Judge Oka Town headstoneJudge Oka Town was born 2 July 1806 in Stoddard, Cheshire County, New Hampshire to Daniel and Susan (Evans) Towne and died 24 March 1895, making his final resting place at Mountain Home Cemetery, Otsego.[1]  Judge Town hails from the same Towne family which had three of its kindred accused of witchcraft in the Salem hysteria – Mary Towne Easty, Rebecca Towne Nurse, and Sarah Towne Bridges Cloyes having been his 4th great aunts (the latter being the only of the three to be spared from execution).[2]

He is already found in what would become Allegan County on 1 September 1831 in Gull Prairie, and on 11 October 1832, when he marries his wife Martha Sherwood in the Pine Creek settlement (since absorbed into Otsego Township).[3]  Judge Town served in the Black Hawk War in Barneiz’s Michigan Volunteers.  He would, many years later, receive a pension for that military service.[4]

In 1834, he was appointed Justice of the Peace by Governor Mason.[5]  He holds the distinction of being appointed by the territorial governor of Michigan as the first Probate Court Judge serving Allegan County on 25 August 1835.[6]  The fullest biography found thus far on Oka Town speaks both to the personality of the man and to the parameters of the office he held:

First Allegan School & Courthouse 1835“The jurisdiction and the power of the probate court has always been substantially the same since its first organization to the present time.  The first judge of probate Allegan county ever had was the Hon. Oka Town, who is hale and hearty, and is seen on our streets every day.  Although at the advanced age of eighty-four years he is remarkably active, and it is the wish of his many friends that he be with us for many years to come.  The first session of a court ever held in Allegan was held by him as judge of probate.  The first business of that court was to grant letters of administration upon the estate of Lebbeus Sherwood.  Those letters were granted on December 25, 1835.”[7]

Judge Town was Allegan County’s sole delegate to the 1850 Michigan Constitutional Convention.[8]

—–

  1. Oka Town memorial on findagrave.com (also the source of the headstone image); parents identified in Edwin Eugene Towne, Descendants of William Towne Who Came to America on or about 1630 and Settled in Salem, Mass (1901).
  2. Per Towne, op. cit.:  Oka Town, son of Daniel Towne (Susan Evans), son of Israel Towne (Lydia Hopkins), son of Israel Towne (Grace Gardner), son of Joseph Towne (Margaret Case), son of Joseph Towne (Phebe Perkins).  This last Joseph is the brother of the three slain by Calvinists on charge of witchcraft, these four siblings and another four more being the children of William Towne & Joanna Blessing.
  3. http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/TOWNE/2005-01/1107106399
  4. Pension No. SC-261 MI, dated 10 Dec 1892; widow’s certificate WC-4217 MI (to 3rd wife Sarah).
  5. http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/TOWNE/2005-01/1107106399
  6. http://www.allegancounty.org/attachments/calendar2009/board/boc/11-12-09/D4-64-702_Probate-CircuitCourt_NameConferenceRooms.pdf
  7. Michigan Historical Collections, vol. 17 (Michigan Historical Commission, 1892), 549.
  8. Constitutional Convention attendance rostersMichigan Constitutions, 54.

 

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  1. Pingback: Did you know… | Allegan County Justice

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