HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ILLINOIS
PUBLISHED: MUSELL PUBLISHING COMPANY – 1908
WILLIAMS, JOHN, pioneer merchant, was born in Bath County, Ky., Sept. 11, 1808; between 14 and 16 years of age was clerk in a store in his native State; then, joining his parents, who had settled on a tract of land in a part of Sangamon (now Menard) County, Ill., he found employment as clerk in the store of Major Elijah Iles, at Springfield, whom he succeeded in business at the age of 22, continuing it without interruption until 1880. In 1856 Mr. Williams was the Republican candidate for Congress in the Springfield District, and, in 1861, was appointed Commissary General for the State, rendering valuable service in furnishing supplies for State troops in camps of instruction and while proceeding to the field, in the first years of the war; was also chief officer of the Illinois Sanitary Commission for two years, and, as one of the intimate personal friends of Mr. Lincoln, was chosen to accompany the remains of the martyred President, from Washington to Springfield, for burial. Liberal, enterprising and public-spirited, his name was associated with nearly every public enterprise of importance in Springfield during his business career – being one of the founders, and for eleven years President, of the First National Bank; a chief promoter in the construction of what is now the Springfield Division of the Illinois Central Railroad, and the Springfield and Peoria line; a Director of the Springfield Iron Company; one of the Commissioners who constructed the Springfield water-works, and an officer of the Lincoln Monument Association, from 1865 to his death, May 29, 1890.
Submitted by: Stephen Burke