WILLSON, HIRAM V. (Apr. 1808-11 Nov. 1866), lawyer and first judge of the Northern District Court of Ohio, was born in Madison County, N.Y., graduated from Hamilton College in 1832, studied law with Jared Willson in Canandaigua, N.Y. and Francis Scott Key in Washington, D.C., and initially supported himself as a teacher. He moved to Painesville, then came to Cleveland where he opened a law practice with HENRY B. PAYNE in 1833. Payne later retired, and the firm became Willson, Wade & Hitchcock, later Willson, Wade, & Wade. In 1854, Willson and a group of commissioners from Cleveland and OHIO CITY worked out the details annexing Ohio City to Cleveland. Also in 1854, Willson lobbied for a bill that would divide Ohio into 2 federal court districts. He succeeded, and the U.S. Court for the Northern District of Ohio was formed. Pres. Franklin Pierce appointed Willson the first judge of the Northern District court in 1855, where he presided over a number of civil and admiralty cases. In 1859, he presided over the trial of 37 leaders in the OBERLIN-WELLINGTON RESCUE incident who had violated the Fugitive Slave Law. Willson was a director of the CLEVELAND FEMALE SEMINARY in 1854; an officer of the University Hts. Congregational Church in 1859; and a contributor to the Cleveland Law Library Assoc. He married Martha Ten Eyck in 1835. They had 2 children: Jennie and Mary. Willson died in Cleveland and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY. Willson Ave. (E. 55th St.) was named after him.

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