Moses Taggart, one of the leading lawyers of Kent county, and ex-attorney-general of Michigan, was born at Wilson, Niagaraís county, N.Y., February 27, 1843. His ancestors were men of character, ability, education and resources. His great-grandfather, James Taggart, emigrated from Ireland to America in boyhood, and settled in Londonderry, Rockingham, county, N. H. James Taggart married Jane Anderson, whose father was one of the first locators of Londonderry, Ireland, during the memorable siege of 1688. His grandfather, Samuel Taggart, a native of Londonderry, N. H., was born about the middle of the eighteenth century, graduated from Dartmouth at twenty, and licensed to preach in the Presbyterian church during the year that the American colonies declared their independence of British domination. Samuel Taggart was for many years pastor of the Presbyterian church of Colerain, Mass., where he died in 1825. He served fourteen years as member of congress from a district in the state of Massachusetts, having been first elected in 1802 as a federalist. He was a man of large abilities and retentive memory; a powerful speaker, and a writer of recognized force on religious subjects, as well as political topics. Moses Taggart is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution by virtue of his maternal grandfather Ichabod Coneís enlistment and service, in both the state of Connecticut and New York, in the Continental army.
Upon both sides Moses Taggart comes from New England families whose representatives occupied honorable and important positions in the public service. His early life was passed upon his fatherís farm, where he laid the basis of a strong physical organization. He had expected to go through college and finished his preparatory course at Wilson Collegiate institute, when the enlistment of two older brothers in the war of the Rebellion imposed upon him in a great degree the care and maintenance of his parents. He therefore gave up college and returned to the farm. Subsequently he entered as a student the office of the late Judge Taggart, of Batavia, his uncle, formerly judge of the supreme court and court of appeals of New York; graduated from law department of the Michigan university in 1867, and was admitted to the bar of New York, at Buffalo, in December of the same year. He came to Michigan in January, 1869, settling first at Cedar Springs; afterward removed to the city of Grand Rapids and entered first the office of, and then into partnership with, B. A. Harlan, then judge of probate. He soon after formed a new business connection with Eugene E. Allen, and the firm of Taggart & Allen thus formed was afterward changed by the admission into the firm, in 1875, L.W. Wolcott, and subsequently by the withdrawal of Mr. Allen on account of ill health and the admission to the firm of C.V. Gaunn. Until January, 1898, the firm of Taggart & Wolcott and Taggart, Wolcott & Gaunn was a prominent one in the city, and the gentlemen composing it have ranked among the leading members of the bar.
Since his admission to the bar Mr. Taggart has given almost his entire time and attention to the study and practice of his profession. As the community around him has increased and given him wider opportunities for development, he has grown with it. Years of hard work in a profession which is singularly exacting has brought him appropriate compensation in a quickened comprehension and strong grasp of legal questions and a continuing capacity for growth.
In the fall of 1884 Mr. Taggart was elected to the office of attorney-general of the state, as the candidate of the republican party. It was an office the importance of which is not generally understood outside of the profession. To that position he brought an industry and ability that made its administration by him noticeable in the state at large. He found its duties so importunate that to their complete performance it was necessary he should suffer much pecuniary loss in his private practice. He did not hesitate, but, submitting to that loss, gave himself unreservedly to the delicate and important questions which arose in the conduct of his office as attorney-general. After having been re-nominated by his party, and re-elected by the people in 1886, he retired at the end of his second term, having won for himself by the discharge of his duties an enviable reputation. During his exercise of the functions of the office he formed the acquaintance of the bar generally throughout the state and won the respect of all by his candor, courtesy and impartiality. His conduct was regulated by a high standard of morality and a keen sensibility of the importance, and sometimes delicacy, of the official duties imposed upon him. He was frequently called upon to explain or construe statutes in advance of any judicial expression upon the same, and he established the reputation of preparing his opinions thereon conscientiously, and expressing his views with unusual clearness. The law has engaged his attention absolutely since he first engaged in the practice, and he has uniformly exhibited ability, industry and skill as a practioner.
Mr. Taggartís friendship is marked by a sincerity and firmness which always commands respect. His Christianity is of the practical sort, which affects the daily life and conversation. In the relations of society and citizenship by the Golden Rule. He was married October 17, 1872, to Miss Lillie Ganson, of Ypsilanti. His children are Ganson, Ralph C., James M., Van Cleve, and Anna, and since January, 1898, his son Ganson has been a member of his fatherís law firm, which is now Taggart, Ganson & Taggart.
Personally, Mr. Taggart is a man of strong convictions, firm in his friendships, courteous in his bearing. A member of the Presbyterian church, he carried his Christianity into his daily life--in all things having a great deal of the steadfastness of his Puritan ancestors, without any of the Puritan bitterness. Not only as a lawyer, but as a man, he has won and enjoys the sincere respect of the community in which he lives.
Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 16 Feb 2009