Watauga County, North Carolina

William Harrison Williams Family

From left: Earl Essie, Mattie Mae, William H., Bealor, Nora, Lessie

William Harrison Williams, the son of William and Emily Johnson Williams, was born in Watauga County on 16 Nov 1971. He married Nora Ann Harbin, and their family lived alternately in Watauga County and Johnson County, Tennessee. In 1910, William went to Washington State to seek employment, expecting to earn enough money to support his family. Unfortunately, the time, the distance, and the family debt split them apart.

Mattie Mae Williams, daughter of William and Nora, saved all of the family letters. What follows is a history of this family taken from the excerpts of those letters:

8-Apr-1894, William “Bill or W.H.” Harrison Williams, age 21, married Nora Ann Harbin, age 21, in Vilas, Watauga County, North Carolina

25-Jan-1895, their first child, Bealor Williams, is born in Watauga County, NC.

11-Sept-1896, their son, Mace Williams, was born in Watauga County, NC

4-Jan-1898, their son, Mace Williams, dies at age 15 months from burns received 3 weeks prior. The family story is while Nora went out to get water, Mace´s clothes caught fire from the fireplace. He was severely burned.

17-Mar-1898, their first daughter, Maria/Maude? Viola Williams, is stillborn.

4-May-1899, their daughter, Essie Earl Williams, is born.

1900 Census, the family is living with William´s parents, Dr. William “Badge” Anderson Williams and Emily Johnson Williams, in Johnson County, Tennessee. This is across the NC border.

10-Mar-1902, their daughter, Mattie Mae Williams, is born in Watauga County, NC

10-Aug-1904, their daughter, Lessie Ann Williams, is born.

8-Oct-1906, their son, Johnnie H. Williams, is born. He dies 13 days later on 20-Oct-1906.

1-Mar-1908, their daughter, Jessie Mildred Williams, is born.

7-Nov-1909, Butler, TN. William is running a saw mill. He misses the family and is considering moving all of them to Neva, TN where he has a big job until Spring.

28-Feb-19??, John Williams writes to his brother, William, from Tacoma, WA. John and his other brother, Tom, will send money for William to come out to Tacoma, WA. John says don´t come out until April.

2-May-1910, William writes Nora from 4813 Yakima Avenue, Tacoma, WA. He tells Nora “I am boarding with Stacey Harbin instead of boarding with the low class of people that you spoke of in your letter. I did not expect to get a jacking up in the first letter I got from you. I think I know who you have reference to. It is Nora Harbin. But I want to tell you right now as an honest man if there is any honor in me that you need not loose any sleep on her account. … I am well satisfied and I hope I will remain so. You said I must think your troubles was soon over. I don´t understand you. Please explain.” He sends $10.
19-June-1910, William writes his son, Bealor, from 4813 S. Yakima Avenue, Tacoma, WA. William tells him about June 10-15, 1910, Stacey Harbin, Athie, and Tom Williams (his brother) will be going to Oregon to work the harvest. John Williams (his brother) has gone to Walla Walla, WA to do telephone work. A note for $130 is due July 1, 1910.

5-Oct-1910, 4813 S. Yakima Avenue, Tacoma, WA. William writes Nora saying he is working for the Northern Pacific car shops. Nearly every man that works there is dagoes and he can´t understand hardly anything they say. Nora tells him her Uncle Ford Harbin is giving them a hard time. William tells her to give him a blessing. He sends $15 for interest on a $90 note due October 12, 1910.

4-Dec-1910, 4813 South Yakima Avenue, Tacoma, WA. William writes to his oldest daughter, Earl. He tells her it is a very sad time there. Mrs. Wilson lost a son and a daughter to Diphtheria. He asks Earl to tell her brother, Bealor, to send him two blank notes on the Watauga County Bank. He closes by saying, “with the best wishes of a loving father for his children”.

28-Dec-1910, 2206 South G Street, Tacoma, WA. William writes “well Nora you said you wanted me to send the money from this instead of sending a money order you said that some one was telling lies on you. What are they telling?” He sends her $10. His wages were cut to $1.80 per day. He has to pay for car fare. People tell him times will get better by March. If times don´t get better, he may go to Alaska to work.

