The Williams Family
this information is a work in progress, subject to change as research
I have found myself spending a lot of time on the Williams family, probably
for a few reasons. When I started this hobby I had a certain number
of primary resources, mostly documenting portions of the Day and Allen
lines. This included the ancestry of Laura May Williams, my Great-Great-Grandmother.
Williams line, I was somewhat teased by lots of names and not much detail.
A big gap also existed between when "the Mayflower landed at
Plymouth Rock and brought two brothers of Wales nativity to the new
found land of the west" (written by Plyn Williams) and the
ancestors I could truly pinpoint. Add to this a rumor that we were descended
from the famous Roger Williams of colonial days (apparently untrue)
and I was completely intrigued.
many of the dead ends I have come to expect, there were actually some
successful finds in my research and it developed into quite an interesting
portrait of early New England life. Our portion of the Williams family
also took part in a massive migration from New England to the Midwest
in the 1830s, along with so many other families looking for new opportunities
in new places.
is an overview, somewhat narrative, somewhat dry, of the Williams line
as best as I can figure at this point in time. There are pictures of
some of these family members on the pictures page (linked above) if
you would like a visual accompaniment.
from Norfolk, England to Roxbury, Mass. | Migration
from Roxbury, Mass to Pomfret, CT | Capts. Isaac
Williams Sr.and Jr.| Abijah Williams Sr. and Jr.
and the Migration to Vermont |Migration from
Vermont to Michigan |Modern History - Williams
to Allen to Day
from England to Roxbury, MA
Williams, son of Robert Williams from West Somerton, Norfolk, England,
was born in Great Yarmouth, England (St. Nicholas Parish) around 1580.
He and his wife, Margaret Cooke, had ten children. The eldest son was
another Robert Williams born in 1608, also in Great Yarmouth. According
to the Ancestry of Hattie J. Bruce (Michael Roman, 1992), "Robert
was a cordwainer's apprentice [leatherworker] in Norwich from 1623 to
1630, when he became a freeman. In 1635 he was warden of the Guild of
Cordwainers and Sealer of Leather for the city of Norwich." He
married Elizabeth Stratton (or Stalham) and they lived in Norwich, England.
On 8 April
1637, Robert and Elizabeth emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Robert's wife '"was of a good family and had been delicately reared;
and when her husband desired to come to America, though a truly religious
woman, she dreaded the undertaking and shrank from the hardships to
be encountered. While the subject was still under discussion, she had
a dream fore-shadowing that if she went to America, she would become
the mother of a long line of worthy ministers of the Gospel. The dream
so impressed her that she rose up cheerfully and began to prepare to
leave her home and kindred for the new and distant land." (This
tradition was related and believed by one of her descendants, Mrs. Emily
Williams of Wethersfield in the early part of the nineteenth century).
on the "John and Dorothy" or the "Rose of Yarmouth"
(I believe the two ships sailed in tandem as their passenger lists are
as one). The voyage took 2-1/2 months, they arrived on 20 June, 1637
in Boston. Robert was 28 years old at the time, Elizabeth was 29. According
to the passenger list, they brought with them four or five children
(Samuel, John, Elizabeth, and Debra) and two servants (listed as Mary
Williams, aged 18, and Anne Williams, aged 15). One child, Mary, who
was supposed to have been born in England in 1633, is not accounted
for in the passenger list. The family settled in Roxbury, Suffolk County,
Massachusetts. "Robert Williams served as town clerk in Roxbury
and also as a selectman in 1647 and 1653. His lands, as described in
the town books in 1654, consisted of 135 acres." (H.J.
Bruce Ancestry) He became known in Roxbury as "Robert
the Immigrant" and is said to have lived to 100 years old (although
it was more like 85).
and Elizabeth's child Samuel became a shoemaker and then a deacon in
Roxbury, MA, and eventually married Theodora Parke, daughter of Deacon
William Parke. Samuel was instrumental in the formation of Pomfret,
CT, and one of his grandchildren, Ebenezer was the first minister of
that town. My branch of the Williams family descends from Samuel's brother
Isaac, the first child born to Robert and Margaret after their journey
to the colonies, in 1638.
from Roxbury, MA to Pomfret, CT (and general history of the area)
According to The History of Windham County Connecticut 1600-1760
by Ellen D. Larned,
town of Roxbury was one of the most influential in Massachusetts Colony.
