Jefferson County Historical Society

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Thomas L. Williams, farmer and dairyman of Valle Township, is the son 
of James L. and Jane (Mitchell) Williams, and was born in Washington 
County, Mo., in 1841.  The father was born in Spartenburg District,
S. C., was left an orphan when a child, and when a young man went to
Kentucky, where he was married.  In 1830 they removed to Washington
County, Mo., where they remained until 1841, at which date they came 
to Jefferson County and located one and a half miles south of where
De Soto now stands, and which was then a wilderness.  He improved a
good farm and lived there until 1866.  He was a farmer and miner, and
brought some slaves from Kentucky to Missouri.  His father, Thomas
Williams, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and was of Scotch 
Irish descent.  The mother of Thomas L. was born in Allen County, Ky.,
in 1804, where she was reared and married.  She died in 1876.  Both
parents were members of the Baptist Church.  Thomas L. received his
primary education in the much talked of log school house of early days
with slab seats and dirt floors, and finished at the academy in 
De Soto.  In 1864 he went to California via New York and the Isthmus,
was there two years engaged in blacksmithing for mining companies, and
also did six months' work of the same kind for the Pacific Railroad
Company.  After spending another six months blacksmithing he returned 
to his home, and in 1872 was united in marriage to Miss Fannie, daughter 
of Samuel Greer, and a native of Jefferson County.  Her father was
born in Kentucky, but was an early settler of Missouri, and her mothers
maiden name was Vaughn, a sister of Gen. Claiborne Jackson's wife.  The
following four children were born to Mr. Williams' marriage: Virdie
Ella, John L. and Henry L. (twins), and Willie L.  Mrs. Williams died
February 15, 1885, and June 9, 1866, he married Mrs. Rebecca McIlhatton
a native of Virginia, widow of Oliver McIlhatton, and the daughter of
William L. and Jerusha Lemaster, early settlers of Jefferson County.
Mr. Williams has made farming his chief occupation during life, but has
worked about two years in the machine shops of De Soto, and in 1888 
engaged extensively in the dairy business, having about forty cows.  He
is one-half owner of the old home farm, situated one mile south of 
De Soto, and forty acres near Vineland.  He is a Republican in his 
political views, and his first presidential vote was for McClellan, in
1864.  He is a member of the Masonic fraternity and of the Baptist
Church.  His eldest brother, Judge Willis Williams, was born in Allen
County, Ky., and was a well known farmer of Valle Township.  He served 
as county judge from 1880 to 1881, and his brother John (deceased) was
the first Democrat of Jefferson County, and elected to the office of 
county collector after the war.  He was twice elected and died during
the last term of office.  He was a faithful and honest official.