Are We Related to the Terrible Williamsons?

This moniker "Terrible Williamson" has been lurking in the background, my whole life. As a child in northern Ohio, the local newspaper would run an article every year, when the clan returned to do what they do best, con people. My father always felt that this moniker was attached to every migrant con group that passed through the area and would get outraged when these articles were published. He actually called one year and accused the editor of publishing these articles, in order to slander the Williamson name, and therefore making all Williamsons appear to be con men. My father felt these articles were derrogatory. I guess my father made a strong enough case that no more articles of that nature were published. Are we related to the Travelers? Everyone is related if you go back far enough. However, I can find no connection within three centuries.

Since I have been doing Williamson family research, I have not come across any connection to the "Travelers." I had heard about the famous article published in the 1956 Saturday Evening Post featuring the Terrible Williamsons. I stumbled across a reprinted copy for sale and found it perfect for this website. I don't want to be in trouble for copyright infringement. I have taken passages out of the article relating to genealogy and put them for the most part, my own words. I can't say how accurate or well researched the author's information may be so the following information must be taken for what it is- A story. What I find worthy of note is the list of burials I was able to find in Cinncinnati.

"The Terrible Williamsons.

The first Williamson to cross the Atlantic Ocean and arrive in the United States was Robert Logan Williamson. He first lived in Brooklyn, NY, about 1890 and there he married a woman, who had emigrated from Scotland. He and the little woman had many children. He wrote to family back home in Scotland about how easy it was to con people here. Assorted related family named; McDonald, McMillan, Gregg, Stewart, Johnston, and others also moved here in large numbers and by 1914 and set about their unique employment.

They claimed to be Presbyerian and observed the sacraments, however they did not attend church.

Their appearance consists of two types- the black haired and swarthy black-Celt blood and the sandy haired and ruddy-cheeks common among the red-Celts. The men tend to be thickset, of medium height, virile and personable; the women high spirited and bold of eye (stereotyping?), exerting their sex appeal to obfuscate their male victims.

Many of them look and talk alike, with thick Scotchish burrs. Marriages between first cousins are common, marriages outside the tribe are almost unheard of.

Many of the clansmen wear Masonic emblems and belonged to several Masonic lodges.

Williamson was the name of the early ringleader and is still predominates among them, but there are also innumerable kinsmen bearing other Celtic surnames. They often used the same first names to confuse the police.

They operated for generations as bunco artists abroad, before their careers began here. There appears to be a connection with a company named Sweeney & Johnson in Cinncinnati, Ohio, founded in 1865 by a pair of Irish born salesmen, which dealt in wholesale by mail order. The Williamson activity was known from coast to coast, and not limited to any particular locale.

The bulk of the clan return yearly to Cinncinnati, Ohio, to honor their dead and hold a convention. Each family owns and maintances a family plot in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cinncinnati. "

[Here is the link to the cemetery list of Williamson surnames buried there.] Williamson .

Click the number on the left side of the list to see Interment records. Acrobat Reader is needed.


P.S. If you discover a link to any of these families, please contact me.

P.P.S. It is my understanding that Travelers or Romany owe allegiance to no nation or laws except their own. Their DNA traces to India and they have been found in almost every country.