A note is due January 1, 1911. He is asking his son Bealor to ask the bank to hold off for a few days until he can get the money there. His brother, John, will be in Tacoma this week and will help him pay it. Nora´s Uncle Ford Harbin might be coming out to Tacoma. William also owes Ford money. He will pay him when he arrives. He will write to Wiley Sherwood about what he owes him. William tells Nora “I get out of heart so bad some times that I don´t know what to do.”

18-April-1911, Tacoma, WA. William writes his oldest daughter, Earl. He has been in WA for one year. Earl has been away from home for three months. (Earl was living in Mast, Watauga County, NC, with her grandparents, William Bailey Harbin and Martha Ann Rickert Harbin.) William misses them all. He is going to be a materman on a streetcar. His brother, John, is going to be a conductor. It´s dangerous work because so many children play in the streets. Nora´s brothers, Rufus and John, live in Tacoma also. Rufus is a fireman.

23-Jun-1911, 2119 South E Street, Tacoma, WA. William was sorry to hear Tom and Jessie (Williams?) baby was sick. How is Mary (Nora´s sister)? John Harbin (Nora´s brother) is anxious to hear from Mary. Roof (Nora´s brother Rufus Harbin) is OK. He saw Lou (Nora´s sister) and Mattie (Lou´s daug.) Harbin. Mamie Beach was over from Seattle for a few days but he did not see her. He has not seen Ett Beach nor Tom King´s family since he has been in Tacoma.

He is glad to hear Bealor´s corn is knee high. He wishes he was there to help him. He asks why Earl and Mattie don´t write him any more? He enclosed $10. He was sick the first of the month and didn´t get much time in. He has some notes coming due and says she will have to shape them up. He will send her more money the 7th of next month. He encloses a note Jack Mast is on and wants Bealor to fill it out and have Jack sign it and send it in.

A conductor was killed earlier in the day when his car split a switch and threw him under the car. They were all sad. William has to run a Fern Hill tripper that afternoon. He says to tell Wiley Sherwood he will try to send him money by the end of the month.

27-July-1911, 2313 South E Street, Tacoma, WA. William was glad to hear Tom´s (his brother) baby was better. Tom left Tacoma and went east over the mountains to the harvest. They tried to find him but failed. Eliza probably knows where he´s at by now. “I understand that some of the Combs boys has wrote back there that he (Tom) is living with a woman out here. I just want to tell you that is a bare lie and without foundation.” William is upset that Nora accused him of blowing his money. He is upset that the kids don´t write him anymore. He is upset that he only gets a letter every 4-5 weeks from Nora filled with accusations. He tells her to write to his boss or any of the NC people in Tacoma and ask them what he, Tom and John have been doing. He sends a $10 money order.

8-Aug-1911, 2313 South E Street, Tacoma, WA. William is sorry to hear that Tom´s (his brother) baby girl (Doris) is worse. Nora sold a saw mandrell for $5 to Jack Smith. William said the $5 can go on the $10 he owes him. Bealor asked him for $15 for a suite of clothes and seed wheat. He sends him the $15 but says money doesn´t grow on bushes there. He gets $40-$50 a month and pays $23 a month for board. He gets paid the 7th and 22nd of the month. He tells them to use the money he sends home for whatever they want. John Williams (his brother) went to Little Falls, WA for 2-3 weeks to string 50 miles of phone lines.

24-Nov-1911, No Address, Tacoma, WA. William is surprised to hear that his note to John and Conley Green is due again. He is sure he asked Nora to renew it for another 6 months. He asks Nora to send 2-3 blank notes to him in her next letter. He wants to pay them off and come home. He asks how her money is holding out. “Nora don´t let the children break your letters open. I am going to write you about something that I don´t want them to see. Will you do that?”

29-Nov-1911, No Address, Tacoma, WA. William writes to his oldest daughter, Earl. William tells Earl he has been worried about Bealor having the fever. Bealor had asked him for $5 to buy a hat and shoes. William tells her he is sending all the money he can home. They can do with the money whatever they like. He is not getting as much work since the rainy season set in. He does not think he will have a regular run (streetcar) until Spring. He mentions he has asked them quite a few times to write him and let him know if they get the money. They never mention getting the money to him.

28-Dec-1911, No Address, Tacoma, WA. William writes “Well Nora I have bad news for you. I have lost my job with the street car company and I don´t know what I am going to do for another job. I am going to take a cival service examination and if I stand the Examination I am going on the police force long enough to get money enough to take me home and then I am coming home dog gone this Town Life. I would give any thing to be with you and the children.” He sends her a money order for $15 saying it´s all that he has to send just now. He has not received a letter from her in over a month. He asked about a $20 money order he had sent her the first of the month. He wants to know why she doesn´t write to him? “Jim Harbin has come back but I haven´t saw him since he came but they say that it is a fright what tales he is telling on the people back there. I understand that he is telling a great mess on Bealor and you all. I want to see him and tell him what I think of him.”

