Politicians and Public Servants of the Boston-Edison Historic District
Hon. Trudy DunCombe Archer
Trudy DunCombe Archer received her JD from the Detroit College of Law. She also holds a Masters of Education in Guidance and Counseling from Wayne State and a BS in Education from Eastern Michigan University. She married Dennis Archer and encouraged him to study law (Dennis later became a Michigan Supreme Court Justice, Mayor of Detroit, and president of the ABA). She has been a judge on the 36th District Court since 1989. She resided at 1642 Longfellow, along with her sister, Beth DunCombe.
Edward L. Baker
Edward L. Baker was born in Georgetown, Indiana on February 1, 1906. He graduated from the University of Louisville in 1931, and took courses in law at the Detroit College of Law and in engineering at Wayne State University. He worked for the American Mutual Liability Insurance Company, the Wayne County Bureau of Investigation, Fisher Body Corporation, and Westinghouse Electric Corporation before serving one term in the Michigan legislature in 1947/48. He was the president of the Michigan Society for Mental Health from 1950 to 1952. In October, 1953, Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield appointed Baker acting Postmaster of Detroit. He served until February 28, 1976, the second longest tenure as postmaster in Detroit history. He was named National Postmaster of the Year in 1964. Edward L. Baker lived at 1935 Chicago in the 1930s, moving to 803 W. Boston Boulevard where he lived through the 1970s.
Martin L. Bass
Martin L. Bass was born in Morgan County, Georgia in 1917. He was an insurance agent from 1935 until the onset of WWII, when he enlisted in the US Army. Upon discharge as first sergeant in 1946, he moved to Detroit and became a real estate broker, and married Mildred Amour. In 1954, Bass joined the Detroit office of the Veteran's Administration, becoming the first African-American appraiser-reviewer in the US; he later moved to the Federal Housing Administration, working as a labor relations officer. In 1958, Liberian president William V. S. Tubman appointed him as the first honorary consul to Liberia for Michigan, a post in which he served until 1979, when he was decorated as Knight Commander of African Redemption by Liberian President William R. Tolbert. Martin L. Bass lived at 826 Edison from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Hon. Vincent M. Brennan
Brennan was born in Mount Clemens in 1890; his family moved to Detroit in 1895, where his father established a restaurant. Vincent attended Detroit College, graduating in 1909, then graduated from Harvard Law School in 1912. He was admitted to the bar in Detroit in 1912, then worked for the state of Michigan Labor Department and was assistant corporation counsel for the city of Detroit. He spent two years in the Michigan state senate from 1919-1920 and one term in the US House of Representatives (1921-1923). One year later, he was elected to the Wayne County Circuit Court, a position in which he served for 30 years. Vincent Brennan lived at 627 Edison in the 1910s, and moved to 2266 W. Boston Boulevard where he lived until his death in 1959.
Henry M. Butzel was born in 1871, in Detroit. He attended the University of Michigan and received both a Bachelor of Philosophy and a law degree (and one of the founders of the University of Michigan Daily). He was admitted to the Bar in 1892, and immediately began practicing law in Detroit at the firm of Butzel, Levin, and Winston. In 1929, governor Green appointed Butzel to fill a vacancy on the Michigan Supreme Court, a position he held until his retirement from the bench in 1955. He served as Chief Justice four times: 1931, 1939, 1946, and 1954. Justice Butzel lived at 101 Edison from the late 1910s until his death in 1963.
Sherman D. Calender
Sherman Calender was born in 1869 in Ashtabula, OH. He attended Oberlin College and the Ohio State University before moving to Detroit in 1899 and beginning a law practice. He served in the state legislature from 1925-1927, was the chainman of the Michigan Crime Commission, served as a Recorder's Court judge from 1929-1935, and served on the Third Circuit Court from 1936 - 1947. Sherman D. Calender lived at 831 Edison from the 1920s through the 1950s.
Born in Ontario, James Couzens moved to Detroit in 1890. In 1903, Couzens (then a clerk in a coal company) invested $2400 in a new venture started by Henry Ford. Couzens became vice president and general manager of Ford Motor Company, and the company prospered in part because of his business acumen. In 1919, he sold his shares back to Ford for 35 million dollars.
