Sunday, June 12, 2011

Surname Saturday: Williamson

Williamson is a common surname in the United States, usually of English, Scottish or Northern Irish origin. It began as a patronymic for the son of William.

My great grandfather, Will Bell, died in 1913 when my mother was only three. Not a lot of information was passed down in the family about him. His Ohio death certificate revealed that his full name was William Williamson Bell and his mother's maiden name was Deborah Williamson. He was born in Washington County, Ohio, the family moving to Clay Township, Gallia County, Ohio, in the 1860s.

Will's parents Deborah Williamson and Joseph Bell were married in Marietta on 1 September 1839. She was a resident of Marietta Township and he of Newport Township. The marriage was reported in the newspaper but is not recorded in the civil records. Deborah died in Gallia County on 28 April 1865. She was buried in the Clay Chapel Cemetery which was associated with a Methodist Espiscopal church. The age on her gravestone places her birth about 15 July 1818. Census records show her birthplace as Virginia, specifically in that part now West Virginia.

Finding Deborah's father requires looking for a man with a common surname. In the 1840 census, less than a year after her marriage there are a few Williamson households in Washington County, one of them in Marietta Township. The head of that household was a Charles Williamson.

Raymond Martin Bell, a well-known genealogist in southwest Pennsylvania, wrote a book on The Williamson Family of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, Washington County, Pennsylvania, Ohio County, West Virginia. It was published in 1986, co-authored by Edna Marian Miller. Among the members of this family were two who served in the American Revolution, Moses and his son John. John and wife Judith Dodd were the parents of Charles Williamson who was born 3 July 1792 and died 5 October 1858 in Wood County, (West) Virginia. He would be the Charles in Marietta in 1840.

The book lists a set of children for Charles and wife Martha Martin. No daughters are listed as born prior to 1820 but the 1820 census for Charles in Tyler County, Virginia, shows two females under the age of ten. It is possible that the list of children is incomplete and that Deborah should be there.

Another daughter of Charles Williamson was Mary Jane who was born 25 March 1833. She married Walter S. Thorniley 21 October 1853. He was from Washington County, Ohio, but they lived in Clay Township, Gallia County, Ohio. When Joseph and Deborah Bell moved there, they lived on a neighboring piece of land. The couples are buried in adjacent plots in the Clay Chapel Cemetery. It seems likely that the two Williamson women were related, possibly both daughters of Charles and Martha (Martin) Williamson. Hopefully Raymond Bell simply did not locate documents that will show the relationship.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for listing these Williamson resources. My Williamsons are from Arkansas and Tennessee, but I will check out the Williamson books just in case...