27-Mar-1912, No Address, Tacoma, WA. William writes his oldest daughter, Earl. He has a toothache and hasn´t felt well for quite some time. He hopes they have recovered from the measles. He hardly gets letters from them anymore. “I saw your Uncle Roof (Rufus Harbin) and he said that he had a telegram from Ford (Harbin) that your grandma (Martha Ann Rickert Harbin) was very low.” He has not received a letter from his brother, Tom, since Tom returned to NC. Earl had asked him about a song ballot. If her Uncle Tom can´t get it for her, he will try to get her one from the music store. He´s been sick and hasn´t worked steady lately. He says if Nora needs money, he will borrow some until he can start working steady. He will send letters to all on Sunday.

6-May-1912, No Address, Tacoma, WA. William writes to his family saying he has a cold and his shoulder is still hurting him. They are still having cold rains. He received a raise. He is making $2.75 per day and likes his work. He received a letter from his brother, Tom. Tom wrote that he was helping Nora put in a corn crop. He asks Nora why he only gets one letter a month from her lately. He sends a money order for $7. He had sent another money order for $5 on April 29 and hopes they got it OK. He reports that John and Roof (Harbin) are doing well. He has heard that Nora´s uncle, Ford Harbin, will be returning to Tacoma in the Spring. He asked how Ed Harbin and John Beach are doing since returning to NC. William writes “Nora does the children break the letters open or do you break them open first. Tell me in your next letter.”

27-Aug-1912, No Address, Tacoma, WA. William is upset that Wiley Sherwood will not sign any more notes. Nora wrote and told William this, adding she did not blame Wiley Sherwood for not wanting to sign any more notes. Williams states he will try to pay them but if he can´t, it´s not his fault. He´s been working like a dog to pay these off. He works for very nice people and has 4 good horses to haul with. He states, “I guess that I have lost everything I had in the sawmill and if I loose our home, I will never see that county again.” William tells Nora he has no objections to Bealor being a musician and going to George Bingham´s to play so long as he stays out of trouble. Williams tells Nora, “you don´t have any idea how good I felt when I read your letter telling me how the neighbors were praising him. I am proud of him and I always have been for he is our only boy. Why shouldn´t we be proud of him.” He encloses a money order for $5.00. He is hoping to be able to pay a note that is due in October.

1914, Tacoma, WA or Victoria, B.C. William goes by the name Hodges. William has a daughter named Beatrice Emily Hodges with a woman named Sarah.

5-Oct-1915, Watauga County, NC. William and Nora´s son, Bealor Williams, marries Johnsie Griffin.

?-Sept-1917, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. William and Sarah Williams Hodges´ daughter, Beatrice Emily Hodges, dies at the age of 3. She is buried in an unmarked grave at Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria, B.C. According to the family story, Nora´s uncle, Ford Harbin, was hunting down William to kill him for abandoning Nora and their 5 surviving children. Ford Harbin relented when he found out that William´s daughter, Beatrice, had recently died.

29-May-1918, 1533 ½ Broadway, Tacoma, WA. Nora´s Uncle Ford Harbin writes to Nora & William´s daughter, Mattie. Ford tells Mattie he has donated $6 to the Red Cross and has bought a $100 Liberty Bond. He states, “It takes lots of money to run this war.” He goes on to tell her, “I suppose you are wondering and perhaps thinking hard of me for not sending your papa´s address but it´s not my fault. As you will see what he says in the enclosed letter I am sending you that I got from him. He and I agreed to certain things and he is living up to the agreement so far. Thus far, I will have to live up to my part of the agreement. So if you want to write him through me as he says, I will gladly forward the letters to him. I have never told anyone his address and will not do so as long as he lives up to the agreement or gives me permission to do so.” … “I simply knew it was his duty to at least help support his family and I took the responsibility to hunt him up and talk the matter over with him, hence you all are getting $20.00 per month. You can call it a pension or any thing you please to call it and if you all think it´s not coming to you, just let me know and I will have it stopped as I alone am responsible as there was no one here that even knew that I was going to look for him til I came back. So I hope you will not think hard of me for withholding his address or for anything else connected with the matter. “

11-Aug-1918, No Address, No City. William writes to his youngest daughter, Jessie. She is 10 years old. He comments on her playing with her cousins Doris and Grady. (His brother, Tom´s, children.) He has been working almost night and day since he got her letter. “Men are so scarce here.”

