Michigan Transportation History

James Kingsley

Public Lawyer Politician Ann Arbor Mayor UM Regent State Representative 1835 Constitutional Convention DemocraticPersonWashtenaw CountyJudge James Kingsley was born in Connecticut on January 6, 1797. He died in Ann Arbor on August 10, 1878. He came to Michigan in 1826 and settled in Ann Arbor. He was the first lawyer admitted to practice by the Washtenaw County bar. His law partner was Epaphroditus Ransom? and the firm was Kingsley and Ransom. He was elected probate court judge of Washtenaw County and served also on the Territorial Legislative Council. For the University of Michigan, he served as both a Trustee (before reorganization) and as a Regent (after the 1850 reorganization). In politics, he was elected mayor of Ann Arbor and served for one term (1855-1856); he was elected to the State House of Representatives, the State SenateState Senator, and delegate to the 1835 Constitutional Convention?. It was through his efforts while serving in the State House of Representatives that he promoted legislation to locate the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. (See also John D. Pierce's Plan for Education).1 In railroad history, Kingsley was an early advocate for a trans-peninsular railroad from Detroit to the mouth of the St. Joseph River. This line became the Detroit & St. Joseph Railroad which Kingsley had ushered into the state legislature and for which he wrote the company's charter.RailroadBooster


When he arrived in Ann Arbor, Kingsley built a home at the corner of Detroit and North Streets. This was a pretentious structure that gained the nickname "Kingsley Castle." In 1835, he built a second home at the west corner of Lawrence and Division Streets.2 In 1830, he married Lucy Ann Clark. They had one daughter, Lucy E. Kingsley born in 1835, who married Charles A. Chapin?; and three sons James Kingsley Jr.?, George Kingsley?, and Frank Kingsley.3


1. "The Name Should Be Changed," Ann Arbor Argus, September 18, 1891.

2. Corselius, p. 3.

3. Corselius, p. 4.


Ann Arbor District Library. Portrait of James Kingsley.

Bentley Historical Library?, "Holdings for Kingsley & Family."

Corselius, Cornelia E. Some of the Early Homes of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Illustrated by Lucy E. Chapin. A paper read at a meeting of the Woman's Club of Ann Arbor, 1909.

Also available at Hathitrust.

Hinsdale, Burke Aaron. History of the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1906. (see in particular p. 182; this text is available on Google)

"The Name Should Be Changed," Ann Arbor Argus, September 18, 1891.

Citation: When referencing this page please use the following citation:

R. D. Jones, "James Kingsley," Michigan Transportation History (Ypsilanti, MI: 2020), www.michtranshist.info/.

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Page last modified on February 25, 2020, at 08:36 AM EST

Page last modified on February 25, 2020, at 08:36 AM EST