Family of John Williams



The Williams of Matagorda

John Williams, the head of this large family, came from Denmark in 1845, landing on Matagorda peninsula opposite the town of Matagorda. He was just verging on manhood, and inspired by youth and the spirit of the new west, pre-empted his land and opened up a farm. Next year came the Franz family and settled near by. Katherine Franz won the heart of the young Dane, and the next year, Katherine and John Williams were married.

The Williams lived at their home on the peninsula until the storm of ’75, after which terrible experience they moved to the mainland, and opened up a new farm on the Colorado, thence back to the gulf beach, and later to Big Hill where they lived for over 20 years before moving into the town of Matagorda.

Mr. Jas. A. Williams, eldest son of John Williams, 65 years of age, recalls vividly the storm of ’54 which was the most terrific of all the storms which struck that coast during his recollection. The wind blew off the roof of their home and damaged nearly every habitation on the peninsula, and every house in Matagorda was wrecked by 5 or 6, the tide coming high enough to carry a boat away up in town.

In the storm of ’75 the water was higher than in ’54, and Mr. Williams lost 250 head of cattle and a flock of sheep. In ’86 there was another hurricane, in which the wind lighter but the water as deep, and again all their stock was washed away. Then it was they moved away for good to Big Hill.

During the civil war, Mr. J. A. Williams says, the Federals on the gunboats and those stationed at Ducros lived on mutton and beef from the peninsula farms, taking from our herds two to four at a time whenever they wanted them. Mr. Williams then recalled an accident from the finding of an unexploded shell which caused his father’s death. The Federal gun-boats on the gulf side had been (in 1865) trying to throw shells across the peninsula and bay into the town of Matagorda; and most of them fell harmless on the peninsula, for the gun-boats of that day were poorly armed. One of those shells was found near the Williams home, and Mr. W. opened the end of the shell which was about 4x9, and emptied (as he thought) all the powder out of it; and then, desiring to further explore the mysterious recesses of the shell, called “Jamie, bring me a coal of fire,” last being the match-for-a-light in those days; and when the light was brought and dropped into the aperture, it lighted the fuse connecting the undisturbed second section of the shell and there was an explosion which wrought havoc all around. Mr. Williams’ left foot was blown off, as well as one corner of the dwelling, but James escaped without a scratch. Mr. Williams was moved to Matagorda for medical attention, and the mangled foot amputated, but gangrene caused his death. The wife of John Williams died in 1914, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. B. A. Ryman, aged at the time of death 86 years.  Mrs. Zipprian, of Big Hill, an older sister of Mrs. Williams is still living at the age of 92 years. They were sisters of Conrad Franz, for many years a builder and contractor of this county, and of Mrs. George Berg, mother of the Bergs also of Matagorda.

On the children of John and Katherine Williams, there are yet living Mrs. Wm. A. Baxter, James A. Williams, John Williams, all of Matagorda, W. C. Williams of Palacios, and Mrs. J. S. Gillette of Bay City. Harry P. died in Bay City ten years ago and Mrs. Henry H. Serrill was another daughter.

The direct descendents of John and Katherine Williams living are the above named four children and 35 grand-children and 43 great-grand-children, among them men and women of our best citizenship.

The Matagorda County News and Midcoast Farmer, Tuesday, September 19, 1916


Copyright 2008 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs

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This page was created
Jan. 31, 2008
This page was updated
Feb. 3, 2008