Richard C. Flannigan was probably born early in December 1859, in Ontonagon. His parents were from County Waterford, Ireland, and had come to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to work in the copper mining industry. The family of ten sons and three daughters lived in Ontonagon until Richard was about 11 years old, then they moved to Marquette, where he grew up and received as much public education as was possible at the time.
At age 15, after three or four years as a checking clerk and bellboy at the weigh scales and then at the ore docks of the railroad, Flannigan took a position with a local attorney’s office where he became interested in legal subjects and began “reading law” to prepare for a career. At the end of four years he entered the University of Michigan Law School; however, lack of funds cut short his formal education after no more than a year. On returning to the U.P., he worked at a law office in Marquette for another year. At the age of 21 he applied to the Circuit Court for admission to the Bar and was accepted.
Immediately beginning the practice of law in Marquette, Flannigan remained there until 1881, when he relocated to Norway, a small town about ten miles southeast of Iron Mountain. His busy career included extensive trial experience in criminal litigation, as well as a number of years spent as a business lawyer with the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company.
After 20 years with the railroad, Flannigan was appointed by Governor Fred Warner to the Twenty-Fifth Circuit Court in Marquette. He served until 1927, when he was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court to fill the term of Joseph H. Steere, who had resigned. Flannigan took office in January 1928 as Chief Justice. On February 17, 1928, Flannigan lost a three-week battle with pleurisy and passed away in a Chicago hospital. (Biography compiled by Ann Lucas, Serials Librarian of Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Lansing, Michigan, 1998.)
Portrait presented on: (Click link to read transcript)
June 12, 1929
Oil on canvas
74.93cm X 61.6cm (29 1/2″ X 24 1/4″)
State of Michigan
Hall of Justice – 4th Floor: Rotunda
Portrait photo by:
Doug Elbinger, Lansing – June 1996