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The Honorable John Wesley McGrath
Class of: 1868

Source: Portrait from the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society website


John W. McGrath served as a Michigan Supreme Court justice from 1891 through 1895.
John W. McGrath was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 12, 1842. In his youth, he spent most of his time engaged in three activities: attending school, working in the fields, and teaching school. Teaching school was an interesting experience for McGrath since he taught many of his peers. (Reed, George I. The Bench and Bar of Michigan: A History and Biography. Chicago: The Century Publishing and Engraving Co., 1897.)
In 1864, he began his law studies at the University of Michigan. However, in 1865 he was employed in the provost marshal's office while taking night law courses. This job did not satisfy him, and he returned to Pennsylvania in 1867 to pursue the commercial oil field business. His career path changed again, and he returned and completed his law courses in 1868 in Ann Arbor and immediately began practicing law.
For the first part of his career he was associated with the Republican Party. McGrath served on the school board for a number of years. He was appointed labor commissioner for the newly organized Labor Bureau by Governor Josiah Begole. McGrath also served as the City Counselor for Detroit from 1887 until 1890.
In 1890, McGrath was nominated to fill the vacancy on the Michigan Supreme Court Bench caused by the death of James V. Campbell and continued his service until 1895.
Following his service on the Bench, he resumed his private law practice. George Reed, author of The Bench and Bar of Michigan, stated that McGrath, "was a man of invincible determination and unflagging perseverance . . . and the buoyancy of spirits transmitted through his Irish lineage, enabled him to surmount difficulties which would block the progress of a weaker man."
John W. McGrath died on December 9, 1905, after a distinguished career of public service. (Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Reports: Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of Michigan. Chicago: Callaghan and Co., 1879 - 1948, Vol. 113.)
--  From the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society website
Lawyer, Detroit, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the 12th of January, 1842, and is of Scotch-Irish descent. His father, Joseph McGrath, a native of Ireland, was born in 1813. His mother, Jane Andrew McGrath, was born at Glasgow, Scotland, in 1823. His parents were married in Ireland, in 1839, and emigrated to America the same year; upon their arrival they visited the South, with the expectation of locating there, but, owing to the existence of slavery, they sought another home, removing to Philadelphia, where they resided for two years, at the end of which time they came to Detroit. Here they remained until 1854, when they removed to a farm situated in Warren, Macomb County, Michigan. Mr. McGrath continued to live at home, until he was eighteen years old, assisting his father in clearing a farm of one hundred and sixty acres. He taught school during the winter of 1859 and 1860; and, in the spring of the latter year, left home, and entered the preparatory department of Albion College, at Albion, Michigan, where he remained until he had completed the Freshman and Sophomore years. In the fall of 1864, he entered the law department of Michigan University, at Ann Arbor, and continued there during the term which ended in March, 1865. In April he came to Detroit, and attended a three months' course at Bryant & Stratton's Commercial College. In July, the same year, he went to Pithole City, Pennsylvania, devoting one month's time to the land brokerage business. He was then engaged in the mercantile trade at Oil City, until the fall of 1867, at which time he returned to Michigan, and resumed his studies in the law department of the Michigan University. In March, 1868, he received his diploma; after which he returned home, and worked on the farm until the following December, when he located in Detroit, and opened a law office. Mr. McGrath votes with the Republican Party. He was married in 1871, and has three children. For four years he has been a member of the Board of Education of the city of Detroit; he is quite prominent in the membership of the Masonic Fraternity, and of the order of Odd-Fellows. Mr. McGrath, although young in years, stands high, as one of Detroit's attorneys, and will make his mark in the profession in which he is engaged.

Title: American biographical history of eminent and self-made men ... Michigan volume. Publication Info: Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Library
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Print source: American biographical history of eminent and self-made men ... Michigan volume.

