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Hon. Chester L. Collins (1847-1916)
Attorney and District Court Judge of Bay City, MI.
  • Courtesy of "Links to the Past" website.
  • History of Bay County, Michigan - Augustus H. Gansser, 1905.


    Hon. Chester L. Collins, one of the leading members of the Bay County bar, and president of the Michigan State Bar Association, recently elected judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit of Michigan, has been an honored resident of the Third Ward of Bay City since the fall of 1875. He was born at Newcastle, Goshocton County, Ohio, June 13, 1847, and is a son of Adgate W. and Susan (Olive) Collins. His father's parents removed to Ohio from Massachusetts, where the ancestors, coming from Ireland, had settled prior to the Revolution. His mother's parents were descended from English ancestors, who settled in Maryland and Virginia at an early day.

    Adgate W. Collins was born in 1821 in Richland County, Ohio, and his wife in the same year, in Muskingum County, Ohio. They removed from the latter county to Knoxville, Iowa, in May, 1852, where Mr. Collins has continued to reside, interested in farming, merchandising and banking. Both parents are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

    Chester L. Collins was educated in the common schools of Knoxville, Iowa, and in June, 1868, was graduated at the Iowa Wesleyan University. He then studied law in the office of the well-known legal firm of Stone & Ayers. The senior member of this firm, Hon. William M. Stone, was one of Iowa's War Governors. He was admitted to practice in the “Hawkeye” State in 1869. Prior to entering college, he had assisted on his father's farm and had clerked in the latter's store. In May, 1864, he entered the army, enlisting in Company A, 47th Reg., Iowa Vol. Inf., and served as its sergeant until the company was mustered out of the service, on September 28, 1864.

    From the date of his admission to the bar in Knoxville, he continued to practice his profession there until 1875, engaging in much important litigation, having many cases in the Circuit and District courts and the Iowa Supreme Court. This condition continued after he came to Bay City in October, 1875. Judge Collins having a record from that until the present time in all the courts of the State of Michigan, in the Supreme Courts of Florida and Louisiana, in the United States Circuit courts, the United States Courts of Appeal and the United States Supreme Court.

    Judge Collins has been a member of the Michigan State Bar Association from the time of its organization, has been its vice-president and is now its president. For several years he was chairman of the committee on legislation and law reform and was largely instrumental in initiating and carrying on the movements, which finally resulted in the Revised Supreme Court Rules of Michigan for 1897.

    He has been closely identified with all the public spirited enterprises which have resulted so favorably for Bay City. When the Bay County Bridge Commission was organized, he was one of its first members, his co-workers being Joseph Turner of Bay City and the late John Welch and Ephraim Kelton. During the administration of this commission, the Third street bridge was built, that of 23rd street was rebuilt, and the South Center (now Cass avenue) one was taken from 23rd street and reconstructed at that point. For a term of five years he was a member of the Bay City Police Commission and has served for more than 20 years as a member of the board of trustees of the Bay City Public Library. When hte bankruptcy law went into effect, Hon. Henry D. Swan, judge of the United States District Court, appointed referee in bankruptcy for the Northern Division of the Eastern District of Michigan, being the sole referee of that division, and he served as such until April, 1904, when he resigned the office.

    On May 12, 1874, Judge Collins was married to Sarah Miller of Bay City, one of the best known pioneers of the Saginaw Valley, and they have two daughters: Emily and Susan Mary.

    Judge Collins' political affiliations have always been with the Republican party. His first presidential vote was for Ulysses S. Grant, in 1868. On February 10, 1905, he received the Republican nomination for the office of judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit of Michigan, comprising the county of Bay. His election followed in April. Since 1870 he has been in fraternal connection with the Masonic bodies, and he retainss his college membership with the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. His interest in the Grand Army of the Republic has always been sincere and he has twice served as commander of the U. S. Grant Post, No. 67. A portrait of Judge Collins accompanies this sketch.

    News article. (Added Dec., 2009)

    The Bay City Times-Tribune, May 7, 1919.


    (Excerpt reference on Organization of Bay County Historical Society, regard comments of Mrs Sarah Collins, daughter of Judge Miller.)

