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Lawton Thomas Hemans
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Birth: Nov. 4, 1864
Collamer
Onondaga County
New York, USA
Death: Nov. 17, 1916
Battle Creek
Calhoun County
Michigan, USA

He was born November 4, 1864, at the village of Collamer, Onondaga County, New York, where his father carried on the business of blacksmithing. He was of a good old sturdy English family. The father, John A Hemans, came from Banwell, Somersetshire, England, about the year 1835. His mother is of English and Dutch extraction, and lived an active life of four score years. When eleven months of age, Mr. Hemans removed with his father's family to the township of Oneida, Eaton County, Michigan, where his father took up the business of farming. Three years later the father moved to the city of Mason and resumed his trade as blacksmith; afterward moving the family to a large farm which he had previously purchased in the township of Onondaga. There on the farm, the boy Lawton soon learned to know the life of a farmer's son. Working on the farm during the busy planting and harvest season, and attending the district school, was the recurring routine until his sixteenth year, when he entered the public schools at Eaton Rapids. Here his experience was that of the average farmer's boy, working for his board, walking the eight miles to his home every Friday night to spend Saturday and Sunday with his parents, and then walking back again every Sunday night or Monday morning. In June 1884, he graduated from Eaton Rapids High School in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, and from that time until the fall of 1887, his time was occupied as a teacher in the district schools of Aurelius Township (Ingham County, Michigan) during the winter months, and as a hand upon the farm during the summer, when he sometimes went with threshing outfits. In 1886 he began to read law. Judge Harrington of Mason kindly gave him access to his library, and when not otherwise employed, Lawton dilligently read the books from this library. In the fall of 1887, he entered the Law Department of the University of Michigan. At the close of his work there, he was elected one of the circuit court commissioners of Ingham County, and opened an office at Mason. In the spring of 1889, he formed a partnership with John M Corbin, an able attorney of Eaton Rapids, under the firm name of Corbin and Hemans. The firm continued, however, only for one year, as Mr. Hemans was advised by his many friends in Mason to return there and re-open the old office of Huntington and Henderson, which had been the leading legal firm of Mason for many years. He accepted this opportunity and practiced law in that city until 1910, when he entered the Railroad Commission. Lawton was elected to the Michigan legislature of 1901-02 by a majority of 350 over his republican opponent, and again in 1902-03 by a substantial majority over several opponents. In 1907, he represented Ingham County in the constitutional convention. The following year, he was nominated as Democratic candidate for governor, and came within 10,000 votes of defeating Fred M Warner. In 1910, Lawton was again the Democratic candidate for governor, being defeated by Chase S Osborn. In that year, Mr. Osborn appointed him the Democratic member of the Railroad Commission, as a member of which he proved himself particularly adapted for the work of handling public utilities cases that came before the commission. Michigan's governor at the time said that he believed Lawton was better fitted to handle this work than any other man in Michigan. His work in the constitutional convention stamped him as a statesman of high order. In the legislature, he made a reputation as a skilled debater, especially on all legislation relative to railroads, corporations and disbursement of public funds. His ability was such that he was conceded leadership on the floor. He was also sent as delegate-at-large to many Democratic conventions, and at gatherings was conspicuous for his aggressive tactics. He could fight, but could not hate, and woe to the adversary who faced him in debate--he was always ready with a twinkling story or a keen epigram, as well as with the logic of wisdom. He served faithfully and well in all tasks that were assigned to him. He held duty before him at all times to the exclusion of all other things. His farewell words to the State he loved so well were these: "My whole life has been guided by a sense of duty which I have met unflinchingly. There have been times that have required great moral courage. No other course would lead to ultimate success." When a man spends a lifetime of private and public activity in one community as did Lawton, his neighbors and friends come near to knowing the real man. He had the active friendship and political and moral support of his neighbors all his life, and passed on amid their sincere regrets. No higher tribute can be paid to any man. One has said of him, "He was a great friend; his personality appealed to the head." Humanity was his greatest treasure. He held unswerving faith in his fellow man, which won him so much support irrespective of party. He suffered keenly from any careless criticism of his public work. Lawton held various offices in Ingham County. He was elected mayor in 1892; at that time he was the youngest mayor in the state of Michigan at 27 years of age, and was disignated the "Kid Mayor of Michigan." He was mayor of Mason for five terms, and city alderman the same number. For many years, he was secretary of the Mason school board and was the elected its president. For twenty-five years, he was affiliated with a literary club of Mason, which has been a prominent club of the State and has had many men as its presidents who have held prominent places in the history of Mason and of Michigan. Lawton was president of this club at the time of his death. He was of a literary turn, and besides his book "History of Michigan" which was used in the schools of Michigan for many years, has written a book on the life of Stevens T. Mason (the first governor of Michigan). In 1889, Lawton married Miss Minnie Pauline Hill, a school teacher of Ingham County and daughter of William J Hill of Onondaga, and they had one son, Charles Fitch Hemans. Lawton was known to read for hours aloud to his family and to whatever guests might be with them. In addition to the books he has written, he was also an able poet. After his death, a book was written as a tribute to him titled "Lawton Thomas Hemans, A Memorial". It is over 200 pages containing a biography (much of which was used in this findagrave bio), tributes from friends and colleagues and select poems written by Lawton. 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  John A. Hemans (1830 - 1915)
  Frances Lovinia Sherwood Hemans (1838 - 1918)
 
 Spouse:
  Minnie Pauline Hill Hemans (1869 - 1956)*
 
 Children:
  Charles Fitch Hemans (1896 - 1971)*
 
 Siblings:
  Egbert W. Hemans (1861 - 1923)*
  Lawton Thomas Hemans (1864 - 1916)
  Gertrude M. Hemans Gretton (1871 - 1960)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Maple Grove Cemetery
Mason
Ingham County
Michigan, USA
Plot: Section J - Lot 1117
 
Maintained by: Mike Beard
Originally Created by: Sandra Moore
Record added: Jan 24, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 33197538
Lawton Thomas Hemans
Added by: Mike Beard
 
Lawton Thomas Hemans
Added by: Sandra Moore
 
Lawton Thomas Hemans
Added by: Sandra Moore
 
 
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Ingham County Pioneer - Michigan Historian - Brady Flag Preserver
- Randy Gladstone
 Added: Oct. 2, 2009
Find A Grave Contributor
- Sandra Moore
 Added: Jan. 24, 2009
 
 
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