Burton A., William C., Francis M., Woodson T., Green B, John A., Minerva and Elizabeth. Mr. Gideon moved to Tennessee in 1821 and there continued farming. He was also a hatter by trade. He was a member of the Baptist church and an elder in the church for forty years. In his old age he became a Universalist. In the spring of 1836 he settled north of Ozark, Missouri, two miles, entering two hundred acres of land in Christian county, which was later known as the Cox farm. He died in 1868, aged seventy-nine years. He was a well known pioneer citizen, a man of sterling worth and had no enemies and was highly respected in his community. William C. Gideon, his son and father of our subject, was born in Hawkins county, Tennessee, February 15, 1824, received the common education of his day and was but twelve years of age when he came with his father to Missouri, and was reared among the pioneers of the Ozarks. He married at the age of twenty-one years, Melinda Bird, a native of Missouri, and a daughter of James Bird and wife, and to them were born eight children, six of whom are still living: Thomas J. (subject of this memoir); James J., who became a prominent lawyer and judge in Springfield; Francis M., William W., John N., Martin V., George B. and Matilda.
William C. Gideon settled on a farm in what was then Taney county, now a part of Christian county, Missouri, and during his life settled on several farms in this section, and before the commencement of the Civil War he had four hundred and eighty acres of land in Christian county. He cleared up and developed several farms in true pioneer fashion. During the war he was compelled to remove his residence to Greene county, settling four miles south of Springfield, on account of the depredations of the guerrillas. He served during the war in Missouri Union Home Guards, three months under Capt. Jesse Galloway, and on March 5, 1862, he enlisted in Company F, Missouri State Militia, and was mustered into United States service. He was promoted to sergeant and was detailed as recruiting officer at Springfield, for Robbs’ Battery, having been transferred to the Eighth Missouri State Militia. While in this service he was killed by a band of guerrillas in Christian county, at the home of his father, on December 16, 1863, at the age of thirty-nine years. He was in the battle of Ozark and on January 8, 1863, at the battle of Springfield when Marmaduke made his raid, and also in other engagements. In religion he was a Methodist. He was a man of sound judgment. In politics he was a Douglas, or War Democrat, but after the breaking out of the war became a Republican. He served his community for some time as justice of the peace. He was a man of quiet and peaceful disposition, was honorable in character and had the confidence of the community in which he lived.
Thomas J. Gideon, of this review, grew up on the home farm in Christian county and received his education in the district schools in the old log pioneer school-house of those days. After the war he attended a private academy in Springfield for two years, but he remained a student all his life and became a scholar. On March 5, 1862, he enlisted in Company F, Fourteenth Regiment Missouri State Militia, same company and regiment as his father, being then eighteen years of age. He was appointed corporal and our young soldier served in the battle of Ozark, Talbot Ferry, Arkansas, Turner's Station and Springfield. In the last battle he was wounded by a piece of shell striking his left hand and wrist, which crippled him for life. He was also struck by a musket ball in the head and narrowly escaped death, falling insensible on the battlefield, but was picked up by his father and carried to the rear and later regained consciousness. The bullet had struck him above the frontal bone, breaking through the skull, and, losing its force, plowed through the scalp to the back of the head. He was in the hospital two months, and was finally discharged on account of his wounds. But not being contented with his service as a soldier and desiring to render further service to his country, in July, 1864, he recruited at Springfield, Company A, Fifty-first Missouri Volunteer Infantry. In the spring of 1865 he recruited in Christian county a company of enrolled militia to exterminate the bush whackers and horse thieves which then infested that section which they controlled, and he was commissioned by Governor Fletcher as first lieutenant, but he acted as commander of his company, it having no captain. He was making efficient headway against the outlaws when the war closed, a short time thereafter.
Mr. Gideon read law at home, and in 1866 he was elected clerk of Christian county and the circuit court and ex-officio recorder of Christian county and held the office until 1875, however, this was before he began reading law. He gave eminent satisfaction as clerk. He began reading law with his brother, Judge James J. Gideon, in 1875, and was admitted to the Missouri bar in 1877. He practiced successfully at Ozark until 1880, when he removed to Springfield, where he spent the rest of his life successfully engaged in the practice of his profession and was one of the popular members of the Greene county bar, to which he was admitted the year he removed here, and he remained in the harness until his death. He specialized as a probate and abstract lawyer, working on his abstracts at night. He was always busy and was very successful, accuracy and honesty being his aim as a lawyer.
Mr. Gideon was married September 3, 1868, to Letitia F. Williams, a daughter of Robert H. and Emeline (Bailey) Williams, both natives of Kentucky, in which state Mrs. Gideon was also born, her birth having occurred in Logan county, December 24, 1848. When she was five years old her parents brought her to Missouri, and located on a farm in Christian county. Mr. Williams devoted his life to farming. During the Civil war he desired to enlist but was crippled in the hand, which barred him. His family consisted of six children, five of whom are still living. Mrs. Gideon grew to womanhood in Christian and Greene counties and received her education in the common schools in Ozark and Springfield. She is now living on South Campbell street in the latter city, where she owns a cozy home, which is often visited by her many friends.
To Mr. and Mrs. Gideon five children were born, four of whom are living: Mary B., known to her friends as "Molly," born July 9, 1869, married Charles A. Hubbard, and they are living in Springfield; Waldo G., born May 26. 1871, married May Olden; he is one of Springfield's well known attorneys; Thomas Harry, born January 12, 1874, married Delia Stowe; Charles R., commonly known as "Ross," was born June 18, 1876, and died September 13, 1898: Nellie E. born October 21, 1881, married Rufus McVay, and they live near her mother.
Mr. Gideon was a Republican. He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, Captain John Matthews Post No. 69. He was a member of the Solomon Lodge of Masons, of Springfield, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, New Harmony Lodge, of Springfield, and held all the offices in this lodge, and was a member of the order for a period of nearly half a century. He was a member of the South Street Christian church. As both a lawyer and citizen he was widely known in this section of the state and his integrity was unimpeached, and when he was summoned to his eternal reward, on November 7, 1913, there were many to express a regret at his loss to the city and county.
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