A LETTER FROM EMERY SHAVER TO TOM LYLE WILLIAMS SON WRITTEN ON MAYBELLINE STATIONARY IN 1932. (Tom Lyle and Emery in Picture.)
Dear Cecil: (Tom Lyle Williams Jr.)
Thomas Jefferson, Tom Lyle
and Cecil, (TLW Jr.)
I presume you were thinking that I had forgotten all about you, but the truth is I have really been so busy, what with my work at the office and at the library, that I have just put off writing to you until such time as I should really have something interesting to write about. And now I think I have it, so here goes. As you know, I have been working on both you’re your mother’s and your father’s lines of descent, and believe me, it is no small task, however, I enjoy the work, especially when I have the luck to actually come across some real finds, genealogically speaking. I gave it up temporarily, and went to work on the Williams line. After several months of intensive search, I have discovered your descent in this line as far back as about 1650.
The first ancestor about which we know anything about was a Robert Williams of Boston, who lived sometime between 1650 and 1695. He was probably born much earlier than this, however, I am merely guessing at his birth-date through the birth-date of his first-born child. It is logical to suppose that he was at least twenty-one when he married, and as I know that his first recorded child was born about 1672, therefore, through lack of other facts to go by, I am presuming that he married in 1671 and was, quite likely, at least twenty-one at that time, which would give us a rough guess of 1650 as his birth-date. I quite realize that this is not satisfactory as a fact, but it must necessarily stand as the best that I can be done under the circumstances.
This Robert Williams parentage is not known to me now, however, I have not given up hope of discovering it later. I might add that it is my private opinion, after giving the matter very close and serious attention, that this Robert was the son of another Robert who was the brother of the famous Roger Williams of Rhode Island. I f you have access to a good library, it might interest you to read up a bit on Roger Williams and the part he played in establishing Rhode Island and the right to freedom of conscience in this country, for if my hunch is right, he may prove to have been your many times great granduncle. I know that Roger did have a brother Robert who came over to the colonies, and that tradition says that he became a school teacher at Newport Oyster Bay, New York, where he died.
Robert Williams of Oyster Bay, Queens County, Long Island, N.Y. married Sara Washburne and by her had children two of whom married into the Townsend family,
and also married a widow of James Townsend, which seems to justify an alliance between Robert of Oyster Bay and Robert of Boston.
Robert Williams of Oyster Bay Queens Co., Long Island, N.Y. married Sara Washburne and by her had children, but whether he had a son Robert or not, I have not as yet been able to trove. Since I do know that two of his children
married into the Townsend family, and also I know that Robert of Boston’s son married a widow of James Townsend, I feel that I am justified in suspecting some alliance between Robert of Oyster Bay and Robert of Boston. I hope to be able to prove that they were father and son, and also to be able to prove that Robert of Oyster Bay was Roger Williams’ brother, however, that might take
years of searching and then perhaps never amount to anything, IT WAS NEVER PROVEN.)
So thus far, we must perforce to be content to begin the Williams family with Robert of Boston and his wife Margery. I have not been able to discover Margery’s maiden name
nor anything else about her except that she was his wife, members in good standing in the First Church of Boston.
This Speaks highly of them, because in those days of severe religious observance, a man had to be of the highest moral character to me admitted into the church, and of course, the same was true for his wife.
It is interesting to note that the church of that day was so strict that, in the event that if the husband or wife did not come right up to the high standard set by the elders, when a child was born, only the parent who was admitted to membership in the church was recorded as parent of the infant. How curious some of the old records look when the baptismal record gives only the name of the father or of the mother! Unless one knew of the conditions existing at the time, one would be apt to suspect illegitimacy of a child from such recording.
I hasten to assure you that in the case of Robert and Margery Williams’ children, both parents are recorded! They had Martha, Jonathan, James, Jacob, Elizabeth, Robert (died young), Hephzibah, and Robert again.
Of these Jonathan Williams born September twenty second sixteen seventy-five was your direct ancestor. Jonathan Williams grew up to be Deacon of the First Church of Boston and married, first, Mary Hunlock, daughter of John and
Joanna Hunlock on July twelfth, sixteen ninety-seven and by this marriage had Jonathan Williams 11, born January eighth, seventeen hundred. Sendall, and three Mary’s (two died young.) You are descended from Jonathan 11. After your many times over great grandmother Mary (Hunlock) died in 1707, Deacon Jonathan 1, married second in 1708, Mrs. Rebecca Mosely Townsend, widow of James
Townsend. Through this marriage succeeded to the fortune and business of James Townsend.
This was a wine business known as “AT THE SIGN OF THE BLACK BOY AN BUTT.”
