FREDERICK CLAUDIUS WILLIAMS
FREDERICK CLAUDIUS WILLIAMS.—One of the oldest, most experienced and most reliable business men of Chico, a successful up-to-date horticulturist and a pioneer apiarist who enjoys the distinction of having been the first to introduce here, on a commercial scale, the now profitable culture of bees, is Frederick Claudius Williams, who came to California in the eventful Centennial year. He was born at Earlville, La Salle County, Ill., in September, 1855. His father, William Williams, a builder by trade, was born in Wales and came to America when a young man. He settled in New York State, and for some time ran a boat on the Hudson River. After that he moved west to Illinois, in which state, after farming for years, he died. During the Civil War he volunteered his services in behalf of the Union, but he was rejected by the army examiners. The mother, who was Rachel Davis before her marriage, also came from Wales; she became the mother of nine children, the fifth eldest being the subject of this sketch. One of the sons, David A. Williams, is a well-known merchant of Fresno, where he is engaged in the furniture business. Brought up on a farm in Illinois until he was eighteen years of age, Frederick C. Williams enjoyed but limited public school advantages, but his ambition was in no wise hindered, and he set out in his twenty-first year for California, the land of promise of which he had heard such alluring accounts. He stopped at Marysville, and for a couple of years was employed there on a farm. In 1878, however, he took the important step of coming to Chico; and having saved a few dollars, he invested it with a partner, Charles Fetters, and opened a furniture, carpet and undertaking business under the firm name of Fetters and Williams.
The stock was stored in a small frame building at the corner of Third Street and Broadway. They bought lumber and made much of the furniture, beds, screen doors and window sashes, as required, and they also constructed the coffins needed for their growing trade. A year later, encouraged by their steady success, the firm moved to Main Street, between Second and Third, where they occupied a larger building and where they developed, during five years, their now well established business. They next moved to the corner of Main and Second Streets, on the east side, a site they continued to occupy for several years.
In 1888, when California was feeling the effects of the great boom in the Southland, Messrs. Fetters and Williams bought their present very desirable site and built their two-story structure, between Broadway and Salem Street; and together they operated for several years. In 1906, Mr. Williams bought out Mr. Fetters and continued the business under the old firm name, thus perpetuating what is now the oldest business house in town. Since that time he has so enlarged his quarters that the store now occupies a three-story brick building, sixty-eight by one hundred twenty-eight feet in size, devoted to furniture and carpets and the undertaking parlors; the whole, for the last few years, being in charge of his manager, Frank Nau.
Mr. Williams is also interested in horticulture, and has set out several orchards on his ranch on Loan Pine Avenue. With Mr. Nau he has thirty acres in almonds, and with Mr. Richards he owns fifty-five acres set out to almonds and prunes. He also takes a lively interest in bee culture, and is the pioneer apiarist of Chico. This industry, which he was the first to found here, has steadily grown, and Mr. Williams and his partner have six apiaries containing nearly eight hundred colonies of bees. He is thus able to sell honey by the carload, and is the largest exporter in Chico.
A stand-pat Republican all his life, Mr. Williams has been city trustee for seven years, and during four years of that period was mayor of the town. He was director of the Butte County Fair Association for seven or eight years, and held the position by virtue of the Governor’s appointment. He is a member of the State Funeral Directors’ Association.
At Chico, Mr. Williams was married to Miss Estella Gertrude Hand, a native of Santa Rosa. He enjoys the pleasures of fraternity life, being a member of the Odd Fellows and of the Chico Lodge, B. P. O. Elks.
Transcribed by Marie Hassard 07 June 2009.
Source: "History of Butte County, Cal.," by George C. Mansfield, Pages 947-948, Historic Record Co, Los Angeles, CA, 1918.
© 2009 Marie Hassard.