My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890.  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 WILLIAMS. He with whose name we introduce this biographical notice is probably the oldest living resident of New Jasper Township, Greene County. He was born April 25, 1807, about two miles west of Yellow Springs, to John and Charlotte (Chalmers) Williams, the former of whom died when his son James was but three years old. John Williams was a native of West Virginia, and the son of Thomas Williams, who probably spent his last years in Virginia. The mother after becoming separated from her family could hold very little communication with them on account of the lack of mail facilities, and finally to a great extent lost track of her family. The little that she gathered afterward was conveyed to her by a brother, Noah, who visited her shortly after the death of her husband.

The subject of this sketch pursued his early studies under a very imperfect system of instruction, and in a log schoolhouse with slab benches and puncheon floor and greased paper for window panes. The writing-desks were fastened to the wall in the rudest manner, and the room was warmed from a fireplace which extended nearly across one end. A large back-log was drawn into the room by the scholars, and before its glowing fire the pioneer children conned their lessons, frequently assisted by a healthy application of birch bark. Mr. Williams can remember seeing, in 1812, Indians, who came to get liquor, and upon one occasion as a band of them were coming up the road he ran home to his mother as fast as his legs could carry him.

The mills and markets in those days were only approachable by imperfect wagon roads, and for some years Cincinnati was the nearest point where the Williams family could obtain supplies and haul their grain. A wagon load of this comprised forty to fifty bushels, for which the pioneer farmer would receive perhaps forty to fifty cents per bushel. There were no reapers or mowers in those days, not even cradles, the grain being cut with a sickle and threshed out by being trampled upon on the floor with horses or oxen. The journey to mill and back usually consumed one week.

Young Williams was at an early age taught to make himself useful, and when ten years old went into the carding-mill at Yellow Springs, where he staid as long as it was operated — a period of about two years. His mother then purchased a farm, and he returned home. The money then in use were large coppers, “fippenny-bit,” “eleven penny bits,” and a quarter dollar, and when change was required this money was frequently cut in pieces to suit. Mr. Williams afterward worked in the carding-mill of Jacob and Isaac McFarland, in the winter season, and with John and Robert C. Reid at the carpenter trade.

At the age of twenty-six years our subject was married, in January, 1833, to Miss Agnes Brown, and the mother lived with her son and daughter-in-law until the fall of 1862, when she died at the advanced age of eighty-five years. Of this union there were born four children, one of whom is living. Mrs. Agnes (Brown) Williams departed this life at her home in Jasper Township, in 1853. The daughter Jane died in 1856, when eighteen years old. The son, David Brown, is now senior member of the firm of Williams & McPherson, in Xenia.

In 1836 Mr. Williams removed to the farm which he now owns and occupies. With the exception of about seven acres it was a dense forest, and the only improvement upon it was a small log cabin. By the exercise of great industry he has succeeded in bringing the whole to a good state of cultivation. In the meantime he has been employed considerably in the manufacture of pumps. He contracted a second marriage, June 27, 1854, with Miss Margaret J., daughter of George and Martha (Erwin) Junkins.

The paternal grandfather of Mrs. Williams was Lancelot Junkins, who married Martha Galloway. The latter was the daughter of James Galloway, who moved from Kentucky about the year 1800, settling on what is now known as the Xenia Pike. Mr. Junkins cleared a farm and carried on blacksmithing in Cedarville Township, where Mrs. Williams was born January 11,1822. He was a lively Abolitionist, and nothing gave him greater satisfaction than to assist fugitive slaves to Canada on the underground railroad. He and his estimable wife spent their last years in Jasper Township. They were most excellent and worthy people, and enjoyed in a marked degree the confidence and esteem of their neighbors.

To our subject and his present wife there was born a family of five children, the eldest of whom, a daughter, Sarah R., died unmarried in 1886. Martha Eliza, an interesting young lady, remains at home with her parents; James A. died in 1863, when three years old; Maggie Althea remains under the parental roof; Marv Agnes died in Missouri in 1884, at the interesting age of eighteen years.

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This family biography is one of the many biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890. 

View additional Greene County, Ohio family biographies here: Greene County, Ohio Biographies

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