Allegan - Old  Courthouse 1903Allegan County’s first established court was the Probate bench, Judge Oka Town being the first to serve therein by gubernatorial appointment in 1835.  The Circuit Court in 1836 (being renumbered as circuits have been re-gerrymandered), with the first judge on that bench being Judge Epaphroditus Ransom of Kalamazoo, and the County Court (essentially “District” courts) was established in 1847, dissolving soon after before finally being reestablished in their present form by the 1963 State Constitution and subsequent legislation.[1]

The Allegan County Bar Association was established 8 November 1836 at the first session of the newly formed Circuit Court with George Y Warner the first attorney admitted thereto upon that date.  The original criteria for admission was:

“…that he is of good character and has sustained the character of an able and fair practitioner, and that he actually resides in this state, was admitted to an examination, and on such examination had, the judges being of  the opinion that he is qualified and is of good moral character.”[2]

A History of the Michigan Courts can be read here:  http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/publications/michiganmanual/2009-2010/09-10_MM_V_pp_25-26_MITrialCts.pdf

Judges who have Served the County’s Courts [3]
symbol indicates members of the Masonic fraternity

Probate Court

Circuit Court (served originally by the 3rd Circuit, then the 5th, 9th, 20th, & finally the 48th in 1975)

County Court

57th District Court

1837-38 site of courts

1837-38 site of courts

1839-1854 courtroom was in 1st floor

1839-1854 courtroom was in 1st floor

From 1854 to 1888, an old Baptist Foundation building served as the courthouse, but the last 20 years of that, the building was so dilapidated it should have been (and eventually was) condemned.  No known photo of this building.

1888 Allegan Courthouse Building

1888 Allegan Courthouse Building

1961 Allegan Courthouse

1961 Allegan Courthouse Building

—–

  1. Henry Franklin Thomas, A Twentieth Century History of Allegan County, Michigan (Allegan: Lewis Publishing Co, 1907), 549-550.
  2. Ibid., 550.
  3. Judges from 1835 to 1880 listed in History of Allegan and Barry Counties, Michigan (Philadelphia: D. W. Ensign & Co, 1880), 62-63.
  4. At the time of Allegan County’s chartering, she was added to the 3rd judicial Circuit, which then consisted of Branch, St Joseph, Cass, Berrien, Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Kent, Ionia, and Allegan Counties from 1835 to 1851.
  5. Allegan County was part of the 5th Circuit from 1851-58, at which time the 9th Circuit was reorganized and Allegan was joined unto it.  Judge Graves continued to sit in the 5th Circuit bench after Allegan had been removed from that jurisdiction.
  6. The 9th Circuit was then comprised of Allegan, Kalamazoo, & Van Buren Counties.
  7. The 20th Circuit was then comprised of Allegan and Ottawa Counties.
  8. Allegan County became a Circuit unto herself in 1975, separating from Ottawa County, which retained the “20th Circuit” designation.
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  1. Pingback: Witch Trials | Allegan County Justice

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