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Friday, July 19, 2013

More About the Williams Family Buried in The Williams Cemetery

After I wrote the blog about the restoration of the Williams Cemetery recently, a cousin on Facebook commented that she was not familiar with this family or how they were connected to our family. I realized that I needed to share this with her and anyone else who might be curious about the family.

As I have written before, our family is connected to three different Williams lines who arrived in Shelby County from three distinct different parts of this country. I have not been able to link them until they all arrived in Shelby County. It can be quite confusing keeping them all straight, as you might imagine.

The Williams Cemetery in Brandywine Township is located on the original farm of a Shelby County pioneer, Daniel Williams and his wife, Mary Kimberlin Williams. They are found living there in the 1820s in property deeds and land transactions, very early in the county’s history. Daniel owned a large amount of land after he and Mary moved from Clark County in Southern Indiana.

Daniel was born about 1790 in either Kentucky or Virginia. He was the son of Reece Williams and Lavina Jolly Williams. I think Reece and Lavina were from Virginia, though I haven’t begun to work on this yet. If anyone knows more about Reece and Lavina, I would be thrilled to hear from you.  I know that Reece died in Clark County, Indiana on 18 November 1827, having found a small obituary for him on Rootsweb. It reads:  

Died, on the same night ("Saturday night last" from the obituary preceeding this one), in this county, Mr. Reece Williams, aged about 68 years. Farmers' and Mechanics' Advocate, Charlestown, Indiana, Saturday 24 November 1827

We have never been fortunate enough to find obituaries for either Daniel or his wife Mary. Even though they died much later in Shelby County.

Family records show that these are the children for Daniel and Mary, all born in Shelby County:

Matthew Williams – Born 19 Nov. 1822 and died 3 Feb. 1879. Matthew married    Martha Caroline Padrick who was born 19 Feb. 1825 N.C. and died 24 Sep. 1893  Both are buried in the Williams Cemtery.

Margery Williams – Born abt. 1825 and died bef. 1869 in Shelby County.  She was married to Henderson Harrell. They’re buried in the Brandywine Cemetery.

Eli Williams – Born 3 Mar. 1828 and died 29 Mar. 1861 in Shelby County. He was    married to Clarinda Colclazier. Eli is buried in the Williams Cemetery. His wife remarried a neighbor, John Bishop.

Paulina Williams – Born abt. 1832 and died 28 July 1889 in Shelby County. She was married to Edmond Steward/Stewart . Paulina is buried in the Williams Cemetery.

Jesse Williams – Born abt. 1839 and died 25 Jan. 1882 Shelby County. Jesse    married Elizabeth Jane Steward / Stewart. Jesse and his wife lived in Greenfield,    Hancock County and are buried there in the Park Cemetery.

Nancy Williams – Born and died unknown.  I suspect Nancy died at a young age.    A small headstone was uncovered recently in the Williams Cemetery but had worn smooth over the years. We suspect that this is Nancy’s stone, but may never know for sure.

Other researchers on the internet have linked Josiah Williams, who died in Wisconsin. as another son of  Daniel and Mary. And recently, cousin Jon discovered a daughter named America who is said to belong to Daniel and Mary. We are working to prove these links and hope to find more children for them.

Now you know about Daniel’s family but still don’t know how they are connected to our family.  For the direct link, we must look at Daniel’s son, Matthew and his wife, Martha Caroline Padrick Williams.

Matthew’s daughter, Margaret Anne, was married to our great-great-grandfather, William Frederick Steward. Grandma Ofa Williams told a story about “Fred” and his friendship with the Williams family (who were neighbors). Fred would walk over to visit them when he was an 8 or 9 year old boy. He would ask to hold baby, Margaret Anne, and rock her. One day, he told Daniel that he would marry Margaret Anne when she was “old enough”. True to his word, Fred married Margaret Anne when she was only 16 years old. They eloped to Carroll County, Kentucky! Fred and Margaret were married for nearly 45 years when she passed away. It must have truly been love at first sight.

