Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
JOHN W. WILLIAMS. The most elaborate history is perforce a merciless abridgment, the historian being obliged to select his facts and materials from manifold details and marshal them in concise and logical order. This applies to specific as well as generic history, and in the former category is included the interesting and important department of biography. In every life of honor and usefulness there is no dearth of interesting situation's and incidents, and yet in summing up such a career as that of John W. Williams, for many years one of the leading merchants of Springfield, now living in honorable retirement after a successful, useful and praiseworthy career, the writer must need touch only on the more salient facts, giving the keynote of the character and eliminating all that is superfluous to the continuity of the narrative. The gentleman whose name appears above has led somewhat of a strenuous life, yet void of the exciting, and the more prominent have been so identify with the useful and practical that it is to them almost entirely that the writer refers in the following paragraphs.
Mr. Williams was born in Lewisburg, Marshall county, Tennessee, April 18, 1851. He is a son of John and Hannah (Wood) Williams, the father born in Tennessee in 1823, spent his life in that state and died there in 1850 when a young man; the mother was born in England in 1826, and her death occurred January 27, 1912, at the advanced age of eighty-six years, having thus survived her husband sixty-two years. Our subject was two years old when, in 1853, he was brought to Greene county, Missouri, by his mother and maternal grandfather, John Wood, a capitalist of considerable means and one of the early important pioneers of Greene county. A full and interesting sketch of this great man appears elsewhere in these volumes. The family located on a farm five miles from Springfield. In 1855 our subject's mother married Joseph Farrier, who had one son, Joseph W. Farrier by a former marriage to Roxanna Weaver. The elder Farrier was a money lender and was connected, with the old Missouri State Bank, also was a pioneer hat manufacturer and merchant. He was a native of Kentucky and he crossed the western plains in the early fifties to the California gold fields, and from that time was a very successful business man. One child, besides our subject, was born to Hannah Wood by her first marriage, a daughter who died at four years of age, and her second union was without issue.
John W. Williams grew to manhood in Greene county and was educated here, having attended the first high school in Springfield, which was taught by Prof. J. Fairbanks. Mr. Williams was young in years when he began his business career as a retail merchant in Springfield, under the firm name of Weaver, Wood & Company; later the firm was Wood & Williams and in 1886 he organized the John W. Williams Hardware & Stove Company, which existed for some fifteen years. He prospered from the first and enjoyed an ever-increasing business with the advancing years, building up a very extensive trade with the town and surrounding country, remaining in the same line for a period of thirty years, during which time he had the reputation of maintaining the best equipped and most up-to-date store of its kind in the city and he ranked with the leading merchants of southwest Missouri. Having accumulated a handsome competency through his able management, wise foresight, straightforward and honest dealings with the public he retired from active life ten years ago, since which time he has devoted his attention to his personal business affairs, looking after his various properties, which include a beautiful residence on West Walnut street, and some three hundred acres of fine improved farm land all in Campbell township. He built and owns the Bank of Commerce building and owns several important business houses in the city.
Mr. Williams was married February 18, 1873 to Juliet R. Vinton, who was born in Springfield, Missouri, February 16, 1852. She is a daughter of Samuel S. and Margaret (Campbell) Vinton, and is a niece of Jack Campbell who donated the site for the city. Samuel S. Vinton, who was a merchant by occupation, was born January 16, 1826, in Baltimore, Maryland, and was brought here when a boy with Major Berry and entered into the mercantile business with his uncle, Maj. D. D. Berry, and for many years was a leading business man of Springfield, dying in Springfield January 16, 1890. His wife was born July 11, 1827, and died July 16, 1859. Mrs. Williams grew to womanhood in the city of Baltimore and was educated there in the high school and Baltimore College. She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, by virtue of the fact that her ancestors, the J. K. Polk family, who were North Carolina people, took part in the struggle of the colonists for independence.
Nine children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Williams, all living, namely: Mabel, born December 19, 1873, married Dr. R. B. Love, of Springfield, who is now deputy state veterinarian; Bettie Weaver and Etta Vinton, twins, were born December 11, 1876, the former married C D. Hamilton, of Los Angeles, California; the latter married L. A. Biggs, Jr., and they live on a farm near Springfield; Robert Farrier, born August 26, 1879, married a Miss Buckner, and is now a physician of Springfield; J. Samuel, born February 13, 1882, married Pearl Williams, and they live on a farm near Springfield; Juliet M., born December 29, 1886, married Roy Cox, and they live in Springfield; Joseph C., born May 23, 1888, is unmarried and is connected with the Bank of Commerce, of Springfield; Dorsey A., born November 10, 1890, lives at home and is a graduate of Drury College; John W., Jr., born October 19, 1895, was graduated from the Springfield high school with the class of 1914.
Politically, Mr. Williams is a Democrat, but being a great home man, and best contented when by his own fireside with his congenial family, he has never sought political office. Our subject and family are members of the Episcopalian church.
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