Notice: Because our latest adventure will again leave me without easy internet access, Recommended Reads will be on hiatus for the next few weeks.
While Recommended Reads is on hiatus, I will be sharing some digitized resources that I have written through the years and will also share a few very locale-specific books that have been invaluable to me along my genealogical journey.
Today I’d like to share a work of which I am very proud – The Williams Family of Cumberland County, Virginia and Their Westward Migration. Being the History of the Descendants of Roger Williams and Brothers, Thomas and Matthias Williams From 1720 to 1865.
I worked on unraveling this family for twenty years before I self-published it. I am not selling anything now. In fact, I only printed enough copies to cover paid requests with a handful of extras to donate to libraries. One of those repositories was the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and I was thrilled to find it digitally available online.
After a painstaking search for parents of my husband’s great great grandfather, John Christopher Williams, born in 1847 in Lafayette County, Arkansas, I kept running into road blocks trying to unravel the many Williams family members with the same names, living in the same places. I was determined not to let this family or the myriad of burned counties where they lived stop me from discovering their familial origins.
Eventually, I traced the family back to patriarchs Roger, Thomas and Matthias Williams of Cumberland County, Virginia. Although some have tried to associate Roger with Roger Williams of Rhode Island, there is absolutely no evidence linking this Virginia clan with the Rhode Islander nor have I found proof of a familial relationship between Roger in Virginia and brothers Thomas and Matthias Williams. However, Roger’s family knew of Thomas and Matthias. One of Roger’s granddaughters actually married a grandson of Thomas’s and I tend to believe Roger might have been a first cousin of Thomas and Matthias.
The book is divided into five sections. The introduction gives an overview of the earliest records of the Williams family in 1700’s Virginia. Parts I, II and II each contain five chapters, one for each Williams generation in that branch of the family.
By the close of the American Revolution, this family had left Cumberland County for Bedford and Campbell Counties, Virginia and then Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee and beyond. Several branches ended up in eastern Tennessee by 1805 so the closing chapter covers loose ends in that state.
There are footnotes galore in the book – the 2 1/2 page introduction alone has 22 footnotes – and there is an every name index at the back of the book. The original text was 147 pages long and I have added about 100 more pages to my own Word document since the book was published in June 2001.
I had a very specific formula for determining whether or not a Williams descendant was included in the fifth (and last) generation I chose to include in the book. That person had to have married and had at least one child born by the close of the Civil War. My goal was to document the earlier generations who left less of a paper trail and I figured by 1870 and later, descendants would have a much easier time finding their families.
If you have a Williams ancestor and are at a brick wall in terms of taking the line back any further, you might want to view my book. Although my Williams groups lived in many places after Cumberland County, Virginia, major stopping points included Hardin County, Kentucky, Coles County, Illinois, Morgan, Roane, Anderson, Marion and Rhea Counties, Tennessee and Lafayette, Cole, Maries, Osage and Moniteau Counties, Missouri.
Major allied families with the Williams include Rector, Pryor, Creasy, Mahon, Hudnall, Landrum, Nance, Witt, Stephens, Crouch and DeShazer, all originating in Virginia or just over the border in Rockingham and Caswell Counties, North Carolina.
I would love to hear from distant cousins and am more than happy to share the newer, 250+ Word doc with descendants if you contact me. All I’ve ever asked in return is that you share my contact information with your own future contacts.