Newspaper & photos submitted by ANITA PALMER.

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The Wheeling Intelligencer, Monday, September 2, 1929


Descended From Williamsons Who Helped Defend Ft. Henry

Thomas Williamson Was An Early Manufacturer Before Going To Friendly

Members Of Clan Range In Age From Six Months To Eighty-Eight Years

By Robert T. Beans

Friendly, W.Va., Sept. 1. - The annual reunion of the Williamson family, descendants of hardy pioneers who 143 years ago settled on the site of Friendly in Union district, Tyler county, was held Sunday. In Zion grove members of the family assembled, just adjoining Zion church in Tyler county and about which rest in the little country graveyard, many of the pioneers of early days.

The Zion grove, with its interlacing tree branches and whitewashed tree trunks, from which were suspended long festoons of red, white and blue, presented an attractive appearance. Early in the morning over the hills from Friendly came the reunion participants in autos that bore licenses of half a dozen states.

Brady Williamson of St. Louis, Mo., came the longest distance of any in attendance. Little Maxine B. Garrison, just six months old and a grand-daughter of the Hon. and Mrs. H. C. Williamson, was the youngest at the reunion. The oldest at the reunion of the Williamson clan was D. W. Williamson, living near Friendly, who is in his eightieth year. One of the regrets of the occasion was that Charles Wesley Williamson of Ben's Run, was unable to attend. He is 88 years of age and the oldest Williamson in Tyler county. It was the first reunion he had not attended.

Of Pioneer Family

Those who attended yesterday's reunion were descendants of John and Thomas Williamson, who came to Wheeling (Fort Henry) and remained until 1785. These two fearless frontiersmen helped to defend Fort Henry in its siege, and incidentally Thomas Williamson may be looked upon as Wheeling's first manufacturer. He was a weaver by trade and when he came to Wheeling over the mountains, brought his loom with him. He set it up on Big Wheeling creek and operated it until the two brothers removed to the present site of Friendly.

The Williamsons 118 years ago organized the first church in Tyler county at Friendly, on the site of the present M. E. Church there. Shortly after they erected a log church and school combined at Zion grove, over the hills to the east and adjoining the scene of yesterday's reunion. This latter church remained standing until 1867 when it was torn down and the existing substantial ---- church erected. It was built of Tyler county timber, sawed in Tyler county and some of those at the reunion recalled when a levee backed the water over what is partially the site of the Friendly of today, to form a mill pool to furnish the power to turn the saw mill and grist mill. Some of them, including Joshua Williamson of Palestine, W.Va., recalled the cat fish in that mill pool.

An interesting feature of the reunion was the exhibiting of a tax receipt, the property of the First National Bank of Middlebourne, issued in 1845 by James C. Williamson, sheriff, through his deputy, W. J. McCoy, to Nathan Joseph. Mr. Joseph was of the family for whom Joseph Mills, W.Va., was named. Sheriff Williamson was the second sheriff of Tyler county. He was first elected in 1817 and again in 1844(?). The tax receipt is interesting, with notations for the listing among other property, of slaves.

Williamson Band Plays

Music for yesterday's reunion was supplied by the Friendly band. It is made up entirely of Williamsons or their kin and is directed by Verner Williamson. Incidentally hymns were sung during the reunion by a quartet also made up of relatives, composed of N. H. Williamson, S. N. Williamson and Warren Virden.

James L. Williamson of Friendly, is president of the Williamson Reunion organization, and Henry C. Williamson of Friendly, is the secretary. They were retained for another year at the affair Sunday, and plans were set afoot to make the reunion of 1930, to be held the first Sunday in September, a greater reunion than any heretofore.

Hon. H. C. Williamson was master of ceremonies Sunday and at the afternoon program introduced Hon. Thurman Williamson, an attorney of Marietta, Ohio, as the orator of the occasion. There was also a musical program, and the chairman read an especially prepared history of the family.

