Pages 206-208, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




JAMES McKINNEY WILLIAMSON, who was for years engaged in the harness and saddlery business in Iola, and but recently retired, located in Allen county in 1883. His first years in the county he passed


on the farm, but, having served his apprenticeship, without being bound, at the saddlery and harness trade and having an opportunity to acquire the business exclusive, in Iola, he purchased the Hart stock and conducted an honorable and profitable business till 1900 when "Williamson & Son," the successor of J. M. Williamson, sold its business to Mr. Hartung.

Mr. Williamson came to Kansas in 1871 and took a claim in Butler county. From this claim he moved to the city of Eldorado and was a resident there at the time he removed to Allen county. His native place is Mercer county, Pennsylvania, where he was born August 1, 1840. His father, John L. Williamson, was a farmer and, to some extent an iron ore dealer. He was born in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania, but reared in Mercer county. He died in Butler county, Kansas, in 1882 at the age of eighty-two years. In early life he was in line with Democracy but in 1848 became a Whig and later a Republican. George Williamson, a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and a son of Thomas Williamson, passed his active life at farming in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania. He is buried at Salem church in Mercer county. His forefathers were of Scotch and Irish extraction.

John L. Williamson married Rebecca McKinney, a daughter of Samuel McKinney, who was born and reared in Center county, Pennsylvania. He was a farmer, a wool-carder and an ex-soldier of the war of 1812. He was awarded a medal by the state of Pennsylvania for gallantry in the battle of Lake Erie. Rebecca McKinney Williamson died in 1840. Her children are: Mary J., wife of Fohnestock Lightner, of Knox county, Iowa; Rachel E., wife of John Naix, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and James M. Williamson.

Until he became old enough to care for himself Mr. Williamson made his home with his grandfather McKinney. He hired out as a day workman and by the month, as the opportunity offered, until beginning his trade. He left the bench to enter the Union army in August 1861, joining Company A, Seventy-Sixth Keystone Zouaves. For some months prior to the close of the war he was enrolling officer, being employed as such after his discharge from service in the field.

The Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania Zouaves rendezvoused at Camp Cameron, Harrisburg, and was ordered to the front at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, and on to Hilton Head, South Carolina. It participated in the capture of Fort Pulaski, was in the fight at Pocataligo, and, in the spring of 1863, Mr. Williamson was discharged from it and soon thereafter was commissioned as enrolling officer, as above mentioned.

Mr. Williamson engaged in merchandising in a country store in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, upon resuming civil pursuits and followed it and farming three years each. He then came to Kansas in search of cheap lands and the claim he took in Butler county proved to be the dearest piece of real estate he ever owned.

June 1, 1864. Mr. Williamson married Lizzie L., a daughter of James Brandon. Mrs. Williamson died in 1873. Her children are: Mary J.,


who married J. F. Shidely, of Pairhaven, Washington; Austa, wife of Charles Cadwell, of Harvey county, Kansas; and John H. Williamson, of Iola. In 1875 Mr. Williamson married Mary M., a daughter of Hansford Jones, whose original home was in West Virginia. The children of the marriage are: Horace Carl Williamson, who is married to Emma Butler and is one of the substantial young business men of Iola; Arthur Leroy, Earnest Wiley, James and Ruth Esther Williamson.

Mr. Williamson's first national ballot was cast for Lincoln for president. In 1872 he got into the Greeley movement but supported Hays in 1876 and has since been one of the staunchest advocates of Republican policies and Republican candidates at the polls. He was elected coroner of Butler county, Kansas, held many minor offices there and in Allen county, including councilman for the city of Iola. He is a member of the Grand Army and Past Commander of the Post, a director of the Iola Building and Loan Association and, above all, a citizen above reproach.

Previous | Home | Next