William Baker Williams, better known to Kansans as "Greenback Williams," is one of the characters of Cloud county. When he came into the community in 1878 the currency question was at its zenith and he was an ardent "Greenbacker." There were four individuals in the vicinity of his home who bore the name of Williams. They were about the same age and were christened with similar initials. All these "Williams" received their mail through the Concordia postoffice, and to designate him from the others of like cognomen, and in accordance with his enthusiastic interest in the financial question, he was given the sobriquet that made him famous. He is known far and wide, his name often appearing in the eastern papers, giving descriptions of him and his surroundings. A new York paper recently. pictured him as an eccentricity living on an island in the Solomon river, Since the currency question is a dead issue he votes the Socialist ticket. He has always been on the side of reform and his persistent views have been widely commented on. Though on the unpopular side politically, Mr. Williams is highly esteemed by his neighbors and is a good citizen.
He was born in Muhlenburg county, Kentucky, February 13, 1834. He received a limited education in his native state, but in his boyhood days the public school system was not what the bright boys and girls of to-day are favored with. To learn to read, write and spell, and perhaps "cipher" a little, was considered an accomplishment for a country bred boy. His parents were William and Lydia (Studebaker) Williams, of the same lineage as the noted wagon manufacturer. Our subject's paternal grandfather, also William Williams, was an American born and a soldier in the Revolutionary war. He was one of a family of twelve sons and one daughter.They all arrived at maturity, but during the Revolution became separated and lost to one another (although he was the only patriot of the family) and many of them were never reunited. "Blue Jeans" Williams, of Indiana, a noted politician and attorney, is of the same ancestry. He was a bright man in his day, but eccentric. He insisted on wearing blue jeans long after that particular weave was out of date. This and other peculiarities won him the title that was never dispelled.
Mr. Williams' father was a South Carolina planter and a slaveholder. He disposed of his slaves in 1847, but some of the family held them until the rebellion. The sentiments of his people were divided and represented both sides. His paternal ancestors were of Welsh origin, but as most American born people whose forefathers settled in this country, he is a mixture of several nationalities - Welsh, English, Scotch and German, the latter predominating, perhaps. When nineteen years of age Mr. Williams located in Woodford county, Illinois, where he worked on a farm until the winter of 1855, when he was married to Miss Esther Arrowsmith on the 24th day of December. She was a young English woman who came with her parents to America when she was twenty years of age and settled in Illinois.
After the war Mr. Williams removed to Buchanan county, Missouri, where he resided until 1870. In July of that month he located in Jewell county, Kansas, and homesteaded land. After a happy wedded life of thirty-six years Mrs. Williams died August 23, 1891. To their union thirteen children were born; seven lived to maturity, two sons and five daughters, all of whom are married and have families. The two sons and one daughter are in Cloud county, two daughters in Nebraska and one in Iowa. A young German woman who was orphaned when a child, lives in the family of Mr. Williams, who was administrator of her father's estate. There were two sisters, Amelie and Martha. They were bathing in the river when the latter got in the water beyond her depth and was drowned. She was aged ten years.
Mr. Williams was married May 10, 1892, to Mrs. Maggie Harrison, of Jewell county, who is a most estimable woman. In 1877 Mr. Williams sold his farm in Jewell county and bought the original homestead of W.C. Williams, who contested the right to the claim, taken back in the 'sixties, He has placed all the improvements on the farm, which consists of one hundred and twenty acres in Buffalo township, five miles west and three and one-half miles north of Concordia. A commodious residence, substantial barns, orchards, a well kept blue grass lawn and fine shade trees; an ideal home, where Mr. and Mrs. Williams, who are praiseworthy citizens and neighbors, can spend their declining years, surrounded by many comforts.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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