Biography of Thomas L. Viles
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THOMAS L. VILES. To attain success in any calling, it is necessary that a man should be possessed of a keen and discerning mind, with the energy and determination to push his business or profession instead of allowing it to push him. These qualities are possessed in an eminent degree by Thomas L. Viles, who is the able prosecuting attorney of Stone County, in which he has made his home for many years. He is a native of Roane County, Tennessee, where he was born October 3, 1850.
The son of John and Martha (Roberts) Viles, who were also Tennesseans. They left the State of their birth when their son Thomas L. was a small boy, and located in Illinois; but after remaining in that State for two years, came to Missouri, and in 1854 took up their residence in Stone County, in the northern part of which they settled on a farm, being among its pioneer settlers. In 1862 they moved to Christian County, Missouri, and there the mother was called from life the same year; she was a devoted member of the Baptist Church. The father enlisted in the Fourteenth Missouri Cavalry, and served about eighteen months, first as orderly sergeant, for a few months, and then as first lieutenant of Company F. His regiment was consolidated with the Eighth Missouri Regiment in 1863, and then, receiving honorable discharge, returned home. He saw some hard fighting during his service, and was a faithful and valuable soldier. After the war was over, he began farming in Christian County and there made his home with the three children left him by his wife (of whom the subject of this sketch was the eldest), for many years. He was a soldier of the Mexican War also, and although now in his sixty-eighth year, is yet in the enjoyment of fair health. His second marriage was to a Miss Lutterell, by whom he became the father of eight children: William, Mary, Susan, John, Ellen, Culberson, Charles and Eliza. The mother of the subject of this sketch became the mother of three children: Rachel, wife of John Belyeu of Barry County, Missouri; Mary J., wife of Peter H. Price of Christian County, Missouri; and Thomas L., who was the eldest of her children. She was a daughter of Robert S. Roberts, a pioneer of Tennessee, who died in that State. John Viles has been a lifelong Republican, and has been a prominent resident of both Stone and Christian Counties. He held the position of postmaster of Highlander, Missouri, for some time, and was also assessor of Stone County. He is now, and has been for many years, a member of the Baptist Church.
The early life of Thomas L. Viles was spent on a farm in Stone County, where he helped to improve and make many acres of farming land. He received no schooling in his younger days, and, although only a boy when the war came up, he had a strong desire to enlist, but other duties and his youth kept him at home until after his father received his discharge, when he enlisted in Company K, Forty-sixth Missouri Volunteer Infantry, October 4, 1864, when only fifteen years of age. He served until May 27, 1865, being principally on post duty throughout southwest Missouri, although he participated in some skirmishes. From that time down to 1874 he devoted his attention to farm work, and in 1870 was united in marriage with Miss Elmira Gideon, a daughter of F. M. Gideon of Christian County. He then moved to Galena and entered upon the duties of deputy county sheriff and county collector, in which capacity he served four years. In 1878 he was elected on the Republican ticket to the office of sheriff and collector, was reelected in 1880, and served in all four years. He began the study of law in 1881, and in March, 1884, was admitted to the bar by Judge W. F. Guiger, of the Twenty-fourth Judicial Circuit. He then established himself for the practice of his profession in Stone County, and, as an able attorney, he soon became known throughout the county. In November, 1884, he was elected to the office of prosecuting attorney of Stone County, and held the position by reelection for a term of six years, and in November, 1892, was again elected to the office, the duties of which he is at present discharging in a highly satisfactory manner. He has practiced in all the counties of southwest Missouri and the Ozark region, and has become well known throughout the State, for he has been in public life for the past twenty years. He has always been an active member of the Republican party. For some years he has been connected with the Masonic lodge, No. 515, at Galena, and is a member of the G. A. R. post at that place. He is very public spirited, and has been successful both professionally and financially. He and his wife have a family of four children, one of whom, Clarence, died at the age of five years. Those living are John F., who is a man of family, and is in the furniture business at Galena; Green, who is attending school at Cassville, Barry County, Missouri; and Frank, an infant. Mrs. Viles is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and is a leader in the social circles of Galena. She is a woman of much energy and enterprise, and is the proprietress of a first-class hotel at Galena, over which she presides in an able and creditable manner.