Couzens held other important financial positions, as president of the Bank of Detroit and director of the Detroit Trust Company. He built a home at 610 Longfellow in Boston-Edison in 1910, where he lived until the late 1920s. Couzens was commissioner of Detroit's street railways from 1913-1915 and police commissioner from 1916-1918. In 1919 Couzens was elected mayor of Detroit, a post he served in until he was appointed by Michigan's governor to the United States Senate in 1922 on the resignation of Truman Newberry. Couzens was elected to the seat in 1924, and then re-elected in 1930. His 1936 re-election campaign ended in a loss, attributed largely to Couzens' support for Roosevelt's New Deal. However, Couzens died in late 1936, while still in office.
Couzens also was a noted philanthropist, who established the Children's Fund of Michigan with a $10,000,000 grant, and gave $1,000,000 for relief in Detroit during the Depression. His son Frank also served as mayor of Detroit.
Frank Couzens, the son of James Couzens, was born in Detroit in 1902. He started young in politics, winning a seat on the Detroit City Council in 1931 with enough votes to become president of that body. When mayor Frank Murphy resigned in 1933, Couzens replaced him. Later that year, Couzens ran for mayor of Detroit and was elected in his own right. He held the post for two two-year terms, from 1934 until 1938, after which he declined to run for re-election. He was an Army Colonel in WWII. Frank Couzens lived at 2000 W. Boston in the 1920s, then moved to the home his father built at 610 Longfellow, where he lived until his death in 1950.
David H. Crowley
David Crowley was born in Leslie, Michigan in 1882. He attended the University of Michigan, received a law degree in 1905, and was admitted to the bar that same year. He served as the prosecuting attorney for Cheboyan County from 1909-1912, as assistant attorney general from 1912-1916, and as state Railroad Commissioner in 1916. In 1917, he moved to Detroit and entered private practice. He returned to public service in the 1930s, serving as the Michigan state attorney general from 1935-36 and as a member of University of Michigan board of regents from 1936-43. David H. Crowley lived at 2234 Longfellow in the 1920s, mving to 2235 Longfellow until the 1940s.
Hon. Charles C. Diggs, Jr.
Charles Diggs studied as a mortician at the Wayne College of Mortuary Science and studied law at the Detroit College of Law. He was elected to the Michigan State Senate in 1951 (the first African-American Democratic state senator), serving four years. In 1954 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (defeating George D. O'Brien in the primary), the first African-American Congressman from Michigan. He was elected 12 more times, remaining in the House until his resignation in 1980. Diggs was the founder and first chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. He lived at 2522 W. Boston in the 1950s.
Harry F. Kelly
Harry Kelly was born in in 1895 in Ottawa, Illinois and received a law degree from Notre Dame University in 1913. He served in the US Army during WWI, losing a leg in the Battle of Chateau-Thierry and earning the Croix de Guerre. After the war, he went into public service, being elected as State's Attorney for LaSalle County, IL in 1920. In the meantime, his father, Henry M. Kelly, moved to Detroit and set up a law practice there with Harry's younger brother' the firm represented General Motors in Michigan. When Harry Kelly's term expired in 1922, he joined his father and younger brother in Detroit at the firm of Kelly, Kelly, and Kelly.
Kelly later became assistant prosecuting attorney for Wayne County and then was appointed as head of the Detroit area Liquor Control Commission. Soon thereafter, he was elected as Michigan Secretary of State, serving from 1939-43. In 1942, Kelly ran for governor, winning a tight race with the incumbent. He served as governor until 1946, when he did not run for re-election. He later served on the Michigan Supreme Court from 1954-71. Harry F. Kelly lived at 1128 Atkinson; when his father died, he moved to 2465 Chicago Boulevard, wgere he lived during the 1950s.
