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Theophilus C. Grier (1834-1872)
Political Biography.

Bio. (Added Jan., 2009)

History Collections, Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, Vol XXII, 1894


Among the members of the bar who gained a special notoriety at an early age of his life was Theophilus C. Grier. His reputation was known all over the State as one of the rising lawyers of our country.

Judge Grier was born at Ravenna, in the state of Ohio, on the 2d day of January, 1834, and was a descendant on his mother's side, of Rev. John Cotton, of Pilgrim fame. His parents died while Mr. Grier was yet a mere lad, and he was taken and cared for during a short time by an uncle whose name was Carlton, and who was a minister of the Universalist denomination of more than ordinary reputation. At the age of fifteen young Grier became an apprentice as a printer to one Joel D. Brattels, who was then editor of the Trumbull County Democrat. This training was subsequently of immense value to him as a writer. The young man's health became very delicate, and he was necessarily compelled to quit the printing business and cultivate his physical strength. After a short time he became strong enough to attend school and entered an educational institution at Marietta, Ohio. Subsequently he made up his mind to enter the legal profession, and to this end he became a student in the law office of Riddle & Hathaway, of Chardon, Ohio. His circumstances were such that it was necessary for him to teach school during the winter season of the year and pursue his law studies during the summer, spending what he earned during the winter to enable him to prosecute his studies during the summer. While thus engaged and while yet a youth he became acquainted with Jennie Miller, whom he married in July, 1857. Three children were the fruits of this marriage, the oldest being Carlton Grier, who is now a resident of Spokane, Washington, the second, a daughter, who died in Bay City some years ago, the the third, Rev. A. Grier, who is now one of the most scholarly and eloquent ministers of the gospel of the state of Iowa.

Shortly after the marriage of Judge Grier, he was admitted to the bar in the state of Ohio, and move with his wife to Pine Run, Michigan, where he commenced the practice of his profession. This practice for the first few years was confined chiefly to the justices' courts, as is the case with most of the lawyers of his training and advantages. In this field, however, Mr. Grier showed indications of his future merits and abilities. He soon sought a more extended opportunity in which to grow, however, and during the year 1859 he took up his residence in Bay City. Here he found remunerative calls for his service from the beginning. His great ability as a rising lawyer was at once recognized, and in the year 1860 he was elected prosecuting attorney and circuit court commissioner of Bay county. As a public prosecuting attorney he was the dread and fear of criminals and at once came to the front as trial lawyer. During the month of September, 1861, he associated with him A. McDonell, now of Bay City, and this firm, under the name of Grier & McDonell, controlled a very extensive and lucrative practice until Judge Grier was elected to the bench. They were engage in the trial of as many as one hundred and ten issues of fact during one term of the Bay county circuit court. In 1865, Mr. Grier was appointed city attorney of Bay City. In 1867 he was elected a member of the State legislature. In this body he commanded the respect of this colleagues, and the attention of the State, by his power as a ready debater, his eloquence, and his acute and discrimination mind, as well as his sharp and incisive logic. Few men of the day were equal to him in debate on the floor of the legislative hall. His industry as a committee man was also noticeable. He was called by the press of the State the “Ajax of the House.” Few men possessed the power of Mr. Grier before a miscellaneous audience. As a political speaker on the stump his influence was almost matchless, and during our political campaigns his services were in constant demand all over this State. In 1871 the territory of the tenth judicial circuit of Michigan was changed and the eighteenth circuit was organized, composed of Bay, Iosco, Alcona, and Alpena counties. Mr. Grier was elected judge of the new circuit as the unanimous choice of both political parties, he being a democrat. This position on the bench he held until his death, which occurred on the 5th day of June, 1872. The deceased of Judge Grier at this early day of his life, was sorrowfully and keenly felt by his many friends of the Saginaw Valley. It occurred at a period, as will be seen, when he was on the threshold of a brilliant and useful life. He was strictly a self made man, having no advantages except those given him by nature itself. The community in which he lived during the last ten years of his life looked upon him as one of the most brilliant men of his age; his judgment on law questions was considered eminently accurate and sound; he seldom erred in matters of opinion, and his power as a public speaker and especially as a jury lawyer was almost dangerous, because under the excitement of his addresses he ignored everything but the success of his client.

Political bio. (Added May, 2005)

Michigan Biographies
Michigan Historical Commission - 1924 (Page 353)


Representative from Bay County, 1867-8.
Was born at Ravenna, O., Jan. 2, 1834, and
was a descendant of Rev. John Cotton of Pilgrim fame.
At fifteen he was apprenticed to learn the printer's trade.
He studied law in Ohio, commenced practice at Pine Run, Mich.,
removed to Bay City in 1859, where he secured a lucrative practice.
In 1860 he was Prosecuting Attorney and Circuit Court Commissioner of Bay County;
in 1865 City Attorney.
In 1870, without opposition, he was elected Judge of the 18th Circuit.
In politics he was a Democrat.
He died June 5, 1872.

Related Note & Pages

Judge Theophilus C. Grier

Related pages:
McDonell, Archibald
People Referenced
Brattels, Joel D.
Cotton, John Rev.
Grier, A. Rev. (son)
Grier, Carlton (uncle)
Grier, Carlton (son)
McDonell, A
Miller, Jennie (wife)
Subjects Referenced
Alcona Co., MI
Alpena Co., MI
Bay City, MI
Bay Co., MI
Chardon, OH
Grier & McDonell
Iosco Co., MI
Marietta, OH
Legislature, MI
Pine Run, MI
Ravenna, OH
Riddle & Hathaway
Saginaw Valley, MI
Spokane, WA
Supreme Court, MI
Trumbull Co. Democrat
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.