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James Stephens Thomas

James Stephens Thomas, deputy prosecuting attorney of Cleveland County with residence in Rison, is one of the representative members of the legal profession of Rison.

A native of Arkansas, he was born at Rowell on the 19th of August, 1896, a son of D.S. and Dora (Lewis) Thomas, both of whom are living. The paternal ancestors came to America from France and England before the Revolutionary war and settled on the coast of North Carolina. The maternal ancestry is American for many generations back. D.S. Thomas is now fifty-five years of age and resident of Rowell. He was born and reared in that community, his parents having come from Mississippi to this state in 1855, being among the pioneer settlers of Rowell.

The paternal grandfather enlisted in the Civil war from this state and served throughout that conflict as a private in the cavalry of the Confederate army. Upon attaining school age D.S. Thomas attended the common schools of Rowell and in later life engaged in farming, achieving substantial success in that connection.

Mr. Thomas was married at Rowell, to Miss Dora Lewis, who is now fifty-two years of age. She was born in Alabama and came to this state in 1860, with her parents, who located on the Saline river. Her father, Tom Lewis served as a private in the infantry during the Civil war, having enlisted from this state. He likewise saw service in the Mexican war.

To the union of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas five children were born, all boys, four of whom are living: D.S., Jr., Ed, Earl, and James Stephens. The last named son, whose name initiates this review, is the oldest. One boy died in infancy.

James Stephens Thomas received his education in the common schools of Rowell and in due time entered the high school at Rison. He was a student at the State Agricultural College at Monticello for two years and subsequently took a law course at the Hamilton College of Law at Chicago. After three years in that institution he was graduated with the LL. B. degree in February, 1922. Mr. Thomas acquired his higher education through personal efforts, his tuition being paid with the money received from work which he did in his spare time.

He taught school in Cleveland county in 1916 and 1917 and in the latter year was admitted to practice law. He was then under age but secured a special permit to practice. In April, 1919, he came to Rison and has since practiced here, having built up a large and lucrative clientage.  He is one of the promising young attorneys of the state and has had considerable practice in criminal law, although he is not specializing along that line.

In June, 1919, he was appointed deputy prosecuting attorney under J.R. Wilson and is still active in that office. During the World war Mr. Thomas was in service for five months. He enlisted as a private in the infantry and subsequently was promoted to the rank of first-class sergeant of Company M, One Hundred and Eighty-second Division. For some time he was stationed at Camps Pike, Upton, Lee and Merritt.

At Rowell, this state, on the 5th of February, 1917, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Thomas to Miss Lois Robinson, a daughter of D.C. Robinson of Rock springs, Drew county. To their union on son, James Vernon, has been born. He is now about two years old. Mrs. Thomas is one of the prominent young matrons of Rison and she is active in the club and social circles here. The religious faith of the family is that support.

Since attaining his majority Mr. Thomas has given his allegiance to the democratic party and the principles for which it stands. Although the greater part of his time is taken up by his professional interests, he is ever cognizant of the duties and responsibilities, as well as the privileges, of citizenship and to that end takes a prominent part in the furtherance of any movement for public development and improvement.


Submitted by Belinda (Brown) Winston