Judge Frank Hawley Williams was born in Allegan on 12 July 1864, the son of Judge William B Williams.  The younger Williams was admitted to the Bar in 1886.  As a lawyer, his firm, W. B. Williams & Son, controlled the Kellogg estate until Frank H Williams’s election to the Probate Court.[1]

Judge Frank H Williams was appointed Allegan Village Attorney in March 1894 and retained that office until March 1898.[2]  He became a judge of the Allegan County Probate Court in 1896 and served in that office through the close of 1908.[3]  In 1898-99, he served as the charter president of the Association of Probate Judges of Michigan, and was that organization’s secretary from 1900-1910.  In 1910, he was elected Secretary of the National Association of Probate Judges.[4]

In 1907, he authored and published the Williams’ Probate Manual and subsequent editions each time there was a change in the law code thereafter.[5]  The second edition was published in 1914, and the third in 1918.  A fourth edition was published in 1921, though he had passed away on 27 April 1920.[6]  It bears his name, however, in tandem with that of former Probate Judge Samuel Van Horn of Kalamazoo, as Judge Williams had worked on its contents along with him prior to his passing.  The 1907 edition was possibly an update of Washtenaw County Probate Judge Noah Wood Cheever’s 1894 manual, which itself was an update of the same author’s 1876 edition.

Michigan Probate Manual (Frank H Williams) 1918 2-panel

In 1908, Judge Williams was elected president of the First State Bank of Allegan, which position he held until 1919 when his health began to fail.  Judge Williams was buried in April 1920 in Oakwood Cemetery, Allegan with Masonic honors, having been a “Worshipful Master” (1899-1902) and “Most Excellent Deputy High Priest” (1905-1911) of the Masonic Lodge #111, Allegan.  He was elected 32nd degree “Deputy Grand High Priest” in 1919 and was next in line for “Most Excellent Grand High Priest” at the time of his passing.[7]

His Lodge eulogizer described Judge Williams thus:

“Companion Williams was a unique and peculiar character.  Of jovial disposition, a warm friend, and an untiring worker.  As a banker and a farmer he was deeply interested in the agricultural welfare of his county and community and made a special study of these branches of industry.”

—–

  1. Henry Franklin Thomas, A Twentieth Century History of Allegan County, Michigan (Allegan: Lewis Publishing Company, 1907), 74-77.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Frank Hawley Williams, Williams’ Probate Manual: The Jurisdiction, Law and Practice of the Probate Court of the State of Michigan (Kalamazoo, MI: Doubleday Brothers & Co., 1914), preface;  George A Prescott, Official Directory and Legislative Manual for the Years 1907-08 (Lansing, MI: Wynkoop, Hallendeck, Crawford & Co., 1907), 658.
  4. Transactions of the Grand Chapter Royal Arch Masons of the State of Michigan (Charlotte, MI: Charlotte Register, 1920), 67-69.
  5. Frank Hawley Williams, Michigan Probate Manual: The Jurisdiction, Law and Practice of the Probate Court of the State of Michigan (Kalamazoo, MI: Doubleday Brothers & Co., 1921).
  6. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=106969573Transactions of the Grand Chapter Royal Arch Masons of the State of Michigan (Charlotte, MI: Charlotte Register, 1920), 67-69.
  7. Transactions of the Grand Chapter Royal Arch Masons of the State of Michigan (Charlotte, MI: Charlotte Register, 1920), 67-69.
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