ALLEN B. MORSE, 29th Justice
Served From 1885 Through 1892

allen b morse 1

Allen B. Morse was born on January 7, 1839, in Ostico, Michigan. He studied for two years at Michigan Agricultural College prior to teaching school. In 1860, he began studying the law but left to enlist in the Union Army.

Morse served in a number of different capacities during the Civil War as a member of Michigan's 16th Infantry and as a First Lieutenant, and later as an Adjutant, with the 21st Michigan Infantry. He was wounded at Chattanooga on November 25, 1863, and lost his left arm. His superior, F.T. Sherman, described Morse as, "Ever at the post of duty, either in the office or on the field, he won the esteem and confidence of his superior officers and the love and respect of his juniors." (Reed, George I. Bench and Bar of Michigan: A History and Biography. Chicago: The Century Publishing and Engraving Co., 1897.) Morse resigned from the military on September 1, 1864, resumed his law studies and subsequently began practicing law in Ionia County. 

The first public office that Morse held was Prosecuting Attorney for Ionia County. He served from 1867 until 1871. In 1875, he was elected to the Michigan State Senate. In 1882, he served as the Mayor of Ionia. 

Morse's service on the Michigan Supreme Court began when he filled the vacancy left by Thomas Cooley in 1885. He served an eight-year term. Justice John Champlin commented that, "As an associate of Judge Morse upon the bench, I can certify to his unfailing industry and untiring zeal to get at the pith of the controversy, without favor or prejudice toward either of the parties['] litigant." (Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Reports: Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of Michigan. Chicago: Callaghan and Co., 1879 - 1949, Vol. 113.) 

Following his service on the Bench, Morse was appointed United States Consul in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1893. On top of his public service activities, Morse enjoyed the recreation that his native state of Michigan offered, such as hunting and fishing. Overall, it has been deemed that Morse was of strong character. (Reed.) 

Allen B. Morse died on July 1, 1921. 

allen b morse

Ionia Daily Sentinel-Standard, 1 & 5 Jul 1921

Judge A. B. Morse Is Taken By Death Today.

Career Full Of Public Service Brought To End.

Former Supreme Court Justice and Consul to Glasgow Passes On.

Aged Judge Had Not Been in Good Health for Several Years.

Heart Attack Proves Fatal This Forenoon.

Allen Benton Morse, a pioneer resident of Ionia County and one of the most distinguished personages the community ever produced, died at his home on East Washington Street at 10 o'clock this morning following a sudden heart attack. He had been in a serious condition since Tuesday morning, but appeared better this morning when his physician visited him.

With the death of Judge Morse the community lost one of its most influential and revered citizens, one whose life was devoted whole heartedly to public service, up until the time of a serious illness about 12 or 14 years ago, since which time he has been confined closer to his home.

Civil War Veteran.

Serving in the civil war with distinction and giving an arm for the cause of liberty and union for the nation he early became a recognized attorney. His reputation won for him an appointment to the supreme bench of Michigan in 1880 which distinguished office he held until 1892, when he resigned to become democratic candidate for governor of Michigan.

Judge Morse was defeated in the election, but was soon after appointed by President Cleveland United States consul at Glasgow, Scotland, where he remained for four years.

After his return from Scotland Judge Morse became one of the most popular attorneys in the state and his opinions bore much weight. His outspokenness and strong convictions were admirable characteristics of his nature.

Living Retired Life.

Since he retired from practice Judge Morse has led a life of partial seclusion because of his ill health. Those close friends who have visited him regularly have noted the beauty of his life, spent as it was for the public good.

When he became ill a few days ago a daughter from Grand Rapids, Mrs. E. M. Davis, was called. She returned to Grand Rapids last night when her father's condition appeared to be less serious. Mrs. G. Lee Yates and Mrs. Van Morse were present with the widow of Judge Morse today, and relatives of Mrs. Morse were also in attendance.

Messages were sent to two brothers and two sisters of the judge in Iowa and Colorado. It is not known if they will be here for the funeral which will be Tuesday, it was announced.

Judge Morse was a native son of Ionia County. H was born on a farm in Otisco Township, January 7, 1839 and was the third white child and first white male child born in the county. He was the son of Judge John L. and Susan Ann Cowles Morse, natives of New York state, and pioneers of this county.

Allen B. Morse was reared on the farm in Otisco receiving his elementary education in the crude schools of the time. Later he took a course in the M. A. C. at Lansing. He carried on the farm work, taught school and helped in
many other ways while his father was in California with the gold seekers of 1849. He was a law student at the University of Michigan when the Civil war broke out in 1861 and on July 10 in that year joined as a private in Company B, 16th regiment, Michigan Volunteer infantry. He was soon commissioned first lieutenant of the 21st Michigan later became adjutant, and served as such on
the staff of Colonel Frank T. Sherdan, commanding a brigade in Sherman's division. During the battle of Missionary Ridge, November 25, 1863, he lost his left arm and in 1864 was discharged.

Mr. Morse returned to Ionia and resumed the study of law in the office of W. B. Wells and was admitted to the bar February 23, 1865. Judge Morse served as justice in the supreme court from October 1885 until 1892, resigning to accept the democratic nomination for governor in that year. Shortly after his defeat in that campaign he was appointed by President Cleveland United States consul
at Glasgow, Scotland, where he rendered distinguished service for four years.

He then returned to Ionia and resumed the practice of law. He served as state senator from this district, as mayor for Ionia, and as prosecuting attorney. Judge Morse was married to Frances Marion VanAllen in 1874 and four children were born two of them are living, Mrs. E. M. Davis of Grand Rapids and Mrs. G. L. Yates of Ionia. Two sons Dan and Van are dead, the former dying at the age of 20 as a result of illness contracted when attempting to save a companion from drowning in Long lake, and the latter passing away suddenly on November
17, 1920.

In 1888, Judge Morse was married to Anna Babcock of Ionia.

Judge Morse was a member of the Masonic order in Scotland. He was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution in Detroit and of William H. Borden Post G. A. R. He and Judge J. C. Taylor were the two remaining commissioned officers on the rolls of the post.

allen b morse

Thanks to Robin Shields

Past Master, Lodge St.Vincent Sandyford No.553