Dewitt Clinton Williams

DEWITT CLINTON WILLIAMS, who resides in section 22, township 33, range 25, in Shawnee township, is one of the most prosperous agriculturists of Cherokee County. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, August 1, 1841, and is a son of Rev. Joel and Sarah Jane (Swords) Williams, and a grandson of Joel Williams.

The Williams family is of Scotish-Irish extraction. Joel Williams was a native of Pennsylvania, and in early life had quite a reputation as an Indian fighter. He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he conducted the first hotel, and became a man of wealth and prominence in the young city.

Rev. Joel Williams was born in Pennsylvania, and when a small boy accompanied his parents to Cincinnati, Ohio, when that place was little more than a steamboat landing, and the inhabitants frequently found it necessary to seek shelter from the Indians in a block house. When Joel was 16 years old his father died, leaving a large estate, his share of which was a farm of 300 acres and $10,000 in money. He secured a good education, and after graduating from Oxford College, edited a paper in Steubenville, Ohio, for awhile. He later engaged in mercantile business and being obliged to leave the affairs of the concern to the care of his partners, much of his fortune disappeared through their mismanagement. He was always a very religious man, and shortly after his marriage was ordained a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and became an itinerant preacher. In the fall of 1841, he settled upon the land in Clinton County which he had inherited, and in the meantime kept a store near the town of Sabina, Ohio. He did not remain long in the Methodist Church, but soon became a preacher in the United Brethren Church. He removed to Williamsburg in 1852, and remained there until his death in 1856, continuing to preach until the last. He was joined in marriage with Sarah Jane Swords, daughter of Kinsey Swords, a native of Steubenville, and a turner by trade. The following named children blessed this union: Charlotte I., deceased, who was the wife of William Rosser; Kinsey Swords, who died as a result of wounds received at the battle of Peach Tree Creek, near Atlanta, Georgia; DeWitt Clinton; Joel Harris, of Rockford, Minnesota; .Ann Eliza, second wife of William Rosser; Granville Franklin, of Bloomington, Ohio; and Emma Jane, wife of John A. Johnson, who lives near Sabina, Ohio. Mrs. Williams was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church from the time she was 11 years of age. She died in 1867, aged 54 years.

Owing to the loss of his father's fortune, DeWitt C. Williams received a very meagre education in the common schools. At an early age he went to work in the chair factory at Williamsburg, and when 20 years old became apprenticed to the trade of tile and pottery making. He continued at this work for about eight years, but found it did not agree with his health. He then moved West to Carrollton, Missouri, where he stayed one winter, and was married April 1, 1869. On the night of his marriage he started with his bride for Kansas. That year he took a homestead in Salina County, where he farmed for 18 years. He greatly improved his farm, and sold it to good advantage. He served for a time on the School Board and as justice of the peace, while living there. In 1886 he came to Cherokee County and until 1894 rented and farmed different places. In that year he bought a tract of 80 acres, and by dint of hard work and good management has increased his holdings to 547 acres in Shawnee township. He makes a specialty of hay raising and cuts about 400 tons, being the largest hay producer in the county. His reputation as such is extensive, and he is sometimes called "Hay" Williams, letters freuently being thus addressed to him. He also has about 90 acres in corn and 70 in oats, and uses most of his grain for feed. He has 12 head of horses and 40 head of cattle. In business affairs he has displayed unusual ability. He is an untiring worker, and the success he has attained is due to his individual efforts.

On May 2, 1864, Mr. Williams enlisted in Company A, 154th Reg., Ohio Vol. Inf., and was honorably discharged September 1, 1864. On April 1, 1869, Mr. Williams was united in marriage with Nancy A. Nevius, a daughter of William Nevius, a native of Indiana. To them have been born 10 children, as follows: Clement F.; Mary Malvina, who died at the age of 16 years; Jacob B.; Benjamin N.; Lutetia S., wife of J. Holmes Lucas, of Shawnee township; Sarah Jane; Ralph Waldo; Lottie E.; Ruth E.; and Olive Alberta, who was burned to death in April, 1900, at the age of six years. Of the living children, Mrs. Lucas is the only one not at home. Politically, the subject of this sketch is a stanch Republican, he has been a member of the School Board many years and at the present time is a director.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thampson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Amanda Frost, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 4/28/97.


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