Montgomery County Mississippi Genealogy & History Network

Thomas Upton Sisson Biography

Thomas Upton Sisson of Winona, Montgomery County, was born September 22, 1869 in Attala County, Miss., and is the son of Charles Augustus Sisson of Georgia and Repinkerton Miller Sisson, Jackson, Miss., and later of Attala County, Miss. When a small child, his father moved to Mississippi before the Civil War. Whent he war broke out, he enlisted in the Confederate Army near Choctaw County and served as a private in Forrest's Cavalry. He was the son of Thomas Sidney Sisson and wife Louise Sisson (nee Bush), who lived in Montgomery and Choctaw Counties, Miss.


Congressman Sisson's mother, was the daughter of Upton Miller and Elizabeth Clark Miller of Jackson, Miss., and later of Attala County. Her father was a membrer of the State Senate from Hinds County and president pro tem of the Senate, before the Civil War James Clark, his maternal great-grandfather, was the founder of the Christian (Campbellite) Church in Mississippi, and was also State Treasurer during one term.


Mr. Sisson obtained his early education in the country schools of Choctaw County and in French Camp Academy. He later entered the Southwestern Presbyterian University at Clarkesville, Tenn. and received the degree of A.B. from that institution in 1890; he afterwards entered the Cumberland University of Lebanon, Tenn., and was graduated from that college in 1895 which the degree of L.L. B.


Mr. Sisson's boyhood home was one of refinement and culture, and though not a "self-made man" in the sense of having no early advantages, he contended with the same conditions that everywhere handicapped the young men of hte South in obtaining an education, after the Civil War and the Reconstruction Period. When a lad, he worked on his father's farm, in a saw and a grist mill, and ran a traveling threshing machine during the summers. Such industry could but bear rich fruit in the boy's character in after years. Nothing daunted by lack of means, he early in life taught the public school at Kensgo, Choctaw County, and from the money made in this work he paid his college expenses. Later, he continued to teach and was principal of the High School at Carthage, Miss., 1890-1891; also principal of the Kosciusko School 1891-2-3.


Mr. Sisson practised law in Memphis, Tenn., during the year 1895. The desire to return to his native State and share in its progress and advancement became so strong that he removed to Winona, Miss., in 1896, and continued the practice of law until he was elected a Representative of his District in Congress in 1908.


Prior to hsi election to Congress, Mr. Sisson held many offices of public trust. During these years his advance in public life was steady, and his associates and acquaintances recognized in him the qualities of leadership that would stand the test of time. When quite a young man he was a member of the Board of Alderman of Winona; afterwards, he became City Attorney and County Attorney of Montgomery County. In 1898 he was elected to the State Senate to fill out the unexpired term of Dr. Thomas Sommerville, serving only for a short session. He was elected District Attorney in 1903 and resigned in January 1907, to enter the race for Governor, for which office he was defeated by only a small plurality. In 1908, he was elected to Congress and re-elected in 1910-12-14.


He is a Democrat, elector for the State at large, in 1900, on the Democratic ticket.


He is a membrer of the Masonic Lodge, (Royal Arch Mason, member of the Council, Comman dery and Shrine), and Past Grand Master. He also belongs to the fraternal order of Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Woodmen of the World, Junior Order of American Mechanics, Modern Woodmen, and S. A. E. Fraternity.


On June 6, 1901, Mr. Sisson was married to Mary Helen Purnell, daughter of James C. Purnell and Jennie Hawkins Purnell, of Winona, Miss. Mrs. Sisson died March 27, 1915, her youngest child dying a few months later. Mr. Sisson has four living children, Thomas Upton, Jr., James C., Charles A., and Mary Helen.

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