ROBERT WILLIAMS, a farmer living on section 26, township 15, range 4, Massac County, and carrying on market gardening to a large extent, is a son of Isaac Williams, who was a native of Kentucky, and a farmer living in the vicinity of Bowling Green. Isaac Williams was married there to Nancy Scott, also a native of Kentucky, and to their marriage were born ten children: Robert; Thomas, John, Sarah and Mary, deceased; Melvina, wife of Peter Hungerford; Elizabeth; Daniel; and two others that died in infancy. In the year 1836, the family removed to Posey County, Ind., where they rented land two years, and afterward removed to Pike County, of the same State. There they had eighty acres of land, which was given to Mr. Williams by an uncle, and upon this they located and lived for a time; but on account of the milk sickness, they were unable to remain, and so were compelled to give up that place. In 1838, they therefore removed to Greene County, Ill., six miles southeast of Carrollton, where they squatted on land and lived there eight or nine years, removing thence to Jefferson County, where they laid a Black Hawk land warrant upon a tract of eighty acres, and remained four years, improving the land and hauling rails nearly four miles with which to fence it. This was an unusual thing for them, as they had always lived on timber farms, and had had plenty of rails for fencing. In fact, timber had always been very much in the way, and having to haul rails so far was a novel experience indeed. They remained on this place and improved it, practicing the same industry and economy that had characterized them always before. From Jefferson County they removed to Johnson County, and took up forty acres of school land, and commenced once again to make a farm and home. To this end they first built a log cabin, moved into it and began pioneer life for the fourth time.
Mr. Williams succeeded in making of this land a fairly good farm and home, and remained there until the time of his death, which occurred in 1857. His widow, who as a wife had divided his sorrows and enhanced his joys, subsequently removed to Massac County and died there in 1859. Robert Williams was the first-born of the family, and is the only one now living, so far as is known. He was born in Hardin County, Ky.. August 6, 1827. His youth was spent upon the farm, and he was in early life inured to hard work. His father's life being that of a pioneer, and that too of a roving kind, young Robert's opportunity for securing an education was not of the best, even of the kind that then existed. His chances were mainly those of hard work and plenty of it. He of course removed with his parents from place to place, these journeys being made mostly on horseback, the horses carrying all the household effects and goods of the family. Wagons, even had they had them, would have been for the most part useless, as there were no bridges across the streams that it was frequently necessary to cross.
Robert remained with his parents until he was nineteen years old, when he started out to begin life for himself, having as capital a level head, willing hands and $1.50 in money. he first engaged to grub out the timber of four acres of land, for which he was to receive, if he proved a good hand to work, twenty-five cents per day. Being very strong and accustomed to that kind of work, he completed the job in four days, which so much pleased his employer that he paid him $1.25. He next engaged in work for a farmer at $8 per month, and remained there a year, receiving for his year's services $96. He then engaged with the same farmer another year for $120, and by the end of the second year he had saved a little money, and concluding that it would be better for him to marry and to make a home for himself, he was united to Adeline Morris, a native of Kentucky. He then rented a farm for two years and was successful, but later removed to Massac County, bought an unimproved farm of forty acres, on section 21, township 15, range 4, built a small house upon it, and went to work for himself, clearing the ground, planting an orchard and otherwise improving the place. He lived there twelve years, then sold the farm and during the war moved back to Johnson County, where he bought eighty acres in what is now Elvira Township, northwest from Vienna seven miles, moved into a log cabin, planted an orchard, made a home and lived there until 1867. He then sold that farm and returned to Massac County, where for three years he rented land, afterward buying eighty acres of land on section 21, township 15, range 4, which was without improvement. He built on this land a house and barn, cleared up portions of it, and remained upon it until the winter of 1888, when he secured the place upon which he now lives, which consisted of twenty improved acres, but was not in good condition. He remodeled and further improved the premises, and made of it a comfortable home. His first wife died in 1856, and he was married the second time, in the fall of 1860, to the widow of Franklin Hand, who died in 1862. In 1863, he was married to Jane Fincher who died in 1865, and he was next married to Amanda Leek, who died in 1885.
Our subject was married July 24, 1888, to Melissa J. Manning, a native of Meigs County, Ohio, whose mother came to Illinois, locating in Massac County, and is now living with Mr. and Mrs. Williams. By his first marriage our subject had four children: James, deceased; Jerry, drowned in Cache Creek; Robert, living in Metropolis; and Melvina, who died when young. By the second marriage there was one child, Ida, deceased. By the third marriage there were three children: Grant and Thomas Benton, both living in Tennessee; and Mary Ann, deceased. By the fourth marriage there were born two children: one that died in infancy; and Charlie, living at home. Politically, Mr. Williams is a Republican, and religiously is a member of the Christian Church.
Extracted from Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, published in 1893, page 520
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