Sunday, October 2, 2016
WHO KNOWS J.J. WILLIAMS OF TEXAS?
I wish I knew. But unless I get more facts about him, it is hard to give him the fullness of an Immortal Nobody. I only have two letters….
What do I know about J. J. Williams? I know that in late 1891 in Grosebeck, Texas, he wrote a letter to a young lady of 17, who lived in Kosse, Texas. She was Maud McConnell, who many years later would become my grandmother. In December of 1891, he writes that she was "the sweetest girl in Texas" and he called her "sweetheart."
Apparently a misunderstanding followed, and his letter written from Hubbard, Texas dated February 14, 1892, ends with "Maud, now write me a long sweet letter and tell me that you love me as in the by gone days."
On February 18, 1893, Maud's family received word that her sister Lillie's husband, (Ben McCammon) a train engineer, had been killed in a railroad accident in Colorado, and the McConnells, which included Mom, Dad, Maud and little brother Bert, left for Colorado City. Lillie and her children lived in a big house at 18th and Colorado Street, and that is where the family stayed to help Lillie through this terrible time. In due time, the parents and Bert went back home to Texas, but Maud stayed with her sister to help with the children. Once the kids were of school age, she got a job in town and in 1898 married Scott Dobbins, a rancher and musician from Las Animas, Colorado.
Here's the beauty of this story. In 1984 when I went back to Colorado, I went to the still-standing old house, which in the meantime had been turned into a commercial property. When I introduced myself to the current owner of the property and told her of my Grandmother Maud's relationship to that house, she went to the company safe and returned with two letters for me. "I've been waiting for you," she said. "These are yours now."
She gave me Maud's letters from J. J. Williams. I had no idea they existed until that time. It is obvious that she did not marry J. J., but it is interesting and maybe significant that those letters came with her from Texas to Colorado. Sadly, we will never know the details of this story.
I have always wished I could share these letters with descendants of J. J. Williams. For genealogical purposes, the lack of his first and middle names, while common in the South is a real problem for genealogists, the commonness of his surname, and the lack of an 1890 Federal census has made all my research to find additional details turn up empty. There are a couple of things in the letter that might be clues: He had a friend named Webb Price; J. J. and Webb had dinner with Miss Jennie; he mentions his school is having a concert and he wants Maude to come and hopefully stay permanently; he hasn't been anywhere since Christmas except to Hubbard. He confesses to a spell of the blues, to which Mrs. Wood said he needed some one to make a living for him.
This is all I know, which renders J. J. Williams as the most nobody of the IMMORTALNOBODIES that I know. Lest he be completely left out, at least this much about him we'll know forever – or for as long as this blog stands.
McCammon house at 18th and Colorado - taken in the 1960s
*If anyone has THIS J. J. Williams in their family tree, let me know at <firstname.lastname@example.org>