Judge William Brewster Williams was born 28 July 1826 in Pittsford, Monroe County, New York, the son of Deacon Erastus Williams, who was a veteran of the War of 1812. Williams graduated from the State & National Law School in 1851, eventually going on to partner with then-future Civil War hero Brig. Gen. Benjamin Dudley Pritchard to establish a law firm in Allegan in 1855.
Both men enlisted in the Union Army in 1862. Williams reached the rank of Captain within his 3 years of military service, commanding a regiment of the 5th Michigan Cavalry. In 1864, he organized the 28th Michigan Infantry and commanded the troops in training.
The annuls of the Allegan County Courthouse reflect that Judge Williams served on the Probate Court bench from 1857-1964.
Following the war, Judge Williams was elected to the Michigan State Senate (1866) as a Republican and served on the state Constitutional Convention. Throughout his political career, he identified as a Republican from the founding of that party in 1855 (previously aligning with the Whig party). In 1968, he was elected president pro tem of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and to the State Board of Corrections in 1872.
Williams spent the years spanning 1874 to 1877 as a representative in the US Congress and the years from 1877 to 1883 as the Michigan Commissioner of Railroads. In 1874, when the Allegan Presbyterian Church burned down for the second time, Judge Williams convinced all of Allegan’s saloon keepers to contribute to a new church building. His heavenly home-going occurred on 4 March 1905.
- Henry Franklin Thomas, A Twentieth Century History of Allegan County, Michigan (Allegan: Lewis Publishing Company, 1907), 74-77.
- http://www.allegancounty.org/attachments/calendar2009/board/boc/11-12-09/D4-64-702_Probate-CircuitCourt_NameConferenceRooms.pdf; cf. his congressional biography, which indicates 1857-1865.
- Constitutional Convention attendance rosters, Michigan Constitutions, 55.
- Thomas, op. cit., 74-77.