Tells of Ancestors

Attorney Thurman Williamson traced the ancestry of the clan back to its Irish origin, and incidentally touched upon the history of other Williamsons who came to America from England. The Puritan Williamsons located in New England, he said, while the Cavalier branch of the family were found in Virginia. The direct ancestors of the Tyler county branch, however, he declared, were more liberal in their views than either of the other branches and came from Pennsylvania to West Virginia. He pointed to the fact that the West Virginia Williamsons were the descendants of Thomas and John Williamson and he commented upon the sturdy, upright character of the family through all the generations. They were tolerant for good and intolerant of that which was not good. They were always for that which was just. He touched at this point upon law enforcement, particularly as relating to the eighteenth amendment, and declared that responsibility for flagrant disregard of the law must be laid at the door of more than one generation. He also touched upon the decadence in modern fiction, and urged an awakening of the pioneer Williamson spirit and standard of uprightness in the cause of enforcement and encouragement of high ideals.

Dine Beneath the Trees

A big picnic luncheon was a feature of the reunion at the noon hour. It was served on long tables erected beneath the trees and all who gathered at the reunon were made welcome. Housewives vied with each other in the preparing of a choice menu, to which husbands contribute fruit from orchards and vine and new made honey from the hives.

In days of old the road to Zion Grove was traveled behind horse-drawn vehicles. Sunday, the picnickers made the trip by automobile and the parking space about the grove was filled, while long lines of cars were parked along the road that led back to Friendly. Some of those who attended the reunion returned home at dusk. Others, who came from a distance, remained over to visit familiar sites and renew acquaintances.

Among those at the reunon, most of whom were accompanied by families, were: D. W. Williamson, Friendly; James L. Williamson, Friendly; Joshua Williamson, Palestine, W.Va.; Harvey B. Williamson, Sistersville; Thurman Williamson, Marietta, O.; J. W. Williamson, Akron, O.; Forest Williamson, Wheeling; Nelson B. Williamson, Friendly; Elbert Williamson, Friendly; D. W. Virden, Friendly; J. D. Livingston, Friendly; Capt. W. A. Beagle, Sistersville; Cyrus Williamson, Bremen, O.; F. E. Williamson, Friendly; Henry C. Williamson, St. Louis, Mo.; Richard E. Williamson, Friendly; Mrs. J. N. Williamson, Moundsville; Adelle Williamson, Pittsburgh; W. H. Nalette, Pittsburgh; Mrs. Gertrude Williamson Nalette, Pittsburgh; Nora Williamson Gordon, Philadelphia; A. C. Williamson, Bremen, O.; Leroy Williamson, Eureka, W.Va.; J. L. Hissam, St. Marys; Rev. Bright, St Marys; William Wagner, Beverly, O.; James Michaels, Sistersville; William Michaels, Sistersville; Elmer Michaels, Sistersville; Linsly Michaels, Sistersville; Howard Williamson, Belmont, W.Va.; Mrs. Claude Grimm, St. Marys; H. Neely, St Marys.


D. W. Williamson

D. W. Williamson, living near Friendly, was the son of Thomas C. Williamson, and is the oldest living descendant of this large family of five girls and seven boys of which the writer, H. C. Williamson, is the youngest son. David W. Williamson is in his eightieth year and is hale and hearty for a man his age. He is a farmer now living at Everett, Union district, Tyler county, and was on Middle Island Creek and the Little Kanawha river. He is a Democrat in politics and a member of the Methodist Protestant church.

James L. Williamson

James L. Williamson, 70 years, was the son of Capt. David S. Williamson, who owned a large tract of land on which the town of Friendly is principally situated. James L. Williamson now owns his father's farm on which his father reared a large family of children. James L. Williamson was formerly a ship carpenter but of recent years has been engaged in house carpentering and has held the office of member of the Board of Education and County Board of Review. He is a Republican in politics and a member of the M. E. church.

