Transcribed from 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
WILLIAM TAYLOR WILLIAMS. More than a half century has passed since William T. Williams, one of Sedan's foremost citizens, had his first glimpse of Kansas, of which state, for almost that long, he has been a continuous resident. The marvelous changes which have been wrought in the country through the civilizing industries of men of enterprise, are reflected in some degree, in the advancement of his own fortunes, but none of these developments have come without strenuous effort, persistent energy and never failing courage. This may well be given emphasis in view of the fact that charges have been made that in these luxury-loving days, too many American youth appear but too well satisfied with the advantages that have been provided by the manly endurance of an older generation. With leisure and love of ease, they invite weakness instead of seeking strength that comes through courageous bearing of hardships and the stimulation of overcoming obstacles.
William Taylor Williams, vice president of the First National Bank, Sedan, Kansas, was born in Hart County, Kentucky, May 22, 1848. His parents were Ansel and Mary (Gooch) Williams. His grandfather, David Williams, was born in Wythe County, Virginia, in 1801, and died in Grayson County, Kentucky, in 1850. His father was born in Wales and was the founder of the family in America. The grandmother was Jane Jackson, who was born in South Carolina and died in Marion County, Illinois. She was a daughter of a revolutionary soldier.
Ansel Williams, father of William Taylor Williams, was born in 1824, in Green County, Kentucky, and died in 1868, in Crawford County, Kansas. He followed agricultural pursuits all his life. In the spring of 1855, accompanied by his own family and his widowed mother, who lived in Illinois at that time, he removed to Illinois and located on a farm in Marion County, but three years later, in 1858, decided to seek a new home, in Kansas. On reaching Bourbon County he speedily complied with the law governing the securing of homesteads, and on his tract of 160 acres, endeavored to farm profitably, but in 1866 moved into Crawford County and there pre-empted a claim of 160 acres, which proved entirely satisfactory and on that place he remained during the two more years that he lived. In politics he was a democrat. During the Civil war he served as a member of the state militia.
Ansel Williams was twice married. His first wife, Mary Gooch, was born in 1823, in Green County, Kentucky. She died in Grayson County, Kentucky, in 1854. Her father served under General Jackson at New Orleans in 1812. To Ansel and Mary (Gooch) Williams the following children were born: William Taylor; Jane, who is the wife of W. D. Nance, who is a retired farmer residing at Niotaze, Chautauqua County, Kansas; James T., who died in Chautauqua County, in 1894, was a farmer; Ezra, who died at the age of fourteen years, in Crawford County, Kansas; and Sarah, who resides in Crawford County, is the widow of A. D. Nance, who was a well known farmer.
The second wife of Ansel Williams was Mary Frogget, who was born in 1836, in Kentucky, and died in Crawford County, Kansas, in 1886. To this marriage six children were born, as follows: Paul, who died in Crawford County at the age of twenty years; Marvin, who is a farmer residing near Lee Summit, Missouri; Emma, who is the wife of John Brown, a farmer residing near Fort Scott, Kansas; Ida, who is married, lives near Columbus, Ohio; Ora, who is employed in a smelter, near Bartelsville, Oklahoma; and Ansel, who is an employe in a Deaf and Dumb Asylum, at Fulton, Missouri.
William Taylor Williams was seven years old when his father settled in Marion County, Illinois. The public school system had not yet been introduced and he was sent to a subscription school and attended a second subscription school after the family removal to Bourbon County, Kansas, for here was a boy determined to have an education. He assisted his father in Bourbon County and also secured other work, in September, 1863, entering the employ of the Government as a teamster, and during the summer of 1864 helped gather cattle for the Government. In that year he served also as a member of the Third Kansas Militia or Bourbon County Battallion that drove General Price's forces out of the state and he took part in the Battle of Westport, Missouri.
When his father removed to Crawford County, William Taylor accompanied him and worked on the home farm there until the fall of 1867, when he returned to Marion County, Illinois, to attend school, and worked during the summer there and went to the public school in the winter until in December, 1868, when he returned to Crawford County. His father died in that year but he remained on the home farm there until 1870, in the meanwhile, although a man grown by this time, he again took advantage of the opportunity of attending school. In 1870 he moved into Howard County, Kansas, where, in partnership with his brother James T., he took up a claim of 160 acres and resided there and made improvements. In the fall of 1878 he sold that property and removed to a farm already improved in Montgomery County. Two years later he sold that place advantageously, and in 1880 bought a farm of 160 acres situated in Chautauqua County. That was the beginning of Mr. Williams' acquirement of property in this county. Through the exercise of good judgment he has gradually increased his holdings until he now owns 700 acres of exceedingly valuable farm land, lying in Little Caney and Washington townships, Chautauqua County. He devotes his land to general farming. Another of his investments is represented by his handsome, commodious residence which stands on G Street. In the financial field Mr. Williams is recognized as a man of influence and importance and as vice president of the First National Bank at Sedan, and as a director of the Peru State Bank, these institutions have a valuable asset, and an added guarantee of their soundness.
In the fall of 1873, in Crawford County, Kansas, Mr. Williams was married to Miss Caroline Nance. Her parents, now both deceased, were Joshua and Elizabeth (Lucas) Nance. They came to Crawford County late in 1865 and settled on a farm. Mr. and Mrs. Williams have two daughters: Estella, who is the wife of B. D. Wilson, who is the leading merchant at Niotaze, Kansas; and Nellie, who is a graduate of a business college at Wichita, Kansas. Both daughters are graduates of the high school. Perry, the oldest child of Mr. and Mrs. Williams, was born June 26, 1876, and died April 6, 1896.
Mr. Williams has always been a thinker and through reading and study concerning social and economic conditions, has come to the belief that radical changes must be brought about for the benefit of the public at large. Therefore he has identified himself with the political organization termed the Socialist party. He has never been anxious to serve in public offices but consented at one time to accept the office of township trustee for one term in Little Caney Township, and for two terms in Washington Township. He is a member of Camp No. 40, Modern Woodmen of America, at Sedan. He has had a long, busy and useful life and still continues an important factor in all that concerns his county and city.
Transcribed from volume 4, pages 2132-2133 of 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; originally transcribed October 1997 , modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.
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