Franz C. Kuhn
Franz Kuhn was born in Detroit in 1872 and began practicing law in Mt. Clemens. He was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Macomb County in 1898, then Probate Judge in 1904. He resigned as judge to work as Attorney General of the state of Michigan. In 1912, he was appointed to the Michigan's Supreme Court, a post he held for seven years, acting as Chief Justice from 1917-1918. He finished his career as the president of Michigan Bell Telephone Company. Justice Kuhn lived at 112 Edison in the 1910s.
Arthur F. Lederle
Arthur F. Lederle was born in 1887, graduated from Eastern Michigan 1909, and received a law degree from the Detroit College of Law in 1915. Heworked for the Detroit Board of Education from 1914 to 1923, then became assistant city attorney of Detroit. He remained in that postition until 1936, with a one-year hiatus in 1933-34 to work as special assistant state attorney general of Michigan. On February 20, 1936, Lederle was nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Lederle served on the court until his death in 1972, serving 11 years as chief judge from 1948 to 1959, and assuming senior status for the last 12 years, from 1960-1972. Arthur F. Lederle lived at 1258 Edison from the early 1930s until the late 1960s.
Sen. Carl Levin
Carl Levin was born in Detroit in 1934 and graduated first from Central High School and then from Swarthmore College. He attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1959. He practiced law before embarking on a career in public service. He was appointed an assistant attorney general of Michigan and the first general counsel for the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, and worked to establish establish the Detroit Public Defender's Office. In 1969 he was elected to the Detroit City Council, becoming president in 1974. He sat on the council until 1977. The next year, was elected to the U. S. Senate, holding the same seat that James Couzens had decades earlier when Levin was born. He was re-elected four times, and is currently chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Carl Levin lived with his brother Sander Levin and his father Saul at 2055 W. Boston during the 1940s.
Hon. Sander Levin
Sander Levin was born in Detroit in 1931 and graduated first from Central High School and then from the University of Chicago. He attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1957. He practiced law before embarking on a career in public service. He was elected to the Michigan State Senate in 1965 and served until 1970, acting as Senate Minority Leader for the last two years. He ran for governor twice, and was the assistant administrator for the Agency for International Development. In 1982, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, a position that he still holds. Sander Levin lived with his brother Carl Levin and his father Saul at 2055 W. Boston during the 1940s.
Truman Newberry was born in 1864 in Detroit, the son of a wealthy businessman. He worked at a number of business ventures, working his way up to the position of manager of the Detroit, Bay City & Alpena Railway, and becoming president and treasurer of the Detroit Steel & Spring Company, along the way shrewdly investing his fortune to become a multi-millionaire. In 1902, he helped organize the Packard Motor Car Company.
In the late 1890s, Newberry served with the US Navy, including as a lieutenant on the USS Yosemite (with lifelong friend and brother-in-law Henry Joy) during the Spanish-American War. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy from 1905-1908, and as Secretary of the Navy in 1908 and 1909. In 1919, he was elected to the United States Senate in a fierce contest with Henry Ford. There were some irregularities in the election, resulting in an investigation and trial. As a result, Newberry wasn't seated in the Senate for some time, and he eventually resigned in 1922.
In 1913, Truman Newberry and his brother John platted out the Boston Boulevard subdivision, stretching from Hamilton to 14th Street (now Rosa Parks), encompassing the middle third of the Boston-Edison neighborhood.
George D. O'Brien
George Donoghue O'Brien was born in Detroit on January 1, 1900. He served in WWI, then received an undergraduate degree from the University of Detroit and went on to graduate from the University of Detroit Law School and gain admittance to the bar in 1924. He was first elected to the US House of Representatives in 1936, eventually serving seven terms (not all consecutive) in Washington. In 1954, O'Brien lost the primary race to Charles C. Diggs, Jr., and became assistant corporation counsel of the District of Columbia. He passed away in 1957, and is interred in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Detroit. George O'Brien lived at 2475 W. Boston Boulevard in the 1950s and 1960s.
Patrick H. O'Brien
Patrick O'Brien was born in 1868 in Phoenix, MI, in the Keewenaw. He received a law degree from the Northern Indiana School of Law in 1891 He went into private practice, then became the city attorney of Laurium from 1901-1906, and a judge on the 12th circuit (in the Upper Peninsula) from 1912 - 1922. O'Brien ran unsuccessfully for the state senate, US representative, Supreme Court justice, and governor of Michigan. He served one term as the Attorney General of Michigan, from 1933- 1934. Patrick H. O'Brien lived at 2225 Edison in the 1930s, where Harry Heilmann later lived.