Charles W. Williamson

The oldest known living descendant of the Williamson family is Charles Wesley Williamson, age 88 years, living at Ben's Run, Union district, Tyler county. He was the son of John Williamson and was born in Tyler county in the year of 1841. He is the last survivor of a large family and his living descendants now can be traced back for four generations. He has lived on a farm practically all his life in Tyler and Pleasants counties. He makes his home now with his daughter, Mrs. Delong at Ben's Run, and enjoys good health for a man of his age. His father was an old line Whig party man and he is a Republican in politics and a member of the Church of Christ.


By Hon. Henry C. Williamson of Friendly, W.Va.

The history of the Williamson family and other early settlers, of Union district, Tyler county,written by the Hon. H. C. Williamson and read at the reunion on Sunday follows:

Friendly, Union district, Tyler county, W.Va., is a small town on the Ohio river, 52 miles below Wheeling and 30 miles above Marietta, Ohio, the oldest town and settlement in the state of Ohio. A post office was established by the name of Friendly, named after Friend Williamson, in 1683(error), one of the descendants of Thomas Williamson, the first settler in this place. The first postmaster was W. H. Lutes with Edward Williamson assistant. Friendly is now incorporated and inside of the corporation is the exact spot on which the first settlement was made in 1785, by Thomas and John Williamson. This land is now owned by Forest M. Williamson and his dwelling house stands near the exact spot where the old log cabin was erected by these early pioneers, when blood thirsty Indians and ferocious animals roamed this unknown wilderness.

The Williamson family living near Friendly traced their relationship to Thomas Williamson our paternal great-grandfather while the others are the descendants of John Williamson they being the two brothers who made this permanent settlement where Friendly is now located. The Williamson family originally came from Ireland. Thomas Williamson married an English lady before emigrating to America. Thomas and John, two brothers, came across the mountains from Virginia and were some of the first settlers at Fort Henry, now Wheeling, and locating on Wheeling creek where they took up a large tract of land. Thomas was a weaver by trade and carried his loom with him across the mountains to his new home near Fort Henry.

The two brothers were active in defending the new settlement at Fort Henry against the Indians who tried on several occasions to destroy the new settlement when Simon Girty and his band of Indians besieged Fort Henry. Thomas and John Williamson helped to defend the fort from the Indian attack. After locating here they organized an M. E. church and Rev. David Smythers preached the first sermon in the Williamson cabin. Thomas Williamson and wife, John Williamson and wife, James Love and wife, John and Sarah Massey, John and Joseph Martin were the first members of this M. E. church which has been in existence since 1811, 118 years ago. On the site now is a fine brick church, up-to-date in every respect, with Rev. C. E. Dally, pastor.

After the Williamson settlement at Friendly in 1785 other noted pioneers soon came and Union district was at an early date the most popular place in the county. At Long Reach, Bens Run, Littles Mills, Shiloh and other places a great many settlers came. John Martin came in 1797, Nicholas Mills 1804, Henry Hays 1810, Clawson Parker came in 1817, James Love 1814. Ellis Thomas, Thomas Cochran, P. Wells, William Johnson, Benjamin Wells, William Dieson and William Galloway were the early settlers of the district.

A little later came Jacob Hugus, John G. Morgan a soldier of the war of 1812 who lived at the mouth of Big Buffalo on Middle Island Creek, Mordecai Morris, Bennett Thorn, John Barney Gorrell, John Lazear and John A. Davenport.

The First School

The first school in Union district was taught by John Wiliamson. In 1813 a school of about 16 pupils was taught by John Williamson in a log school house 16 feet square, which stood on the Ohio river near Sebleys Spring in the town of Friendly, near the present residence of Mrs. S. Williamson.

Sebleys Spring was a large spring in an early day and a Mrs. Sebley fell into it and was drowned, hence the name Sebley Spring.

