Taken from "A History of Savannah and South Georgia." By Mr. William Harden, 1913:
Col. Alexander Rudolf Lawton. The history of the legal profession in the South presents a chronicle of importance and distinction and the state of Georgia has assuredly contributed its quota to the whole. In legal annals of the state a name of pre-eminence is that of Lawton, two generations of the family having been lawyers of honor and fame, who have done much to preserve the dignity of their calling and the honor which should be the pride of the profession. The city of Savannah has been the scene of their distinguished careers and the younger of these gentlemen, Col. Alexander Rudolf Lawton, is today one of Savannah's leading citizens. In addition to a large general practice, he is vice-president of the Central of Georgia Railway, and also one of its general counsel, and his remarkable grasp on corporation law is known beyond the boundaries of the state. He has been a marvel to the profession in many respects, seeming to leap into the arena fully armed and equipped for the fiercest fight and legal battle with most renowned barristers when a very young man. His reputation has been reinforced with the passing years and he is recognized as one of the masters of the craft throughout the state. The father of the foregoing, Gen. Alexander Robert Lawton, whose demise occurred July 2, 1896, was one of Georgia's greatest lawyers in any day or generation. He was also a splendid officer and a detailed account of his life and achievements will be given in the article succeeding.
Colonel Lawton is a native son of the Forest city, within whose delightful borders his birth occurred August 9, 1858. He received an unusually brilliant education and early in youth he came to the conclusion to follow in the paternal footsteps in the matter of a life work. When a lad eight years of age he was taken to Paris and in the French capital pursued his studies during the years 1866 and 1867. Thereupon returning to Savannah, he studied in public and private schools in this city and ultimately entered the University of Georgia, from which institution he was graduated in 1877, at the age of nineteen years, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts. During the ensuing summer, he was a student in the Eastman Business College, Poughkeepsie, New York, and in the fall entered upon his preparation for the law. He studied law in the law department of the University of Virginia in 1878 and 1879 and in the Harvard Law School in 1879 and 1880. In the year last mentioned he was admitted to the bar and entered upon the practice of the profession in Savannah. From the first his career has been of the most satisfactory character. He has been a member of the firm of Lawton & Cunningham, general counsel for the Central of Georgia Railway since 1887, succeeding General Lawton in this office on his retirement. His identification with the firm of Lawton & Cunningham, of which his father was at that time senior member, dates from the year 1882.
It is safe to say that probably in all the state there is no one more familiar with certain aspects of railway and maritime affairs than Colonel Lawton. He has been a director of the Central of Georgia Railway since 1896 and since 1904 has held the office of vice-president of the company. He is also a director of the Atlanta & West Point Railroad Company, the "Western Railway of Alabama, the Ocean Steamship Company and the Savannah Trust Company. His position, with the great railway mentioned gives an idea of his caliber, and so acceptably has he advised his clients in all dilemmas that he is regarded by them with admiration and gratitude.
Colonel Lawton is a member of the American Bar Association, the American Historical Association, the Southern Historical Society, the American Academy of Political and Social Science and the National Geographic Society. He is president of the Georgia Historical Society, by virtue of which position he also is president of Savannah's notable institution, the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, which is owned by and under the management of the Historical Society. He is a well-known clubman, his membership extending to some of the most notable organizations in the United States. Only partially to enumerate, these affiliations are with the Oglethorpe Club, of Savannah; the Capital City Club, of Atlanta; the University and City Midday clubs, of New York City; and the Metropolitan Club, of Washington, D. C.
Since youth, Colonel Lawton has been actively identified with things military in Savannah. In 1881, he enlisted as a private in the National Guard of Georgia and was promoted through the various ranks to that of colonel of the First Regiment of Infantry. During the Spanish-American war in 1898, he was colonel of the First Georgia Infantry, United States Volunteers.
Colonel Lawton was married in Atlanta, April 27, 1882, his chosen lady being Miss Ella Stanly Beckwith, daughter of the Rt. Rev. John W. and Ella (Brockenbrough) Beckwith, the former being bishop of the Protestant Episcopal church of Georgia. Colonel and Mrs. Lawton share their home with two sons, Alexander Robert, Jr., and John Beckwith. The family have an assured position in the most exclusive social circles in the city and their household is renowned for its culture and its gracious hospitality, exemplifying the highest social traditions of the South.