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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


A. J. WILLIAMS has been one of the most industrious citizens of the Ontario community for over twenty years. His industry has brought him the comfort and prosperity which he and his family now enjoy on their little ranch home at 517 Vesta Street.  

Mr. Williams was born in Nemaha County, Kansas, December 17, 1880, a son of James Ezra and Marietta (Shiifer) Williams. His parents were both born in Pennsylvania and in the same year, 1845. His father was born the 10th of May, and died at Ontario, California, September 28, 1914. They were married in 1868. James Ezra Williams at the age of fifteen became a locomotive fireman, and was soon promoted to engine- man, and had a run on the Lehigh Valley Railroad until he entered the Union Army during the Civil war. He enlisted in the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry, but when it was discovered that he was a locomotive engineer he was assigned special duty with the military railroad service and continued until the end of the war. In March, 1868, soon after his marriage, he removed to Missouri, where he farmed three years, and then went to Northeastern Kansas and bought a large farm in Nemaha County, where for thirty-five years he remained actively engaged in farming and as a dealer and shipper of livestock. He was a man of great energy, reliable, an expert judge of values, and for many years was one of the leading shippers out of that section to eastern markets. In 1905 he left Kansas and came to Ontario, California, where he bought an orange grove and was also a stockholder and director in the First National Bank of Ontario. He was the father of five children : Harry ; Mrs. Gertrude E. S. Randel ; Kate, Mrs. J. H. Mills; A. J. Williams, and Miss Lida Williams.  

A. J. Williams was reared and educated in Nemeha County, Kansas, attended public schools there, and finished in the Kansas State Agricultural Collie at Manhattan. He then returned to his father's stock farm, and did all the work of general farming and stock raising.  

November 21, 1900, he married Miss Kittie Mabel de Jeaan, who was born in Iowa April 20, 1884, daughter of Bird and Addie (Hotchkiss) de Jeaan, the former a native of Madison, Wisconsin, and the latter of Fayette County, Iowa. Bird de Jeaan was a Baptist minister. Mrs. Williams' grandfather, Martin T. de Jeaan, was an early settler of Ontario, coming here in 1892, when the district was practically undeveloped, and bought land and set out a deciduous orchard. Later he removed some of the early plantings and set to oranges. This orange grove is now the home of A. J. Williams. Martin de Jeaan is still living, but his wife died in Ontario in 1905. Martin de Jeaan was carrier for the first United States mail from Ontario to North Ontario, and continued in that service for a number of years.  

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Williams removed to Ontario and, being without capital, he sought employment at any honorable occupation that would furnish his family with a living. He picked and did other work in the fruit orchards, worked at dry ranching, with fumigating crews, was employed in the Chino sugar refinery, but eventually engaged in the retail meat business and has been in the service of several firms at Ontario, being now connected with the San Antonio Meat Company. He is also a director in the Security State Bank of Ontario. He owns his modern home and the orange grove which he bought from his wife's grandfather. He and his family are members of the Nazarene Church.  

Mr. and Mrs. Williams have six children: Grace, born April 10, 1902, now a senior in the Chaffey Junior College; Maye, born October 27, 1905, also in high school; Hazel, born October 31, 1907, a high school girl; James A., born October 13, 1912; Jean, born April 7, 1915, and Lawrence Andrew, born January 14, 1918, known in the family circle as Bobby Williams. These children were all born at Ontario.

History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011