17-Aug-1920, Victoria, B.C., William writes to his oldest daughter, Earl. He is sorry to hear they (the children) are fighting with their Uncle Tom (Williams). The children feel Tom was trying to sell off their home for a school site. William states that Tom wrote him saying, “he had never done any thing of the kind but had fought it from start to finish and he said he had troubled day and night to keep it from being sold over a note that I owed Jack Mast. I wrote and thanked him for it and ask him to see that it wasn´t sold for any debts. I only ask him to look after it in case it was going to be condemned for a school site or sold for a debt and me know nothing about it.”

William continues to write, “I never thought it would cause all this hell. I have just got a letter from him (Tom) saying the school board is talking again about condemning it for a school site. I never told him (Tom) he could have it to use as he pleased.”

William tells Earl, “Tom never says one disrespectful word against any of you children or your mama but he is always begging me to come home and he is always bragging about what good looking children you are. I feel sure that there is some one that is stirring up strife between you people. You mentioned something about Lewis Johnson. What has he been doing to you. Tell me in your next letter and when I come home, I will try to settle up a few old scores. So you can rest easy the home place is there for you children and your mama to use for yourselves.” …. “Well, as soon as you get ready for that double wedding, let me know and I will see if I can slip over to it.”

1920, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. William and Sarah Williams Hodges´ son, William Anderson Hodges, is born.

17-Sept-1920, William and Nora´s daughter, Essie Earl Williams, marries Jake Lowe.

8-Dec-1920, Mountain City, TN. William and Nora´s daughter, Mattie Mae Williams, marries James Grady Davis. She is 19 years old.

12-Jan-1930, Victoria, B.C. William sends $10 to Ford Harbin to send to Jessie Williams for her wedding. Ford sends it with a short note.

17-Sept-1935, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Allegedly according to the family story, William has an accident and injures his back. According to Deed Book No. 45, Page 140, in Watauga County, NC, from Victoria William sells the 6 acres of land in NC to Nora for $10 “and other good and valuable considerations not mentioned”.

13-Feb-1944, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. William Harrison Williams dies in Victoria under the assumed name of William Hodges. He is buried in an unmarked grave with his daughter, Beatrice Emily Williams Hodges, at Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria, B.C. Also, in an unmarked grave next to William and Beatrice is William´s son, William Anderson Williams Hodges, age 60, died 10-May-1980. All are buried at Blk L, Plot 9E2.

13-Feb-1944, 403 Dundas Street, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. William Harrison Williams (Hodges) widow, Sarah Hodges, writes to William´s daughter, Lessie Williams Wilson in Elizabethton, TN. Sarah tells Lessie about William´s passing on. Sarah promised William she would contact Lessie. Sarah writes “Naturally he will be buried under the name he is known by here. He had a host of friends and was highly esteemed here and to make any revelations now would do only harm to his memory. He made his choice and lived by it and I for one hope his wishes are carried out.”

15-Sept-1946, Watauga County, NC. Nora dies of a heart attack in her daughter, Jessie´s, car on her way to Mountain City, TN from her daughter, Jessie´s home in Elizabethton, TN. Nora is buried in Henson´s Chapel Cemetery, Watauga County, NC.

1974, William and Nora Williams son, Bealor Williams dies.

10-May-1980, William and Sarah Williams Hodges son, William Anderson Hodges, dies at age 60. He is buried in an unmarked grave at Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, next to his father, William, and his sister, Beatrice Emily.

18-July-1980, William and Nora Williams daughter, Jessie Mildred Williams Lowrence, dies.

25-Feb-1987, William and Nora Williams daughter, Lessie Ann Williams Wilson, dies in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

6-Jan-1991, William and Nora Williams daughter, Essie Earl Williams Lowe, dies in Boone, NC. She is buried in Mountain City, TN at the Sunset Cemetery.

1993, William and Nora Williams daughter, Mattie Mae Williams Davis, dies in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

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This file was contributed for use in the USGenWeb Archives by: Adrienne Solomon yoadrienne@juno.com

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