Thursday, January 30, 2014

#52ancestors - #5 - John M. Williams - Tracking Common Names

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Ancestor #5
Amy Johnson Crow has posted a challenge on her blog "No Story Too Small".

     JOHN M. WILLIAMS           
      My maternal 2nd great grandfather

Tracking down an ancestor with a common name is not an easy task. The first records located showed him as J. M. Williams. Ugh! Why didn't they list his first name? A man named J. J. Jacobs was living in their household. Mr. Jacobs was listed as a Ranger (Texas Rangers) and owned land too even though he was living with John and Martha. I made note of the six year age gap between their daughter Susan and son James as it is a strong indicator that John may have been married twice.

Year: 1860; Census Place: Bosque, Texas; Roll: M653_1289; Page: 48; Image: 100; Family Hisotry Library Film: 805289:; <> (accessed 23 Jan 2014)

I researched his children and found a death certificate for his oldest son George. It showed George's father as John Williams born in Mississippi and no record for George's mother. I was happy a camper knowing that I had a first name and could conclude that his name was John M. Williams.

That knowledge was still slim pickings because his first and last name were so common. Research was further hampered because they were not living in the same area on the 1850 census. Research of other Williams families in Bosque County did not seem to be his parents. I began to search Williams families in the Falls County, Texas area where some of  John's children lived during adulthood, including the surrounding counties, hoping to find a lead. There was a William Williams in Limestone County and a James Williams in Leon County. Both men had a son named John. I was able to eliminate William Williams as his father and focused on the James Williams family living in Leon County, Texas. I found they had moved to Texas from De Soto Parish, Louisiana. It was in that Parish that I found John but he had a different wife! They did have a son named George P. and the child was the correct age. Was this my John?

Year: 1850; Census Place: De Soto Parish, Louisiana; Roll: M432_231; Page: 163B; Image: 7; <> (accessed 23 Jan 2014)

Living near him was the James Williams family (mentioned above). The next step was to find when he left Louisiana. Did he leave at the same time as the James Williams family? A land record proved that he did. It opened the doors into John's life. My DNA matches to his mother's lineage would later prove who his parents were.


U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management; Document Nr: 63908; De Soto Parish, Louisiana; 
<; (accessed 23 Jan 2014)

John M. Williams was born about 1817 in Amite County, Mississippi. His parents are James M. and Margaret Slaughter Williams. His father served in the American Revolution and was in the Battle of Kings Mountain. The family migrated from Mississippi to Louisiana where his father received pension checks in 1831. John was about fourteen years old.

John migrated from Louisiana to the Republic of Texas where he was granted 320 acres. He took the Oath in 1839 and is listed as a single man (age about twenty). 

Texas General Land Office: Clerk Returns; File Nr: 00013; <>; (accessed 23 Jan 2014)

The land deed (shown earlier) shows that John served was a Private in Captain Witt's Company, 1st Regiment, Texas mounted volunteers. John probably enlisted in 1847 but the only supporting document found for him is a muster-out card.

This card shows that he served under J. C. Hayes (Col. John Coffee Hayes who was a commissioned Texas Ranger), Company K, 1st Regiment, Texas mounted volunteers. He mustered out at Camp Washington in Veracruz, Mexico on April 30, 1848. There are no other records for him so his enlistment date and place of enlistment is not available. Was John a Texas Ranger?

John married twice and possibly a third time: 

(1) Eliza last name unknown. She was the mother of his first two children, George and Susan. They probably married about 1846 because their son George was born Jan 16, 1847. The 1850 census shows she was born in Texas about 1827. Did they marry in Texas or Louisiana? My best guess would be Texas. When did she die?

(2) Martha last name unknown but thought to be Jacobs. She was the mother of his younger children, James, John, Martin, and Madison. She is my maternal 2nd great grandmother. More information about her will be listed below.

(3) There is a John M. Williams, 1880 census, Limestone County, Texas married to Jane T. last name unknown. I'm certain this is him as the birth information and birth place match but I have not been able to prove it's him.

His second wife Martha is my maternal 2nd great grandmother. Her maiden name is believed to be Jacobs but this is not yet proven. John's brother married Marguerite Jacobs and there is a J. J. Jacobs living with John and Martha on the 1860 census (above). Their first child James David Williams was born November 27, 1854 in Reagan, Falls, Texas. He is my great grandfather. Given his birth date, John and Martha married late 1853 or early 1854. Their marriage date and place is unknown but probably in Texas.

Martha is only on one census record. It shows her to be born about 1830 in Alabama. Was the J. J. Jacobs living with them her brother? Where and when did Martha die?

John is listed on census records as a stock raiser. One branch of the Williams family say they were told he rode the Chisholm Trail to Kansas to sell cattle. This may be so since he lived in Bosque County. That county was on one the routes to the Chisholm Trail.

Where did they live in 1870? We can't find them on the census for 1870.

I'm very pleased with the information I found about John but many questions remain and much more research needs to be done to answer the mounting questions I have concerning him. Did he marry a third time? Where and when did die? The questions go on and on.

Note: The land deed shown above shows that John sold his land to Richard R. Riggs. John is my maternal ancestor and I have Riggs in my paternal lineage. I wonder if Richard R. Riggs is a paternal cousin? I go again!

Beam me up Cathy --(back to top)

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