Ezra L. Koon
Not happy with the farming life his family led in Allen, Ezra turned to teaching and then to the study of law. In 1858, having passed the bar, he became the partner of C.J. Dickerson. Then Ezra branched out in his business pursuits. In 1863 he and Joel B. Wheaton built the three story brick building on Howell Street that today houses Losey’s Jewelry and the Palace Café. This was called a "block," meaning not that it stretched from one cross street to the next, but that it was built as a unit.
Ezra first entered politics at the local level. He was elected Circuit Court Commissioner in 1860 and then prosecuting attorney. During the Civil War he assisted with the enlistment of Hillsdale men. This was followed by his election to the State Senate, where he chaired the judiciary committee. In the 1870s Ezra was chosen by Governor Baldwin to examine and certify the existing laws of Michigan.
As an eminent man in the state and in Hillsdale Ezra was given the honor of presenting the oration for the Decoration Day program in Oak Grove Cemetery in 1870. The local Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) post had just been formed by the Union Veterans of the Civil War. An especially large crowd came to picnic, parade and to hear the speakers. Ezra might have been the big draw. But chances are that it was more likely the presence of Will Carleton, who recited his original poem “Cover Them Over” which he composed for the event. It was Ezra, however, who claimed a lasting presence in Oak Grove with a magnificent monument to mark where his family now lies.
JoAnne P. Miller