To continue the link, from Fred and Margaret Williams Steward  --  their son, James Matthew Steward was our great-grandfather. He married Edith Hendricks (or Henricks) in 1892 (Shelby County). James ("Jim") Steward was a rural mail carrier in the Fairland area. He and Edith were the parents of our Grandma, Ofa Steward.

Grandma Ofa Steward met a young man at a church picnic in Fairland, Indiana. She really liked him, she said. Apparently he really liked her, too. On 25 June 1916, Grandma  (age 22) married the young man – his name was Jesse Carl WILLIAMS! (And who did Ofa’s sister Ivy marry??? Carl E. WILLIAMS! And no, these two Williams men were not previously related!) 

IF it is still confusing to you – the connection between Daniel Williams and our Steward family -- don’t feel like you’re alone! It took me awhile to get all of this straight. But I am hoping this will help my family know a little more about their pioneer Hoosier ancestors. We should all be very proud of them!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Williams Cemetery -- The Restoration Begins!


The Williams Cemetery in Brandywine Township has always been an island of trees and tangled vines between two cornfields. It is located between the Brandywine Road and the Shoestring Pike, just north of the Indiana Downs Casino. The Williams home place which is just down the lane, has been designated a Hoosier Pioneer Homestead complete with an official sign in the yard of current owners, the Ortel family.

Restoring the old cemetery has been a dream for myself and my cousin, Jon. We have discussed it many times.  Without proper tools and the financial means to restore the broken stones, we were very discouraged.

That all changed with an email from my friend, Julie. She wanted to help us restore the cemetery using financing from the Blue River Foundation Cemetery Preservation Fund.  (If you would like to contribute to this fund, I’ll give you the contact information at the end of this article.)  We hoped to start in March, but it was too cold in Indiana at that time. Next, the rains came! I kept hoping the weather would improve. Finally, the first of June, Julie and I decided the time was right.

We were a small but dedicated group who began to clear all the overgrown brush, trees, and weeds from the cemetery. Julie and cousin Jon brought gloves, tools, and probes. Cousin Lowell brought his chain saw. Cousin Connie and I began the clean-up process as Lowell took down dead trees and limbs, and we all cleared away the overgrowth. At the end of two visits, the cemetery was clearly visible. It had never looked so beautiful  - even though this was just the beginning.

All of the grave stones were in disrepair and pieces of many of them were missing.  The large marble monument  for Matthew and Martha Williams was in many pieces but gradually we were able to rebuild it. It was an amazing sight! Julie cleaned the stone for Eli Williams and it could finally be read. We also rebuilt Ida Williams’ granite monument .  James V. Williams’ stone was in two separate pieces that would have to be professionally repaired.  In fact, all the stones would be professionally restored and cleaned by Greenfield Granite, in Hancock County,  Indiana.  We were not able to locate the top of the stone for Paulina Williams Steward but after the area is probed, we are hoping to locate it.

We worked for most of the week, cousins Jon, Connie, Lowell and “adopted” cousins, Julie and Jerry. It was truly amazing what our little group accomplished in the hot June sunshine. The Ortels were terrific, visiting us and praising the work. They provided cold sodas and anything else we needed. We appreciated their support  so much.  Janice and Larry, we couldn’t have done this without you!

Greenfield Granite has taken the stones to be restored. They will also prepare a stone for Daniel and Mary Williams. Although we have never found their graves, we all feel they are buried on the property. Daniel was a Shelby County Pioneer and created many acres of productive farmland out of the early Indiana wilderness.

I will follow-up this post with updates on the cemetery restoration. We plan to landscape the area and put up a small fence. The state will provide an Indiana Pioneer Cemetery sign, and Greenfield Granite will make a stone to identify the Williams Cemetery. The cemetery will be protected by the state; it will not be moved or destroyed. And that is the best gift any of the many descendants of Daniel and Mary Kimberlin Williams can ever receive!

If you would like to provide a donation to the Blue River Cemetery Restoration Fund, please send any amount to:

The Blue River Foundation
54 West Broadway St.
Shelbyville, Indiana 46176

(Please be sure to designate "Cemetery Restoration" on your donation. Thanks!)

More pictures ----
Top:  Ida Williams
        Matthew & Martha
          Williams - rebuilt 
       Stones before being