My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Biographical Record of Oakland County, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1903.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

* * * *

Hon. Augustus Carpenter Baldwin, nestor of the Oakland County bar, who was one of the most distinguished figures in the public life of Pontiac for a period of three score years, died at his residence January 21, 1903. He had frequently been called to fill positions high in public trust, serving on the bench, in the Michigan State Legislature, and in the halls of Congress, and in his professional work reached a height beyond which no contemporary has soared. In public life and in private, the same rugged honesty and sincerity of purpose characterized his every act, giving him a place in public esteem which time cannot alter.

Judge Baldwin was born in Salina, now Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York, December 24, 1817, and is sixth in lineal descent from Henry Baldwin, who migrated to Woburn, Massachusetts, from Hertfordshire, or more probably Devonshire, England, about 1630. The latter subsequently located in Charlestown, Massachusetts, which town he represented in the General Court. He was a subscriber to the “Town Order,” drawn at Charlestown for the regulation of the projected settlement. He married Phoebe Richardson, whose parents were ancestors of Gov. O. D. Richardson of Michigan.

Jonathan Baldwin, father of Judge Baldwin, was a native of Canterbury, Connecticut, and was engaged in the mercantile business until his death in 1822. He married Mary Carpenter, a daughter of Joseph Carpenter of Lancaster, New York. Upon his death the family were left in straitened circumstances, and at an early age Augustus C. Baldwin was thrown upon his own resources. He was but five years old at the death of his father, and during the six years that followed he lived at the home of an uncle. He then went to Lancaster, New York, in which vicinity he remained until 1834, when he went to Buffalo, New York, where he entered the office of the Buffalo Bulletin as an apprentice. He continued with this paper until it went under the management of James Faxon & Company, and was changed to the Buffalo Daily Star, the first daily paper published in Western New York. He was variously employed during the following four years, teaching school a part of the time, but always continuing his preparation for betterment by constant study. During the fall and summer of 1837 he attended the Academy of Plainfield, and in November of that year came to Oakland County, Michigan. He alternately engaged in teaching and study and in 1839 began his preparation for the legal profession under the direction of John P. Richardson of Pontiac. A branch of the State University of Michigan was then located in this city and he took advantage of the opportunity of advancing and perfecting his knowledge of the branches of education embraced in its course. He subsequently entered the office of Hon. O. D. Richardson, with whom he continued until he was admitted to the bar, May 14, 1842, and then entered upon the practice of law at Milford, Oakland County. He continued there until March, 1849, then removed to Pontiac where he would have greater opportunities and a larger field for the exercise of the superior talents with which he was endowed. He early attained a position of importance in his profession, and in much of the important litigation during the following half century he was retained either by the prosecution or defense. As a criminal lawyer he was without a peer and was identified with many of the big criminal trials in Oakland and adjoining counties.

Judge Baldwin was always an enthusiastic Democrat and one of the hardest workers for that party’s success in Michigan. His first public office was that of school inspector of Bloomfield township in 1840, and three years later he was elected to the State Legislature. He was re-elected to the Legislature in 1845, and took a prominent part in the sessions of 1844 and 1846. He served as brigadier general of the Fifth Brigade of Michigan Militia from 1846 until 1862, in which year the existing militia system was abolished. He was prosecuting attorney of Oakland County during 1853 and 1854. In 1862 he was elected a member of the Thirty-eighth Congress from what was then the Fifth Congressional District of Michigan, defeating the Republican candidate, R. E. Trowbridge, and served on the committees on agriculture and expenditures in the Interior Department. In the issue concerning the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, he voted in support of the amendment, that is, for its submission to the States for their approval. He was re-nominated for Member of Congress in 1864, and was again opposed by Mr. Trowbridge. The State had in the meantime enacted a statute authorizing Michigan soldiers in the army to vote in the field. Judge Baldwin received a clear majority of the home votes, and notwithstanding the fact that the Supreme Court of Michigan declared the statute, above mentioned, void, the House of Representatives, upon contest being made, gave the seat to Mr. Trowbridge.

Our subject was made mayor of Pontiac in 1874, and for 18 consecutive years was a member of the School Board of the city, during which time many important changes were made in the school system and the High School erected largely through his influence. He was also active in having Pontiac chosen as the location of the Eastern Michigan Asylum, and for 18 years was a member of the board of trustees, of that institution. In 1875 he was elected judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Michigan for a term of six years, and served four years of the time with characteristic impartiality and a high sense of justice, retaining the respect and gaining the commendation of the entire bar. The salary at that time was so utterly inadequate, and the State refusing to make the necessary constitutional amendment, he resigned the office with two years of the term unexpired, to take up a remunerative practice. Every phase of jurisprudence and legal procedure came up in his extensive practice, and not infrequently he had his share in the establishment of precedents in the laws of Michigan. There are few reports of the Supreme Court of Michigan between 1850 and 1900 which do not record important cases with which he was identified.

The Michigan Military Academy at Orchard Lake also owes much to him for its remarkable success, as he was one of its trustees and for several years its president. He was for several years president of the Oakland County Agricultural Society, and of the Oakland County Pioneer Society. For 50 years he was a frequent member and officer of State and local political conventions. He was a delegate to the National Democratic conventions at Charleston and Baltimore in 1860, delegate-at-large to the National Democratic Convention at Chicago in 1864, delegate to the National Peace Convention at Philadelphia in 1866, and at different times a member of national and State central committees.

In October, 1842, Judge A. C. Baldwin married Isabella Churchill, who died in 1894. He subsequently married Flora E. Belding, a daughter of the late Hon. Friend Belding of Bloomfield. Fraternally, he was a Master Mason, being a member of Pontiac Lodge No. 21, F. & A. M.; and Pontiac Commandery, No. 2, K. T., of which he was past eminent commander. Judge Baldwin had a comfortable home on Clark street, in Pontiac, where he was surrounded by the comforts and luxuries of a refined taste. His magnificent library represented years of accumulation, comprising a large number of volumes, treating on almost every subject which human versatility might suggest. However, a large portion of his library was a few years ago placed at the disposal of the Orchard Lake Military Academy. His home also contains a gallery of fine paintings, rare and in good taste.

* * * *

This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Record of Oakland County, Michigan published in 1903. 

View additional Oakland County, Michigan family biographies here: Oakland County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Oakland County, Michigan here: Oakland County Michigan Map

Use the links at the top right of this page to search or browse thousands of other family biographies.