Alexander County

Biography - William Williams

WILLIAM M. WILLIAMS is a member of one of the old families of the early settlers in Cairo, the members of which were among the most prominent and best people of the town. The brothers, Capt. Abram and Isaac Williams, for many years well known as among the best business men of the place, and in their active lives here made a wide acquaintance and a strong and deep friendship with all who came in contact with them. They were exemplary citizens, honorable men and most genial and pleasant companions. They came from Virginia here, and especially Capt. Abe was possessed of all those better qualities of that people without the sometimes glaring faults in social life that characterize too many men of that State. They built and for many years carried on a saw mill in the northern part of the city, and during their long residence here were engaged in several successful enterprises of different kinds. In the hearts of those who knew these brothers is a sufficient and enduring monument, but this mention is due the good name of two men whom the coming generations should learn to respect and venerate. William M. Williams was born in Kanawha County, Va., May 4, 1831; his parents were Isaac and Mary (Torrence) Williams. The father, a Pennsylvanian, born in 1802, and was a farmer and steamboatman in the early days of steam navigation, and William is the younger of two children; his sister Anna J. married Dr. Wilson, of Baltimore, and died some years ago. His mother died in 1844, in Ohio and his father died in Kentucky in 1857. William resided in Virginia until he attained his majority and had learned the printer's trade, and had also engaged in the salt manufacturing in West Columbia, Va. He came to Cairo in 1855, in company with his cousin, Capt. Abram Williams, and at once engaged in a general mercantile business, pork packing, wharf-boat interests, etc., during a period of four years. He was one of a company that organized the St. Louis Silver Mining Company of Arizona, and in the year 1860 took the first mining engine that was ever taken to that Territory. He continued in the mining business until every member of the company, except himself, had been massacred by the Mexicans. He escaped the fate of his companions by almost a miracle. He then became a Government contractor in the Territory, his partner being William S. Grant During the war, he was steamboating and carried on a wharf-boat at Vicksburg, and he made his home in the latter place until 1870, when he returned to his old Illinois home, Cairo, where he came to carry out and complete an enterprise that had been inaugurated by his cousin Abram. Of late years, he has been actively connected with the Cairo press, and also in the employment of different railroads and is now the efficient and popular Cairo agent of the Cairo & St. Louis Railroad. At the early age of eighteen years he was the publisher of a daily paper in Wheeling, Va. He was married in Kentucky, in 1865, to Miss Rachel Williams, daughter of George and Mary Williams. He has long been an honored and exemplary member of the Masonic fraternity, and of the Knights of Honor, and also of the Knights of the Golden Rule. He has one child, Mary L., living, born in Vicksburg, February 5, 1868, and has buried one other child, Caroline Or'Lea, born in Cairo, December 5, 1871, and died in May, 1881.

Extracted 31 Mar 2017 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union, and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, Part V, pages 51-52.


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