Posted By: County Coordinator (email)
Date: 5/4/2010 at 10:36:53
One of the earliest pioneers of Douglas township and one to whose memory high honor is still paid by all who knew him was Benjamin Williams, who located at Elk Rapids in the spring of 1847. He was as frontiersman of the study type who unflinchingly took upon his shoulders the hardest work ad who carried to success all undertakings which he began. He was one of the trail blazers for the civilization that came in this wake and that made Iowa the prosperous state which it is today. The civilization that brought comfort, education and untold opportunities to those who came after the pioneer ear. As regards the early history of Boone county, a niche of honor has to be conceded to Benjamin Williams.
Mr Williams was born in Preble county, Ohio, in 1817 ad while yet a small boy moved overland with is parents to Putnam county, Indiana, which remained his home until his early manhood. There he married Elsa Ann Strong, the young couple afterward removing to Illinois. In the fall of 1846 he came by the overland route to Iowa and in the spring of 1847 located at Elk Rapids, Douglas township. His wife died not long afterward, having borne him six children: Mrs Sarah Risler, deceased, John deceased, Spencer a Union soldier who died during the great conflict between the North and the South, Margaret of Colorado, Henry deceased, and Isaac also residing in Colorado. Subsequently Mr Williams returned to Indiana, where he married America McIntosh, who died after four years of wedded life, at Elk Rapids, Iowa leaving three children: Mrs Mary Westbrook of Terre Haute, Indiana, Joseph, deceased and George of Colorado. On September 13, 1857 Mr Williams contracted another union, marrying in Worth township, Boone county, Mrs Elizabeth Goodrich, who was born in Putnam county, Indiana, August 10, 1832. There she grew to womanhood. Her first husband was Perry Goodrich, who was born in Vigo county, Indiana, and died near Bowling Green that state at the early age of thirty-three years. Mr and Mrs Goodrih had three children. Daniel B resides in Terre Haute, Indiana. Mrs Julia Harvey born in Putnam county, Indiana, March 20, 1853, died in Boone, Iowa, August 22, 1912. In 1868 she married William M Harvey, by who he had four children: Nellie E Harvey of Boone one of the most successful teachers of this county, William H Harvey of Des Moines, Ernest Harvey who died March 8, 1897, and Mrs Pearl McNeil of Boone, Iowa. Mary the youngest child of Mr and Mrs Goodrich died in infancy. Mr and Mrs Williams had ten children, of whom five died quite young. The other five were: Hannah who passed away at the age of fourteen, Squire B born May 13, 1860 who died at Madrid April 14, 1912, W H who was born March 7, 1863, and is a successful live stock buyer in Madrid, Perry O of Des Moines, and Mrs Alice A Wells, who was born December 1, 1866, and died in Madrid July 19, 1897. She married Charles E Wells October 17, 1884. Mr and Mrs Wells had three sons. Emory, born in February 1886, who was educated I the Madrid public schools then served four years n the United States navy now residing at Woodward, Iowa, Vaughn H born March 4, 1889, of Woodward, and Gail, born June 25, 1895 who is attending school at Washington, D C. For many years these children received the loving care of their grandmother Mrs Benjamin Williams and being particularly near her heart, it is but fitting and proper that their names should be embodied in this review.
When Mr Williams came to Iowa no railroads traversed the prairies. Des Moines was a hamlet of log huts, and Boone county was a wilderness. O mill, no store, o ship, no church, no schoolhouse could be found within a hundred miles. The nearest trading points were Iowa City and Keokuk. From these facts it is not difficult to deduce what obstacles confronted the young pioneer from Indiana. That he conquered and that he won a livelihood and competence is to be ascribed to his perseverance, his industry and his sturdiness of character. As the years rolled by his material resources increased, and his thriftiness bore fruit. Moreover, he established himself in the esteem and respect of his fellow citizens, who looked up to him in admiration and turned to him for advice and counsel. Although he was a forceful man, he was tender hearted and ever ready to extend a helping hand to those who were struggling with adverse circumstances or who had fallen by the wayside. Mr Williams was a democrat and loyal to his political profession. He was a member of the Baptist church, to which Mrs Williams also gives her adherence. He stood high in his church and his community and by his honorable conduct reflected honor upon his section. The betterment of individual and community was nearest his heart, and every act he undertook he considered conscientiously, judging it from the standpoint in which it would be seen by his contemporaries. He was successful and secured a competency because he put his heart in his work and because he followed honorable methods. His death was a severe blow not only to is immediate family but to all who knew him and his memory is kept alive because of the influence which his strong personality exerted upon the growth of his part of the state. Gathered to his fathers in the flesh, his spirit lies in the progressive works of the present generation, the accomplishment of which was made possible by his pioneer labors.
Mrs Williams is passing her declining years in a handsome home in Madrid. “Aunt Betty” as she is familiarly called, is a favorite with all and a welcome visitor to all the homes of the community. She has the brave spirit of her famous ancestor, Daniel Boone, her maiden name being Boone and she being a direct descendant of the great pioneer, and this courage has enable her to worthily perform the duties that have fallen to her lot in a long life filled with helpful activity. The respect and tenderness shown her by friends and relatives are hers by right, and it can be truthfully said that by her sunny disposition she has dispelled more gathering clouds than nay other individual in the community.
1914 Boone County History Book
Boone Biographies maintained by Jan Bony.
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