January 1st 1940

Williams, Indiana


I (John E. Williams) am writing things I know and have been told for my children and grandchildren to think about.


My great grandfather (Isaac Williams) came here in the year 1818 from Tenn. off the French Broad River.  He made the trip with his family of several children and a few others came with him in a one horse wagon and settled her hear the town of Williams.


He had a family of several children, seven boys and 2 girls, I think. The boys all settled near here, entered government land and had good big farms, except Elkanan, who was a Dr. and eye specialist at Cincinnati, Ohio.


*My grandfather, Richard, who was borne 1806 was married to Abagial Kern, who came to county (Lawrence) from Kentucky with her parents while quite young.  She was borned 1811.They lived across the river at what was known as Port William, small town 1/2 mile west of Port William Church. Port William town was a fort at one time, a protection from the Indians.  Had a store and a few houses.


*They had twelve children, two died when born.  The oldest girl Aheniam married Wm. Withers and lived at Bryantsville.  One child was borned, Alice.  Her mother died and her Grandma Williams raised her.  She married Tom Shipman; they went to near Lincoln, Neb.  They had 5 or 6 children.  Tom died there, then Alice went to Portland, Oregon.  This is the last I know about her family.


C. Perry Williams married Lizzie Chase from Vt.  They had two little girls, Addie and Nettie.  They died young with the croup.    

Uncle Perry was a large man.  I saw him when he weighed 350 pounds.


Canaan Williams was borne Oct 31, 1836.  He Marie Elizabeth Jane Hastings, 1863.


Mahala Williams married A. D. Hinshaw.  She died in a year or two with lung trouble.  Then A. D. married Cornelia Williams - no children by either.


Susan Williams married Hollis H. Chase from Vt., a brother to Perry’s wife.  They came to Bryantsville to teach school.  They had five children - Abbie, the oldest was born in VT where they live a while.  She married D. M. Monical.  Laurin’s first wife was Cora Chapman - one child, Hollis, died.  Lizzie was married to Hanibal (Cap) Monical - one child Cecil.  Annie married Sam Short.  They had 6 children.


Rebecca Williams married to Jacob Bossett, had 3 children.  Lyda married W. A. Baker.  Katie married Alex Cox.  Perry died young - was hung in a wheat bin.


Tilghman Williams married Josie McClung in Floyd County, Indiana; 5 children: Jim - Jessie - Byrd - Richard - Harry.


Olevia Williams married Jim Leonard of Monroe County - lived there a few years.  Leonard’s folks all moved to Portland, Oregon 1883.  She’s been back here once in 1905.  She is still living 91 years old.  Lives at odd Fellow’s Home.  No children.


William M. Williams, youngest of Richard and Abbie children was married to Flora Short - 3 children.  Clarence now living on Fla.  Claudie died while small; Mable married Opal Pierce and went to Calif.  They had 3 children.  One boy is dead - so is Mable.


Richard Williams died in 1880 - 74 years.   Abbie, his wife, died in 1893 - 82 years.   Seven of their children lived to be past 80 and two or three past 90.


Richard build the brick house where the old fort stood.  At one time he owned three good river bottom farms - where the brick house stood and across the river.  What is known as the Green Farm which was later Perry Williams farm, and he owned what is called Hopper’s bottom, the farm that belongs to Canaan Williams


My mother, Jane Hastings’, father, Athur Hastings was born March 7, 1801 and came to Indiana from N.C. when he was 21 on horseback.  He was a school teacher and after a few years he went back on horse back on a visit.  When he returned, he married a widow, Mrs. White, with several children.  To this union was born Anna H. Sellers, Capt A. D. Hastings, Millie H. Sellers, Wiley Hastings.


Grandfather’s first wife was boiling sugar water and had a small child with her.  She went to carry in the sugar water and tied the child to a bush since she was afraid she would get in the fire.  As she came in with the water she saw a black bear making for child.  She ran it away.  Again she heard the old sow squealing.  She saw a bear have her down in the corner of the fence.  She took the ax; I think she killed it.


