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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BOLTON, THOMAS - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BOLTON, THOMAS (29 Nov. 1809-1 Feb. 1871), a prominent lawyer, was born in Scipio, N.Y. to Thomas and Hannah (Henry) Bolton. He attended Harvard University (1829-33), there meeting his future partner Moses Kelley. Bolton studied law in Canandaigua, N.Y.; came to Cleveland in Sept. 1834; and was admitted to the bar in 1835. In 1836 he and Kelley formed the firm of Bolton & Kelley.

In 1835 Bolton helped draft Cleveland's city charter, and was clerk for the first elections. He was a councilman in 1839, and served in the Office of the Judiciary then and for the 1841-42 term. He was also an alderman and on the city's Claims Committee in 1841-42. In 1841 he became president of city council, and gained attention and criticism for defending 3 Negro slaves who were accused by their captors of having escaped from their plantation. Despite threats, Bolton proved the captors had kidnapped the slaves and then claimed ownership.

Disillusioned with Democrats, after joining the Free-Soilers in 1848 Bolton attended the Pittsburgh Convention to organize the Republican party in 1856, serving as a delegate to that year's Republican Natl. Convention in Philadelphia. In 1856 he left legal practice to become judge of the court of common pleas, remaining until his retirement 10 years later. Bolton was a founding member of the private Cleveland City Guard (1837); and cofounded ST. PAUL'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH (1846). In 1838, he married Elizabeth L. Cone, who died in 1846; then on 1 Dec. 1846, Bolton married Emeline Russel. From his first marriage, Bolton had four children: Thomas, Elizabeth, Fesius Cone, and James; from his second, he had one son, Charles C. Bolton died in Cleveland and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

Finding aid for the Thomas Bolton Papers. WRHS.
Last Modified: 30 May 2013 11:12:41 AM

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