Eliza Anna Ray Williams (1839–1924)
(Mrs. George W. Williams)
ELIZA A. WILLIAMS, who is held in the
highest respect for what she has accomplished in the business world
death of her husband , is now conducting an insurance and
office in Denison. A native of West Virginia, she is a daughter of Luke
E. and Marietta (Drown) Ray. Her father removed from West Virginia to
Jefferson City, Missouri, when the daughter was nine years of age and
spent her girlhood days and in 1861 gave her hand in marriage to Dr.
George W. Williams, who for a
number of years occupied a prominent position professionally and
Denison. He was born in Tennessee and with his father went to Missouri
youth. He pursued his professional education in St. Louis (Missouri)
College and in Hahneman Medical College, Philadelphia, being a graduate
institutions. He entered upon the practice of his chosen calling in
southwestern Missouri and in 1873 came to Denison, where he remained
death, which occurred on the 2nd of August, 1888. He was one of the
physicians of this city and was very active at the time of the cholera
epidemic, giving valuable assistance in checking the ravages of that disease
and in impending its further progress. He was an earnest and conscientious
practitioner, careful in the diagnosis of a case and at all times put forth his
best effort to alleviate human suffering and restore health. He studied the
principles and theories of medicine and was practical in his application of his
knowledge to the needs of his patients. He commanded the respect of his
fellowmen both as a physician and as a citizen, and he represented the second
ward in the city council as a Republican member.
At the time of the Civil war Dr. Williams espoused
the cause of the Union, enlisting in the Fourteenth Kansas Cavalry. He was
detailed as hospital surgeon and was mustered out with the rank of first
lieutenant and adjutant after three years of active service, during which time
he rendered signal aid to the sick and wounded who came under his care.
Dr. and Mrs. Williams became the parents of two
sons. Elmer E., who was born in
Kansas and is now living in Portland, Oregon, was married to Elizabeth Ragland, of Denison, Texas,
and they have one child, Ray. George
Gordon, born in Kansas, is now living in North Carolina. He was married
there in 1904 to Miss Daisy Weaver
of Wilson, North Carolina, and they have a little daughter, Virginia Ray.
Following the death of her husband, Mrs. Williams
entered business circles of Denison, opening an insurance and real-estate
office in 1892.
She has met with success in its conduct and has secured a good
clientage in both departments. Well informed concerning realty values, she has
negotiated some important property transfers and her earnest efforts directed
by sound judgment and executive ability have brought her a good financial
return. Her husband was an exemplary member of the Masonic fraternity and of
the Grand Army of the Republic and Mrs. Williams now belongs to the Order of
the Eastern Star and the Women's Relief Corps, the two ladies' auxiliaries of
the above named organizations. She is likewise a member of the Presbyterian
church and in Denison, where she has now made her home for a third of a
century, she is held in the highest esteem by reason of what she has
accomplished and her admirable womanly qualities manifest in her social
Stone on front of building
"Mrs. E.A. Williams:
Photo by Dr. Mavis Anne Bryant
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and
West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. 1, p. 621.
1880 U.S. Census
Eliza and husband Dr. George W. Williams living in
Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas.
1896 Denison City Directory:
Williams E A & Co (E A and G G Williams), real
estate, insurance, loans, 110 N Rusk Avenue.
Williams Eliza A, widow Dr. G. W. (E A Williams
& Co), residence at 311 W Woodard.
Williams G Gordon (E A Williams & Co), residence
at 311 W Woodard.
Denison City Directory:
Williams Eliza A. (widow of George W.) (E. A.
Williams & Co.), residence over 311 W. Woodard. Phone 148-2.
Williams E. A. & Co. (Eliza A. Williams, — Co.),
insurance, loans, real estate, 114 N. Rusk Ave. Phone 148-2.
Denison City Directory:
Williams Eliza A. (widow of George W.), real estate
114 N Rusk Ave; residence at 311-1/2 W Woodard.
311 West Woodard Street
Source: "Residence of Mrs. E. A. Williams,
Real Estate, Insurance and Loans, 2nd Floor."
Robinson, Frank M., comp.
