Search billions of records on

  Grayson County TXGenWeb 

Eliza Anna Ray Williams


Eliza Anna Ray Williams (1839–1924)

(Mrs. George W. Williams)

MRS. ELIZA A. WILLIAMS, who is held in the highest respect for what she has accomplished in the business world since the death of her husband [1888], is now conducting an insurance and real-estate 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 there [Eliza] 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 socially in Denison. He was born in Tennessee and with his father went to Missouri in his youth. He pursued his professional education in St. Louis (Missouri) Medical College and in Hahneman Medical College, Philadelphia, being a graduate of both institutions. He entered upon the practice of his chosen calling in southwestern Missouri and in 1873 came to Denison, where he remained until his death, which occurred on the 2nd of August, 1888. He was one of the first 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.

Stone on front of building
"Mrs. E.A. Williams:
"Erected 1895"

Photo by Dr. Mavis Anne Bryant
ca. 2000

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 relations.

 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. 

1901 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.

1907 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
ca. 1908
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.


1909 Denison City Directory

No listing for Eliza A. Williams.

Post card showing 300 block of West Woodard Street, north side
ca. 1912

311 West Woodard St.
Denison, Texas
March 2010
(photo by Jack Suggs)
Located 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.

Later Life

After 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 & Breakfast)

"Residence of J.J. Fairbanks, Real Estate Dealer"
1700 S. Austin Ave.
Denison, Texas
Robinson, Frank M., comp. Industrial Denison [N.p.} : Means-Moore Co., [ca. 1909].  Page 76

Situated on 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 wives.

The 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.

The 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 residence.

J. J. Fairbanks Residence
1700 S. Austin Ave.
Denison, Texas
October 1960
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.

In 2008, Walter and Lynn Marrable purchased the Molly Cherry Bed and Breakfast.

ca. 2010
200 W. Prospect
Courtesy of Molly Cherry Bed & Breakfast
Denison, Texas


Biography Index

Grayson County Index
Elaine Nall Bay