From "The Wanderer"
Special edition published by the Williamsburg Journal-Tribune, 15 Mar 1923,
pg 75 of supplement.
Contributed by Iowa County Coordinator, Stephen D. Williams, great-grandson of John M. Williams; March 2005
Copyright © 2004 -2005 Stephen D. Williams
John M. Williams
Santa Cruz, California.
It was surely a happy thought to have all us old timers write to a special edition of
the old paper. I am looking forward with great pleasure to reading all the interesting
letters that you will receive in reply to this invitation. It was in the spring of 1882
I left the Burg and have since made my home in Idaho, Oregon and now in California.
I am very much interested in my native town and it's people, as it was founded by my
father, Richard Williams, and I being his only son am the only one of the family still
bearing the name and am probably the oldest man living, born in the original limits
of Williamsburg. This to me, interesting event happened December 6, 1856 (just 22 days
before the birth of ex-president Woodrow Wilson).
I had often thought when a boy what was out there where the
sun was setting, and so in the spring of 1882 with Ivor Harris, I landed in Gunnison,
Colorado where I spent the first summer but that fall headed for Idaho where my friend
F. B. Utter had located. F. B. afterward became quite a prominent Methodist minister
in the Pacific Northwest but is now retired and is living in Florida. It was just forty
years ago this month I came to Idaho and from that time on I have had varied experiences;
taking up and getting title to 480 acres of government land. Teaching school between
times for the past five years; raising grain cattle and big red apples. Had at one time
nearly forty acres in orchard and forty head of cattle, horses, hogs etc. In the meantime
I had acquired a little family consisting of wife and three children. Anyone born in
the east has a longing to at some time return to the old home if only for a short time.
I was not an exception and so after twenty years of strenuous hustling, rented the ranch
and we landed back amid old familiar scenes, about Christmas 1903. But I found everything
different, and one year was enough. For one who had ridden over the handsome prairies
of Idaho on the hurricane deck of a cayuse, hunted deer in the mountains, fished for
trout and salmon in the clear mountain streams of the west, there is a call to return
that is stronger than any other. We started back in the fall by way of Long Beach, California.
Spent the winter and the next year there, meeting with my old friends, William Welsh
and David Hughes and their families and many others from Williamsburg who were there
to spend the winter.
The fall of 1905 found us back on the ranch in northern Idaho
but not for long for an old friend wanted me as a deputy in the office of assessor and
tax collector in our court house at Lewiston.
The next year I was elected to the office for two years. One
county in those days was larger than some whole states, extending from the Washington
line to Montana and south to the Salmon river. I had about 12 deputies and assessed
and collected in the two years about six hundred thousand dollars in taxes which was
a valuable and pleasant experience to me.
About this time having a chance to sell some of our land, we
thought it a good time to get to a milder climate. We moved to Ashland, Oregon near
the California line, thence to Paso Robles and the Atascadero colony of E. G. Lewis
of former University, Mo. fame. Concluding we didn't want any of that, finally settled
in Santa Cruz, which we like very much for it's healthful climate and business opportunities.
I'm engaged in the poultry industry here, raising white Leghorn pullets and white eggs,
many car loads of which are shipped from Santa Cruz and Petaluma to New York and other
Well my letter is getting too long and will close by stating
that I regard myself as a full fledged westerner and as proud of the fact as any native
son of the Golden West. Yet I never expect to lose my interest in the old home town
where live many of my relatives and friends of my boyhood days. I will also mention
the fact that a cousin of mine, T. J. Evans and his fine family, live at Mountain View,
about 40 miles from us and we occasionally meet and enjoy talking over our early remembrances.
JOHN M. WILLIAMS.