A little later a log school house was built on the location where the present Zion church now stands and was used for a M. E. church as well as a school building. It was torn down in 1867 and the present Zion Methodist Protestant church was built mainly through the efforts of Captain J. W. Williamson and others. It is still used as a church with Rev. J. H. Lough pastor.

The settlements at Little and Shiloh on Middle Island Creek a few years later demanded a school near their homes and a log school house was built at the mouth of Big Buffalo on the John G. Morgan farm which was used as a school building until the Civil War came on in 1861. John Keller, Alex Thoburn, Cornelius and Hisam families were early settlers of this district. Isaac G. Bowles, David Miller, Ephraim Martin and many others soon located in the district.

First Grand Jury

The first grand jury ever held in Tyler county consisted of the following members: William Wells, foreman; Joseh McCoy, Sr., Lewis Ripley, Aaron Ankrom, P. Wells, Joseph McKay, Moses Williamson, Joseph Archer, William Johnson, Ephraim Martin, John Martin, Richard Ankrom, Bowers Furbee, John Wells, John Micline, Collins McCardle, Nicholas Wells, William McKay and William Ivers. No indictments were found. This grand jury convened in May, 1815, in Union district, Tyler county, at the residence of William McKay, where Sam Hissam now lives. The judge of this court called superior court, was Daniel Smith, the first judge of any court in Tyler county.

The first county court ever held in Tyler county was held at Charles Wells, near Sistersville. It was held in May, 1815, and consisted of twelve gentlemen justices named as follows: Joseph Martin, Jeremia Williams, Abraham S. Birkhead, John Nicklin, Ephraim Martin, John Whitten and Basil Riggs.

The first offices in Tyler county, 1815, when the county was formed were: Joseph Martin, sheriff; Moses W. Chaplin, clerk of superior court, and first attorney for the commonwealth; Abraham was first clerk of county court; Moses Williamson, first commissioner of revenue; Joseph Williams, first surveyor; Joseph McCoy, first coroner.

Many In Legislature

Union district has had a great many members of the legislature of West Virginia since the year 1865, beginning with Jacob T. Galloway, 1865; Col. D. D. Johnson of Long Reach, 1866; Colmon Wells, 1870; John C. Parker, 1872; Solmon Wells, 1882; Silas Smith, 1887 and 1889; S. D. Wells; Hon. H. C. Williamson, 1921.

Our uncle James W. Williamson was a delegate to the Wheeling conventon that formed the state of West Virginia and he was also a member of the legislature in 1866 and 1867, representing the first delegate district composed of Pleasants and Wood counties. Col. D. D. Johnson was the state senator, Fourth district, Tyler, Pleasants, Wood and Wirt, 73, 75 and 79; clerk senate, 1881.

Union district in an early day was great place for all kind of large game, bear, deer, turkeys, wolves, panthers, wild cats, and is reported that wild buffalo were killed on streams tributary to Middle Island creek, known to this day as Buffalo creek. In an early day over a century ago two famous pioneer deer hunters, Laban Brewer and Isaac Williamson, made a wager on who could kill the most deer in one day. Log Fork, of Big Buffalo, was to be the dividing lines on this hunting trip, one taking the lower woods and the other the upper woods. In the evening when they met one had killed seven deer, the other six and wounded the seventh and lost the wager on this narrow margin.

Kills Last Deer

The last deer killed in Union district was killed by the late Judge T. J. Hugus of Wheeling, when about a boy, near the Hugus farm about the year 1865, on the farm then owned by J. G. Morgan. The writer was shown the exact spot by the late Judge Hugus. Judge Hugus was the father of State Senator Wright Hugus, a prominent attorney of Wheeling, and also the father of A. C. Hugus of Elm Grove.

Wild hogs were very numerous and a good many killed in an early day as the forests were covered with oak leaves and hogs lived on the acorns and wild fruit which was in abundance.

