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Thomas N. and William A. Mehan, Tazewell County

Thomas and William came to Tazewell County in 1857 on the orphan train. As an adult Thomas told his story in a letter to the asylum as an encouragement to other orphan children coming West. He was State's Attorney in Mason County at the time he wrote his letter and was married with just two children.

He told how, as a young farm hand in Tazewell County, he would study while other boys rested. He credited his school teacher with encouraging him and spending time to help him in the higher branches of learning. He attended Lombard University in Galesburg, Illinois at the age of 21. After completing college he read the law with Roberts and Green of Pekin, Illinois and passed the bar to become a full fledged attorney. He rose through the ranks to become Circuit Judge in Mason County. When the Centennial History of Mason County was written Judge Mehan's life was remembered as that of a self made man. They did not note however, that he was an orphan train rider.

He married Emily Strawbridge and had ten children with her. When he died of typhoid fever in November of 1906 he had just four living sons and one living daughter. Six years earlier, during the 1900 census, nine of his children were living with him and his wife, so the first decade of the twentieth century was exceedingly hard for this family.

Thomas did not mention him, but he had a twin brother, William A. Mehan, who was also an attorney. William lived in Havana, IL with his wife Amy Jane and his daughter Ada.

Thomas and William were the sons of Patrick and Elizabeth Mehan, two immigrants from Ireland. They had two sisters, Margaret and Elizabeth and a baby brother Timothy in the 1855 census in New York. There is no indication that their siblings came through the New York Juvenile Asylum.

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