Industrial Denison. [N.p.]: Means-Moore Co., [ca. 1909]. Page 102.
Denison City Directory
No listing for Eliza A. Williams.
Post card showing 300 block of West Woodard Street, north side
311 West Woodard St.
(photo by Jack Suggs)
between Chamber of Commerce and Munson Bloci, 311 West Woodard now
houses the Denison Development Alliance. The mission of DDA
is to stimuulate growth of the local economy by locating, inducint, and
assisting businesses making investment decisions.
operating a successful business for some years, Eliza seems to have
married John Joseph Fairbanks around 1910. He was a divorced real
estate investor known for gambling.
Born in Mountain View, New
Jersey, on January 1, 1840, "J.J." lived in Brooklyn, Ney York and
Meriden, Connecticut as a young man. He then moved to Kansas and
founded the town of Colony in Anderson County. From Colony he
moved to Denison, Grayson Co., Texas, where he engaged in the real
estate businesss. He founded the town of Fairbanks in Harris
County, Texas in July 1895.
In Kokomo, Indiana on 1 January 1867,
John had married Edith Kirk, daughter of Nathan and Elizabeth (Kennedy)
Kirk, of Kirklin, Indiana. They had three children ~ Kirk Brooks
(1869 - 1953); May (1873 - 1875); and Loleta Maud (1876 - 1920).
In 1895 around the time he was founding the town in South Texas
named after himself, John built an imposing home on the south edge of
Denison. He he was said to host illegal activities.
By 1900, John's
married to Edith seems to have fallen apart, with her taking Loleta to
live in Kansas City. The 1910 Census reported him divorced, 70
years old, and living in Denison with his son Kirk, who had a family of
his own. Around this time, John seems to have established a home
with Eliza A. Williams.
John died in Denison on 15 April 1923 and was buried in Fairview Cemetery.
According to official Texas death records, Eliza A. Fairbanks
passed away on 7 June 1924. Records from Fairview Cemetery state
that she was buried in an unmarked grave, following her death on 7 June
1927. John's son Kirk Fairbanks died in 1953
and also was buried in Fairview.
The Fairbanks Home (Molly Cherry Bed &
"Residence of J.J. Fairbanks, Real Estate Dealer"
1700 S. Austin Ave.
Robinson, Frank M., comp. Industrial Denison [N.p.} : Means-Moore Co., [ca. 1909]. Page 76
640 acres at the edge of town, this 110-year-old landmark of Denison was built
on a high hill. Rumor has it that Fairbanks built the home to accommodate his
gambling pursuits. There is a widow's walk on the rooftop. The story goes that
he kept a sentry posted on the widow's walk to keep watch for sheriffs and
house features four fireplaces, 12-foot ceilings, 10-foot stained-glass doors,
and stained-glass windows throughout the home. Each room was built with a
different wood—mahogany, pecan, cherry, and (now extinct to Texas) tiger oak.
Even the wood on the 200-pound pocket doors corresponds to the room—e.g.,
mahogany on one side, tiger oak on the other. The house has a grand staircase
and amazingly detailed woodwork throughout the home.
house went through several owners. In 1979, the house was going to be
demolished to make way for Harold Haddock's car dealership at 1801 South Austin
Avenue. However, the wife of the car dealer would not hear of it being
destroyed and insisted that it be saved to serve as the Haddock family
J. Fairbanks Residence
1700 S. Austin Ave.
Prior to move to 200 W. Prospect
In 1980, the house was moved one block west,
from its original site at 1700 South Austin Avenue to 200 West Prospect. Ruel Golden of
Coalgate, Oklahoma, was able to move the house downhill despite being told that it could not be done! It
took five seven-ton flatbed trailers to move the 250,000-pound house over 200
yards straight downhill. Later
it was renovated and served as Molly Cherry Bed & Breakfast, 200 Molly
Cherry Lane. This
explains why the Molly Cherry is uniquely located on seven wooded acres in a
busy area of Denison.
2008, Walter and Lynn Marrable purchased the Molly Cherry Bed and Breakfast.
200 W. Prospect
Courtesy of Molly Cherry Bed & Breakfast