Russell C. Ostrander was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on September 1, 1851. Ostrander first attended school in Lansing in 1858, at the old Townsend Street school. When the high school was established, he took the required courses, and graduated at about the age of 16.
In 1868, he taught school in Woodhull Township, Shiawassee County. As a young man, he left the school and went to work in a general store of Robson Brothers in Lansing, and was employed there for several years. While so employed, he began the study of law by reading Blackstone’s Commentaries. He studied law at the University of Michigan, and graduated in 1876. In the fall election of the same year he was elected Circuit Court Commissioner and was re-elected in 1878. During the years of 1879 and 1880, he was Assistant to the Prosecuting Attorney, and was himself elected to that office in 1880.
In 1882, the firm of Cahill & Ostrander was formed, and it continued until 1898. In 1895 and 1896, he served by appointment as City Attorney of Lansing. In 1896 and 1897, he was elected and served as Mayor of Lansing. He was also a member of the State Board of Law Examiners from 1895 to 1904. He was president of the Michigan State Bar Association in 1903 and 1904. Ostrander was first elected as a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court on November 8, 1904, for the term of seven years.
Russell C. Ostrander died on September 11, 1919, while still employed by the Court. (Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Reports: Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of Michigan. Chicago: Callaghan and Co., 1879–1948, Vol. 208.)
McKay, Edwin Murray
Oil on canvas
80.01cm X 62.87cm (31 1/2″ X 24 3/4″)
State of Michigan
Hall of Justice – 1st Floor: Conference Center
Portrait photo by:
Douglas Elbinger – June 1996