'The Roxbury people were the best that came from England,' and filled
many of the highest offices in the colonial government. Nothing was
lacking for their growth and prosperity but a larger area of territory,
their 'limits being so scanty and not capable of enlargement' that
several persons - 'not having received the same benefit of issuing
forth as other towns have done, when it has pleased God to increase
the inhabitants thereof in their posterity' - were compelled to move
out of the town and the colony."
it was decided that thirty families would move to a new settlement.
the Williams family was not one of the original thirty families, the
above-mentioned Samuel Williams (son of Robert) was instrumental in
surveying the land, setting boundaries, and acted on a committee that
was "to issue any differences that may arise among [the new inhabitants]."
previously unsettled, the land of "New Roxbury" was actually
within the limits of Connecticut's Windham County."When the Roxbury
colonists took possession of the future Woodstock (New Roxbury's first
town), the future Windham was already surveyed, divided, and distributed."
A large tract of land had been bequeathed to sixteen gentlemen of Connecticut
and that land was actually "divided and distributed four months
previous to that of Woodstock, but its settlement was delayed by the
disturbed condition of public affairs. Connecticut, like the other colonies,
was suffering from the encroachments of King James...The spring of 1689
brought peace to the Colonists. James was deposed, William and Mary
enthroned." Thus the settlement of Windham county began by settlers
from Connecticut as well as Massachusetts.
was laid out by Roxbury gentlemen in 1686 very soon after the creation
of Woodstock. However, although it was ready for occupation, Indian
Wars delayed its settlement until one Captain John Sabin of "New
Roxbury, alias 'Woodstock'...had the courage to cross the line and establish
himself in the northeast corner of Connecticut within the limits of
the granted township." He is the first known settler of Pomfret,
minister of Pomfret was Rev. Ebenezer Williams of Roxbury, MA, the grandson
of Samuel Williams who immigrated with his parents from England. Rev.
Ebenezer Williams is listed often and very respectably in Larned's book.
"He was the son of Samuel Williams, and nephew of the Rev. John
Williams of Deerfield...He was graduated from Harvard in 1709, and was
twenty-five at the time of settlement." Apparently Rev. Ebenezer
Williams was the top choice of the Pomfret inhabitants as they invited
him specifically to "come preach with us for the space of six months."
On 23 Dec 1713, "Mr. Williams arrived in Pomfret and began his
ministrations, and soon made himself so agreeable to the people that
long before the six months had expired, they were every way willing
to accept him for their minister." He was officially chosen in
1714, and given a gift of two hundred acres of land.
people agreeing 'that if the said Mr. Williams doth like the town,
and will settle here in the work of the gospel ministry, they will
give him one hundred and seventy pounds in money (in that day a British
pound had the equivalent buying power of about $500 today), towards
buying his land and building his house, and for his salary, sixty
pounds yearly, for four years, and after that to rise twenty shillings
yearly until it shall come to seventy pounds, and there to stand so
long as he shall continue his ministerial labours among us."
the Massachusetts boundary line was being settled and Woodstock was
found to be within Connecticut limits. However, "beset by enemies
at home and abroad, [Connecticut] was forced to yield it to the stronger
colony, and allowed, Massachusetts, by formal agreement and covenant,
to keep the towns laid out by her in Connecticut territory..."
Eventually, the New Roxbury settlers in towns like Pomfret, Woodstock,
and others, decided their allegiance to Connecticut would be in their
interest. Their taxes would be lighter, their privileges greater. After
much controversy, this allegiance became a reality and Pomfret was declared
a part of Windham County, Connecticut around 1749.
