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Private John May Williams
U. S. Army
Ser. # 1,088,755

January 18, 1891 - October 21, 1918

Matagorda Cemetery
Matagorda, Matagorda County, Texas

Gold Star Mother
Caroline L. [Yeamans] Williams


Private John (Johnnie) May Williams [January 18, 1891 October 21, 1918] was born to James Francis Williams [July12, 1849 November 30, 1938] and Caroline L. [Yeamans] Williams [April 9, 1852 December 14, 1919] at Big Hill, Matagorda County, Texas.  He died from Spanish Flu while stationed in England with his brother Darwin.  It is not known to which unit he was attached.  He was first buried in England then returned home and was re-buried at Matagorda Cemetery. Besides his parents he was survived by three brothers and three sisters. His family was living in Matagorda, Matagorda County, Texas when he enlisted and when he died.  His parents are buried near him in the Matagorda Cemetery.



Temporary burial: Chadderton Cemetery, near Middleton, Lancashire, England, August, 1919


These two fine looking young men are sons of J. F. Williams of Matagorda. They are overseas doing radio work with an aero squadron from Ellington field, and in letters home they say they like the life of the army. They are both skilled telegraphers and hope, in their "line," to be of material assistance in winning the war.

John May took a special radio course at Austin and Darwin was formerly agent for the Santa Fe at Matagorda.--Courtesy Houston Post

Matagorda County Tribune, September 20, 1918


A cablegram was received here yesterday announcing the death of John May Williams, who died in England. The message came from his brother, who was with him at the time of his death.

Johnnie May was a son of Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Williams of Matagorda and enlisted in the radio service some time in early spring.

The news of his death has caused much grief in Bay City where he has many relatives and friends.

Matagorda County Tribune, November 1, 1918


Matagorda, Texas, November 22.--Some letters have arrived from Darwin Williams, in England, giving particulars of his brother, Johnie May Williams' death, as he was near him when he died.

He had Spanish influenza which developed double pneumonia to which illness he succumbed in four days and poor Darwin is heart-broken, saying his greatest wish now is that he may be permitted to come home once more to the arms of his mother.

A Presbyterian minister, of which church Johnie May was a member, officiated and he was buried with military honors, and there were many beautiful floral offerings.

Darwin said he could not have been put away more beautifully had he been at home, which in a measure is a comfort to the bereft ones. Darwin also had a tombstone erected in order that there be no trouble when the remains were shipped back to America.

Johnie May Williams was born at Big Hill, January 1891, and his parents moved to Matagorda when he was only nine years old.

He was always so jolly and friendly with everyone, was kind hearted and obliging, pleasant to the aged and was a universal favorite as was evidenced by the many letters, messages and words of sympathy when the wholly unexpected and shocking message came that he was dead.

The gloom of sadness was in the hearts of all his friends here and is still for he was the first of our boys in service to "go West" and when the other boys, his life-time companions, "come marching home," they will look in vain for the smiling face of Johnie May and will never cease to miss him all down the years. They could not for they have all been too closely associated which has cemented their love for him for aye.

There is no surcease for his parents, brothers and sisters in their great sorrow and their only boon is to be brave and prepare to meet him when they, too, shall have to "go West."

"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

Matagorda County Tribune, November 23, 1918



Matagorda, Texas, Dec. 19.--The sudden passing away without warning of Mrs. Williams, wife of Mr. J. F. Williams, Sunday morning, Dec. 14, 1919, at 11:30 o'clock was such a shock to every one that neither relatives or friends can yet fully realize that she is no more.

She arose apparently well that morning and after a light breakfast had prepared the noon meal, her sister-in-law, Mrs. E. A. Baxter, having come in for the day as she often times did, and she said to her, "I believe I'll lie down for a little while as I do not feel very well." She then went to her room and not five minutes after Mr. Williams who had been in the yard came in and asked his sister where his wife had gone.

Upon being told he immediately went to her room and said, "Let me tuck the cover around you so you can keep warm," he noticing at the time that her face was partially covered.

He removed the covering from her face and as he did so she gasped, shuddered and her spirit had taken its flight into eternity.

Mr. Williams immediately rushed for a physician and Mrs. Baxter called some of their neighbors but their efforts to revive her were all in vain as life was extinct. All this occurred so much quicker than can be told and in the home where all was peace and quiet this Sabbath morning, is now one of gloom and despair.