Indians never molested these new settlements on the Ohio river as the location was not in their line of travel as no large streams empty into the Ohio river between Fishing Creek and Middle Island Creek. The Indians usually followed these streams when traveling across the country to their hunting grounds and towns in Ohio.

First Indian Victim

Indians killed the first settler in McElroy district in this county. John McElroy was killed by the Indians at the mouth of McElroy Creek and the creek takes its name from this early pioneer who fell a victim to Indian brutality. Edward Doolin was the first settler on Doolins run where New Martinsville is now located. He was killed by the Indians in an early day, his wife and child escaping. These were the only ones killed in the territory of Tyler county as organized in 1815.

Williamsons In War

This brief history of the Williamson family would not be complete without naming a few of our ancestors who took a part in the war in which our country has been engaged since its first war down to the present time.

Col. David Williamson was a noted Indian fighter and assisted the settlers around Fort Henry and the vicinity of Wheeling. He has been accused of undue cruelty in the capture and execution of a band of Delaware Indian warriors at the town of Gnadenkutten in 1792 in Ohio but his action in executing these Indian warriors as no women or children were killed according to the account given by Andrew Price, the greatest Historian that W.Va. ever produced, in a chapter in the legislative Blue Book for the year of 1926, which entirely exonerates him.

In the Battle at Point Pleasant, the greatest Indian battle, you will find the name of a Williamson. In all the wars from 1776 down to the World War you will find our people took part.

In the Civil War, Joseph A. Williamson, George Williamson, and many others went out at our country's call in defense of the Union. Thornton Virden and his brother D. W. Virden attorney at Middlebourne, whose mother was a Williamson were soldiers in that war, being captured at Cloyd's Mountain taken to Andersonville, G., lived through that horrible time, came back home, and some of their children are here today.

The Coe-Thorn Post at Sistersville is named in honor of Grover Thorn a near relative of the Williamson Family who gave up his young life in the World war on the bloody field of Chateau Thiery. I am now looking in the faces of near relatives who also took a part in this great World war, the greatest the world has ever seen. Time forbids me to name others who also went over seas and took an active part in defending the flag that we all love and revere.

Union district citizens have held a great many political offices in Tyler county. Three county superintendants of schools in Union district have also been members of the legislature: S. D. Wells J. T. Fonner, and H. C. Williamson. J. T. Fonner is the present member of the legislature. Joseph Martin was the first sheriff of Tyler county in 1815. The second sheriff was James C. Williamson in 1817, who was also sheriff again in 1844 (?).

The late Dr. James M. Williamson, of Moundsville, son of Captain J. W. Williamson of Friendly, was a member of the Board of Control during the administration of Gov. H. D. Hatfield. O. B. Williamson of Friendly who owns this grove has been employed by the United States government as a postoffice inspector located at Philadelphia, Pa., for the last twenty-five years.

The Williamson families have produced a number of ministers of the gospel, lawyers, doctors, mechanics, in fact have been active in all interprises, helping to build up this great country of ours from its early existence until the present time. They are located now in every state in the Union, until their number can be estimated to be several thousand people. The town of Williamson, the county seat of Mingo county, is named in honor of this family and no doubt these first settlers of this town can trace their ancestors back to the first settlement at Friendly, W.Va. To other noted families of Union district a good many things could be said in their honor as they all had a part in the development of this country and I have endeavored in writing this history in a brief way to name some of the early pioneers whose noted achievements would fill pages in our early history. If I failed to mention any of your ancestors of anyone who is present here today I hope and trust you will not feel that it was left out intentionally. I have done the best I could in a brief time to gather up this early history to read on this occasion.


Rev. J. H. Hardesty of Friendly Delivers Annual Address

Twenty-Seven Members of Family Answer Call In A Year

Since the reunion of a year ago there have been twenty-seven deaths in the Williamson family in Union district, Taylor (Tyler?) county, and among Williamson relatives. Such was the announcement made by the Hon. Henry C. Williamson on Sunday at the reunion held at Friendly. A feature of the morning was a reunion memorial service held for those who had answered the last call.

