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Below is a family biography included in The History of Miller County, Missouri published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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James M. Williams, dealer in hardware, etc., at Aurora Springs, was born in Wabash County, Ill., January 1, 1837, and is the seventh son in a family of ten children born to Joseph and Eliza (Cunningham) Williams. The father was a native of New York, of Welsh descent, and immigrated to Illinois in 1847, where he bought land. This he improved, and continued here for about three years, when they moved to Mount Carmel, buying a steam plow-mill, which he ran for a few years. He then sold this, moved to a farm at Albion, Ill., but only remained here a short time before he sold out and bought town property. He here followed milling, which he continued in connection with the post office business (being appointed postmaster) until his death in 1869. James M. Williams succeeded to the mill at the time of his father’s appointment to the office of postmaster, and continued in that occupation for a number of years. Then, at the age of sixteen, he began learning the tinner’s trade in Olney, and served as an apprentice for five years, or until twenty-one years of age. He then went to Iowa, worked at his trade in Dubuque for some time, after which he went to Evansville, Ind., here continuing the same business. Later he moved to Graysville, Ill., where he remained for one year, and then went back to Albion, Ill., where he began business for himself. From there he went to Flora, where he resumed business in partnership with L. D. Heap for one year, at which time he bought out his partner, and conducted the business alone for about fifteen years. While in Flora, and in May, 1864, he married Miss Annie Hawkins, a native of Illinois and the daughter of Henry Hawkins, who was of English descent, and who was a member of the State Legislature for several terms. After selling out at Flora, Mr. Williams came to Missouri (1883), settling at Aurora Springs, and started the first hardware store at that place. In 1885 he formed a partnership with Mr. Crocker, and the business has prospered and flourished up to the present time. To the union of Mr. and Mrs. Williams were born six children: Lillie, wife of M. McBride; Edward, died in infancy; Nellie, wife of W. C. Fritter, agent at California on the Missouri Pacific Railroad; Jennie, Jessie and Walter (deceased). In Sunday-school matters Mr. Williams takes an active part, re-organizing the school at Aurora in the spring of 1883, and has since been repeatedly superintendent. He was the first mayor of Flora, Ill., and was re-elected for three successive terms. During that time many important improvements in the city were made—the city hall built, park laid out and fenced, and numerous other improvements. He built the second brick house in the place; was twice elected county supervisor, and is a prominent and esteemed citizen. He was also the second mayor of Aurora Springs, and has assisted greatly in the development of the place. He has been elder in the Presbyterian Church for twenty-three years; is a member of the Masonic fraternity, a Royal Arch Mason, and has been through all the offices. He was one of the three organizers of the district fair of Clay and adjoining counties in Illinois, and was deputy county treasurer. He is somewhat active in politics, and votes with the Democratic party.

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This family biography is one of 120 biographies included in The History of Miller County, Missouri published in 1889.  For the complete description, click here: Miller County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Miller County, Missouri family biographies here: Miller County, Missouri Biographies

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