J. A. WILLIAMS is connected with two of the most important business interests in Texas, constituting a large supply source of wealth to the state, for he is following farming and ginning. His keen business discernment and enterprise constitute the business of his success, which is as creditable as it is desirable. He was born in Washington county, Arkansas, November 23, 1853. His father, Isaac Q. Williams, was a native of Marion County, Illinois. His father was Greenberry Williams, a prominent agriculturist of Illinois, in which state his last days were passed. In his family were five children: John; Green; Uriga, who was killed at the siege of Vicksburg, while serving in the Federal army; Isaac Q.; and Lavina. After arriving at years of maturity Isaac Q. Williams was married in Marion county, Illinois, to Miss Lydia Slater, a daughter of John Slater, who was born in the north of Ireland in 1903 [1803?] and was of Scotch parentage. When he was quite young his father’s family came to America and ultimately he was engaged successfully in farming pursuits in Illinois, where his genuine worth made him highly respected. When last heard from he was yet living at the age of over ninety years. His children were: Lydia, who became Mrs. Williams; John; Diadama; Henry; and Ellen.
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Q. Williams remained in Illinois until 1850, when they removed to Arkansas, where Mr. Williams purchased land and a developed a farm. In 1859, accompanied by his family, he returned to Illinois on a visit and there remained until 1861, when he returned to Arkansas by way of Missouri, passing between the lines of the northern and southern armies and over the battlefield of Wilson Creek. When he had again reached home and got his family settled there he enlisted for service in the Confederate army, with which he continued until the close of the war, being first attached to Captain Palmer’s company, W. L. Cable’s brigade and Fagan’s division of the trans-Mississippi department. He saw service in Missouri, Indian Territory, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, taking part in the many important engagement and skirmishes, so that he became familiar with all of the hardships of military life. On account of an injury sustained in one of his limbs he was disabled for field service and was detailed for different duties. Before he enlisted in Arkansas he had been made a prisoner by the Union forces, who attempted to make him take the Federal oath, but this he refused to do, and was incarcerated for three weeks before released.
When the war was over Mr. Williams returned home and resumed farming, in which he was actively engaged in Arkansas until 1881, when he came to Montague county, Texas. In his younger days he had learned the wagon maker&&39;s trade and he followed it to some extent. After coming to this state he located at Die and later at Saint Jo, where he followed wagon making until after his son, J. A. Williams, built a house on his farm and made a comfortable home for the father there throughout his remaining days. He passed away in 1899 at the age of seventy-three years. He was a man of firm character, decided in his opinions and although he usually carefully investigated every subject before he announced his position thereon, nothing could swerve him from a cause which he believed to be right after his mind was made up. He was of social disposition, charitable to the needy and was a faithful friend. In the Christian church he was found as most devoted and helpful member and he was also an exemplary Mason, being ever true to teachings of the craft. In politics he was a Democrat, but never sought or desired office. His first wife died July 1, 1885. In their family were seven children: Amanda, the wife of M. Williams; John H., of Montague county; J. A., of this review; Marshall, a farmer; Belle, the wife of J. Hale; Columbus, who died leaving a wife and one child; and Nora, the wife of M. V. Whittle.
J. A. Williams, born and reared in Arkansas, remained under the parental roof up to the time of his marriage in 1872. He acquired his education in the public schools and was reared to the occupation of farming, which he followed until 1879 in Arkansas. He then came to Texas, settling in Willowally valley, in Montague county, where he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land and improved a farm, successfully conducting, so that he was able in later years to add to the farm until it comprised two hundred and ninety-five acres. It is rich and productive soil, responding readily to cultivation, so that the fields annually produce good crops. He has also an excellent orchard on the place, and in 1895 Mr. Williams built a cotton gin on Die Creek, which he has since operated. It is supplied with the latest improved machinery in this line and has a capacity of fifteen bales per day. It is one of the substantial enterprises of the neighborhood. Mr. Williams has purchased sixty-seven acres of land near the gin and also eighty-four acres where he now resides, and of this has a small amount in cultivation. His attention has been given to the improvement of his land and to the ginning business and he also raises some stock.
In 1872, in Arkansas, Mr. Williams was united in marriage to Mrs. Fannie Hall, who was born in Abigdon, Illinois, and was the widow of R. H. Hall, who died, leaving four children, who were reared and educated by Mr. Williams and all located in Texas, namely: Jane, the wife of T. J. Ferguson; W. L.: Henry H.; and Elusa, the wife of P. Donnell. Mrs. Williams was a daughter of Bartlett Boydston, a prominent farmer of Illinois and pioneer settler of Texas, who located in Dallas county in 1843. After a few years, however, he returned to Illinois, but later removed to Arkansas, and in 1881 again came to Texas, settling in Erath county, where he lived until he went to make his home with his daughter, Mrs. Williams, his death there occurring in 1882. In his family were ten children: John, William, James, Thomas, Matilda, Mary, Margaret, Jane, Fannie and Sarah. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Williams were born five children: Joseph H., who served in the Spanish-American war and is now living in the Indian Territory; Effa, the wife of J. M. Morrison; Bartlett, who also resides in the Indian Territory; Beverly, a farmer of Montague county; and Ida, the wife of E. B. Bell, who is operating the old Williams homestead. The mother of these children passed away March 2, 1890, in the faith of the Christian church, of which she was a devoted member. Mr. Williams was again married April 12, 1893, his second union being with Lolla Williams, who was born in Hopkins county, Texas, in 1868, and is a daughter of Joseph R. and Mary (Tadlock) Williams, the former a native of Tennessee and the latter of Kentucky. They were married in Hopkins county, Texas, where the father began farming, but later located in Hunt county, and in 1879 came to Montague county, where he purchased land and developed a good farm property, residing thereon until his death in 1898. He, too, was a member of the Christian church. His wife yet survives him and finds a good home with her daughter, Mrs. Lolla Williams. She has another daughter, Lurana, now the wife of F. Ballard.
By the second marriage of J. A. Williams there are five children: Samuel R., born January 25, 1894; Ernest A., June 21, 1896; George E., September 9, 1898; Susan L., August 7, 1901; and John S., September 24, 1904.
Mr. Williams is a self-made man and as the architect of his own fortunes has builded [sic] wisely and well. He has placed his dependence on the substantial qualities of energy, determination and honorable effort. When he came to Montague county he had a team and wagon, a few household goods and eleven dollars and sixty cents in money, but he has labored persistently and as the years have gone by has added annually to his resources until he is now a substantial citizen of his community. He votes with the Democracy and is an active and valued member of the Christian church, in which he is serving as one of the deacons. He is also a member of the Knights of Pythias lodge of Saint Jo, in which he has filled all of the chairs, and has attended the grand lodge.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 672-674.