The subject of this sketch belongs to that class of men who win in life's
battles by sheer force of personality and determination, and in whatever he
has undertaken he has shown himself to be a man of ability and honor.
John P. Williams was born in New York City, May 10, 1849, the son of Robert Williams, a native of Wales, who came to America when a young man. He was a pattern maker and ship carpenter of great skill. He left New York in 1853, and went to Licking county, Ohio, where he remained until his death in 1854.
The subject's mother was Margaret Parry, also a native of Wales, who came to America, when very young. She is remembered as a woman of many fine traits and a worthy companion of Robert Williams. She passed to her rest while living with our subject in Salem, July 10, 1882, to which place she had come four years previous. Three children were born to the parents of the subject of this sketch, the only one living being John P. Williams. Rowland H., his brother, died in Salem, December 10, 1890. He was appointed postmaster of Salem by President Harrison, and his death is now doing an extensive business throughout this community. He represents eight old-line companies and the business of these could not be entrusted to better or abler hands, owing to Mr. Williams' popularity in Marion county, his genuine worth and integrity.
Our subject was happily married in 1873 to Laura A. Ruton, an accomplished daughter of E. E. Ruton, a native of New York state. The ceremony which united this congenial couple was performed in Ohio and their subsequent life history is one of the utmost harmony and happiness, and to this union six interesting children have been born, named in order of their birth as follows: Margaret, the wife of James N. Chance, a merchant tailor of Salem; Lucy, the wife of William P. Morris, a wholesale cigar dealer of Salem; Frances, the wife of L. W. Fellows, a broker, of New York City; Lena, who is living at home; R. Carl, who is a train dispatcher on the Missouri Pacific Railroad at Jefferson City, Missouri; Rowland L., who is living at home, and is assistant timekeeper for the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad Company at Salem.
Mr. Williams, in his fraternal relations, belongs to the Salem Blue Lodge, Council and Chapter, Masons, and judging from his daily life one would conclude that he believes in carrying out the noble precepts of this ancient and praiseworthy order. Both he and his wife are members of the Cumberland Presbyterian church. The career of Mr. Williams clearly illustrates the possibilities that are open in this country to earnest, persevering men who have the courage of their convictions and are determined to be the architects of their own fortunes.
Extracted 03 Nov 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 381-382.