George M. Read
George M. Read was born in Illinois. When he was a teenager, his family moved to Ann Arbor and beattended high school there, going on to the University of Michigan and the Detroit College of Law. he worked as registar of the Detroit Probate court from 1909 - 1927, becoming a judge in 1927. He later clerked for the US District court, and served as Secretary-General of the War Crimes Commission at Nuremberg fronm 1946 - 1947. George M. Read lived at 1175 Chicago from the late 1920s until it was demolished to make way for the Lodge Freeway in the 1950s.
Jessie P. Slaton
Jessie Pharr Slaton was born in 1908 in Georgia, and came to Detroit at the age of eight. In 1933, she obtained a secretarial position in Detroit City Hall, becoming one of the first African-Americans in Detroit City government to hold a white-collar job. Despite the hostility, she excelled at her work, but left to enroll at Wayne State University, obtaining a degree in Special Education. She was involved in the civil rights struggle, and eventually took up law, graduating from the University of Detroit Law School in 1951. She worked for the City of Detroit and in private practice, concentrating on human rights. In 1972, Slaton was appointed as the first woman referee in the Recorder's Court Traffic and Ordinance Division. In 1978, she was appointed to the office of Common Pleas Judge in the City of Detroit, a position which she held until her retirement. She was killed on September 1, 1983, when Korean Airlines flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet missile. Jessie P. Slaton lived at 1232 W. Boston Boulevard in the 1950s and 1960s.
Hobart Taylor, Jr.
Hobart Taylor, Jr. was born in 1920, the son of wealthy Texas businessman Hobart Taylor, Sr. Taylor Jr. attended Prairie View A & M, Howard University, and the University of Michigan Law School, where he edited the Law Review. After graduating, was assistant to Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Raymond W. Starr for two years, then entered private practice in Detroit. He served as Wayne County Prosecutor. In 1961, Taylor went to Washington DC to become special assistant the then-Vice President Johnson, and in 1964 (when Johnson was President) became an associate counsel in the White House. While working for Johnson, he headed up the Committee for Equal Employment Opportunity, and is credited with coining the term, "Affirmative Action." He left the White House to become director of the Import-Export bank; he eventually sat on the boards of Standard Oil, Westinghouse, A & P, Aetna, Eastern Airlines, and Burroughs.
Hobart Taylor, Jr lived at 2265 W. Boston Boulevard in the 1950s and 675 W. Boston Boulevard in the 1960s.
Paul W. Voorhies
Paul W. Voorhies was born in Plymouth MI in 1875. He attended the University of Michigan, graduating with a bachelor's in 1899 and a law degree in 1900. He was admitted to the bar in 1900. He serve at the assistant prosecuting attorney for Wayne County from 1912 - 1918, and the prosecuting attorney from 1921 - 1924. Voorhies was the Attorney General of Michigan for one term from 1931 - 1932. Paul W. Voorhies lived at 1180 Longfellow (now demolished) from the late 1910s through the 1940s.
Leon M. Wallace
Leon M. Wallace was an insurance executive in Detroit. Beginning in 1961, he served in the Kennedy administration's Veteran's Affairs Agency, first as assistant administrator and later as the VA's Director of Insurance Services. Wallace lived at 2491 Longfellow from the late 1950s until the 1970s.
Arthur Webster was born in Iowa in 1871. His family moved to Missouri, where Webster spent his early years. He attended the University of Michigan, where he graduated with a law degree in 1892. He entered private practice in Detroit, then spent five years as an assistant prosecutor. Afterwards he opened his own successful law firm, partnering with Edward Denby (who later became Secretary of the Navy). An early employee of the firm was Kim Sigler, future governor of Michigan. In 1919, he was elected to the circuit court bench, where he served until his retirement in 1956. Judge Webster lived at 1466 Longfellow from the late 1910s until his death in 1966.