Barnard, F. A., Western Biographical Publishing Company (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Cincinnati: Western biographical publishing co., 1878. Subject terms:
Michigan -- Biography
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Members of Class of 1868
Aldrich, Edgar
Alexander, John Barclay
Anderson, Alexander Dwight
Anderson, Alexander S.
Archibald, Robert Burns
Atchison, William Albert
Babcock, Albert Harrison
Backenstose, Dwight Byron
Baker, Sperry
Bardin, Alonzo L.
Barlow, William H.
Barnd, Charles Gustavus
Beach, James Wilson
Bedford, Edward L.
Bell, Arthur Stall
Bell, Robert Clark
Bigelow, Melville Madison
Bigger, John Comley
Boardman, John Dixon
Bracelin, Frank
Brigham, John
Brosius, Marriott
Brown, Michael
Browne, John Jay
Burton, John Wesley
Butterfield, Roger Williams
Cameron, James
Carson, George
Carter, Joseph Newton
Carter, Robert Walpole
Chilcote, Mordecai Franklin
Clendening, Jonathan Manly
Clokey, Josiah Mitchell
Cobb, George Pomeroy
Condee, Leander Devine
Cooke, Sidney
Cooper, Lawrence Charles
Corwin, Charles L.
Crane, Justus Baldwin
De, Lany Martin Andrew
Dean, Franklin
Douglas, Selwyn
Dow, Henry Sidney
Durkee, William C.
Eller, Homer C.
Elliott, James Perry
Ewell, Marshall Davis
Farrell, William
Fast, Orlando Jacob
Fenn, Albert H.
Ferguson, Nimrod G.
Ficklin, Augustus Williams
Field, George Washington
Fritts, William Daniel
Gage, Lovell Hutchins
Gill, Baldwin Berry
Gill, Joseph John
Gillett, Alden Herbert
Glasse, William Benjamin
Greene, Edward Heistand
Grover, Edwin Bush
Harrell, William Wallace
Harries, William Henry
Hayden, Henry
Hazard, Henry Thomas
Heckert, Benjamin Franklin
Hewitt, Reuben P. B.
Hill, Avery Sedgwick
Hinman, David Elihu
Holden, Eugene Irvin
Holland, Daniel
Hollenbeak, Alfred S.
Holman, Sidney Luke
Hyde, Emmons F.
Jennings, Albert
Jones, William Caswell
Kelley, Robert Jay
Kellogg, James Holmes
Kernan, William Hubbard
Kimball, Elbert E.
Kingery, William D.
Kinne, La Vega George
Krome, William Henry
Kumler, Austin Landis
Latty, Emmet S.
Lawrence, John Fuller
Leahy, Michael A.
Lemen, Edwin Hogan
Lindenberg, Cassius H.
Mapes, Egbert J.
Markham, Alonzo B.
Mather, Asa Frisbie
McCulloch, Robert A.
McDonnell, Terence Joseph
McDowell, William Henry
McGintie, Edward
McGowan, Jonas Hartzel
McGrath, John Wesley
McKenzie, Dougal
McKenzie, James Wheeler
McReynolds, La Fayette Emerson
Norris, Caleb H.
Olney, Warren
Parker, Nelson Augustus
Parsons, Abdiel Campbell
Pennington, Henry Frank
Perce, William L.
Persons, Greenleaf Elvero
Pitzer, William W.
Pollock, William W.
Pomerene, Julius Grafton
Porter, Allen James
Rafter, William A.
Rawlins, George Cincinnatus
Remick, George Bradford
Rhoades, Edward Henry
Rice, William Harlow C.
Ritchie, James Madison
Roberts, Reuben Zenas
Robinson, James E.
Rodney, Henry Fisher
Rogers, Josiah Hemingway
Rouch, Mahlon C.
Royse, Isaac Henry Clay
Salisbury, Charles Spencer
Scoville, Benton H.
Sharp, John Henry
Sheldon, Clarence Leslie
Slaght, John Howell
Slawson, Edward Reed
Sloper, Robert G.
Smalley, Allen
Smith, Lucas F.
Stager, Walter
Stearns, Royal D.
Stevens, Herman Walter
Stevens, William Colin
Storrs, Charles Paddock
Stutsman, Abraham H.
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