The narration, in brief, of the career of the gentleman whose name introduces this review, reveals him to have been, during his connection with Texas, a modest force in her internal development and sincere and loyal in his devotion to her welfare. While Clay county has known him as a resident only since 1901 the state has claimed him for more than a third of a century, for he was just beyond the age limit when the settled in Denton county in 1873.
February 10, 1849, James P. Williams was born in Johnson county, Missouri, and his boyhood and youth were passed ten miles northwest of Holden, the county seat of his county. His father was Jesse Williams who settled in that county among the early ones and who, as a carpenter, was connected prominently with the actual building improvement of the county. He entered and improved his farm where he passed the remainder of his life and died in August 13, 1897. The latter’s birthplace was Grayson county, Virginia, and his natal year 1811. He accumulated some property and was considered a successful man. His wife whom he married in Missouri was Anne, a daughter of Ebenezer and Ruth Lundy, and she still lives at the old homestead at the age of eighty-seven.
There were nine children in the family of which J. P. Williams is a member, as follows: Susan, who died in Johnson county, married William C. Martin; James P.; Joshua M., at the old Missouri home; Martha, wife of George Wakeman, of La Fayette county, Missouri; Amanda, wife of D. T. Boisseau, of Holden, Missouri; Henry, of Odessa, and Cyrus, his twin brother, at the Johnson county home; George, of Odessa and Eliza, who passed away in childhood.
James P. Williams came to maturity with little more than the rudiments of an education, his advantages in this line being confined entirely to the rural schools. His life as a youth had to do exclusively with the farm and when he came of age he made no change in his surroundings. He made two crops in Missouri after attaining his majority and then turned his footsteps toward the south.
He joined a few neighbors for the trip to Texas, came overland and crossed Red river at Colbert’s ferry and ended their journey in Denton county where Mr. Williams hired to a farmer at eighteen dollars a month and board and “keep” for his horse. Later on wages dropped to fifteen dollars, but he saved money anyhow and this he invested in yearlings. His employer, J. R. Sullivan, allowed him pasture for his little bunch of cattle and when he left the latter, after six years, he had some one hundred head of cattle. These he sold for two thousand eight hundred and fifty dollars and the proceeds he re-invested in both stock and land in Jack county, and he devoted himself to the cattle industry purely and on his own account. He prospered in his investment and in 1899 disposed of his cattle and his land, near Antelope, and then purchased and stocked a ranch of one thousand and thirty-nine acres on Duck creek in Clay county. He maintains his family in Henrietta where educational facilities are superb and his farming and his stock claim this time as their own.
November 12, 1890, Mr. Williams married, at Antelope, Texas, Ellen, widow of John Carter, and daughter of Josiah and Sarah (Wagner) Harrell. The Harrells came from Washington county, Arkansas, to Texas and their first settlement was made in Lamar county. The afterward removed to Jack county, where Mr. Harrell died, near Antelope, in 1884, at sixty-two years of age. His widow, who was a Mrs. Curry, when she married him, yet lives among her children near Antelope. Her first child was John Curry, of Johnson county, Texas; Jane Harrell was her second child and she was twice married, first to John Cothran and second to Monroe Shipman, and she died in Lamar county, Texas, in 1897; Albert Harrell resides in Jack county; Joel died in Lamar county, leaving a child; William resides in Memphis, Texas; Elajah, of Chickasha, Indian Territory; Mrs. Williams, born March 17, 1857; and Robert Lee, died in Greer county, Oklahoma, leaving a family. Mrs. Williams’ first family consists of children: Nora, wife of Paul Christian, of Antelope, Texas, with issue, Pauline and Harold; Chloe, married Harry Woodward, of Jack county, and has a child, Eva; Jennie and Wallace, the two latter still with their mother. Mr. and Mrs. Williams’ family are: Grace, born March 12, 1893; James C., born May 16, 1897, and Henry W., born November 10, 1899. Mr. Williams claims affiliation with the Republican party.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 125-126.