The bereft husband and children are inconsolable as can well be imagined as she lived for them--and too, the family has scarcely had time to be reconciled to the death of John May Williams who passed away in England fourteen months ago while in service for his country and Mrs. Williams' untimely death is attributed greatly to her bereavement of her son whom she mourned for continually.

A more devoted wife, mother and grandmother could not be found than she. 'Twas her delight to remember their every anniversary with some kind of joyful gathering--often times 'twas a picnic in the woods, a sail on the bay, an oyster roast at the river, a surprise party or just an old time home gathering and each one of them looked forward to this unique and beautiful custom of hers, which made their house a home and kept life happy for all of them, and 'tis no wonder they will miss her, not only now, but all the years to come.

Mrs. Caroline Louise Williams who died at the age of 67 years, 8 months and 3 days, was born, reared and married in Matagorda.

She was the youngest daughter of Rev. and Mrs. Joseph Yeamans and was married to Mr. James Francis Williams in 1873. Of this union there were nine children, three of whom have preceded her to the grave.

Those surviving here are C. P. Williams, W. E. Williams, Darwin Williams of Matagorda; Mrs. Laura Emmell, Mrs. J. P. Parris and Mrs. E. P. Maynard of Houston, and eleven grandchildren.

Early in life she united with the Christian Church, her father being a minister of that denomination. She has always held to her faith and tried in the feeble way of all mortals to "tread the path the Master trod." Just recently upon being asked if she feared death she replied, that she dreaded the ordeal of the separation of soul and body but was "ready to go whenever called."

Rev. Granville T. Storey of Bay City conducted the services from the home and a large gathering of sorrowing relatives and friends followed the hearse to the cemetery where she was laid to rest beside her son, Jim Williams, who was drowned in the 1900 hurricane.

Beautiful winter floral offerings adorned the grave when all was over.

The hearts of their many friends go out in sympathy to this bereft family and may He, "who doeth all things well," be their guide and comfort in their burden of sorrow.

Quite a number from out-of-town attended the funeral among whom were, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Billingsley, Miss Augie Austin, Messrs. Christian, Jim, George and Ed. Zipprian of Gulf; Mesdames J. S. Gillette, Amos Lee and C. F. Baker, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Williams and Alvin Williams of Bay City, and Walter Williams of Palacios.

The Matagorda County Tribune, December 22, 1919

Matagorda Deaths

Mr. James Francis Williams, one of Matagorda's oldest beloved citizens, died in Bay City Wednesday evening, at the residence of his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. E. P. Maynard. Mrs. Maynard was the only one with him when he passed away. His death was sudden and unexpected, he had been out in the yard and presently came in feeling badly and in a little while all was over. The remains were taken in charge of by the A. E. Duffy Funeral Home and the casket taken to the old home where his wife died in 1919. After his later home was burned to the ground here this past spring, he seemed so unsettled and restless, and though moving to Bay City with Mr. and Mrs. Maynard, he came home often.

Many beautiful florals came to the house where many relatives and friends old and new, had gathered. After Rev. Paul Engle read the funeral rites, his grandsons acted as pall bearers and tenderly lifted the casket and placed it in the ambulance. They were: Dinsmore Williams, Preston Williams, C. P. Williams, Jr., "Jimbo" Williams, Ted Maynard and Sam H. Cheek.

A long funeral procession followed to the cemetery where the body was laid to rest by the side of his wife and two sons for whom he had never ceased to mourn. The magnificent flowers hid the new-made grave from view and covered those of the other members of the family who had gone on. In a great measure these flowers soothed the pang of separation of the mourners.

Mr. Williams was born July 17, 1847, on Matagorda peninsula that was a town in itself those days. He spent all of his life around and in the town of Matagorda. He and his relatives were the owners of Big Hill real estate that later became the big sulphur field, and where the Williams settlement had been, the town of Gulf sprang up. He was a member of the Christian Church and he and his wife were seldom absent from church services. Surviving are three daughters, Mrs. Maynard, Mrs. Emmel of Houston and Mrs. J. P. Parris of Tyler; three sons, C. P. Williams, W. E. Williams and D. M. Williams of Matagorda; seven grandsons, five granddaughters and four great grand children; three sisters and one brother, Mrs. James Gillett of Bay City, Mrs. B. A. Ryman and Mrs. A. E. Baxter, Matagorda, Mr. W. C. Williams, Palacios. He is now with those he loved long since and lost awhile.

The Daily Tribune, December 8, 1938


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Jan. 30, 2006
Oct. 3, 2007