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John E. Kinnane. (1862-1931)
Native of Kalamazoo Co., MI. attorney and resident of Bay City.

The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922, by William Stocking, 1922


John E. Kinnane, United States district attorney for the eastern district of Michigan with official residence at Detroit, has long been accounted one of the distinguished representatives of the Michigan bar and has carved his name on the keystone of the legal arch. He was born in Kalamazoo county, Michigan, January 10, 1862, a son of Patrick and Mary Meade (Sullivan) Kinnane. His were the unusual experiences of the farm bred boy who pursues his early in the district schools. Later, however, Mr. Kinnane had the opportunity of a more advanced course in Kalamazoo College, from which he was graduated with the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1885. Taking up the profession of school teaching, he became principle of schools for two years, after which he was made county commissioner of schools for Bay county, a position that involved all the duties of county superintendent of schools, in which connection he was influential in reorganizing the school system of Bay county. In 1893 he became prosecuting attorney and in 1911 he became democratic candidate for the office of justice of the supreme court of Michigan. He served for four years, under appointment of two successive governors of opposite parties, as chairman of the state industrial accident board, which is the board of commission created to administer the workmen's compensation law of this state. He became the first chairman of the board and the fact that he was called to this position by a republican governor, the office being entirely unsought by him, is a fine tribute to his ability and his citizenship. He was later reappointed by Governor Ferris and the marvelous success of the new law was fully demonstrated by Mr. Kinnane, who is regarded throughout the country as an expert on matters of that character, proof of this being found in the fact that the state of New York sought his advice and help in drafting a similar law for that commonwealth.

In the practice of law almost from the beginning of his professional career Mr. Kinnane has enjoyed a large clientèle and has been most successful in conducting the legal interests intrusted to his care. There were few important cases tried in northern Michigan ere his appointment to his present position, with which Mr. Kinnane was not connected. From the outset it was recognized that he was possessed of integrity, ability and industry – indispensable qualities in the attainment of advancement at the bar. Added to these was a comprehensive knowledge of law and in the application of legal principles he was seldom at fault. To an understanding of uncommon acuteness and vigor he added a thorough and conscientious preparatory training, while in his practice he has always exmplified the higher elements of a truly great lawyer, being constantly inspired by an innate, inflexible love of justice and a delicate sense of personal honor which has controlled him in every relation of life. His fidelity to the interests of his clients is proverbial, yet he never forgets that he owes a still higher allegiance to the majesty of the law. As previously stated, he was called in 1912 to the Michigan industrial accident board, at which time the workmen's compensation laws were new and the system for administration and interpretation of such laws was created by the board during his chairmanship and the system which he inaugurated was followed by a number of states who later adopted workmen's compensation. He continued in the position until 1916, when he was appointed by President Wilson United States district attorney for the eastern district of Michigan with official residence at Detroit. In the early part of his term official relations between the United States and Germany were broken and later came the declaration of war. The enforcement of war legislation, military and otherwise, came through his office, making it a veritable storm center. The prosecution of the anarchists, I. W. W.'s, slackers and conspirators made the years of 1917-18 full of stirring events connected with his position. The more important cases which were prosecuted by Mr. Kinnane included the Kaleschmidt conspiracy case, in which six persons were convicted, at the end of a long trial, of conspiracy to blow up bridges, tunnels and armories in Canada and the United States for the purpose of crippling war activities. He also handled the Pillinger Windhorst graft case in connection with the construction of Camp Custer, which resulted in the conviction of the defendants. Perhaps the most important case resulting from the war was the United States vs. Grant Hugh Browne and others for conspiracy to defraud the government, in the sale of war materials by the United States salvage boards, which were organized throughout the country after the close of the war for the dispostion of the quantities of war materials then on hand, aggregating in value about a billion and a half dollars. The trial of this case in the federal court at Detroit consumed three months' time and resulted in the conviction of the conspirators.