After a program of hymns by the Friendly band, Rev. J. P. Hardesty of the Friendly M. P. church read the scriptural lesson. Rev. J. H. Lough of the Tyler couny M. P. circuit pronounced the invocation.

Hon. H. C. Williamson read the roll of honor, after which Rev. J. P. Hardesty made the memorial address. He referred to the pioneer spirit that had dominated the lives of the early Williamsons and their constant endeavor to better humanity and to make a home in the wilderness. He traced down through years the ever high ideals and endeavors of the family and declared that those who had gone ahead were beyond a doubt in spirit with gathering of Sunday.

Rev. Lough pronounced the benediction.

The names of those who have died since the last reunion in Union district and Williamson relatives follow: Mrs. H. K. Williamson, Mrs. Amanda Wiliamson Peoples, Mrs. Rose Williamson, Infant Ruth Williamson, Mrs. Theodosia Lewis, A. M. Swisher, Mrs. Nancy A. Hays, Marion Hays, Mrs. Harry Deaton, Mrs. Mary Hugus, Frank Lynch, Mrs. Eunice Prettyman, A. C. Martin, Mrs. Birdie Miller Haught, William Dearth, E. P. Brooks, Hugh Thorn, Lawrence Thorn, I. H. Mott, M. Boora, J. B. Danser, Mrs. Martha Dalrymple, A. B. Flesher, B. F. Stokes, Belle Stewart, David Garman, Mrs. Rose Neeley.


Captain W. A. Beagle Was Oldest Veteran, Having Past 92 Years

D. W. Virden and J. D. Livingston Two Other Prominent Figures

Prominent figures at the annual reunion of the Williamson family, held at Friendly, were three veterans of the Civil war.

The more prominent of the trio was Captain W. A. Beagle of Sistersville. He saw service throughout the Civil war and is still the soldier in bearing, despite the fact that he has passed his ninety-first birthday. Capt. Beagle, more active than many a man a score of years his junior, was renewing old acquaintances in the reunion crowd.

D. W. Virden, of Middlebourne, claims next in rank as to age. He is eighty-seven years of age and in the Civil war captured and held a prisoner at Andersonville until he effected his escape. He was an interesting figure at the reunion.

The third veteran at the reunion was J. D. Livingston. Mr. Livingston was shot in the battle of Cloyds Mountain, Va., and was thought to have been mortally wounded. However, he survived his wounds and is more than four score years of age.

The Williamsons of Tyler county sent many soldiers into the Civil war, while they also contributed of the younger generation to the World war. The history of the Williamson family discloses a long line of soldiers from the Revolutionary war down through all the major conflicts in which this county has been engaged.

Christopher J. & Lydia (Johnson) Williamson
Corbley L. & Mary Emily (Lamp) Lucas
Williamson's Store in St. Marys #1
Williamson's Store in St. Marys #2

Anita Williamson Palmer's WILLIAMSON line:

Moses Williamson (Rev War) m. Jane Mills
Thomas Williamson b. 1751 m. Elizabeth Anderson b. 1760
James Williamson Sr. b. 1780 m. Margaret Ball b. 1790
John J. Williamson b. 1810 m. Margaret Wagner
Christopher Williamson b. 1834 m. Lydia Johnson b. 1831
John Wm. Williamson b. 1860 m. India Anna Lucas b. 1883
Truman Williamson b. 1906 m. Julia Oros
Anita Williamson & brother, Truman F. Williamson

Anita Williamson Palmer's LUCAS line:

Dennis Lucas b. 1814 PA m. Mary ??
Corbley L. Lucas b. c1844 m. Mary Emily Lamp b. 1847
India Anna Lucas b. 1883 m. John Wm. Williamson b. 1860
Truman Williamson b. 1906 m. Julia Oros
Anita Williamson & brother, Truman F. Williamson