Isaac Williams Sr. and Jr. (to Pomfret)
Samuel Williams' younger brother Isaac was the first child of Robert
and Elizabeth to be born in the New Land. He was born 1 Sep 1638 in
Roxbury and became a military captain or lieutenant (listed in James
Savage's History as "lieutenant freeman 1685"). He married
Martha Parke, the daughter of Deacon William Parke (and sister to Samuel's
wife Theodora) in Roxbury in 1660. According to the family history of
Bob and Mary Beth Wheeler, "Isaac Williams moved to the western
part of Cambridge Village, now Newton, about 1660. He took down the
house that had been built there and built another one near the original
house location; Isaac's house was torn down in 1818. He was a weaver,
a Captain, a Selectman, and Representative [representing Newton in the
General Court of Massachusetts] 1692, 1695, 1697, 1701, and 1705."
Isaac was widowed in 1675 and went on to marry Judith (Hunt) Cooper,
by whom he fathered four more children. Capt. Isaac Williams Sr. was
buried under arms by the Company of Foot, Feb. 14, 1707.
Martha had nine children including Rev. William Williams (who is listed
in Savage as "H.C. [Harvard Class] 1683, minister of Hatfield,
ancestor of a long line of distinguished clergy") and Isaac Jr.,
our ancestor. Isaac Jr. was born in Roxbury in 1661, grew up with his
family in Newton, MA, where he married Elizabeth Hyde and had ten children.
According to Allen Gilbertson's Genealogy, Isaac Jr. "was the captain
of the local militia company. Probably after 1722, he moved to Roxbury,
where he died June 27, 1739. His gravestone, in the old burying ground
in Roxbury, has the following inscription: Here lyes the Body of Captn
Isaac Williams. He Died the 27th of June 1 7 3 9 in the 78th Year of
is recorded about Capt. Isaac Williams Jr. or his family. His fourth
child, John, was born in Newton in 1689. John married Mary Goad in 1712
in Newton and had seven children, some of whom were born in Newton,
and some in Pomfret. It seems the family moved from Newton, MA to Pomfret
around 1720. John was the cousin of the above-mentioned Ebenezer Williams,
first minister of Pomfret. There was a listing of the residents of Pomfret
in 1731 and one John Williams is listed there, in the section "South
of Mortlake and Purchase." It is unknown if this is our John Williams.
There is also one Samuel Williams listed in the same section and this
could have been John's brother, his first cousin, or a distant cousin.
Both names seemed to be a popular within the family which makes it unclear
just who is listed in that 'census'. We do know from the Barbour Collection
of CT Vital Records for Pomfret lists many members of the Williams family,
including the death of wife Mary (Goad) Williams. John's death is not
recorded here, but he did die in Pomfret in 1765 and is buried in Sabin
Williams Sr. and Jr. and the Migration to Vermont
John and Mary Williams' sixth child was Abijah Williams, born 1722 in
Pomfret. There Abijah met Eunice Dana, and they conceived thirteen children,
only two of whom survived full lives. Their first children were born
twins and died at birth. Their next five children died either at birth
or before the age of four. When Abijah Jr., their seventh child, came
along, the parents were childless. They had four more children after
Abijah Jr., some reaching up to age nine, but they are all recorded
to have early deaths except the thirteenth and final child, Josiah.
I have not found a death record for him, and it is assumed he survived
and moved away from Pomfret. Abijah Williams Sr. is listed in the History
of Windham as becoming a member of "The United Society for
Propagating Christian and Useful Knowledge" (essentially a library)
in 1756, and his gravesite lists him as a Revolutionary War Patriot.
He was buried in Pomfret in 1781.