In 1897 Mr. Kinnane was united in marriage to Miss Maude Crosbie of Bay City, Michigan, and they have two daughters, Margaret and Janet Eleanor, aged respectively seventeen and thirteen years. Fraternally Mr. Kinnane is connected with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and in club circles he is well known as a member of the Detroit Athletic Club and the Colonial Club of Bay City. In politics he has always been a stalwart democrat and a recognized leader in the Baltimore convention which nominated Woodrow Wilson for the presidency. He has always maintained his residence in Bay City and has felt the keenest interest in its welfare and progress, being interested in a number of business enterprises and in all those activities and force which make for its upbuilding and advancement and the maintenance of high civic standards. He has been president of the local board of trade and local bar association. A contemporary writer has said of him: “He is a man of pleasing personality and of forceful character. His ability as a lawyer is surpassed by none and he stands today a self-made man, who is one of the leading citizens of northeastern Michigan.” His is a conspicuously successful career. Endowed by nature with high intellectual qualities, to which are added the discipline and embellishment of culture, he is a noble character – one that subordinates personal ambition to public good and seeks rather the benefit of others than the aggrandizement of self.

Additional Notes.

  • History of Michigan, by Charles Moore (1915):
    -- John E. Kinnane's parents were natives of Ireland.
    -- He was principle of schools in Essexville.
    -- He was appointed chairman of the Industrial Accident Board by Gov. Osborn.
    -- Maude Crosbie was the daughter of William Crosbie, of Bay City.
  • Carving Out the Rule of Law, by Ross Parker:
    -- 1916: Appointed U.S. Attorney by President Woodrow Wilson, served until 1921.
    -- Practiced law in Bay City, with Pierce & Kinnane, and, Kinnane, Black & Lane.
    --John and his daughter, Janet (also a lawyer), are believed to be the only son and daughter to serve in the U.S. Attorney's Office. Janet served as an assistant attorney in the Bay City office during 1949 and early 1950s. Also, she may have been the first woman to be appointed as an Assistant U. S. Attorney in this district.
    --John was the oldest active lawyer in Bay City, at the time of his death on Aug. 3, 1936, he is buried at St. Patrick's Cemetery in Bay City.
  • 1931 Bay City Directory –
    -- Kinnane, Arthur & Beulah H., res. 307 N. Hampton, works for Kinnane & Liebrand.
    -- Kinnane, Edward J., res. 405 N. Erie, bookkeeper Imperial Oil Corp.
    -- Kinnane, Janet E., res. 1300 McKinley, stenographer Kinanne & Liebrand.
    -- Kinnane, John E. & Maude E., res. 1300 McKinley Ave., Kinanne & Liebrand.
    -- Kinnane & Liebrand, office Shearer Bldg. (John E. Kinnane, G.C. Liebrand, Arthur J. Kinanne, attorneys)
    -- Kinnane, Margaret, res. 1300 McKinley Ave., attending T.L. Handy Junior High school.
    -- Kinnane, Thomas & Louise M., res. 405 N. Erie.
Related Note & Pages

John E. Kinnane

Related links:
Black, Albert W.
People Referenced
Browne, Grant H
Crosbie, Maude (wife)
Crosbie, William
Ferris, Gov.
Kinnane, Arthur J. (son)
Kinnane, Janet (dau.)
Kinnane, John E. (subject)
Kinnane, Margaret (dau.)
Kinnane, Patrick (father)
Liebrand, G.C.
Osborn, Gov.
Sullivan, Mary M. (mother)
Wilson, Woodrow Pres.
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Bay Co., MI
Camp Custer, MI
Detroit, MI
Essexville, MI
Kalamazoo Co., MI
Kalamazoo College, MI
Kinnane & Liebrand
St. Patrick's cemetery, MI
T.L. Handy High school
U.S. Attorney
Other References
Because of Mr. Kinnades notoriety, he is cited on many sources on the internet.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.