Biography of Thomas W. Lawton
Bristol County, MA Biographies

Lawton, Thomas W., son of James and Hannah (born Miles) Lawton, was born in Appanog, near East Greenwich, R. I., April 12, 1822. His father died when he was quite young and his mother married again. In the spring of 1828 his parents and mother's brothers moved to the West, as it is termed, traveling by ox wagon, and settled where Watertown, N. Y., is now. They cut down the forest, built a log house, and planted corn between the stumps of the trees, his uncle being the nearest neighbor. who lived three miles distant through the woods, the path being trees marked by a scar cut in them. Quite frequently the bears used to come at night and rub against the house. It being a hard and lonely life, they did not live there but a few years; they decided to give it up, and moved to New Haven, Conn. There he attended the public school. At the age of thirteen he removed to the home of an elder brother in Goshen, Conn. Here he worked on the farm summers and attended school in the winter. At the age of sixteen he began to work by the month for different farmers. One incident happened about this time which came near ending his life; he was attacked by an infuriated bull, who tossed him up repeatedly, but fortunately he was tossed over a fence, being on a side hill, thus saving his life. He was severely injured by the animal's horns. When he was but eighteen years old he took the management of a large farm in the vicinity of Goshen, Conn., which was owned by Colonel Cook, his wife 'being a sister of Rev. Henry Ward Beecher. He conducted the farm successfully for one year, and then went to New Haven, Conn., where he found employment as a clerk in a grocery store. In the year 1844 he came to Fall River to visit a brother who was in the dry goods business, and being favorably impressed with the town, decided to remain. He was employed by his brother as a clerk for a short time and later entered the service of Ezekiel Wilson in the same capacity. He afterwards worked for Bilson Paige as head clerk for nine years, Mr. Paige being the leading dry goods merchant in the city. In the year 1860 Mr. Lawton went into business for himself in the line of carpeting and house paper, locating in the Union block, which was on the site of the present B. M. C. Durfee Bank building. When the Civil war broke out in 1861 he sold his stock at auction, and with others went to Washington. D. C., where he went into the business of supplying soldiers with necessaries, locating a site at Rum Point, Materwoman Creek, Md., near the encampment of Gen. Joe Hooker's division, where the army supplies were landed, about thirty one miles from Washington, on the Potomac River. He followed the fortunes of the army of the Potomac until the close of the war, and then returned to Fall River. In 1864 he formed a partnership with J. H. Estes to engage in the manufacture of cotton twine and lamp wicks, in which business he very successfully continued for twelve years, accumulating quite a large property. Later he took up floriculture for amusement, beginning in a small way and gradually working up until he became one of the leading florists of Fall River. He was a member of the Common Council for one year, and during his term was an earnest advocate of the South Park plan, advocating that the city must have a park in the near future, and land could be purchased cheaper at that time than in later years. He was on the committee of purchase and worked to have the measure carried through. Mr. Lawton was twice married; his first wife was Lavinette T. Estes, by whom he had two sons, one of whom survives, John W. His second wife was Louisa J. Estes, daughter of Job and Delilah Estes of Tiverton, R. I., and they had one son, Edmund T. Mr. Lawton was a self made man, and was actively interested in all public enterprises; he had a large circle of friends and was universally adjudged as just and honorable in all his business transactions. He died March 13, 1896. aged seventythree years and eleven months. He bequeathed his estate equally to his widow and two sons.

Our county and its people
A descriptive and biographical history of
Bristol County, Massachusetts
Prepaired and published under the auspices of
The Fall River News and The Taunton Gasette
With assistance of Hon. Alanson Borden
The Boston History Company, Publishers, 1899.

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