Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower



Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Jul 10

The Life and Death of Father and Son

Posted on July 10, 2020 at 11:24 AM by Melissa Dalton

Some time back, I came across an article in the June 17, 1913 issue of the Xenia Daily Gazette which detailed the funeral of a father and son – Edward Williams Sr. and Edward Williams Jr. The article states that the father and son died within 20 minutes of each other (Fig 1). The article speaks of a lovely tribute to the men, and it made me want to learn more – and what a fascinating story!

Fig 1. Article on Death of Edward Williams Sr. and Edward Williams Jr., Xenia Daily Gazette, 17 JuneFig 1. Article on Death of Edward Williams Sr. and Edward Williams Jr., Xenia Daily Gazette, 17 June
Fig 1. Article on Death of Edward Williams Sr. and Edward Williams Jr., Xenia Daily Gazette, 17 June 1913 (newspaperARCHIVE.com)

The first record I found on the Williams’ was the 1870 Census, which showed the family living in Knox County, Illinois (Fig 2). Unfortunately the 1870 Census does not list the length of the marriage, but Edward was married to Sarah (Wilson) Williams, and they have two sons – George (4 years) and Edward (9 months). However, by the 1880 Census, the family dynamic had changed. Sarah, George, and Edward were living in Liberty Township in Clinton County, Ohio, and Edward Sr. was not listed at all (Fig 3). It’s unclear if Sarah claimed to be widowed, but the census taker marked her as such, although we know Edward Sr. was alive at this time (The field for marital status has widowed or divorced in the same column, so it is possible it was a mistake). I did find an Edward Williams in Knoxville, Illinois who was roughly the same age, but he was listed as “widowed” as well. We’re not sure of the circumstances of their relationship as each had their spouse listed as deceased, or if it was that the census taker did not clarify their marital status. Likely, Sarah and Edward were divorced, or at least separated, at the time. I also happened upon a marriage record for Edward Williams and Margaret Johnson in Knoxville, Illinois, dated December 1880 (Fig 4). From some later newspaper articles, Williams Sr. had remarried and lived in Knoxville, IL, so both are likely him.

Fig 2. 1870 US Census with Williams family outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 2. 1870 US Census with Williams family outlined in red (FamilySearch.org)

Fig 3. 1880 US Census with Williams family outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 3. 1880 US Census with Williams Sr. outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 3. 1880 US Census with Williams family outlined in red & 1880 Census with Williams Sr. listed (Ancestry.com)

However, after the 1880 Census, I had little luck finding either Sarah or Edward Sr. As such, I focused in on learning more about Edward Jr. Although I could not locate a 1900 Census with Edward Jr., I do know he arrived in Greene County sometime before 1900. One article has him arriving in Xenia around 1890 and working for the Pennsylvania Railroad roundhouse for roughly 7 years. He then joined the police force about 1898. Edward married Virginia (lovingly known as Virgie) Cristy on April 18, 1901 (Fig 4). Just a few months later, his brother, George, married Jennie Smith in Xenia, Ohio, but they moved to Iowa not long after getting married (Fig 5).

Fig 4. Marriage Record of Edward Williams Jr. and Virginia Cristy, 1901 (JPG)
Fig 4. Marriage Record of Edward Williams Jr. and Virginia Cristy, 1901 (FamilySearch.org)

Fig 5. Marriage Record of George Williams and Jennie Smith, 1901 (JPG)
Fig 5. Marriage Record of George Williams and Jennie Smith, 1901 (FamilySearch.org)

Edward had lost contact with his father when young, and he began searching for him. In 1904, he traced him back to Knoxville, IL, and sent him a Christmas greeting. That greeting prompted Edward Sr. to come for a surprise visit. That visit allowed father and son to reconnect, and they enjoyed their time together (Fig 6).

Fig 6. Article on Williams Sr. visit to Xenia, Xenia Daily Gazette, 28 Dec 1904 (PNG)
Fig 6. Article on Williams Sr. visit to Xenia, Xenia Daily Gazette, 28 Dec 1904 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Edward and Virgie had one child, Kenneth Philip, born on August 6, 1906 (Fig 7). Within a couple of years of their son’s birth, Edward Sr. moved to Xenia after the death of his second wife. The 1910 Census lists Edward Sr. as living with the young family, and working for the railroad as a watchman (Fig 8).

Fig 7. Birth Record of Kenneth Philip Williams (JPG)
Fig 7. Birth Record of Kenneth Philip Williams (Greene County Archives)

Fig 8. 1910 US Census of Williams family outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 8. 1910 US Census of Williams family outlined in red (Ancestry.com)

Edward Jr. was a well-known and well-liked man in the community, and his police work was viewed as exceptional. Edward Sr. was highly regarded as well. However, both men experienced heart issues. Edward Jr. had a heart attack around May 1913, and many felt he never fully recovered. Then, just a few weeks later, on June 11, 1913, Edward was preparing for bed and just dropped to the floor, dying instantly from another heart attack. The local doctor arrived shortly after, but knew it was too late for Edward Jr. However, upon witnessing his son’s death, Edward Sr. also had a heart attack. The doctor tried to save him, but to no avail (Fig 9). The father and son died within roughly 20 minutes of each other (Fig 10).

Fig 9. Death Record of Edward Williams Sr. (JPG)
Fig 9. Death Record of Edward Williams Jr. (JPG)
Fig 9. Death Records of Edward Williams Sr. & Edward Williams Jr. (FamilySearch.org)

Fig 10. Article documenting death of father and son, Xenia Daily Gazette, 12 June 1913 (PNG)Fig 10. Article documenting death of father and son, Xenia Daily Gazette, 12 June 1913 (PNG)
Fig 10. Article documenting death of father and son, Xenia Daily Gazette, 12 June 1913 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Father and son were buried in Cherry Grove Cemetery on June 16, 1913. All of Edward Sr.’s possessions were left to his son, George, and grandson, Kenneth (Fig 11). From cursory search, it appears Virgie remarried, and Kenneth grew up and had a child of his own, naming him Kenneth Edward Williams – in honor of his father.

Fig 11. Probate filing for the Estate of Edward Williams Sr. (JPG)
Fig 11. Probate filing for the Estate of Edward Williams Sr. (Greene County Archives)

UNTIL NEXT TIME!

Sources:
Ancestry.com
FamilySearch.org
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com

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