Alvin L. Williamson

ALVIN L. WILLIAMSON. The many business interests that at present serve to make Clay Center one of the important young cities of Kansas cover almost every modern activity and profession, and include also some of the oldest industries, milling for example, that accompanied the settlement of the first pioneers in Clay County. Long before improved machinery and modern methods of using motive power had been thought of, every deep-falling stream that could be profitably dammed had a grinding mill on its bank before civilized living was accepted as complete in that section. Pioneer history is full of stories of the inconveniences and hardships and often dangers that were encountered in getting the precious "grist" to and from the mill, often many miles distant. It was usually of primitive construction and its equipments were not designed to produce the fine milling products of today, but it was a prime necessity of the time. Such, probably, was the original mill that stood on the present site of the Williamson milling properties at Clay Center, which include the great modern flour mill, the elevator and the office building, with two mighty dams on the Republic River. For twenty years this property has been in the Williamson name and for a number of years the management of the Williamson Milling Company was in the hands of Alvin L. Williamson, who, along with other important business offices, is treasurer of this company.

Alvin L. Williamson was born at Wataga in Knox County, Illinois, July 12, 1877. His parents were William and Katherine (Olson) Williamson, both of whom were born in Sweden, the father in 1833 and the mother in 1835, and both died at Wataga, Illinois, the father in 1905 and the mother in 1907.

William Williamson was brought to America by his parents when he was young, the voyage being made in a sailing vessel. They came to Illinois and settled near Wataga in Knox County, and there William was reared and spent the most of his life, his vocation being farming. In 1897 he bought the present mail site at Clay Center, Kansas, and in association with his son F. L. Williamson founded the Williamson Milling Company, which is now one of the large enterprises of Clay County. He was a man of judgment and foresight and his early investment here proved a profitable venture. In his political affiliation he was a republican. With his wife he belonged to the Lutheran Church.

William Williamson was married at Wataga, Illinois, to Katherine Olson, and the following children were born to them: Mary, who died at Clay Center, Kansas, in 1895, was the wife of Albert Danielson, who resides in California; J. H., who is a farmer in Nebraska; Amelia, who died in Iowa, was the wife of Rev. A. F. Nelson, a Lutheran minister residing at Wilmar, Minnesota; L. O., who died in Utah, was a dry goods merchant; Amanda, who resides at Wataga, Illinois; Martha, who died young; E. P., who is a farmer near Wataga, Illinois; George, who died at the age of twenty years; F. L., who resides in Kansas City, Missouri, is a sales manager for the Dewey Portland Cement Company and Alvin L.

Alvin L. Williamson was educated in the public schools of Wataga, Illinois, and Brown & Business College at Galesburg. Afterward he assisted his father on the home farm until he was twenty-four years old. In the meanwhile his father and brother had become interested in the mill property at Clay Center, Kansas, and in 1901 he came here and went into the flour milling business. The mill site was the only substantial part of the property which Alonzo Dester had formerly owned, the mill structure being in ruins. Now the company owns a mill that has a capacity of 600 barrels of flour a day and the two dams and the great grain elevator on the Republican River, the office building being situated on Fourth and Pomeroy streets. Modern demands are keeping the mill running at full capacity. In addition to his milling interests Mr. Williamson owns 500 acres of farm land in Kansas and 2,000 acres in Oklahoma, also his fine residence on Lane Street, Clay Center, which he built in 1909. He is well known in financial circles and is vice president of the First National Bank at Clay Center. His business ability is seen in the successful carrying out of his many undertakings, and his public spirit is commended because of his determination to keep his enterprises active at this point. Mr. Williamson is one of Clay County's most valuable men.

Mr. Williamson married at Clay Center, in 1900, Miss Lena McKee, who is a daughter of John McKee, postmaster of Clay Center and a man of political prominence Mr. and Mrs. Williamson have one daughter, Muriel, who was born June 14, 1914. They attend the Baptist Church. In politics he is a republican.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed 1997.
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