Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day, Feb 14, 2011

Our ancestors dwell
in the attics of our brains
as they do in the knowledge
hidden in every cell of our bodies. 
~Shirley Abbott

Hello Family and Friends,

Happy Valentine's Day! In the spirit of familial love, I have put together a new and improved version of a photoshow I shared with you last year.

John and Lydia Williams. Two star-crossed lovers I would like to have included in the foregoing were John Williams and Lydia Warford, my GGGG grandparents. Unfortunately no pictures exist of these two, whose love resulted in their Kentucky marriage in 1803. But I do have a picture of their granddaughter Margaret Williams Spear, and her daughter Caroline Spear Davis. I have shared this picture (from about 1880) of Maggie and Callie before, but I am including it again below.

I received some new information recently regarding our Williams ancestors from Pamela Williams Martin of North Carolina, a fourth cousin of mine, who is also a 4G grandchild of John and Lydia Williams.

John Williams, born around 1780 outside Washington DC in Fairfax, Va., moved as a young man with his family to Spencer County, Kentucky, southeast of Louisville. Lydia Warford, born in Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania, met John after her family also settled in Spencer County, Kentucky. They married in nearby Shelby, Kentucky, 4 days before Thanksgiving, 1803.

John and Lydia's life together was cut short when he died just 10 years later. We don't know how John died, just that he was probably in his 30s. Since the year he died was 1813, the war of 1812 seems a possibility, but Pam found no record of him serving in that conflict. For now his death is a mystery. 

Pam obtained an "Appraisal of the Estate of John Williams", which was settled November, 1815 in Shelby County, Kentucky, a fascinating historical document. Here are just some of the numerous items of his estate that were listed as having been sold: (All spellings below are as they appear in the document.)

- 1 old hat that sold to Reuben Smith for .62 1/2
- 1 sett geers that sold for 4.00
- 1 Big pot that sold to James D. Davis for 4.00
- 14 hogs that sold for 20.00
- 1 Gray mare that sold for 16.12
- 6 head of Sheep that sold for 8.00
- 1 white cow and calf that sold for 13.53
- 1 red heifer, 1 Bull, 1 Stear that sold for a total of 11.94

Here are some of the debts against John Williams' estate, also listed in the Appraisal:
- Appraisers Charge: .50
- Clerks fee: 3.30 1/2
- James Bristoes note on said estate: 11.25
- Whiskey for the sale: 1.50
- Sheriffs Bill for 1811: 1.30
- Majistrates fee: .50

"Whiskey for the Sale"? It appears whiskey was available at the estate sale where John's property was looked over and purchased. Was someone offering free shots of Kentucky Bourbon, to soften the spirit and loosen the purse strings of people like brother-in-law Reuben Smith, so he would cough up the 62 1/2 cents for John's old hat? (Yes, they did have "half cents" back in those days. See picture.) Evidently the cost of the whiskey was then charged to John William's estate. (Have you ever been to a yard sale or estate sale like that?)

After it was settled, the cash amount of young John William's estate was $203.19 3/4. That might be enough to buy an iPhone today, but 200 years ago it was a sizable sum for John Williams to leave his young widow Lydia Warford Williams. As it turned out it was enough to help get Lydia back on her feet.

More about that part of the story I will share in my next post. For now we can be grateful for ancestors like John and Lydia, their loves and disappointments, their resilience and their dreams, that somehow get passed on to us, and -- if there is any truth in the quote at the top -- that we carry with us as we journey through life.

The following is a lineage showing several of the people mentioned above. It begins with the young girl pictured with her brother near the top of this post and continues with each generation to William Williams, the oldest Williams of whom I have any data.
  • Ashlyn Ortiz - b. 2005, daughter of...
  • Jeremy Ortiz - b. 1980 (who married Desiree Ambriz) son of...
  • Kim Lorraine Boyd - b. 1961 (who married Gabriel Ortiz) daughter of...
  • Thelma Lea Shepard - b. 1936 (who married Terry Boyd) daughter of...
  • Bura Emerald Davis - 1896-1986 (who married William Shepard) daughter of...
  • Caroline Matilda Spear - 1865-1951 (who married James Brooks Davis) daughter of...
  • Margaret Frances Williams - 1845-1904 (who married William Spear) daughter of...
  • John Pouty Williams - 1806-1898 (who married Sarah Richardson) son of...
  • John Williams - 1782-1813 (who married Lydia Warford) son of...
  • William Williams - 1745-1801 (who married Elizabeth Averett)
- - -

1 comment:

Cherie Harris said...

I reckon I've found me another cousin! I only recently returned to working on my Williams line and found your site. My 2nd great-grandmother was Matilda Jane Williams Clearwater, youngest child of John and Lydia Warford Williams.

I enjoy your writings very much.