Jefferson County Historical Society

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Judge Joseph J. Williams, attorney, at Hillsboro, and a native of Washington 
County, Mo., was born in 1838, and is the eldest of three children.  His 
parents, Elder James and Nancy (Jeffries) Williams, were natives of Kentucky, 
born in 1789 and 1799, respectively.  The father was married three times, his 
second wife being the mother of the subject of this sketch.  After his first 
marriage the father removed to Washington County, Mo., where he remained until 
1840, when he removed to Jefferson County, locating on Big River, and here 
passed the remainder of his life, dying in 1861.  He was for over forty years 
a Baptist minister, and followed this in connection with his farming. He 
figured prominently in organizing and building up the church of Southeast 
Missouri, where he left a lasting remembrance. The mother died in 1856, and 
was also a member of the Baptist Church.  Joseph J. remained at home and 
attended the common schools until about the age of seventeen, after which 
time he spent two years at McKendree College, at Lebanon, Ill.  He then 
took up the study of law and was admitted to the Jefferson County bar at 
the age of twenty-one, which profession he has since successfully followed.  
He was married, in 1862, to Miss Mary M., the daughter of Henry and Caroline 
Miller, formerly of Mississippi, but early settlers of Jefferson County, Mo., 
where Mrs. Williams was born. To Mr. Williams and wife three children were 
born, only one of whom, a daughter named Frances L., is now living.  Mr. 
Williams has been quite successful financially, and is now pleasantly located 
in the northeast part of the town.  He is a member of the A. O. U. W. and is 
an active Democrat in politics.  He and wife are members of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church South.  From 1872 to 1876 he was probate judge, and was then
elected prosecuting attorney, which office he held for two years.  In 1880 he 
was elected to the thirty-first general assembly of Missouri and served one 
term.  He was for four years associated in his practice with James F. Green.