Perhaps the most distinguished criminal lawyer of tliis part of Ohio is Thomas H. Dolson, of Lancaster, whose reputation is not limited by the confines of this state but extends into other states where his services have been sought. In the profession of law one must depend entirely upon individual merit for advancement, strong mentality, close application, ambition and determined purpose are the concomitants of success at the bar and when prestige has been won it is unmistakable evidence of the possession of these qualities. Conferring honor and dignity upon the profession which has honored him, his course has ever been such as upholds the majesty of the law and his history therefore should form no unimportant chapter in the judicial annals of this district.

Mr. Dolson is a native of Ohio, his birth having occurred in McConnelsville, Morgan county, on the 22nd of November, 1851, his parents being Ebenezer B. and Hulda (Stevenson) Dolson, the former a native of Ohio and the latter of Virginia. His ancestry, both direct and collateral for many generations has been distinctively American, and in the civil and miltary history of the country the name of Dolson figures connspicuously. In every war in which the country has been engaged representatives of the name have battled for the rights and liberties of the nation and the great-great-grandfather of our subject was one of the heroes of the Revolution who fought under the command of General Washington from 1776 until 1783. The grandfather of Mr. Dolson served in the Mexican war, and as qartermaster of the First Ohio Heavy Artillery his father, Ebenezer B. Dolson, rendered his country effective aid from 1862 until 1865. At an early day in the history of New York the Dolsons resided in that state and it was the grandfather of our subject who founded the family in Ohio, establishing his home in Muskingum county in the early part of the nineteenth century. He purchased large tracts of land in Muskingum county and in that portion of the state which afterward became Perry county, and took a prominent part in developing the industries of that portion of the state leading to its substantial development and improvement. Ebenezer Dodson was born and reared in this state, early becoming familiar with the work that falls to the lot of the agriculturist, and after attaining his majority began farming on his own account. For many years he engaged in the tilling of the soil and in raising stock in Morgan county, Ohio, and is now living in Kansas.

The early boyhood days of Thomas H. Dolson were spent in a manner not unlike that of most boys of the period. The public shools of Morgan county afforded him his early educational privileges and later he took a course in the high school in Logan, Ohio, where he was graduated with the class of 1868. Immediately afterward he entered upon his business career in the capacity of bookkeeper in the mercantile establishment of his brother-in-law, H. S. Berry, at Cameron, Missouri, where he remained for two years. In 1870 he returned to Ohio and wishing to enter professional life became a law student in the office of Judge Martin, of Lancaster, who directed his reading for two years. Successfully passing and examination before the supreme court, in December, 1873, he was admitted to the bar and at once established an office in Lancaster. Nature bountifully endowed him with the peculiar qualifications that ombine to make a successful lawyer. Patiently persevering, possessed of an analytical mind, and one that is readily receptive and retentive of the fundamental principles and intricacies of the law; gifted with a spirit of devotion to wearisome details; quick to comprehend the most subtle problems and logical in his conclusions; fearless in the advocacy of any cause he may espouse, and the soul of honor and integrity, few men have been more richly gifted for the achievement of success in the arduous and difficult profession of the law. In 1875 he formed a partnership with Levi Hite, a prominent attorney of the Fairfield county bar, and this relation was maintained until Mr. Hite's removal to Columhus in 1887. Since that time Mr. Dolson has been alone in practice. He served for four years as prosecuting attorney of Fairfield county, from 1876 until 1880, and then retired, but his successor died shortly after entering upon the duties of the office and Mr. Dolson was then appointed to fill the unexpired term, so that he served for nearly two years longer. His course was one deserving and winning high commendation, for neither fear nor favor caused him to swerve from the strict path of duty. His ability as a trial lawver led to the winning of many of the suits which he tried in the courts. During his twenty-three years' practice at the bar of this and other states Mr. Dolson has built up a very fine law business that covers a wide scope of territory. In the local courts his practice is general, but in the surrounding counties and other states it is exclusively criminal, mostly for the defense. Perhaps Mr. Dolson has been engaged in a greater number of criminal cases than any other lawyer of his age in the state of Ohio. Among the notable cases which have attracted general attention, in which he appeared for the defense as the leading advocate, was that of the stale of Montana versus — — — the defendant having been charged with murder in the first degree, but he was acquitted by the jury. Another was in the state of Illinois versus David Miller, charged with the murder of A. B. Diamon. the mayor of Areola, whom he shot and killed because of some family trouble. This case was prosecuted with vigor by the state and Mr. Dolson had to combat the ablest lawyers of central Illinois, among whom was the Hon, Horace S. Clark, a man of high reputation as a criminal lawyer. After a trial of several days' duration Miller was acquitted. He has also appeared in defense of men charged with high crimes in the states of Indiana and California and always with success. Mr. Dolson has appeared on one side or the other of every important criminal case tried in Fairfield county during the past fifteen years and in many of those in adjoining counties. In the case of the state of Ohio versus Napier, charged with murder, Mr. Dolson was appointed by the late Judge Hoffman, of Perry county, to assist in the prosecution. The defendant was convicted. In his professional career Mr. Dolson has been, most successful not only in gaining verdicts desired, but also from a financial standpoint as well, and has been enabled to surround his family with the comforts and many of the luxuries of life.


In 1876 Mr. Dolson was united in marriage to Miss Alida Reinmund. a daughter of B. F. and Isabelle (Arnold) Reinmund, of Fairfield county, and a sister of Henry J. Reinmund, insurance commissioner under Governor Hoadley. Mr. and Mrs, Dolson have four children, two sons and two daughters. The family attend the English Lutheran church, of which Mr. Dolson is a member. In his pohtical affiliations he is a Democrat. He was nominated by his party for the state senate to represent the ninth and fourteenth senatorial districts, but was defeated with the remainder of the ticket. Perhaps the best summary of his life can be given in the words of an old and prominent member of the Lancaster bar, who said: "While Mr. Dolson does a general law business in the local courts, his practice runs largely to criminal cases, and in this peculiar line he has quite a wide reputation. He is adapted by nature for this kind of work. He is shrewd, quick to see the weak points of his opponents and aggressive in availing himself of every advantage presented in the trial of a case. He has a good voice, an extensive vocabulary, and on his feet before the jury he makes an effective address. He is the best talker, perhaps, at this bar, but not the best read lawyer. If his early education had been commensurate with his natural abilities as a lawyer his advancement would have been more rapid. He came to the bar here early in the 'seventies, and has improved his opportunities so well that he now ranks with the leading attorneys of the district. His reputation as a criminal lawyer is well established in this section of the state, and he has been called to widely diverging points to defend Ohio citizens charged with the violation of the criminal codes of different states. He has been remarkably successful and has crossed swords with some able men in this line of practice. Another feature that has contributed to his success is that he has confined himself entirely to his profession and is a worker. He has not neglected his law practice for politics or any other business. He gives his clients his best efforts and is a trustworthy and reliable lawyer. He is held in high esteem both by the legal profession and in the community, and by the public where he is known."

 

From A Biographical Record of Fairfield County, Ohio, S. J. Clarke Publishing, New York and Chicago, 1902