After the death of first wife, Grandfather Hastings married Catherine Bowden.  She was born May 4, 1814.  To this union was born Elizabeth Hanna Hastings.  She married Canaan Williams February 1863.  To this union was born 4 children.  Mary. E. born Dec. 28, 1863, married Tilghman H. McDermed Nov 28,1888 and was drown in crossing the river Dec. 10, 1989.  Buried at Mt. Olive.  John E. born June 2, 1866. married Nov 14, 1894 to Alice Underwood at Odon, Ind.  She was born March 21, 1871 in Orin Ill. Wabash Co. 


To this union was born 4 children - Leone born January 31, 1896, married to Troy D. Maegerlein, May 19, 1920.  They had three children, Dorothy Jane, Alice Carolyn and Charlotte, who died when she was seven years old.  Jennie E. born May 28, 1897 and was married to Donald Williams Jan 1, 1923.  They had three children, Betty Jo, Evelyn and Donna.  Paul Canaan born June 6, 1902.  Married to Virginia Baker Oct 1, 1930. One some John A., Aug 28, 1936, to this union.  Frances K. born July 11, 1905, married to Fay Williams March 1930.  Died July 8, 1934.  She spend four happy years with Fay and is buried at Mt. Olive

Carrie was born June 12, 1869, married Vess McClung Nov 4, 1891.  They had four children.  One born dead - buried at Pt. William; Wendell married Lena McFarlin.  They had three children - Arthur Guy, Mary Frances, and Carol.  Byrl married Ott White and lives in Heltonville.  Merlin married and lives in Indianapolis -Dorothy Johnson.


Jannie born Nov 17, 1871, married Sam McClung Dec 31, 1890, and died Dec 3 1891 and is buried at Mt. Olive.


My mother Jane (Hastings) Williams died Dec 13, 1871, buried at Port Williams.  Then in 1875 Cannan Williams married Maranda Mosier.  He died Oct 12, 1920.  My stepmother died Nov (Thanksgiving Day) 1922.  They are buried at Port Williams. 


The Green farm was given to my father and his brother Perry after father’s first marriage he lived there until 1868.  He sold to Perry and bought of Cornelia and  Rebecca what was given them to them (Hopper bottom).  There is where he raised he family  I remember when he just had a rail pen to keep his mules and the cows got what shelter they could around a strawstack.  The first barn he had was 12 x 24.  In few years he build around this one.  Then he had a 36 x 36 - some barn.  Then in 1877 he build his house.  We was so proud of it.  Then 1883 he build another barn 36 x 60.  Then in 1888 he build what we called the red or cattle barn 34 x 60, 16 ft to the eaves.


Father was a good farm and done his farming at the proper time.  Most everybody in the whole neighborhood worked for him.  I remember when the old men south of him had small farms would come with syth and cradle and cut wheat for him.  Then he bought a droper.  He could cut wheat then take off-part of it then he had a mowing machine.  When I was 17, I planted 100 acres of corn, check row where the fields were in pretty good shape I done pretty good.  Some fields you could hardly walk across.  That year we bought our first binder.  Father told me to get on and drive and to remember that grease was cheaper than machinery.  Then came, as we called it, the rolling harrow.  We got the first one.  The neighbors came to see it work.  Some shook their heads, said it wouldn’t do and in a year or two everybody had one and is the best tool today.   Then I remember the first cultivator. You had to walk with it.  Then a little later we got riding cultivators.  Our breaking plows were all walkers.  I never owned a sulky plow until about 1900.


We did not have a public road through here until 1878. We just had gateways.  In the spring of 1878, I helped father haul rails to fence both sides of road through our place.  He hauled with 4 horses and I with two.   We didn’t go to town very often then.  We went to Huron then to trade and the mail.  When anyone went he brought the mail forth neighborhood.  The only roads we had was the Hocket Hill road to Huron and the Bryantsviille road which passed Port Williams Church straight to the river, then down the river to the ferry-sometimes they had a boat and sometimes they didn’t.  The road went on to Harrisonville.


