WILLIAM B. WILLIAMS, whose loyalty to his country has never wavered and whose interest in her welfare has never abated since he wore the blue uniform and fought for the preservation of the Union in the Civil war, is a well known resident of township 18, where he carries on general farming and stock-raising. He was born in this county, May 29, 1843, and is a son of Joseph and Huldah (Francis) Williams. The father was born in Kentucky, April 3, 1812, and in 1823 became a resident of Menard county. In early manhood he engaged in farming, but at the age of twenty-four years turned his attention to general merchandising at Decatur, Illinois. After five years' connection with commercial pursuits he resumed farming and continued in that vocation until he started for the Pacific coast. In the meantime he had married Miss Huldah Francis, who was born in Hartford, Connecticut, May 10, 1812, and in 1829 came to this county. By their marriage they became the parents of seven children, six sons and a daughter, all of whom are now deceased with the exception of two. On the 3d of April, 1851, the father started for Oregon, accompanied by his sons. They traveled with three ox-teams, and on the 7th of May left Omaha. They did not see a house from that time until they reached Oregon, and they experienced the usual hardships and trials incident to crossing the plains at that early day. On the 5th of November, 1851, they reached the Cascade mountains and making their way to the mines of California, Joseph Williams there engaged in mining for about two years, when he was murdered by the Indians, in May, 1853. His wife had died in Illinois, December 10, 1848, ere his emigration to the Pacific coast. Only two of the family are now living-William B. and Newton A. the latter, born October 17, 1845, now resides at Greenview. He was married October 17, 1875, to Miss Mary C. Cox, and they had nine children, seven of whom are living.
William B. Williams was not yet eight years of age when he started with his father for California, but celebrated his birthday on the way. He remained in Oregon until 1853, when he returned with his five brothers to the home of their uncle, John Williams, and soon afterward went to live with their aunt, Mrs. Cynthia Johnson. The return journey had been made by way of the isthmus of Panama, thence by sailing vessel to New Orleans and up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers to Beardstown, thence across the country to Menard county. Mr. Williams of this review continued to live with his aunt until after the outbreak of the Civil war, when he enlisted as a member of Company K, One Hundred and Sixth Illinois Infantry. His company was composed of Menard county men and the regiment went into camp at Lincoln, Illinois, August 15, 1862, being mustered into the United states service on the 18th of September. On the 7th of that month they moved to Columbus, Kentucky, and on the 10th to Jackson, Tennessee. On the 6th of December occurred the first death in the regiment-that of E. Rankin, of Company C. During an engagement Sergeant Henry Fox, of Company H, climbed up the timbers of the bridge and crossed that structure under the fire of the whole rebel force, on his way to Jackson for re-enforcements, and although this was a most perilous undertaking he accomplished it in safety. Later the regiment was sent further north to guard railroad stations. The prisoners paroled by General Forrest were sent to Benton Barracks and exchanged in the later summer of 1863. The balance of the regiment was ordered to Bolivar, Tennessee, in March, 1864, and about the 31st of May moved on to Vicksburg. While en route the boat which was transporting the troops was fired upon at close range off Island 63 by several companies of rebel infantry and two cannon, and Captain Beizely's son was killed at the first fire, while a few others were also killed and about twenty-five wounded. After serving in the trenches at Vicksburg a few weeks the One Hundred and Sixth Illinois was sent forty miles up the Yazoo river to repel a Rebel force and, returning by forced marches, was harassed by the enemy; while under the scorching summer sun many of the soldiers were prostrated by the heat. The regiment lost more men on that trip than from any other cause during its term of service. The One Hundred and Sixth served in the line of battle at Vicksburg until after its surrender and was then ordered to Helena, Arkansas, and took part in the advance on Little Rock, participating in its capture. It was in the battle of Clarendon, Duvalls Bluff, Pine Bluff, Benton, Hot Springs, Lewisburg, St. Charles, Dardanelles and Brownsville and performed its full share in crushing out the rebellion. Its members suffered many privations and hardships, marching through swamps and bayous, fighting and foraging, and its history shows a long list of casualties. Mr. Williams was always most faithful to his duties and returned home with a most creditable military record.
After the war Mr. Williams engaged in buying and shipping stock and in 1869 he purchased a farm at Middletown, Logan county, Illinois, where he resided until 1896. He then disposed of that property and purchased a farm in Missouri, where he lived for two years, after which he returned to Indian Point and settled on the old Williams farm, where he remained until 1894, when he took up his abode on his farm in township 19, where he lived until March, 1902. Then selling his property he removed to Valparaiso, Indiana, in order to afford his daughters better educational privileges, returning thence to the place where he now resides.
On the 1st of November, 1870, Mr. Williams was married to Miss Anna M. Whitney, a daughter of Alonzo H. and Mary A. (Kincaid) Whitney, who came to Menard county in the early '30's. Her father, who was born April 16, 1816, and died November 9, 1871, spent the greater part of his life in this county. He owned and operated a farm and also worked at his trade of carpentering, being one of the industrious, energetic men of his community. Associated with Mr. Thatcher he built the Presbyterian church at North Sangamon. His wife, who was born January 26, 1818, died November 14, 1891. They were the parents of eight children, of whom four are now living: Mrs. Williams, born December 4, 1848; Dewey L., who was born September 29, 1851, and is now married and living in Kansas; Emma E., who was born January 24, 1856, and is the wife of Dr. F.P. Eldredge; and Frank H., who was born December 28. 1860, and is living in this county.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Williams has been blessed with seven children: Mary H., who was born August 5, 1871, and died May 5, 1872; W.H., who was born July 15, 1873, and was married to Maud Turner, August 24, 1898; Grace, who was born April 1, 1875; Lemma, who was born April 16, 1877, and was married August 16, 1899, to John Cloud, of Indiana; Arthur, who was born March 27, 1880, and died July 24, 1887; Cynthia, who was born September 27, 1883; and Paul, who was born June 2, 1887, and died July 29, 1887.
Mr. Williams is a valued member of Pollock Post, No.200, G.A.R., of Athens, and maintains pleasant relations with his old army comrades in this way. He is also prominent in Masonry, belonging to Greenview lodge, No.653, A.F.&A.M.; DeWitt Chapter, No.119, R.A.M.; and St. Aldemar Commandery, No.47, K.T. He has been a member of the school board of his district for fifteen years and the cause of education finds in him an effective champion. He strongly endorses the principles of the Republican party and is never remiss in citizenship, while all the duties of public and private life he discharges with equal fidelity.