Pike County Profiles
A special Thanks to Carrol F. Dillon for this Pike Profile.
Profile of JUDGE THOMAS H. DILLON
By Carrol F. Dillon
Judge Thomas H. Dillon (6/27/1857-7/12/1906) was born on Dillon Hill in Marion Township, Pike County, Indiana to James Dillon and Catherine Haynes.He attended common school in Pike County and afterwards taught school in the county. While teaching he studied law in the office of the Honorable J. W. Wilson of Petersburg, Indiana. After being admitted to the Indiana Bar, he became a partner of Judge Wilson and opened a branch office in Jasper, Indiana. He practiced law throughout southern Indiana and was well known for his aggressive pursuit of the rights of the common people.
He returned to Petersburg in 1889 to practice law and was active in politics. In writing about him, TheEvansville Journal and News stated: "Judge Dillon was one of the best known attorneys in Southern Indiana and was a leader in the counsels of the Democratic Party. He was a man of unusual ability and loved by many for the interest he took in the'under-man in the fight"'. In 1890, Judge Dillon was elected prosecuting attorney for the Circuit that included Pike and Dubois Counties. During his term in office, he aggressively prosecuted persons charged with "White Capping" in Dubois County. The Evansville Courier writing about the cases said, "He convicted several 'white cappers' in Dubois County and it was due to him and his vigorous prosecution that white capping in Dubois County was broken up. He made a vigorous prosecutor and when he was in the office the law breaker had little show."
Many of his admirers considered Judge Dillon to be "congressional and gubernatorial timber." In 1896, he sought the Democratic nomination for Congress in the convention held at Cooks Park in Evansville, Indiana but lost by a few votes to ThomasDuncan of Princeton, Indiana. Instead of running for Congress in 1898, he strongly supported Colonel Alfred Dale Owen ofPosey County. The people of Posey County people credited Judge Dillon with Colonel Owen's success and always appreciated his support. The Evansville Courier commented that withoutDillon's "support and self-sacrifice Colonel Owen would probably not have been nominated."
He was an ardent admirer of WilliamJennings Bryan and supported his philosophy, believing the Nebraskan would have brought about much needed reforms in the republic. He ran for the Democratic nomination for governor of Indiana in 1904. The Chicago Chronicle in announcing his candidacy and quoting one his friends stated: "Tom Dillon has split enough rails in his day to surround all the ditches J. FrankHanly ever dug." To the dismay of many of his friends he did not succeed in becoming governor of the State.
On the morning of July 12, 1906, before leaving for court. Judge Dillon was standing with his arm resting on the mantle piece at his residence in Petersburg, Indiana, when he suffered an apoplectic stroke. He passed away just before noon at the age of forty-nine. The Evansville Journal and News commented: "The death Judge Dillon has cast a gloom over the community." The Evansville Courier wrote: "The death of Judge Dillon caused universal sorrow here where he was so well known and where he spent most of his life." An editorial in the same paper said