    "The program included a paper on the 'Organization of Bay County' by John Donovan; a paper on 'News-paper Reminisces' by W. H. Gustin, and a talk by Fremont J. Tromble on the first house erected with in what is now the territory of Bay City. Mrs. Henry B. Smith read a letter from Mrs. Charles L. Collins, of Cleveland, in which it was said that she would present to the society, oil portraits of her father and mother, Judge and Mrs. Albert Miller, who were among the earliest settlers of Bay City. The society accepted the gift with thanks."

    1908 Death of sister. (Added Dec., 2009)

    The Arrow of Pi Beta Phi, 1908


    The many friends of Mrs. Sue Collins-Brodrick, who knew her in her college days of 1874 and 1875 when she was a student at Iowa Wesleyan University, were pained and shocked to learn of her sudden death from heart disease at the home of a friend in Roxbury, N. Y. Mrs Brodrick was on her way to visit her brother, Judge Chester L. Collins of Bay City, Mich. Though the summons came after a brief illness, she calmly and peacefully passed over to the other side Nov. 12, 1907. Sue M. Collins was the daughter of Mr. And Mrs. A. W. Collins and was born at Knoxville, Ia., Feb. 27, 1857. She attended Iowa Wesleyan University where her sister, Emma Collins-Sloan, and her brothers, Chester L. Collins and David O. Collins, graduated with high honors. Both Mrs. Brodrick and her sister, Mrs. Sloan, were members of Gamma, as the chapter at Iowa Wesleyan was then called. Sue Collins was a popular and influential student, taking high rank in the college and the conservatory of music. She was married at Knoxville, Ia., Nov. 15, 1876, to Mr. J. L. Brodrick of Elkhart, Ind., and made that city her home. They have an only daughter, Isabel, who graduates from Smith College in June. Mrs. Brodrick was a most devoted companion to this daughter and was deeply interested in her education. Her body was brought to her old home in Knoxville, Ia., and interred in the family burial ground.

    Thus closed a beautiful life, but the influence and memory of Sue Collins-Brodrick will abide as a sweet benediction. A firm and resolute spirit, and strong, Christian faith, devotion to her family and her friends, and abiding cheerfulness, were conspicuous traits in her character. She had the blessed faith that

    “Our Heavenly Father can guide us in the night of sorrow Until in glory dawns the morrow.”

    Sadness has fallen on many hearts in the death of one so dearly loved. To those bound by nearer ties we extend our deepest sympathy, and we of the circle and trio of college friends and sisters in Pi Beta Phi offer loving tribute to her memory.

    Victoria Thompson-Hamilton, Belle ReQua-Leech

    Additional Notes:

    • 1897: Secretary of Bay City Belt Line Railroad.
    • 1905: President of Michigan State Bar Association.
    Related Pages/Notes

    Judge Chester L. Collins

    Related Pages
    Holmes, Sidney T.
    Civil War, Bay Co.
    People Referenced
    Brodrick, Isabel (niece)
    Collins, Adgate (father)
    Collins, Chester L. (subject)
    Collins, David (bro.)
    Collins, Emily (dau.)
    Collins-Sloan, Emma (sis.)
    Collins-Brodrick, Sue (sis.)
    Collins, Susan Mary (dau.)
    Donnovan, John
    Gustin, W.H.
    Kelton, Ephraim
    Miller, Albert (f-inlaw)
    Miller, Sarah (wife)
    Olive, Susan (mother)
    Smith, Henry B. Mrs.
    Stone, William M.
    Swan, Henry D.
    Turner, Joseph
    Welch, John
    Subjects Referenced
    47th Iowa Vol. Inf.
    Bay City, MI
    Bay City Police Comm.
    Bay City Public Library
    Bay Co., MI
    Bay Co. Bridge Comm.
    Bay County Bar
    Cleveland, OH
    Florida Supreme Court
    Goshocton Co., OH
    Grand Army of the Republic
    Iowa Supreme Court
    Iowa Wesleyan Univ.
    Knoxville, Iowa
    Louisiana Supreme Court
    Methodist Episcopal Ch.
    Mich. Bar Assoc.
    Muskingum Co., OH
    Richland Co., OH
    Stone & Ayers firm
    U.S. Supreme Court
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.