I remember along the river seeing a trough made out of a hollow log with holes bored in it.  Said it was a corn sheller.   They used to run flat boats down this river - only way of transportation.  They took grain, meat or anything they had to sell - take it to New Orleans, sell it and walk home.  Sometimes they could come part way on a steamboat.


I have heard Grandfather Hastings say he sold many bushel of corn down the river for 12 1/2c per bu.


The best I can learn when the Port William Church was build is 1850.  Grandmother Williams said she carried Olivia on her hip and cooked for the carpenters that built the house and Olivia was born in 1850.  They had a wonderful congregation there.  Grandfather Williams and Grandfather Hastings, Bro Killis Bex, Emree, Bryants, and others.  They would walk and come from Bryantsville and from across the river.  Richard Bex has sure been a pillar to the church at Port Williams.  He lives  a little more than a mile from the church and if he don’t get a chance to ride, he will walk.  He has been preaching since 1874.  He and Aunt Mary were married Nov 12, 1871.  They are both 91 years old.  HE is one day older - his birthday, Dec 18, Mary Dec 19.  She does her house work and don’t wear glasses.  He has done a lot of preaching. It never got too bad for him to go to his appointments:  one horse back from 25 to 35 miles on Saturday, preach over Sunday, then ride home on Monday.  Now he preaches where he can go and get back the same day.


They used to have such preachers as Jake Wright, Lem Martin, Jim Mathes, Wm. Littell, Milton McKee, Billy Brothers, Wilson West, Uncle Joe Wilson.  Last few years, we have had Daniel and Austin Sommers, E. G. Denny, Dan Mathes, Same Lankford, O. M. O. Porter, Rex Bex, and others.


In the year 1871, the church at Mt. Olive was built.  Then all that had crossed the river to get to Port Williams quit.  Several families from Port William went to Mt. Olive.  We had no public roads, just gateways.  No public road past Mt. Olive.  I remember on the old road at the county line was a gate west of Mt. Olive.  In 1878 we had the road opened form Port Williams north across the river to intersect with the Bedford Road near RR rock quarry opened about this time.  We had a ferry on this road and after the Mt. Olive Church was established several from our neighborhood went there to church in spite of the handicap in crossing the river in boat, when we could.  When the river was too high we crosses in small boat when too low, we would ford.


The church at Port William about the year 1900 repaired the house and new members began to meet regular and have had a good or ???? there since.  Brother Richard Bex has stood behind the church head and shoulders all of the time.

In the year 1880 Tilghman Williams was elected Lawrence County Commissioner on what we call bridge ticket.  To build one near Williams and one at Tunnelton, we got in such a fight about the bridges that for us to get ours, they had to build on at Stump Hole to get any so we got three bridges.  The Williams Bridge was finished in 1884.   I remember going to Bedford by way of Bryantsville and we forded the river at Davis Ferry, before that bridge was build.


In the seventies, Green brothers set a sawmill at Williams.  Their houses in town near the river was the first houses in town.  Ben Carl soon came, built a house and put in a small store.  Then another house or two and they called the town Greenville.  About 1880 Lewis D. Kern put in a store where the hotel now stands and built his house on the hill.  Another house or two built about then.


Then they wanted a PO.  Couldn’t call it Greenville because we had another Greenville in the State.  What could they name the town.  Garrett Williams told them to call it Williams.  So they had the town named, and got a star route office.  Carried the mail from Bedford.  Before this the folks here had to go to Fayettesville for their mail.


The school house was a mile away.  They wanted one near so they used the Billy Cox house over near the  church of Christ.  Then they build a school house across the road from where Dr. McFarlin now lives.  In a short time that house burnt down.  Then they built down near the river.  That has been a dwelling for some time now.  They had to have a larger house.  They built on the hill just in front of the present school.  Then they had high school-when they consolidated the schools, they had to have a larger house.  They moved this one to another lot.  Then a nice large brick house was built on the same lot.  This has proved to be a good school.



(Reprinted by Roger Williams from a copy of original document from Mr. John A. Williams, son of John E. Williams, and  Mayor of the city of Bedford for some 24 years.