Jr. was born in 1758 in Pomfret. He married a woman from nearby Woodstock
named Asenath. Her last name is listed either Hodges or Perrin. There
are not clear records regarding her parentage and while the name Perrin
(or Peryn) is very prominent in Windham County (particularly in the
town of Woodstock), there is not much to be found regarding the name
Hodges. Asenath Hodges is listed in the Woodstock Vital Records, but
I have not seen the actual page and don't know what event is listed
there. In various family trees her parents are often referred to as
Amos & Jemima (Chaffee) Perrin. Based on conversations with other
family members, it is believed that Jemima Chaffee was originally married
to a Hodges, and when their daughter Asenath was about six years old,
the father died and Jemima soon married Amos Perrin. Amos must have
adopted Asenath and given her his name. Thus, Abijah Williams Jr. married
Asenath Perrin in Woodstock in 1760.
Jr. and Asenath are listed in the 1790 census as living in Stockbridge,
MA, very near to Woodstock, CT. They are listed as having two young
sons (one was Albemarle) and one young daughter (Eunice) at that time.
Abijah Jr is also recorded as having served in the Revolutionary War
for two days in October 1780 ("on alarm at the Westward")
and again for two days in November 1780 ("on alarm at Saratoga").
Sometime between 1790 and 1800, they moved to Vermont. I have not yet
found the reason for this migration, or even the nature of Abijah's
work, but thanks to the newly created federal census, we can track their
residence every ten years. In 1800, 1810 and 1820, Abijah and his family
could be found in Wells, Rutland County, VT. Abijah died in 1829 in
Dorset, Bennington County, VT, and Asenath died three years later in
the same town.
from Vermont to Michigan
One of Abijah and Asenath's eight children was their son Albemarle,
born in Wells in 1782. He married his wife Ruth Goodrich in 1803, and
they settled in Dorset, VT. They had eight (maybe nine) children born
in Vermont. According to a brief
history written their son Plyn, Albemarle became a doctor in 1806
and was found dead in his buggy in 1830 in East Dorset, VT.
this time, there was great movement of peoples from the New England
area to the new lands opening up around Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin,
etc. This was greatly due to the opening of the Erie Canal and the promise
of new work in the abundant forests of the midwest. According to Ancestry
- Archive July/August 2000 Vol. 18 No. 4 New England's Migration Fever:
The Expansion of America – Ralph J. Crandall, Ph.D.),
Erie Canal, which was opened in 1825, became the great highway from
New England to the West. Manifests of canal boats in the 1830s often
read, 'Flour, wool, and hides eastbound, farmers westbound.' In one
month, four thousand farm families passed through the canal. Then,
arriving in Buffalo, they boarded vessels to cross Lake Erie to Cleveland,
Toledo, or Detroit then westward overland to Michigan, Wisconsin,
or across the Mississippi into Iowa or points farther west."
Ruth (Goodrich) Williams bravely chose to move west with other families
from Vermont. In 1837, she traveled with some of her children to Chester,
Eaton County, MI and helped to establish one of the first communities
in that new state. Daughter Laura stayed in the New England area. Sons
Orton, Harvey, Isaac, John and Plyn can all be found in Michigan census
records. Ruth lived in Michigan until her death in 1850.
seventh child of Ruth and Albemarle, was born in Vermont in 1828 and
came to Michigan with his mother seven years after she was widowed.
He can be found through census records in several different communities
in Michigan: first in Chester, Eaton County, where his family first
settled. Later, in 1850, he is found to be a shoemaker (as "Pluin")
in Battle Creek, Calhoun County. In 1853, Plyn married Jane Mayo who
was born in England and was raised in nearby Barry County, MI. In the
1850 census, Jane is shown to be living with the Bartlett family in
Calhoun County so that is probably where Plyn and Jane met. (As an aside,
Plyn and Jane's daughter Anna married one Charles Bartlett, so the families
must have remained friends over the years.) Plyn writes in his family
record that they moved to Ionia in 1854.
