Matthias Williams (1803-1884) of Roane County, Tennessee

It has been over three years since I’ve written about this Mathias/Matthias Williams. I’ve learned just a bit more about him and hope to find out more about his children and grandchildren.

First, let’s take a look at Matthias Williams’ Civil War service. I already knew that one of the Mathias Williams in the Roane and Morgan County area had served in the Union Army. However, while following a BSO into the Record Group Explorer on the National Archives website, I found enlistment papers for Mathias Williams, born in Roane County, Tennessee about 1818.

Well, there are several Matthias Williamses, all related who lived in the area during the first half of the 1800s, but no one matching a birth date anywhere near 1818.

Matthias Williams served in the 1st Tennessee Infantry, Company I, was 5’8″ with blue eyes, gray hair and a fair complexion.

This Matthias Williams seemed to be sick more than he was on active duty and, eventually, I came across this page in his packet:

He was absent because of “sickness and old age,” which explains why a man supposedly only about 40 years old was described with gray hair.

One more page turned up:

Notice his age at the top of the page – 60 years old in 1862! Now I knew exactly who this man was. He aged 17 years in one year. I wonder what made him try to enlist in the army? Maybe there was some type of bonus paid for men to enlist and he needed the money. Whatever the reason, Mathias didn’t last long as a soldier, although he lived for more than two decades after his discharge.

Matthias Williams was born 13 December 1803, probably Cumberland County, Virginia, but possibly soon after his family arrived in Roane County, as he reported a Tennessee birthplace when he enlisted and in the census records.

He was the son of William Williams and Judith Saunders and a nephew of Revolutionary War soldier Matthias Williams, who settled next door in Morgan County, Tennessee. Matthias died after 1880, probably in Roane County and he is likely the “Mt. Williams” for whom Monroe Pickel made a coffin for county burial on 4 December 1884 in Roane County.

Matthias married (1) Rebecca Davison, 21 November 1825, Roane County, Tennessee. She was born c1800-10 and apparently died 1840-1850.
Rebecca may have been the sister of Hepsabeth Davidson, who married Mathias’s brother, William Alexander Williams in 1828.

He married (2) Millie A.E. (Lizzie) Shackelford, 30 August 1855, also in Roane County. The 1860 census shows Matthias with Elizabeth, 19, born 1841, but also daughter Elizabeth, born c1846. Millie A.E. may be Millie A. Elizabeth. She was born c1833/5 in Tennessee and  died after the 1900 census. At that time, she reported that she had given birth to 10 children and 8 were still living.

Matthias is found in Roane County in the 1860 census. Besides three children apparently from Matthias’ first marriage, there are two girls, ages 2 and 6 months. Matthias may have seen some type of Civil War service, as there is a marker for one Matthias Williams, Co. I, 1st TN Inf. at Cave Creek Cemetery, Roane County, Tennessee, where his daughter Debbie is buried. However, it is also possible that one of Matthias’s unidentified sons, born c1826 and c1830, was actually the soldier. Debbie and Matthias are the only Williamses with gravestones in Cave Creek Cemetery. Milly A.E. Williams is shown as the widow of Matthias Williams. Cert. #400695, May 12, App 379.709.

Children of Matthias and Rebecca, although it is possible that Simeon and Elizabeth were by an unknown wife, given the gaps in birth years:

1. Son, born c1826-1830, probably Roane County; died after 1840.
2. Daughter, born c1826-1830, probably Roane County; died after 1840.
3. Daughter, born c1831-1835, probably Roane County; died after 1840.
4. Simeon, born c1842, probably Roane County; died after 1860.
5. Elizabeth E., born c1846  and died 4 November 1925, both in Roane County. She is buried at Lawnville Cemetery, Roane County. Elizabeth married Henry Clay Burns, 5 March 1865, Roane County. He was born c1844, Tennessee and died after 1880, but predeceased her.  His gravestone only notes that he served in Co. I, 1st TN Infantry.  Her death is listed in Booth Funeral Home records,  death certificate #364.

Children of Matthias and Millie A. Elizabeth. Elizabeth reported having give birth to 10 children, with 8 living in 1900:

1. Malinda J., born c1858, probably Roane County. She married Brookens C. Kelsey, about 5 August 1876 (license date), Roane County. However, no one filled in the marriage return for them or the marriage listed immediately below theirs. In 1880, B.C. Kelsey, doctor, & Annie R., 14, wife, but no children were living in Giles County, Tennessee. Did Malinda die? He was born c1854, Washington County, Tennessee; died 30 March 1903, Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. B.C. married (3) Lula G. Davis, 1885, Tipton County, Tennessee. Lulu lived in Boston as late as 1922.
2. Mary A. (Polly Ann) Josephine, born 2 October 1858/59, Morgan County, Tennessee (6 months old in census), died 22 March 1923, Morgan County, Tennessee; married Henry Haggard, 25 July 1888, Loudon County, Tennessee. He was born c1844, Tennessee; died before 22 March 1923; buried at Oral Cemetery, Roane County, Tennessee.
3. Martha Emeline, born 4 July 1866; died 27 February 1939, both Roane County; married Henry Clay Gydes, who survived her. Her death certificate names her parents as Mathias Williams and Elizabeth Shakelford. One Henry Gaddes married M.J. McElroy, 15 April 1888, Roane County, Tennessee.
4. Delila Palestine (Tina), born September 1869, probably Roane County, Tennessee; died 18 January 1926, Loudon County, Tennessee; married James C. Mitchell, 1892. He was born 1842, Knox County, Tennessee; died 28 July 1911, Loudon County, Tennessee. Both are buried at Corinth Cemetery in Loudon County.
5. Hulda Deborah, born 10 August 1873, Roane County, Tennessee; died 9 May 1939, Monroe County, Tennessee; buried in West View Cemetery, Monroe County. She married William Harrison Price, c1892, probably in Tennessee. In 1920, Hulda is listed as widowed in Walker County, Georgia, but they may have divorced or at least separated. Harrison was born 12 July 1866, Loudon County, Tennessee; died 7 March 1940, Monroe County, Tennessee. Both are buried in West View Cemetery, but the two stones are very different styles. They lived in Whitley County, Kentucky in 1900 and 1910, having removed to KY between 1898-1900.
6. Sophia, born c1876, probably Roane County; died after 1880.
7. John F., born January 1880, Roane County, Tennessee (four months old in census shown as born in January); died after 4 June 1914; married Minnie Garrison, 3 June 1914, McMinn County, Tennessee. There are two Minnie Garrisons in McMinn County, both born about 1896. He could have married either one, but it appears that he may have died young or else they divorced soon. Neither John nor Minnie has been positively identified in 1920.
8. Deborah, born 2 January 1882/3, Roane County, Tennessee; died 11 April 1961, Loudon County, Tennessee. She is buried at Cave Creek Cemetery, like her father,  per information from Hawkins Mortuary, in Loudon County. She married Asberry Price, 27 September 1900, in Roane County. He was born March 1881; died after the 1930 census, but before Deborah, who died on 11 April 1961, probably also in Loudon County, Tennessee.

Ten of Matthias’s 15 children have been identified, but little else is known about them. Part of the problem is that this family had ties to Morgan and Marion Counties, which are burned counties, along with Anderson, Rhea and Loudon Counties.

Matthias Williams and family actually lived in Morgan County at the time of the 1840 census. It is possible that his three eldest children married there before 1850. Morgan County marriage records are lost before 1862.

Next, we will look at grandchildren of Matthias Williams.

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