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Thomas Adiel Sherwood was born at Eatonton, in Putnam county, Georgia, June 2, 1834, where he spent his early life. His father, Rev. Adiel Sherwood, D.D., was a Baptist clergyman of great learning and prominence, who was born and reared at Fort Edward, in the State of New York. The family were of English extraction. Dr. Thomas Sherwood, and Andrew, his brother, immigrated to this country during its colonial period, from Nottinghamshire, England, and settled in Connecticut. Dr. Thomas Sherwood was the grandfather of Major Adiel Sherwood, who served in the war of the Revolution under Gen. George Washington, and was present with him at Valley Forge, and in several of the battles of that memorable war. Major Adiel Sherwood was the father of Rev. Doctor Adiel Sherwood, and grandfather of the subject of this sketch. In 1852 Rev. Doctor Sherwood, for several years president of Shurtleff College, and the author of several theological works, removed from Alton, Illinois, whither he had removed from Georgia, and settled at Cape Girardeau, in the State of Missouri, and with him came his son, Thomas Adiel, then a young man about 18 years of age. Young Sherwood had already acquired a good education at Mercer University, Georgia, which he completed at Shurtleff College, Alton, Illinois. After leaving college be studied law, occasionally teaching school, until he graduated at the Cincinnati, Ohio, Law School, April, 1857.
At school and college he was a thorough and diligent student, and completely mastered whatever he attempted to learn. After his graduation he received a license to practice law in Missouri, from the Hon. Harrison Hough (then Judge of the 10th judicial circuit), at Charleston, Mississippi county, in May, 1857.
In January, 1858, Mr. Sherwood removed to Neosho, the county seat of Newton county, Missouri, where he located and practiced his profession until 1859, when he removed to Mount Vernon, Lawrence county, Missouri, where he remained until 1863.
On the 18th day of June, 1861, he married Mary Ellen Young, daughter of G. R. and N. Young. In December, 1863, Mr. Sherwood moved to Springfield, Greene county, Missouri, where he resided until January, 1868, then removed to his farm about two and one-half miles southwest of that city, where he has since resided, although from August, 1876, to the fall of 1882, he and his family resided temporarily in St. Louis.
While he was engaged in the practice of law at Springfield, his extensive business led him to visit the circuit courts of most counties in Southwest Missouri, nearly all of which at that time could be reached only on horseback or by carriage. And many were the hardships endured, and diversified and sometimes arousing the occurrences encountered, by the attorney of that day in this part of the State.
Mr. Sherwood, although by nature of a retiring, disposition, was soon recognized by his associates at the bar as a young man of unusual ability and untiring industry.
He was from the beginning eminently devoted to his profession, and sought not only to know the rules of law but the reason therefor. And his arguments were uniformly marked by unusual care and research, and by a skill and knowledge of the law rarely possessed by one of his experience.
In 1872, Mr. Sherwood was nominated by the Missouri Democrats for Judge of the Supreme Court, to which office he was elected for ten years at the general election following. He presided as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri, from January 1, 1876 until the expiration of his first term of office January 1, 1888.
In 1882, he was again nominated for the same position and duly elected at the general election in that year, as his own successor, for a second term of ten years; which office he now holds. In the performance of his official duties, Judge Sherwood has even more than sustained his reputation as a lawyer. Careful, learned, painstaking, and first of all, his published opinions have made a record which places him among the foremost jurists of the land.
Judge Sherwood is progressive in his style of thought; holding enlarged and liberal views on all subjects, and fully alive to the changes that are constantly taking place in the business methods and relations of men. In his hands we may be assured that our system of juris-prudence will ever keep pace with the growing necessities of the times, and the real progress of the country. Still in the prime and vigor of manhood, a man of real merit, devoid of ostentation, dignified in manner, possessing eminent legal learning, an iron will, and earnestly devoted to the faithful performance of the duties of the office which he holds, Judge Sherwood has fully realized the fondest expectations of his friends and full merits the honors he has so fairly won.