Biography of John Williams


Williams, John, Grand Island, p. o. Sheenwater, a resident of Grand Island since his boyhood, was born in Huron county, Ohio, in 1838, the eldest of four children born to Edward and Ellen Williams, natives of Wales. Edward Williams was possessed of considerable money and came to America in 1837, bringing his wife with him and going direct to Ohio, where he embarked in the land business. This enterprise proved disastrous and he lost his money. In 1845 he removed to Chippewa, Canada, and a year later located in Grand Island, where he found employment. A few years later and during the year of the cholera in that section he left home one day to go to Tonawanda to engage emyloymerit and was never heard of by the family afterward. His wife survives him and resides with her son. After the death of his father John became the family support. When the war of the Rebellion broke out and a call for troops was made he was anxious to enlist his services, but the prevailing influence of his mother and sisters and the duties incumbent upon him for their support forced him to remain at home a few years longer, but enlisted as a private in Co. G. 187th N. Y. Vols., on September 29, 1864. The regiment was organized in Buffalo, October 13, 1864, and ordered to join ~the Army of the Potomac in the field before Petersburg, Va., where it engaged in the siege of that place, taking part in the battle of Hatcher's Run, October 27, where it lost eighty men killed and wounded. He was with hisregimentin the expedition of the Fifth Corps against the Weldon Railroad, known as the "Hicksford raid,' and participated in the engagements of Nottaway Court House, Second Hatcher's Run, Vaughn Road, Quaker Road, Gravelly Run, Boydton Plank Road, Five Forks and Sutherland Station. The regiment was in the pursuit of Lee from April 2 to 9, taking part in the engagements of Amelia Court House, High Bridge, Jettersville and Appomattox. He was with his regiment from enlistment until after the surrender of Lee and was a gallant soldier. He performed many notable acts of personal bravery and was offered promotion which he declined. Since his return from the war he has devoted his time to farming. For several years past he has added grape culture, and owns a farm of twenty-five acres beautifully located on the bank of the west division of the Niagara River. In politics Mr. Williams is a Republican. He is a member of the G. A. R. of Buffalo. When a lad of ten Mr. Williams and his father (who was then badly disabled by rheumatism) had a remarkable escape from being washed over the Niagara Falls. While crossing the river in a canoe the swift current and a strong wind forced them down at a rapid rate, and by supreme efforts they succeeded in forcing the canoe to a reef, striking with such force that young Williams jumped out into the water, and seizing hold of his father held his head out of the water. The canoe capsized and went on over the falls.. The current was slowly but surely washing the two off the reef, when the timely appearance of some men on the shore with a long rope rescued them from their perilous position, as they were about exhausted. In 1866 Mr. Williams married Margaret Welsh, born in Canada in 1844, and they have two children by adoption, Frank Bean, a nephew of Mr. Williams, and a girl aged ten years.

Our County and its people
A descriptive work on Erie County, New York
Edited by: Truman C. White
The Boston History Company, Publishes 1898


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