John T. Williams biography

JOHN T. WILLIAMS, sheriff of Wilbarger county, is the type of man best fitted for that responsible office. He is cool, calm and determined in the presence of danger—danger is no slight element in the career of a sheriff in Northwest Texas even in this day of enlightenment and advanced civilization. Mr. Williams has been connected with the office for over fifteen years, beginning at a time when a man’s life was not worth a pin’s fee before the desperadoes who at one time infested this portion of the state. At all times and under all circumstances Sheriff Williams has performed his duties unflinchingly, and his record for efficiency and length of service cannot be surpassed in this state.

Mr. Williams was born in Daingerfield, Morris county, Texas, February 22, 1861. His parents were W. P. and Elvira (Stratton) Williams, his father being a native of New York state, and his mother born and reared in Virginia, whence she came with her parents to Texas in 1858, locating in Grayson county, and her death occurred at Jefferson, in 1873. When a young man, in 1849, W. P. Williams left his native state and made the journey to California. He made his home on the Pacific coast until 1857, in which year he located in Grayson county, Texas, where he married. About 1860 he engaged in the mercantile business at Daingerfield, and later followed merchandising in Jefferson, this state, where his death occurred in 1872.

Mr. Williams was accordingly not more than twelve years old when he was deprived of both his parents, and it was only a short time later that he entered upon the serious occupations of life, in which his lot ever since has partaken of the more than ordinarily strenuous. He was reared and received his education in Jefferson, and from the age of fifteen until 1881 he was engaged in farm work in Clay county. He was been closely identified with the life and activity of Wilbarger county since 1882, and during the first year of his residence here he was a cowboy on a ranch. He then located in Vernon and engaged in the grocery business for some time. In 1888 began his connection with the sheriff’s office by his appointment as deputy sheriff, and, with the exception of a short time while he served as city marshal, the shrievalty has occupied his time and attention ever since. In 1898 he was elected sheriff, and by popular vote has succeeded to the office each subsequent two years, being elected in 1904 without any opposition whatever. He is a most efficient officer, and a sturdy and fine character all around. In the earlier days his duties often brought him in contact with the “bad men” of the country, and his experiences have been as interesting and stirring as his performances of duty has been admirable and effective in preserving order and carrying out the mandates of the law.

Sheriff Williams is a Mason of high standing in Vernon, and has attained to the Knight Templar degree, being a member of the local commandery. He also belongs to the Knights of Pythias and to other organizations whose lodges are in Vernon.

He was married first to Miss Ida Davidson, in 1885, and had only one child, Allie. For his second wife he married in Vernon Miss Laura Williams (of a different family). She was born in Springfield, Illinois, and by her marriage has become the mother of four children; the daughters Winnie, Ruby and Lonie, and the son John.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 193-194.