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Joseph Williams (1838-1847)

Supreme Court Justice

Joseph Williams

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.

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