Clarence E. Williams

As published in
"The City of Kenosha and Kenosha County Wisconsin: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement"
by Frank H. Lyman Vol. 2, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1916.




A resident farmer of Kenosha County is Clarence E. Williams, who lives on Section 18, Bristol Township. His entire life has been spent in this locality, and diligence and determination have brought him to a gratifying measure of success. He was born in Bristol on the 25th of June 1860, a son of Cornelius and Catherine S. (Trafford) Williams, who were natives of New York and on leaving the Empire state came to Kenosha County. The history of the Williams family has been traced back to William Williams, who was born in Wales, but came to America before the breaking out of the last French and Indian War in 1755. He enlisted in the colonial army and marched with Braddock's ill-starred troops to attack Fort Duquesne. He never returned and is supposed to have been killed in the bloody defeat suffered by Braddock's forces. He was accompanied to this country by his two sons, Aaron and William, then young men, the former of whom settled in Schohaire County, New York while the latter married a sister of Peter Lampman and leased and cleared a farm east of Copake Lake, Columbia County, New York. There he built a log house with one room and loft and with no floor save the ground. He and his wife reared twelve children, as follows: William, Elizabeth, Casparus, David, Peter, Nelly, Cornelius, Henry, Lanah, Clara, Hannah and John. The sons all lived near Copake, Cornelius residing upon a farm in the eastern part of the town. His children were: Elizabeth, John C., Aaron, Mary, Rhoda, Calvin, Lewis, Moncrief, Seymour, and Clara. John C., who was born on the 16th of October 1791, passed his entire life in Columbia County, New York, dying there on the 28th of January, 1876. He married Charity Smith, who was born on the 5th of April 1797, and was the only child of John Smith. Her demise occurred on the 26th of April 1864. She was the mother of the following children: Sylvester, lived and died in Copake, New York. Sally was married on the 25th of May 1833 to Abraham Snyder, and in 1867 they removed to Illinois, where Mr. Snyder passed away on the 28th of January 1882. Mrs. Snyder, however, survived for many years, dying on the 8th of November 1900, when eighty-five years old. Clara married Ira Williams, and died on the 24th of March 1883. Cornelius, the father of our subject, was the next in order of birth. The two youngest children were Eliza and John.

Cornelius Williams was born in Columbia County, New York, on the 16th of September 1819, and in early manhood took up the profession of teaching, but subsequently turned his attention to farming. In 1842, in New York, he wedded Catherine S. Trafford, a native of Columbia County and a daughter of Robert Trafford. The year 1854 witnessed their arrival in Kenosha County, and the father invested in the farm that constitutes the home place of their son Clarence. He made many improvements, converting the place into one of the valuable farm properties of Bristol Township, and from time to time he extended the boundaries of his land until he owned three hundred and fifty acres, all highly cultivated. The farm, too, was splendidly improved with a commodious residence and substantial barns and outbuildings, while the best farm machinery was used to promote the work of the fields. Mr. Williams did not concentrate his energies upon his farm work to the extent of leaving him no time for public duties. He always recognized and met his obligations in public affairs and rendered faithful service when his fellow townsmen called upon him to fill a number of offices. For several years he was a member of the Board of Supervisors, and in 1880 the Republican party nominated and elected him to represent Kenosha County in the thirty-third Wisconsin General Assembly, where he did splendid work in behalf of many projects having to do with the welfare of the state. He was equally loyal as a champion of the cause of education while serving for a number of years on the school board. He and his wife were devoted members of the Methodist church and their lives were in harmony with its teachings. The death of Mr. Williams occurred March 27, 1891, while his wife passed away January 26, 1889. They had a daughter, Etta, who became the wife of Milton R. Hubbard, a Kenosha County farmer, and passed away April 18, 1877. Another daughter, Esther, died September 26, 1849, when but two years of age, and a son, Franklin, on the 30th of September 1849, at the age of five years.

The only surviving member of the family is Clarence E. Williams, who is now classed with the representative farmers and valued citizens of Bristol Township. Liberal educational opportunities were accorded him. He supplemented his district school training by a year of study in the Kenosha High School, and for two years was a student in Lawrence University at Appleton, Wisconsin. He then resumed the occupation of farming upon the old homestead, where he had been previously trained in all branches of farm work, and he is today the owner of a valuable property, having assumed entire management of the place upon his father's death. He has carried on both general farming and dairying with success.

On the 19th of October, 1882 in Kenosha, Mr. Williams was joined in wedlock to Miss Mary R. Lane, a daughter of John P. and Mary (Bovee-Edison) Lane, who were natives of New Hampshire and Canada, respectively. They had eight children, five sons and three daughters, namely: Stephen B., who was born on the 15th of January 1847 and died on the 26th of November 1868; Frank H., who was born on the 24th of November 1848, and died on the 31st of March 1909; David E., who was born on the 22nd of June 1850 and whose death occurred on the 2d of November 1861; John F., born November 24, 1856; Carlton J., who was born May 22d, 1857; Bertha F., who was born on the 24th of August, 1859 and died on the 27th of October, 1896; Mary R., born January 31, 1861; and Daisy A., born November 23d, 1867. Mr. and Mrs. Williams have become the parents of four children of whom Frankie C., died on the 5th of November 1885, and Arthur on the 13th of May 1893. Brosia Mary became the wife of Frederick W. Murdoch, of Kenosha, her marriage occurring on the 21st of March, 1907, and she has two children: Clarence Frederick, born on the 27th of October, 1910, and Mary Edith, born on the 29th of December 1912. Wesley Trafford was married on the 2d of December, 1914 to Miss Olive Emily Parkin and they live upon the home place.

Mr. Williams is identified with the Modern Woodmen camp at Bristol and with the Elks lodge at Kenosha. When age conferred upon him the right of franchise he espoused the cause of the Republican party and has since been one of its stalwart champions. For three years he served as Chairman of the town board, and for a quarter of a century has been Treasurer of the School Board. He and his wife belong to the Methodist Episcopal church, and its teachings have been the guiding force of their lives. He has never deviated from a course which he believed to be right between himself and his fellowmen and his entire record is in harmony with the history of the Williams family, a family that for more than six decades has occupied an enviable position in public regard in Kenosha County.

Typed by: Michelle Laycock



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