Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Thomas B. Long


Long was born near Mansfield, Ohio on October 25, 1836, the son of Israel and Rachel (Harper) Long, both natives of Pennsylvania. In November 1846, the family moved to Terre Haute, where, as a youth, "he evinced a marked taste for music and art." However, he finally selected the law as a profession, and begin study in 1854 under Col. Richard W. Thompson. Then he attended the Law Department of Cincinnati College, where he received a law degree in the spring of 1856, before he was 20 years old. Upon returning to Terre Haute he took up the practice and worked for one of the daily newspapers. In 1868, he was appointed Vigo County school examiner with the duty to scrutinize and license all school teachers. In 1870, he was elected by a large majority as Judge of the Vigo Criminal Court, a position he held for many years.

"He has never laid aside his classical studies, a somewhat unusual thing with the active men of the day, but still delights to pursue them when time and circumstances permit; and the results of his labors have evinced talents rarely to be found outside the literati of the land. He has translated into English heroic verse a great part of the 'Aeneid' of Virgil, besides some others of the minor productions of the Greek and Latin poets. He also has made frequent translations from the German of Goethe, Schiller, and Heine, being a thorough German scholar. Nor has he neglected the pursuit of English literature, whether considered in reference to form or spirit. In the course of his studies, he has acquired a large and valuable library, already numbering nearly two thousand volumes and being particularly rich in early English and in works adapted to the study of philology. . . . Judge Long is a fluent speaker and a graceful writer, as shown by his efforts at the bar, and by numerous public addresses on historical or literary subjects. He also has acquired considerable reputation as a poet by various fugitive pieces, and a number of his ballads and songs, which have been set to music and published in the principal cities of the country. . . . ."

Long died in Terre Haute in July 1900 and is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery.

[The biographical profile of Judge Long was graciously provided by Michael McCormick, a lawyer-historian, who has provided continuing assistance in our efforts to identify Indiana lawyer poets. The quotes and the biographical details on Judge Long were, according to McCormick, drawn from American Biographical History of Eminent and Self-Made Men of the State of Indiana (1880)]