Steven Butler's Family History Website




By Steven R. Butler, Ph.D.

I am related to the Williams family by virtue of the marriage of a maternal great-great-grandfather, Thomas W. Jenkins, to Louisa Williams, daughter of John I. Williams and his first wife, Delilah Coons.


John I. Williams, Sr. was born in September 1823 in Washington County, Illinois. His parents may have been John and Julia Williams, but no evidence has been found to confirm it.

Although John I. Williams was old enough to have served in the U.S.-Mexican War, and though there were three men named John Williams known to have served in Illinois in that conflict, there is no way to know if "our" John Williams was one of them.

We do know that John I. Williams was living in Johnson County, Illinois when he married Delilah Coons, daughter of Martin Coons, Jr., on December 16, 1849. They were probably living in Johnson County, Illinois when the 1850 federal census was taken, but unfortunately, the first two pages of the census for that county, on which John and his family, as well as his father-in-law, Martin Coons, Jr., and family are probably enumerated, are missing.

Together, John I. Williams and his wife Delilah had at least seven children:

  1. Louisa I. Williams (whose entire name, according to family lore, was Louisa Iodine Spicy Ann Susan Elizabeth Ludicy Katherine Williams), born 1850 in Illinois; married Thomas W. Jenkins in Hunt County, Texas, December 12, 1874; died Paris, Texas, 1914.
  2. Benjamin M. Williams, born 1854 in Illinois; married Sarah Jane Busby on September 20, 1877 in Hunt County, Texas; probably died in Hunt County between 1880 and 1900.
  3. Parasetta Margaret Williams, born 1855 in Illinois; married William Henry Baker, November 15, 1881 in Hunt County, Texas; died in Indian Territory, 1905.
  4. John I. Williams, Jr., born 1858 in Illinois; married Sophronia McCameron on September 12, 1878 in Hunt County, Texas; date and place of death unknown.
  5. Cornelius Washington Williams, born 1862 in Illinois; married Mary Ella Kizer on October 28, 1888, presumably in Hunt County, Texas; died in 1937 in Coleman, Texas.
  6. Martha A. Williams, born 1864 in Illinois. (No record beyond 1880 has been found.)
  7. William T. (Tecumseh?) Williams, born 1865 in Illinois. (No record after 1880.)

Johnson County, Illinois
Johnson County, Illinois

Was this "our" John Williams?

In 1850 a man named John Williams received a Third-Class land certificate (#729) for 640 acres of land in Mercer's Colony in North Texas, in what is now Hunt County. On August 22, 1852, this same John Williams filed for a survey of 320 acres of land in present-day Hunt County, Texas. On March 18, 1853, this acreage was appropriated. On August 23, 1853, in what was then Nacogdoches County, the land certificate was filed. On August 13, 1860, this John Williams sold 320 acres of his property to one Elick E. Hulse.

Sometime between the birth of John I. Williams, Jr., in November 1859, and July 11, 1860, during the time when the federal census was being taken for Hunt County, Texas, John I. Williams, Sr. and his family emigrated to Texas, where the census-taker found them, along with Delilah Williams' eighteen-year-old brother, William Coons (or Coontz, as is was spelled in the census), living in or near Greenville, the county seat.

They did not stay there very long, however. Sometime between the summer of 1860 and the birth of Cornelius W. Williamson on September 9, 1862, the Williams family returned to Johnson County, Illinois, perhaps because the Civil War had begun, and also, presumably, because they did not share the secessionist sentiments of their Texas neighbors. In any event, between 1862 and 1865, Delilah Williams gave birth to three more children (see list above), but in 1865, she died, possibly due to complications either during or immediately following the birth of her son, W. T. Williams.

Unfortunately, both the exact date of death and place of burial of Delilah Coons Williams, has been lost to history.

Nearly four years later, on February 23, 1869, while still living in Johnson County, Illinois, John I. Williams, at the age of forty-six, remarried. His second wife was twenty-one-year-old Sciotha Craig, who had previously been married, at age fourteen, to one W. T William, who presumably died during the Civil War. Together, John and Sciotha had at least five children:

  1. Andrew Jackson Williams, born 1870 in Illinois; married Bell Kizer about 1894 in Texas; date and place of death unknown (probably Oklahoma).
  2. Jasper S. "Cicero" Williams, born 1872 in Illinois; married Elnora (maiden name unknown) in either Texas or Indian Territory; date and place of death unknown.
  3. Frances Williams, born 1875 in Texas; married twice, first time about 1895 to E. T. Kizer, second time, about 1898, to James Moran, a Choctaw Indian; died in Stephens County, Oklahoma in 1965.
  4. Henry Marion Williams, born 1878 in Texas; married to Emily Ethel (maiden name unknown) in Oklahoma; died, in Stephens County, Oklahoma, 1959.
  5. Hughey Edward Williams, born 1881 in Texas; married Nancy Holt in Atoka, Oklahoma, 1900; died in Stephens County, 1954.

Sometime between 1872 and 1874, John I. Williams returned to live in Hunt County, Texas, bringing with him his second wife, Sciotha, and all his children from his first marriage, as well as the first two children of his second marriage. Greenville was, and still is, the seat of Hunt County.

North Texas
Map of North Texas, showing location of Greenville, Hunt County, Texas

In December 12, 1874, John I. Williams' eldest child, Louisa, age twenty-four, married Thomas W. Jenkins, who had emigrated to Texas from Georgia some five years earlier.

