JOE D. WILLIAMS, who is carrying on farming and stock-raising in township 18, range 4, was born in Middletown, Logan county, Illinois, July 16, 1866, his parents being Edwin J. and Rose (King) Williams. His father, who was born in Decatur, Illinois, July 8, 1838, died on the 8th of March, 1882, while his wife, who was born in Ohio, March 20, 1842, is still living. Edwin J. Williams lived with his parents in Menard county, Illinois, until twelve years of age, when his mother died and he afterward lived with an aunt, Mrs. Cynthia Johnson, for about a year. His father then took him to California, making the overland trip with ox teams. There were three wagons in the train and they were also accompanied by Mr. Williams' five younger brothers. They started on the 1st of April, 1851, and it took nine months to make the trip. One man out of the train was killed by the Indians while they were traveling through Kansas. Mr. Williams' father was captain of the train and he took with him sixteen yoke of oxen and seven head of horses. After reaching California he fattened the oxen and sold them as beef cattle for one dollar per pound. He then began to search for gold and was in the mines for two years, at the end of which time he was murdered by the Rogue River Indians on Rogue river in California. Edwin J. Williams with his five brothers then started homeward, going by way of Panama on a sailing vessel, across the isthmus on mules and thence on a sailing vessel to New Orleans, up the Mississippi river to St. Louis and on the Illinois river to Beardstown, whence they made their way across the country to Menard county. Edwin Williams then lived with his aunt, Mrs. Johnson, until about twenty-five years of age. During that time he attended school as opportunity offered and he also did general farm work, breaking the wild prairie and cultivating the fields. At the age of twenty-five years he started out in life for himself, purchasing a tract of land near Middletown and residing in the village while operating his farm. He was married on the 8th of August, 1865, to Miss Rose King and they became the parents of three children: Joe D.; Edwin F., who was born August 26, 1868, and is now married and living in the Panhandle of Texas; and Matilda J., who was born August 21, 1873, and is the wife of Louis Held, also residing in the Panhandle.
After his marriage Edwin Williams continued to reside in Middletown until the spring of 1873, when he sold his farm there and purchased one hundred and seven acres of land south of Irish Grove. Removing to the new property he continued its cultivation until the spring of 1876, when he sold that farm and went to Maryville, Missouri, where he carried on general agricultural pursuits and stock-raising. He also engaged in the lumber business, continuing in that line of trade until the spring of 1880, when on account of ill health he disposed of his lumberyard and returned to Menard county, locating at Athens, where he spent his remaining days. When two years had passed, however, he was called to his final rest. He was a member of the old school Presbyterian church and lived an upright, consistent Christian life, being straightforward in all his business transactions and faithful to every duty. His wife still survives him and now makes her home with her children.
Joe D. Williams spent his boyhood days under the parental roof. He was for two years a student in the Murry school and afterward attended a graded school in Maryville, Missouri for four years. He also spent two years as a student in Athens and later continued his studies at Maple Grove, where he attended school during the winter months. He was thus equipped by good educational privileges for the practical duties of life and reading and observation in later years have also added to his knowledge, while experience has taught him many lessons. After his father's death, which occurred when the son was fifteen years of age, he assisted his mother in improving and cultivating one hundred and ninety-one acres of land near Fancy Prairie and when he had attained his majority he went to Kansas, where he spent eight months herding cattle in that state and in the Indian Territory. Later with his two horses and cooking outfit he went overland to Nebraska, and traveling through the northern part of Missouri he at length reached Illinois. During this time he slept upon the ground and did his own cooking. After his return he worked with his mother at farming and stock-raising and in July, 1891, purchased one hundred and ninety-one acres of land adjoining his mother's farm on the north. Since then they have operated the two farms as one property, Mr. Williams having the active management of the place. They have about fifty head of shorthorn cattle and about one hundred and forty-five hogs. They also have twenty-three head of a good grade of horses on the place and an imported Percheron stallion, Clovis. As a farmer and stock-raiser Mr. Williams is meeting with a very gratifying measure of success and he is one of the stockholders of the Fancy Prairie Grain & Coal Company.
On the 19th of December, 1895, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Williams and Miss Mabel J. Council, a daughter of Robert and Ellen (Cresse) Council. Her father, who was born in Sangamon county, Illinois, in 1830, died in 1881, while his wife, who was born August 14, 1844, is still living. They were married in 1862 and became the parents of eight children, six of whom survive: John W., who is married and resides in Menard county; Mrs. Williams; Lillie, who is the wife of Will Cline, a resident of Sangamon county; Lula C., the wife of Edward Lake, of Menard county; Robert C. and Frank, who are living on the old family homestead. The father spent his entire life in Menard and Sangamon counties engaged in the business of feeding and raising stock and cultivating his fields. He possessed excellent business ability and executive force and managed his affairs so ably that at the time of his death he left a valuable farm comprising four hundred and eighty acres of fine prairie land well improved. On the place is a nice residence and substantial barns and outbuildings, while shade and fruit trees add to the value as well as to the attractive appearance of the place. Mr. Council was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and his name was a synonym for honorable dealing in all life's relations.
The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Williams was blessed with three children: Ellen, born December 30, 1897; Ed, born November 9, 1900; and Robert C., born September 28, 1903. Both Mr. and Mrs. Williams have a wide circle of friends in the county and their pleasant home is noted for its generous hospitality. They favor the Cumberland Presbyterian church, although they are not members of any religious denomination. In his political views Mr. Williams is a Republican and, while he keeps well informed of the questions and issues of the day as every true American citizen should do, he has neither time nor inclination to seek public office, preferring to give his undivided attention to his business affairs, in which he is meeting with signal success.