John Hunt

John Hunt

Served from 1824 through 1827

John Hunt was a native of New England. His exact birthplace is a matter of dispute. According to B.F. Witherell, Hunt was born in Massachusetts. However, John Winder said that Hunt was born in Berkshire, Pennsylvania. Hunt arrived in Detroit in either 1818 or 1819, and his commanding character soon gave him the reputation of being a model citizen.

Hunt was tall and thin, about five feet eleven inches and weighing around 155 pounds. He was “dignified in bearing, straight as an arrow, of medium complexion, dark-brown hair, bright blue eyes and clean shaven face.”

Upon his arrival in Michigan, he began practicing law with General Charles Larned. He was married to Larned’s sister, Martha B. Larned. Together, Hunt and his brother-in-law built a very successful practice.

In 1820, Hunt was elected to the Board of Trustees of Detroit. This board was organized in 1815 and was the result of the first successful effort of the inhabitants of Michigan to obtain a measure of self-government, which had been previously denied them under the rule of the Governor and Judges. The Board of Trustees came to an end in 1824 when the Common Legislative Council was created.

In 1824, as the reorganization of the Territorial government was taking place, Hunt was appointed to the newly established Michigan Supreme Court. At this point, he dissolved his partnership with Larned and began his judicial duties. He served the Court until 1827.

After his service on the Bench, Hunt’s health failed significantly and he became afflicted with delusions. One delusion was that his legs were made of straw and that he could not walk. Finally, his doctor came over with a rawhide whip and struck Hunt on the legs. Hunt sprang up from his bed and marveled at his ability to walk. Unfortunately, other delusions followed.

He and his family moved to Washington, D.C. following the death of his wife in 1826. John Hunt died near Ithaca, New York, in June of 1827 due to his increasing problems with delusions. (Ross, Robert B. The Early Bench and Bar of Detroit: 1805 – 1850. Detroit: Richard P. Joy and Clarence M. Burton, 1907.)