Judge Flavius J Littlejohn was born in July 1804 in Herkimer County, New York. He graduated valedictorian from Hamilton College in 1827 and was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1830, practicing law there until 1836 when his health began declining.
While working for Judge Samuel Hubbard of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, one of the founders of the city of Allegan , was told of Judge Hubbard’s investment in the Allegan settlement. Judge Littlejohn soon thereafter made residence at Allegan, where he became renowned for his eloquent speech, and was elected to the Michigan State Legislature in 1841 and to the State Senate in 1845, returning again to the lower house in 1848. His desertion from the Whig party in 1850 (to the Democratic party) translated into several political losses, but was finally reinstated to the Michigan State Legislature in 1855.
He came to be elected the first Circuit Court Judge of Allegan County (the 9th circuit extending from Allegan County to the Straits of Mackinac at that time), in 1858, which post he held until his retirement in 1876.
Judge Littlejohn’s opponents accused him of being nothing more than a political puppet to Col. J. H. Standish of Newaygo (a skilled hypnotist), who always accompanied his travels throughout the judicial circuit.
The year before retiring from the bench, Judge Littlejohn authored and published a book on Native Americans in Michigan entitled Legends of Michigan and the Old Northwest.
“On the morning of the 28th of April, 1880, ex-Judge F. J. Littlejohn was stricken with pain in his bowels and was forced to stop at his daughter’s, Mrs. A. S. Butler, a short way off, not being able to go home. He remained there in great pain and dangerously sick for a few days when, becoming better, he was taken home, but not in any time afterward able to quit his bed except for short times. He remained in full possession of his mental powers and conversed quite freely, though at times his voice was made weak by pain. His physician from the first doubted his ability to effect a cure, but thought it possible to restore him to his former state. The venerable jurist, however, passed away on May 15, 1880 [at the age of 75].”
It was reported that Judge Littlejohn’s was the most extravagant funeral ever held in Allegan, attended by over 2000 guests, the procession including…
“… the pastor and undertaker; the band, twelve members; the common council; Judges Arnold and Hawes; the Allegan Bar, eighteen members; the Kalamazoo Bar, with the same number; the hearse, flanked by pall-bearers; the mourners; the Pioneer Society, twenty-six members; the Freemasons, forty-six members; the Odd Fellows, twenty-seven members; the fire department, twenty-eight members; citizens in carriages. There were only the ordinary religious services at the grave.”
- Perry Francis Powers & Harry Gardner Cutler, A History of Northern Michigan and its People, Volume 1 (Alcona County, MI: Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), 119.
- Henry Franklin Thomas, A Twentieth Century History of Allegan County, Michigan (Allegan, MI: Lewis Publishing Company, 1907), 54-55.
- Justin L Kestenbaum, The Making of Michigan, 1820-1860: A Pioneer Anthology (Wayne State University Press, 1990), 329.
- Powers & Cutler, op. cit., 119-120.
- Michigan Historical Commission, Michigan Historical Collection, Vol. 30 (Michigan Historical Commission, 1906), 41.
- Flavius J. Littlejohn, Legends of Michigan and the Old Northwest (Allegan: Northwestern Bible and Publishing Co., 1875).
- Edwy C Reid; in Powers & Cutler, op. cit., 119.
- Pioneer Collections: Report of the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan, volume 3 (Lansing: W. S. George & Company Printers & Binders, 1881), 314-315.