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James Henry Trewin


Posted By: Allamakee co. Coordinator
Date: 3/4/2004 at 05:46:59

Trewin, James Henry, the well known senator from Allamakee county, chairman of the code supervising committee, which had charge of the preparation of the new code of 1897, is a young man of great force of character, who has commanded attention and admiration because of his valuable services to the state in the legislature. He is the son of Henry and Mary Trewin, and was born in Bloomingdale, Illinois, November 20, 1858. His parents were of sturdy Welch-English stock, and they gave to the world a son who has both courage and energy. He had but little schooling in his childhood, living on a farm and starting out at the age of twelve as a farm hand at ten dollars a months, supporting himself from that time on. Two years later, in 1872, he went to Chickasaw county, where he worked on a farm, went to school, qualified himself to teach and was principal of the schools in Farley, Dubuque county, and Delaware county, for several years. He attended Bradford academy in Bradford, Iowa, and Lenox college, in Hopkinton, Iowa. During all this time he was working toward the accomplishment of his ambition to be a lawyer, and in 1881, having saved something to carry him through the struggling period, he entered the law office of Robinson & Powers, of Dubuque, and devoted himself to preparing himself for admission to the bar. Following his admission to practice, he located at Earlville, Delaware county, and opened an office. The next important event in his life was his marriage, April 14, 1883, to Miss Mattie E. Rector, of that town, which has added much to his success in life. They have one son, Harold Rector, born in 1890, who is a perfect picture of his father, in feature and in temperment.

In 1889 Mr. Trewin felt the need of a larger field, so he moved to Lansing, Allamakee county, where he has built up and retained a pracice that is unusual except in larger cities, and which yields a handsome income. He also has a branch office at Cedar Rapids, where he has some of the best of the law practice in the city. He has given his time and talents almost wholly to his profession, and has a liking for contested cases, in which he has been very successful. Though Mr. Trewin was mayor of Earlville and city attorney of Lansing, he has not sought office and his subsequent political career was largely in the line of his profession and came to him unsought.

He was selected in 1893 to be the republican nominee for member of the house from Allamakee county, and quite to the surprise of his opponents and the public generally, he was elected, running far ahead of his ticket and defeating one of the stronger democrats in northeastern Iowa, Hon. John F. Dayton. In the house that winter he was recognized as a man of ability and made chairman of the important committee on municipal corporations. He was prominently identified with the passage of the mulet law, and it was he who secured the passage of the bill providing for the codifying of the laws by a commission. He developed the capacity for an almost unlimited amount of hard work; he was aggressive, effective in the debates in the house, and established himself firmly as a man of affairs. Two years later he was nominated and elected senator from the district composed of the counties of Allamakee and Fayette, and again turned a former democratic majority into a fine majority for himself.

Senator Trewin was appointed chairman of the committee on schools, and as such showed that he had an intimate knwledge of educational matters, which he proceeded to apply with fine appreciation of the practical needs of the schools. In the revision of the school laws he had an opportunity to make many improvements workingwith the most advanced educators, and bringing about, quietly, many desirable changes. His interest and prominence in the code revision did not diminish in the senate. He was an important factor in the regular and extra sessions, and it was he who took charge of the measure reported by a special committee, of which he was a member, providing for the annotation and publication of the code by the state. He made a speech in the senate, explaining it, which removed all opposition, and the bill became a law. Senator Trewin was afterward elected chairman of the joint legislative committee which had charge of the publication of the code, and followed it to successful completion, a work of which any lawyer may well be proud, and which has been of immense advantage, professionally, to the members of the committee. He has been often called the "father of the code."

Senator Trewin is a Mason, Knight Templar, Shriner and Knight of Pythias. The family attends the Presbyterian church. In 1901 Senator Trewin was a candidate for the republican nomination for governor, being next in strength to the successful man, A.B. Cummins.

- source: Biographies and Portraits of the Progressive Men of Iowa, Leaders in Business, Politics and the Professions; 1899, Vol II
-transcribed by S. Ferrall


Allamakee Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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