Biography of Alford J. Williams
Bronx County, NY Biographies





ALFORD JOSEPH WILLIAMS - A long and varied business career has been that of Alford Joseph Williams, who has been serving as alderman from the Thirty second District in The Bronx, since 1923. Previous to his election as alderman he had served as assistant superintendent in the employ of Baker, Smith, and Company concern for a period of thirty years. That company was engaged in the power heating and ventilating business, and is still one of the well known concerns of its kind in New York City. Mr. Williams became a wage earner when he was thirteen years of age, and his career up to the time of his association with the Baker, Smith, and Company concern, was a most active and varied one. Long hours, hard work, and small pay were his lot for many years, but through it all he stored up experience and used his difficulties as stepping stones to success.

Alford Joseph Williams was born in the building on the corner of Horatio and Washington streets, New York City, April 4, 1872, son of Alford Byer Williams, who was born in New York City, son of Charles and Ann (Boyce) Williams, both natives of New York City. Alford Byer Williams married Elizabeth F. McGrath, who was born in New York City, daughter of Henry and Mary (O'Neil) McGrath, and granddaughter of Matthew McGrath. On the maternal side she was a daughter of Henry and Ann (Walsh) McGrath. Before her marriage she taught for several years in the old Elm Street School. While Alford Joseph Williams was still a child his parents removed first to Sixty second Street and later to Forty eighth Street and Lexington Avenue, and he received his earliest education in the public school located on the corner of Fifty first Street and Lexington Avenue. Later he attended Public School No. 23, in the old Williamsburgh section of Brooklyn, from which he was graduated when he was twelve years of age. He then matriculated in what was then known as the Williamsburgh College, and completed his education with one year of study there. When he was thirteen years old he entered the employ of George Ziepher, a manufacturer of picture wire, who paid him, for his services, one dollar a week. Six months later he made a change and found employment with the Gardner Laundry at twenty eight dollars a month. There was no specification as to the number of hours he was to work, and he was often required to continue his toil into the late hours of the evening. After a short period of service with this concern he entered the employ of Simpson, Crawford, and Simpson, one of the leading dry goods houses of the city, located on Sixth Avenue, for whom he delivered packages above the Harlem River for three and a half dollars a week. Six months later he found better pay in the employ of an oyster and fish store at five dollars a week, but after a brief stay here he became identified with Haman and Radish, shoe manufacturers, located on the corner of Jay Street and Washington Street, who paid him four and a half dollars per week. Two months after securing his job with this company he left them and made his first connection with the Baker, Smith, and Company concern, engaged in the power heating and ventilating business. He worked as one of their helpers at six dollars a week until he decided that this was the trade he wished to learn. Having at last found the trade to which he felt he could devote his time and his energy, he continued as helper, but devoted his time and his energy to the mastery of all phases of the business, studying hard and long, giving evenings and whatever spare time he could command to the task of thoroughly mastering the theory and the practices of the trade. Close application and effective study soon made him an efficient mechanic in this line, and his skill soon brought to him opportunity. Although not a member of the Union he was placed upon important outside work, that is, work done outside of the shops, and his first job was on the Farunshaft Club building, on the corner of Park Avenue and Seventy second Street, in New York City. When that important piece of work was completed he was sent to Lawrenceville, New Jersey, to work on the Lawrenceville High School and Preparatory School, and his next piece of work was in Philadelphia, where he worked on the private residence of H. C. Henze, at Thirty fourth and Knowlton streets. All these important assignments brought increase in salary, which at this time had reached the sum of sixteen dollars a week. After working on the H. C. Henze contract for a year, Mr. Williams returned to New York City and was placed on the work at the residence of H. H. Rogers, Hyde Park, New York, where he was engaged for fourteen months. By this time his salary had been increased to eighteen dollars a week, and when the work on the H. H. Rogers residence was completed he returned to the Baker, Smith, and Company concern, and was made foreman of the work being done on the H. O. Havemeyer residence at the corner of Sixty sixth Street and Fifth Avenue, a position which he held for three years. At the end of that time he was made assistant superintendent of the Baker, Smith, and Company concern, and that responsible position he held for thirty years, giving most efficient service to his employers, and making for himself an enviable reputation for skill and for executive and administrative ability. At the end of that time, in 1923, he was elected alderman from the Thirty second district of The Bronx, carrying the district by a majority of 1800, and in 1925 he was reelected, this time by a majority of 5200, thus transforming an old, "hide bound" Republican district into a Democratic stronghold. Mr. Williams is active in the affairs of the Democratic party, is a member of the North End Democratic Club, and of the Bedford Park Taxpayers' Association, and has always been actively interested in the advancement of the interests of The Bronx. He is a member of the Guiding Star Council, No. 512, Knights of Columbus; and of Bronx Council, Royal Arcanum. His religious affiliation is with the Roman Catholic Church of St. Brendan, of which Father John E. Wickham is pastor. He has served as a trustee of the church for eighteen years, and was the first president of the Holy Name Society connected with this church.

Alford Joseph Williams was married, in the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, on One Hundred and Fifteenth Street, New York City, by Father Michael Carmody, P. S. M., to Emma Elizabeth Madden, daughter of William, who was born in Ballinasloe, County Galway, Ireland, and of Mary (Corcoran) Madden, who was born near the town of her husband's birth, in County Galway, Ireland. Mr. and Mrs. Williams are the parents of four children: 1. Alford Joseph, Jr., is a graduate of Fordham University, degree of Bachelor of Arts, and of the Law School of Georgetown University, from which he received the degree of Bachelor of Laws. He was admitted to the New York bar in 1926. He is also distinguished as one of America's leading aviators, having broken all earlier speed records, by making three hundred and two miles an hour. He married Florence Selby. 2. Gertrude Mary, married Joseph A. McQuade, and they have three children: Delores, Jeanne, and Patricia. 3. Joseph Aloysius, also distinguished as an aviator, and served with his brother. He married Genevieve Kelly. 4. Frances Regina.

From:
The Bronx and its people
A History 1609-1927
Board of Editors: James L. Wells,
Louis F. Haffen
Josiah A. Briggs.
Historian: Benedict Fitspatrick
Publisher: The Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc.
New York 1927


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