SAMUEL J. WILLIAMS, one of the most prominent citizens and substantial farmers of Macoupin County, owning a well improved farm of 160 acres, situated in section I, Gillespie township, was born March 3, 1824, in Knox County, Tennessee. He is a son of Samuel Williams, who was also a native of Knox County.
In 1836 Samuel Williams came as a pioneer to Illinois, entering a farm of 160 acres in the vicinity of Bunker Hill, Macoupin County. The he successfully operated a number of years, dying there at the age of 60 years. He was the father of a large family, 15 children reaching maturity. The three who still survive are: Mrs. Mary Dec, of Kansas; Elihu, a retired farmer of Litchfield, Illinois; and Samuel J., of this sketch.
Samuel J. Williams may be considered as one of the early settlers of Gillespie township for he entered his present farm in section I in 1845. He was then but 21 years of age, full of energy and ambition and the task of clearing 160 acres of land was not so formidable a job to him as it probably would be to many young men of today. All of the fine improvements on the property have been made by Mr. Williams, including three large barns and an unusually commodious and comfortable residence, in addition to many other improvements which serve to make this one of the most valuable properties in the township. His barns now shelter modern machinery of various kinds, but Mr. Williams broke every part of his farm and placed it under cultivation with an ox team. For a long time his markets for produce and stock were as far away as Alton and St. Louis, Gillespie not being settled at that time. The few dwellings in the neighborhood were all of hewed logs, and as no sawmills had yet been built in the vicinity the early school houses and churches were constructed of similar material. Mr. Williams has devoted attention to general farming, wheat and corn being his leading crops, has raised both horses and mules and now has a large herd of Durham cattle and many Poland-China hogs. For 12 years, beginning about 1847, Mr. Williams served his neighborhood as postmaster, the office located on his farm being known as Honey Point P. O. Later, when the postoffice was changed to Mount Olive, it was moved into a country store, and so continued until it was removed to Gillespie.
Mr. Williams was first married to Lucy Ann Carmack, who died three years later, survived by one daughter, Mrs. Jane Ash, who resides in St. Louis, Missouri.
On November 10, 1853, he married Margaret A. Pope. She was born November 10, 1833, in Butler County, Kentucky, and is a daughter of John and Martha Pope, who came to Illinois among the early pioneers. Of the 11 children born to his union, these survive: Mrs. Lydia Odell, of Litchfield, Illinois; Mrs. Selina Clark, of Gillespie, Macoupin County; Mrs. Minnie Clark, of Brushy Mound township, Macoupin County; and Henry, Osa and Hattie, who live at home, the sons operating the farm.
From being a Republican in his political attitude, Mr. Williams became a supporter of the Greenback party, but for years has entertained independent views on public questions. He served as one of the first supervisors of the township, was assessor for many years and a school director for a long period, being a liberal supporter of both schools and churches. Both he and his wife belong to the Baptist Church. He is vice-president of the Macoupin County Fire Association, having served 25 years as president of Farmers' Mutual Fire and Lightning Association of Gillespie.