33rd Degree Scottish Rite induction (19th Century)Lodge affiliation seems to be a common denominator linking several of Allegan County’s judges.

Circuit Court Judge Flavius J Littlejohn‘s funeral was among the largest ever seen in Allegan history, and his masonic lodge membership was a conspicuous feature in the processional.

Other Circuit Court Judges with Masonic affiliations were Judge Epaphroditus Ransom, who went on to be the state’s 7th governor; Judge Orien S Cross; and Judge Wendell Alverson Miles.

Probate Judge William Brewster Williams made no secret of his membership in the local Lodge.  His son, Judge Frank Hawley Williams (who also served on the Probate Court bench) was likewise a member of the same lodge.

Augustus S ButlerProbate Judge Augustus Seymour Butler was a second generation member of the Allegan lodge, his eponymous father also having held high office therein.  Judge Butler’s father is pictured at the left.

A book recently e-published by Allegan lodgeman Ryan Powers chronicles the service of Judge Elisha Bourne Bassett to the Allegan Masonic Lodge.

It is not difficult to find mention in Allegan’s historical annuls of the membership of Probate Judge John Henry Padgham, so it is somewhat surprising that the same cannot be said of his uncle, Circuit Court Judge Philip Padgham.

In recent years, affiliation with the Masonic Lodge has been a matter of some secrecy.  Perhaps this is owing to the speculation that a judge might be inclined to favor fellow Masons in their rulings, as has sometimes historically been the case.  It has even been found that higher level Masons have, at times, ordered such arranged rulings as a test of loyalty.[1]  The misconduct of this type perpetrated by some recent Allegan judges suggests that Circuit Court Judges Harry A Beach and Kevin W Cronin are likely members as well.

“I was particularly disturbed by the attitudes of top Masons. I got to know several who are high court judges. In private they talk as if ordinary people are an expendable nuisance.”[2]

Other lodges and fraternities with judicial representation in Allegan County include the Knights of Pythias and the Odd Fellows.


  1. Kenneth Armstrong & Maurice Possley, “Why Crooked Prosecutors and Judges are Promoted in the Masonic Judicial System,” Chicago Tribune (14 Jan 1999).
  2. Martin Short, Inside the Brotherhood (1989), 135.

One response »

  1. It really is a very interesting topic and illustrates / reinforces that there are countless men, of good moral character, that have come together in a Masonry. It’s a great fraternal organization with the same traditions today as existed hundreds of years ago.

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