Edward Cahill was born on August 3, 1843, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His mother, Frances Marsh, was the niece of Epaphroditus Ransom, also a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. In his youth, Cahill moved all around the state until, following the death of his father, his family eventually settled down once again in Kalamazoo. In 1856, he entered the preparatory department at Kalamazoo College.
Cahill’s career in public service began when he was a legislative messenger from 1857 until 1859. At that point, Cahill began working for the Kalamazoo Gazette as well as for the Telegraph Company. In 1862, he joined the Union Army and fought in Kentucky until he was discharged later that year due to illness. He then began studying law in the offices of Miller and Barns in Kalamazoo. Cahill was anxious to get back into the action of the Civil War and in the fall of 1863, he raised the first African-American Infantry Unit in Michigan and served with these men, eventually attaining the rank of Captain, until the end of the war. When the war was over, Cahill resumed his law studies in St. Johns, Michigan, and married Lucy C. Crawford in 1867.
In 1870, he was elected Circuit Court Commissioner for Ionia County. He resigned from that office and began a private practice in Chicago, Illinois. Unfortunately, his office in downtown Chicago was destroyed by the Great Fire and he returned to Michigan to re-enter public service.
Cahill was twice elected to serve as Prosecuting Attorney for Ingham County and in 1889 was appointed by Governor Cyrus Luce to the Advisory Board on the matter of pardons. In 1890, Cahill was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court to replace Thomas R. Sherwood. Cahill lost his subsequent election to the Court, yet his reputation within legal circles remained impeccable.
Following his service on the Bench, Cahill engaged in a very successful partnership with (future Justice) Russell C. Ostrander. He retired from his practice 10 years before his death on July 27, 1922. (Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Reports: Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of Michigan. Chicago: Callaghan and Co., 1879 – 1948, Vol. 222.)
Portrait presented on: (Click link to read transcript)
November 14, 1899
Wise, Sam Lord
Oil on canvas
74.93cm X 59.69cm (29 1/2″ X 23 1/2″)
State of Michigan
Hall of Justice – 6th Floor: Rotunda
Portrait photo by:
Doug Elbinger, Lansing – June 1996