In 1865 he wrote
home to his wife Jane as returned from Raleigh, NC in the Civil
War. He was a part of the 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics Regiment, Company E. Their record of service matches up with his letter home and also mentions their involvement in several battles including "Sherman's March to the Sea" and the following campaign against Columbia, SC. That particular campaign proved that neither the Union nor the Confederacy were above the atrocities of war, as the entire city of Columbia was left in a heap of ashes. After the Carolina Campaign, his regiment moved to advance on Raleigh, NC where Confederate General Joseph Johnson ultimately surrendered (April 26, 1865). From Raleigh, Plyn's regiment was ordered back to Washington, DC by way of Richmond, VA. This is where he found a moment to write Jane. Considering the action he saw and the trials he had been through, the tone of his letter seems particularly banal. Perhaps he was sparing Jane the details of war. Her brother Thomas Mayo had been captured the previous year and died October 9, 1864 in Andersonville Prison in Georgia. A quiet letter about mules and cattle, assuring his wife that he does "not have to carry anything" was probably just what she wanted to hear, and a welcome break from the news of the time. I originally believed he lost his arm during that military service but according to his pension papers, his right arm was amputated Dec. 9,1881 as a result of an injury received on the Detroit, Lansing and Northern Railroad on the evening of the 8th day of October 1881.
1880 census, we see him listed as "Flynn" Williams, living
in Ionia, MI with his wife Jane, three of their children, a man named
Cleon, and Jane's sister Emma Mayo. On this census, Plyn is listed as
a baggage master at the age of 51. We do not have a death record for
Plyn, but he is listed in the Ionia, MI City Directory for 1891 as a
"Coroner, Pension Attorney, Notary Public & Grocer" at
426 Main St. He would have been about 62. In his pension papers, Plynn Williams is described as having Grey eyes, Dark hair and complexion. He was 5 ft 5 1/4 tall.We have a picture
of him outside of his store, the door bearing"426" as listed
in the directory although the exact year of the photo is unknown. His pension papers state that Jane died in 1892 and he remarried Rachael Patch, a widow, in 1893. He death is listed there as 1899 and Rachael applied for his pension in 1908.
History - Williams to Bigelow to Allen to Day
Plyn and Jane Williams had at least four children, the youngest
being daughter Laura May. She was born in 1863 in Ionia, MI where she
met Henry S. Bigelow. They were married in Ionia and their three daughters,
Ethel, Anna, and Laura (Pearl), were all born there. (According to family
tradition, Anna worked as a seamstress in her teenage years with much
skill.) Henry Bigelow worked for a railroad and was living in Ionia,
then was transferred to Decatur, Illinois. From Decatur, he was transferred
again to Missouri, then back to Decatur. This is where Anna met Guy
and Guy were married, Guy got a job in Detroit and eventually went to
work for Detroit Edison. He had three years of college at a small Presbyterian
school in Decatur. He took pre-engineering courses, but did not continue.
Most of his engineering skills were obtained on the job, and he ended
up retiring in charge of the drafting department at Detroit Edison (according
to the 1920 and 1930 census information, he worked as a structural engineer
at a local power plant).
of Guy and Anna Allen resided in Detroit (lived off Grand River Ave.,
on the west side and a little north towards Lansing, on Vancouver Street)
until about 1919. Then they settled in Royal Oak, Oakland County, MI
where they raised their six children and stayed in that area throughout
their lives. Guy died in the 1960s and Anna lived to be one month shy
of 104 years old, in 1991.
Anna's eldest child was Jane Elizabeth Allen, my grandmother. Growing
up in the depression, there was only enough money to send one child
at a time to college. Being the eldest, Jane was sent off to Alma College,
a small Presbyterian school in Gratiot County, MI. There she met and
befriended Marion Day. Marion's brother James also attended Alma where
he won Jane's heart. James graduated from Alma in 1935 and went on to
the University of Michigan for his Masters in Chemistry. Jane received
a BA from Alma, then taught library in Royal Oak. They married in 1937
in Royal Oak, MI, in the Allen backyard rose garden. One of James' professors
had ties with Dow Chemical and recommended James for a position. They
soon set up residence in Midland, MI where they lived for several years,
raising five children. In the early 1950s, the Day family moved from
Midland, MI to Stamford, CT where James continued his career. The five
children, still living, have spread out from there and continued the
family line for future generations to research.