Justice-of-the-Peace Bristol

In March 1834, the Township of Almont was organized.  About thirteen men met at Daniel Black’s Tavern to elect the Township’s first officers.  The Territorial government had previously appointed Ira Saunders as Justice-of-the-Peace and he initially ran the meeting.  The first position to be filled was that of Township Supervisor.  Oliver Bristol was elected Supervisor and took over running the meeting.

Jonathan Sleeper was elected Clerk; Daniel Black Treasurer; James Deneen Highway Commissioner, and Nicholas Richardson and Elisha Webster elected Assessors. 

Ira Saunders did not wish to continue to be the Township’s Justice-of-the-Peace and apparently neither did anyone either.  Finally, Oliver Bristol was also elected to be the Township’s Justice-of-the-Peace.

The records of most of the cases that came before Justice Bristol have not survived.  However, one case did make an impression on the community and the story has survived.

In 1838, Justice Bristol was conducting a jury trial.  The trial had been going on for quite some time and the jury was thirsty.  A jug of whiskey was introduced into evidence.  As the trial proceeded, somehow the jug made its way to the jurors and they passed the jug around.  The Prosecutor was not pleased with the evidence being consumed.  Justice Bristol did not stop the jurors from taking multiple sips from the jug.  Oliver eventually joined them, which pleased the Prosecutor even less.

As the trial went on, the jurors and Justice Bristol became more and more “mellow”.  The jurors and even Justice Bristol became sufficiently intoxicated that they were no longer interested in the case.  Finally, Justice Bristol exclaimed “Come boys, let’s quit lawing and settle this thing up.”  After a short discussion, the lawyers and their clients came to a compromise and settled the case.  They then suggested, “Let us have another drink!”  It is an assumption that they finished off the jug!  

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