In 2003, a search of Hunt County, Texas deed records for the period 1875-1881, revealed that in 1877 John and his oldest son Benjamin M. Williams jointly purchased 77 acres of land from C. A. Russell. The following year they sold it to W. W. Fry and his wife Saffron. (More research in the deed records of this county needs to be done.)

In 1878, son Henry Marion Williams was born in Hunt County, Texas.

In 1880, John and his family were enumerated in the federal census for Hunt County, Texas. The following year, son Hughey Edward Williams was born there.

The 1880 federal agricultural census reveals that John I. Williams had 15 acres of cultivated land and an additional 47 acres of woodland, together valued at $400. He also had $75 worth of livestock.

About 1895, after living in Hunt County, Texas for two decades, John I. Williams and his wife, Sciotha, for reasons that have been lost to history, moved to the Chickasaw Nation in Indian Territory, where a great many other white people had already settled. Although the reason for the move is unknown, it seems unlikely that it was John's idea. In 1895, he was seventy-two years old-an age at which people are generally content to stay where they are. Because several of his adult children are known to have also settled in the Indian Territory, it is more likely that one or more of them, and not their father, was responsible for instigating the move. At least eight of John's children moved to Indian Territory at this time. Three-daughter Parasetta and sons John I, Jr., and Cornelius W.-were the children of his marriage to Delilah Coons. All five of John's children by his marriage to Sciotha Craig-Andrew J., Jasper S., Frances, Henry Marion, and Hughey E.-also made the move. We may imagine that the entire family made the approximately 100-mile journey from Hunt County to Indian Territory together-either in covered wagons or by using the services of the MK&T railroad from Greenville to Dallas to Atoka, which was only 18 miles east of Wapanucka.

In 1900, the federal census-taker found John I. Williams, Sr. and his wife, Sciotha, together with sons Henry Marion and Hughey, renting farmland in Township 1 of the Chickasaw Nation, in what would was soon to become Johnston County, Oklahoma. At that time, only tribal members or white men married to a Native American, who were then considered members of the tribe, could own land in Indian Territory. Until 1907, when Indian Territory entered the union as part of the state of Oklahoma, all other whites could only rent land from tribal owners, even though whites vastly outnumbered Native Americans.

Andrew J. Williams and his family also rented a farm in Township 1, as did son Jasper S. Williams and his wife Elnora. Because John and his sons Andrew and Jasper are listed sequentially on the same page of the census, we may presume that they lived on adjoining properties. Daughter Frances and her second husband, James Moran, a Choctaw Indian, resided in Township 4. Frances had previously been married, in 1895 in Carter, Oklahoma Territory, to E. T. Kizer, by whom she had two children-Roy and Lizzie. What became of Kizer is unknown, but most likely he simply died. Cornelius W. Williams and his family lived in Township 2.

John I. Jr. is the only one of the family who did not settle in the Chickasaw Nation. For some unknown reason, he went instead to the Creek Nation, about 50 miles to the north, where he lived with his wife, Sophronia.

Indian Territory
Map of Indian Territory, showing location of Wapanucka

In 1905, Parasetta Williams Baker died and was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in present- day Johnston County, Oklahoma.

The family's patriarch, John I. Williams, Sr., died the following year, at or near the town of Wapanucka, in present-day Johnston County. At the time of his death, he was eighty-three years old. Although his place of interment has been lost to history, it is likely that he was also buried at Rose Hill Cemetery, either beside or near the grave of his daughter. Parasetta's grave is marked; John's is not.

In 1907, Oklahoma, including the former Indian Territory, became the forty-sixth state of the Union.

Of the eight adult children of John I. Williams, Sr. that moved to Oklahoma, at least five remained there: Parasetta, who died there in 1905, and Hughey, Henry Marion, and Frances all of whom settled in Stephens County, where they died, respectively, in 1954, 1959, and 1965. Andrew J. Williams likewise lived in Stephens County, but his date of death, which probably occurred sometime between 1930 and 1940, is unknown. Sometime before 1910, Cornelius and his family moved back to Texas, settling in Coleman County, where he made his home until his death in 1937. He is buried in the Coleman City Cemetery.

What became of John I. Williams, Jr. is unknown. No record of him beyond 1900 can be found and no record of Jasper S. Williams can be found beyond 1910.

Following her husband's death in 1906, Sciotha Williams went to live with her youngest son, Hughey Edward Williams, and his family, in newly-formed Stephens County, Oklahoma-about a hundred miles due west of Johnston County. When the 1920 federal census was taken, Sciotha was still still living with Hughey's family, her age erroneously reported to the census-taker as eighty-seven! In fact, she was only seventy-two. One researcher claims, without providing any evidence, that she died in 1922. There is little doubt, however, that she passed away sometime before the next census was taken in 1930. Unfortunately, her place of burial has been lost to history. Most likely, she was buried beside her husband at Rose Hill Cemetery in Johnston County, or at Fairlawn Cemetery in Comanche, Stephens County, Oklahoma, where her children, Hughey, Henry Marion, and Frances are buried.

John I. Williams' daughter Louisa remained married to Thomas W. Jenkins and lived with and their children in Lamar County, Texas until T.W.'s death in 1911. Louisa died in 1914. T. W. Jenkins is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Paris, Texas. Louisa is probably buried there also, but there is no marker.

It appears that Benjamin M. Jenkins died in Hunt County, Texas, sometime between 1880 and 1900. His place of burial is unknown.

No information about John I. Williams' youngest children by his first wife-Martha and William T.-can be found beyond 1880.


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