Fred A. Maynard

Fred A. Maynard is one of the prominent lawyers of Grand Rapids and he is known not only in his own city but throughout the state as well for his success in trial work and his forcefulness as an advocate in the presentation of his cases. The Maynard family has been linked with the early history of New England and with the development of Michigan from the earliest days. The village of Sudbury, Massachusetts, was founded by John Maynard, an ancestor of the subject of this review, who came from Sudbury, England. John Wesley Maynard, the father of Fred A., came to Michigan with his parents from Dalton, Massachusetts, in May, 1824, the family traveling in the prairie schooner which was the principal means of travel at that time. They settled on 160 acres of land in Washtenaw county to become the first settlers of that county. The farm was located three miles east of what was later to become the village of Ann Arbor. John Maynard was reared on this farm and worked there for several years, after which he went to Ann Arbor where he engaged in the dry goods business. He died in the family home which he had occupied for sixty-three years on Division street, Ann Arbor, on February 18, 1899. His wife was Mary Jane Wilcoxson, the mother of Fred A. Maynard. She came to Michigan with her parents from Elbridge, New York, and her father became one of the most prominent lawyers in the county. He was returning home from a Fourth of July celebration in Jackson, Michigan, one year when a bridge gave way beneath his horse and he was thrown into the creek, sustaining injuries from which he soon died. Mary Jane (Wilcoxson) Maynard died February 11, 1893. Fred A. Maynard was one of four children born to his parents, the others being Edward L., who served in the Civil war; John William and Charles. Fred A. Maynard, born January 20, 1852, attended the common schools of his home community and then pursued a literary course at the University of Michigan, from which he was graduated in 1874. He elected to follow the legal profession and immediately entered the law school at the same university, from which he was graduated in 1876. He then came to Grand Rapids, where he became associated with the law firm of Taggart, Simmonds & Fletcher as a law clerk. The following year he formed a partnership with Capt. Stephen H. Ballard, who was then the prosecuting attorney for Kent county, during whose term Mr. Maynard was assisting prosecuting attorney. In 1880 he was the Republican candidate for election to the office of prosecuting attorney of Kent county. He won the election and served in that capacity two years. Mr. Maynard then formed a partnership with George P. Wanty, who afterward became United States district judge, and at the end of two years the partnership was dissolved. For a time thereafter, Mr. Maynard practiced alone. In 1886 he was defeated in the race for judge of the superior court by the small plurality of 107 votes. Although he was elected at the polls in November, 1890, for a seat in the House of Representatives, a law suit, the outgrowth of the election, was instituted to test the constitutionality of a section of the election laws. In 1887 he formed a law partnership with the Honorable Henry E. Chase, and in 1889 his appointment to be governor of the territory of Alaska was promised, but later revoked by the president because of Maynardís youth. Mr. Maynard was elected attorney general of the state of Michigan in 1894. He served a second term in that office and refused to run for a third term although his re-election was virtually certain. In 1900 he was a candidate for the office of justice of the supreme court. Judge Grant, the incumbent, defeated Mr. Maynard on the sixth ballot. In 1901 Mr. Maynard was appointed special assistant to the United States attorney-general, a position which he filled thirteen years. During this time he was occupied with the extensive land frauds existing in the west, and his first case in this connection was against Senator Clark of Montana. When he gave up his position with the United States government, he returned to Grand Rapids in 1914 and resumed his law practice with Henry E. Chase. Mr. Maynard married the daughter of James M. Nelson, the founder of one of the largest furniture factories in the world. Mrs. Nelson was born September 13, 1849, and died December 8, 1915. Mr. and Mrs. Maynard were the parents of two children: Helen Nelson, born December 29, 1879, who married Gordon Ireland and has two children, Frederick, born May 20, 1911, and Elizabeth, born April 14, 1914; and James Nelson Maynard, born September 17, 1883, who lives in New York where he is vice-president of the Wood-Flong Corporation.

Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 14 March 2005