By his second marriage to wife Rebecca, he had seven children, six of whom died young, and the seventh, Rebecca, married Thaddeus Mason, and became the
ancestress of a very distinguished line of scholars. When
Deacon Jonathan died on March twenty seventh, seventeen thirty five, he left two silver “bellied” mugs to the First Church of Boston that were engraved with the family coat of arms, copy of which I now have, and it is quite likely that
these mugs belonged to his father before him (Robert.) which further strengthens my belief you descended from the same family as that of Roger Williams since the coat of arms of both families are the same.
This shield and crest are very beautiful and I had photo static copies made of an engraving of them so that I might give one to you an to all of T.J.’s children. It shows a silver lion on his hind legs with fore paws extended, his lolling tongue and long claws being red. The crest above the
shield is a fighting cock, in natural colors, and there are two mottoes, one in Welsh and one in Latin. The Latin translated read: “He watches his opportunity!” The Welsh motto translated reads, “What God willeth, will be.”
I shall color the Photostats I have and give you one when you come to see us on your vacation. I hope by that time to have some kind of a decent chart ready for you also. To get back to the story of your descent:
Jonathan Williams 11, son of Deacon Jonathan Williams and Mary (Hunlock) Williams, became a Deacon like his father before him in the same church. Since these two generations are confusing because both father and son were Deacon Jonathans, I think it best to refer to them hereafter as Sr. and Jr.
Deacon Jonathan Jr. married Grace Harris daughter of John and Ann (Franklin,) Harris Graces Mother, Ann (Franklin) Harris was the half sister of Benjamin Franklin, the celebrated patriot and philosopher.
[Ann Franklin’s father Josiah Franklin, Born December twenty third, sixteen fifty-seven, in Ecton, North England, married twice. First to Ann Child, born sixteen fifty-two, who had seven children, the fifth, Ann, your direct descendant. When Ann (Child,) Franklin died in childbirth on July forth
sixteen eighty-nine, in Boston Mass. Josiah married a second time to Abiah Foulger on November twenty fifth, Sixteen eighty-nine, and produced ten more children, seventeen in all and among them the great Benjamin Franklin. If you will pick up Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, you will be able to red part of your own ancestry. Since his father was your many times great grandfather, and in his story of his life, Benjamin tells all about it. I hope all this does not confuse you, but I had to get off the main story of your descent to mention how you are descended from the Franklin line, for I know you will be
Deacon Jonathan Williams jr. was a patriot of the “First Water” during our unpleasantness with Great Britain, the Revolutionary War. I know for certain he presided over the meeting held in Faneuil Hall directly after the Boston Massacre, to protest against that slaughter, and he headed the famous “Boston Tea Party,” when that group of men disguised themselves as Indians and went down to the wharves and threw the tea into the Harbor! This should give you a new interest in history.
Deacon Jonathan Williams Jr. and his wife Grace (Franklin Harris) Williams, had many children but we have complete records of only two, Nancy and another Jonathan! Jonathan Jr. and Grace (Franklin Harris) daughter Nancy
married Samuel Bradford, the Marshall of Massachusetts, and your ancestor, her brother Jonathan 111, became the well-known Col. Jonathan Williams of the War of 1812. As a youth Jonathan 111, visited his grand-uncle Benjamin Franklin in England and through him secured a berth on several cruses to the West Indies.
Later, during the Revolutionary War, he was entrusted with several important commissions by Benjamin and was finally appointed Commercial Agent for the Colonies in Nantes, France, at the time that Franklin was Ambassador to France. Later, through enemies of Franklin, Namely John Adams and Henry Lee, he was accused of dishonesty in an attempt to discredit Franklin, but he cleared himself, although it caused him the embarrassment of having to go into bankruptcy.
Political enemies of Franklin rejoiced when they succeeded in humiliating him and his grand-nephew, however, it did them no good as Jonathan Williams 111 became famous as first Major, then Major General and finally Colonel Williams, organizer and first superintendent of West Point Military Academy.
I have a Photostat of an engraving made from his portrait that I shall also give you. While Jonathan 111, was Commercial Agent at Nantes, he fell in love with Marianne Alexander, the daughter of William and Christian (Aitchison)
Alexander, of noble family and very rich. A It seems William Alexander did quite a bit of select spying for Benjamin and was one of his closest friends, so you may be sure that it proved a brilliant match when Franklin’s grand nephew and Alexander’s daughter were married at the home of the Dutch Ambassador in Paris, in and Franklin was present at the ceremony of course.
