Hon. John G. Slate, of Jefferson City, who since 1912 has served on the bench of the circuit court of Missouri, his record reflecting credit and honor upon the judicial history of the state, was born January 26, 1860, in Cole county, about eight miles west of Jefferson City, his parents being Robert T. and Isabella D. (Jones) Slate, the former a native of Tennessee, while the latter was born in Kentucky. The father was a farmer, who in antebellum days owned a large number of slaves, having a plantation on the river. He also conducted a wood yard and sold wood to be used on the river steamboats. Judge Slate can well remember seeing the soldiers on these boats returning from the Civil war. Having been reared in the south he would call out “three cheers for Jeff Davis.” On one occasion the soldiers fired some shots and he thought they were shooting at him for calling out as he did. His father served with the Confederate army, was in the fight at Fulton and was captured and sent to the military prison at Alton, Illinois. While he was thus incarcerated much of his property on the farm was stolen. The death of Robert T. Slate occurred in Jefferson City, Missouri, in 1872.
Judge Slate obtained a common school education in Boone and Cole counties of Missouri and afterward attended Amity College at College Springs, Iowa, but on account of his health did not complete his course, although he remained a student there for three and a half years. He afterward went to California for the benefit of his health and there engaged in the redwood lumber business about eighty miles north of San Francisco, continuing on the Pacific coast for eight months. On the expiration of that period he returned to Boone county, where his mother was then living, and there he became principal of the high school at Ashland, Missouri, occupying the position most acceptably for three and a half years. While thus engaged he devoted his time outside of school hours to the study of law and was admitted to the bar at Fulton, Missouri, in 1887. He also studied law in the office of Bass & Penter, of Ashland, Missouri, well known attorneys, and also with the firm of Edwards & Ellison at Maryville, Missouri. Following his admission to the bar he took up his abode in Maries county, where he filled the office of prosecuting attorney for the years 1889 and 1890 and again in 1893 and 1894, or for a period of two terms. While living there he also prepared a set of abstract books of the county and he continued his residence there until 1901. He likewise conducted the Maries County Times, the leading newspaper of the county for three and a half years. His prominence and capability led to his election to the legislature, to which office he was elected in 1896 and reelected in 1898. He thus served for two terms from Maries county and while in the general assembly gave thoughtful, earnest and helpful consideration to all the vital questions which came up for settlement.
In 1901 Judge Slate removed to Jefferson City, where he has since made his home, and in 1905 he was elected to the office of prosecuting attorney of Cole county, where his valuable service led to his reelection in 1907. He was again called to public office when in 1912 he was elected to serve as circuit judge to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Judge William H. Martin. In 1916 he was reelected for the full term of six years, so that he is now upon the bench, his circuit covering the six counties of Cole, Maries, Miller, Morgan, Moniteau and Cooper. As judge of this district he has all of the appeal cases of the public service commission. His decisions are strictly fair and impartial. He seems to have the ability to subordinate all personal opinions and prejudices in the equity and law concerning the case and has made an ideal judge since taking his place upon the bench.
At Cape Girardeau Judge Slate was united in marriage to Miss Mattie R. Beard, whose people were from Kentucky. They have become the parents of a daughter and son: Irene Jane and John Smith. The religious faith of Judge Slate is that of the Baptist church, while the other members of his family art’ members of the Christian church. Judge Slate also belongs to the Modern Woodmen of America and to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and in politics has always given his support to the democratic party. His friends-and they are many-speak of him as a very interesting man of the old school-a man of excellent ,judgment, careful, very impartial and clear headed, standing high in the estimation of all people, who look up to and respect him for his real worth as a true American.