John Q. Tilson (April 5, 1866-August 14, 1958) was born in Clearbranch, Tennessee on April 5, 1866. He attended both public and public in nearby Flag Pond and later at Mars Hill, North Carolina. He went to college at Carson-Newman College, in Jefferson City, Tennessee where he graduated in 1888. Later he went to Yale University, where he graduated from Law school in 1893. He was admitted to the bar in 1897 and started to practice in New Haven, Connecticut.
In 1898, when the Spanish-American War broke out he enlisted and served as second lieutenant in the Sixth Regiment, United States Volunteer Infantry.
Later, in 1904 he was elected to the Connecticut State House of Representatives, which he served in until 1908 with last two year serving as speaker. He was later elected to United States House of Representatives serving from 1909 to 1913, however, he was unsuccessful when he ran for reelection in 1912.
He ran again for the House of Representatives and served from March 4, 1915, until his resigned on December 3, 1932. He also served as Majority Leader for the 69th Congress, 70th Congress, and the 71st Congress. He became delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1932.
After his retirement from public life he resumed to practice of law in Washington D.C., and than in New Haven, Connecticut. He also served as a special lecturer at Yale University on parliamentary law and procedure. Tilson died in New London, New Hampshire on August 14, 1958. He was interred in the private burial grounds on the family farm in Clearbranch.