Jonathan 111, and Marianne (Jonathan was not then an officer, you understand) lived at Nantes, where your great-great grandfather Josiah Williams in seventeen seventy five. Later when Col. Jonathan took command of West Point, they lived in Philadelphia, Pa. and it was there that Josiah was raised along with his brothers Henry J., Alexander J., an sister Christine. New information as proven this incorrect informataion, here is the revised story. click on
I must get off the main track here long enough to tell you that Marianne’s father, William Alexander later came to Virginia and then to Kentucky, where his son Robert, (Marianne’s brother) had purchased a great estate known as Woodburn, in Woodford Co., Kentucky. It is only natural to suppose that Josiah Williams should visit his uncle and grandfather Alaxander, in Woodford Co., Kentucky, and while there should meet and marry Nancy Finnie, for we know that he did marry Nancy in Woodford Co., Ky. It
puzzled me at first as to how Josiah, whose ancestors came from Massachusetts, Pa. should come to go to Woodford Co., Ky. to marry, but knowing what we now do about the Alexander’s, the natural progression of the story unfolds itself.
As I have said, Josiah married Nancy Finnie. She was the daughter of Col. James and Mary (James) Finnie, and I have reason to believe that she died before Josiah came to Union Co. In fact I think that this was the reason for his plunging into the wilderness as he did. Union County was then little more than a forest and wild plains, and your great-grant-grandfather Josiah was the one who first surveyed and laid out Uniontown. Until just recently, T.J.(TOM LYLE WILLIAMS FATHER,) had in his possession the Jacob’s staff and other instruments used by Josiah in surveying Union Co., However, unfortunately, they have been lost. I do not
know how many children Josiah and Nancy had, but I do know that they had a daughter who married a Thomas Blackwell, another daughter, Ellen, who married
Isham Leonard Sellers, and a son, your great-grandfather, Jonathan John.
Jonathan John married Isabella Ferdinand Sugg, daughter of William and Christian (Dupree) Sugg, on February first, eighteen thirty eight, she was born in Henderson in 1814, and came to Union with her father when only six years old. She and Jonathan John had eleven children one being Thomas Jefferson Williams, your grandfather. As you
know, T.J. married Susan Anna Alvey, daughter of James and Sarah Jane (Deaven) Alvey and had your Daddy, Thomas Lyle. The rest is known to you.
This has been a long story and, I fear told in a very rambling fashion, however, I shall be better able to make it clear to you when I have the chart to show you. On the next page I shall again review your descent from Robert of Boston (without comment) so that you may get it all straight. I am sure you will find all this interesting even though it is poorly told, and if you can figure it out, it should be gratifying to you to know that you have descended in the Williams line from very distinguished and honorable people. You asked
for a couple of preachers, well, here they are, just as you ordered, strange to say. I hope this inspires you in your Bible class. All joking aside, you may rest assured that I have been very careful and have accepted nothing that I
could prove, so you may feel not hesitancy in accepting this line of descent as your very own
Your mother’s line (BENNIE GIBBS,) is equally distinguished, but I regret that I have not been able to work it all out as yet. One thing that should interest you is the
fact that through your mother and maternal grandmother, you are descended from one of Gen. George Washington’s ancestor! I am also in closing this line of descent so that you may see how George Washington’s great-great-great-
grandfather was your many many times great grandfather too. This line comes in through the Wrights, from the Quisenberrys, too, and thence from the Pope family. Incidentally I should like to tell you that I have the ancestry in the Quisenberry line back to 1100! That’s going some, isn't it? It is by far the oldest line I have been able to trace connected directly with you. The Wright family are descendants of nobility and I have their family, but cannot connect up a couple of generations, worse luck. It is a pity that I cannot get more about the Gibbs. All I know in this line is that your grandfather’s name was George Gibbs as was his father before him. The Gibbs are of splendid blood and it is just too bad that I shall never be able to trace your descent in this line, however, I suppose this can’t be helped.
Hope I haven’t exhausted your patience. This is one of those letters that should be read on the installment plan, but hope that you will be able to make something out of it.
I think you are doing splendidly in school. Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get “A’s” right off, for you tackled a pretty stiff proposition when you jumped from Morganfield High to Duke, and we are all aware of it so don’t feel
that everyone is expecting you to head your classes on your first year. I have a book about the Bible that I think would be a splendid help to you in your classes. I purchased it a year or so ago. It is called the System Bible Study and shows the paralleled gospels, etc. I want you to look it over when you are here on vacation and only hope that you may find it of some use, for if so, you may have it. I would send it, but think perhaps it would be better to have you look it over first, however, if you think you might use it, I’ll gladly sent it
on. Must close now.
Lots of love from your Uncle Dutch,