Joseph Williams (1838 - 1847)
Served on the Iowa
Supreme Court from the formation of Iowa Territory in 1838 and on the state
Supreme Court until January 25, 1848; and again from January 15, 1849, until
January 11, 1855. For seven years he was Chief Justice.
Born December 8, 1801, at
Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. He studied law in the office of Chauncy Forward and
was admitted to the bar in his native state where he practiced law for a time
at Somerset. Upon his appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court in 1838 by
President Van Buren he located in the new Territory of Iowa at Muscatine. His
brother, Major William Williams, led the Spirit Lake Relief Expedition.
Judge Williams presided
at the first court held in Polk County. This was a session of the District
Court in April 1846. In 1857, he was appointed, by President Buchanan, a
Supreme Court judge of Kansas Territory and later, by President Lincoln, as
Judge of the United States District Court at Memphis, Tennessee.
Justice Williams died at
Fort Scott, Kansas, March 31, 1870.