The Shelbyville Republican
Thomas Clifford Newton is his given name, but the slightly stooped,
familiar figure that rules over the justice of the peace office at the
courthouse doubts if very many people know itóheís been "Squire"
Newton for so long.
Monday August 11, 1947
Page 4 column 1
By Avonelle Lewis
The title fits him nicely and even though youíve only been acquainted with
him for a short time its much more natural to address him as Squire instead of
He was appointed justice of peace of Addison township in 1927 and this June
27 celebrated his 20th year in the office. Nine big books stacked in the corner
of his office and a like number filed away in the courthouse basement hold
records of the innumerable cases over which heís presided. In 1946 he handled
283 criminal cases (this figure was compiled for us by means of a
"doodling" system such as is used in keeping a basketball score), and
while he says it isnít fair to use that as an averageósome years there werenít
that manyóhis total number of cases must run to at least 5,000. The list
includes traffic violations, assault and battery, disorderly conduct and such
offenses as donít warrant jurisdiction of a higher court.
The Squire always wanted to study law. But, "somehow just never got
around to it." You get the impression however, that quite a bit of law is
tucked away behind his bespectacled eyes. His creed, in the law business and
otherwise, is: "Be fair and square and try to see both sides." He
finds too that often times a quiet talk with some of his victims does far more
good than severe punishment, particularly in the cases of young people.
Mr. Newton was born in Switzerland county and after his parents died when he
was quite young he lived with his grandfather until he was 12 years old. From
that age he was "on his own" and worked on farms by the month until he
was 21. He moved to Shelby county in 1912. In the meantime, in 1906, he married
a Switzerland county girl who lived only two months and three days after their
marriage. In 1908 he married Miss Ora Phillips and they have resided in a
pretty home at 1107 Elm Street for the past 24 years. They have no children of
their own but reared a foster daughter.
He was working in the old Wardrobe furniture factory when the 1929 crash came
and after being laid off with hundreds of others he decided that if worst came
to worst heíd just "open up a peanut stand somewhere."
"But," he chuckles, "it never quite came to that.
His first justice of peace office was in the 100 block on South Harrison
street. He was there for five years and then came five years in an office over
what is now the G. C. Murphy Store on the southwest corner of the Public Square.
He moved into the courthouse office on March 1, 1937, and has been there since.
But this week is the first time heís had a telephone installed. "There
were so many calls that were out of my line that I was pestered to death,"
he says, "but now those calls come to other offices here and I canít have
those people bothered." His number, by-the-way, is 1710
Squire estimates he has married more than 900 couples during his 20 years in
officeóat all hours of the day and night. His funniest experience in that
department came one time when he asked the couple to clasp right hands and the
two immediately stuck both hand straight up in the air. He always has wondered
if they had been ordered to do that before under different circumstances. The
cases he dislikes most are possession suits. He realizes the need of many home
owners in trying to regain possession of their property but finds it
"pretty hard to set families with children out with no place to go."
His "meanest" case he believes, was a four-day jury trial in which a
man was charged with cruel treatment to his child.
Mr. Newton says he isnít too much for traveling and hasnít been too far
away from Indiana. Mrs. Newton likes going places however, and has visited such
places as California and Florida. But the man who probably has seen as much of
human nature as almost anyone in the county likes his home and would rather hear
the Missus tell about her trips than to take them himself.
Contributed by Barb Huff