Saturday, January 26, 2013

Samuel M. Williamson: West To the Gold Fields & a Brother’s Widow

by Jean M. Hoffman, CGSM

Moses Williamson, 1820-1856
Compton Cemetery
In learning about the Charles Williamson family, I’ve followed one son from West Virginia and Ohio to the California gold rush region. I'd welcome any comments on the research and report. Moses and Samuel M. Williamson were two of the sons of Charles and Martha (Martin) Williamson. Both were named in the 1858 will of their father in Wood County, (West) Virginia. (see earlier post) All references below to Virginia are places now in West Virginia.

Moses Williamson was born 25 February 1820, probably in Tyler County, Virginia.1 He married Cornelia Ann Thorniley on 30 March 1850 in Washington County, Ohio, both residing in Marietta.2 Later that year they still lived in Marietta, twenty-six-year-old Samuel Williamson with them.3 Moses moved back across the Ohio River to Wood County, Virginia, where he died 20 August 1856.4 He was buried in Compton Cemetery south of Waverly.5 He had one daughter, Virginia Williamson, named in her grandfather’s will as “the only daughter of my sone Moses Williamson decese.”6

Four years after Moses died, Cornelia A. Williamson was a farmer and head of household in Wood County, Virginia, near Bull Creek (now Waverly.) Living with her were nine-year-old Virginia Williamson, four non-Williamsons, and farm laborer George Williamson, age twenty-two, most likely the youngest of her brothers-in-law.7 Cornelia Williamson does not appear locally in the 1870 census.

In 1850 the Samuel Williamson living with Moses and Cornelia was twenty-six, implying birth in 1823–24. Like Moses, his Virginia birthplace would most likely be Tyler County.8 There were eight other men of that name born in Virginia between 1820 and 1830 enumerated in the 1850 census.9 They were:
1850 census location
Samuel H.
Appomattox County, Virginia
Mecklenburg County, Virginia
Hampshire County, Virginia (now W.Va.)
Saml. D.
Hampshire County, Virginia (now W.Va.)
Berkeley County, Virginia (now W.Va.)
Hancock County, Virginia (now W.Va.)
Samuel T.
Sumter County, Alabama
Campbell County, Kentucky
Some have different initials, several are at the age extremes checked, and none lived close to Wood and Washington counties. Samuel M. Williamson isn’t easily confused with them.

A likely Samuel M. Williamson has not been located in the U.S. census for either 1860 or 1870.

On to California

On 10 June 1880 a “Samuell” Williamson, born in Virginia, age fifty-five, was enumerated in San Francisco. With him were his Ohio-born wife “Cornellia,” California-born daughters Alice and Laura, and three boarders.10 September 29 of that year Samuel Martin Williamson of the same address, 1324 Howard Street, registered to vote. He was a native of Virginia, occupation miner.11 Samuel M. Williamson of West Virginia, age fifty-nine, died in San Francisco on 20 January 1884.12 Saml. M. Williamson married Mrs. Cornelia A. Williamson on 14 February 1864 in Downieville, Sierra County, California, a boom area during the gold rush.13 Samuel Martin Williamson also registered to vote in Sonoma County, California, on 6 June 1871. He was a hotel keeper in Mendocino, age forty-six and a native of the United States.14

The California records of Samuel, Samuel M. and Samuel Martin Williamson are for one man born in (West) Virginia about 1825. That is very close to the 1850 age of Samuel Williamson in the household of Moses and Cornelia in Ohio. Martha Martin was the maiden name of the wife of Charles Williamson, so Samuel’s middle name is a link to her.15 In the 1880 census only two other men named Samuel Williamson were enumerated with birth in Virginia or West Virginia between 1820 and 1830.16 They were Saml. H., age fifty-one, Campbell County, Va. and Sam’l. D., age fifty-four, Washington, D.C., both with middle initials other than M.  The California man is the son of Charles and Martha (Martin) Williamson.

Cornelia, daughter Virginia and Virginia’s husband, William A. Farish, sold their interests in the late Moses Williamson’s Ohio River land in Wood County, West Virginia, to P. V. Thorniley in 1870.17 The Farishes then lived in San Francisco. Virginia affirmed her part in the deed as a minor in 1872 after she turned twenty-one when she was in Sierra County, California.18

Cornelia Ann Williamson lived on in California in San Francisco and later in Oakland where she died 15 November 1922.19 She had given birth to three children all living through 1910. Her daughters were Virginia, wife of William A. Farish; Alice, born in Sierra City, Sierra County, California, wife of Daniel W. Strong; and Laura who married later in life William D. McNicoll.20 Virginia and Alice provided her with grandchildren. Enumerated with her in 1900 were two of them, Lillie Farish and Laura Strong. While Cornelia’s death certificate omitted her parents’ names, that of Alice Dana Strong lists her father as Samuel Williamson, born in West Virginia, and mother’s maiden name as Cornelia Thorniley, born in Ohio.21

Probably because Samuel M. Williamson was not included in a published genealogy of the Williamson family, online family trees do not record the origins of Cornelia’s second husband. In fact, he was a younger brother of her first husband who went west to the California gold fields either with her or inviting her to follow.

1. Compton Cemetery (Wood County, W.Va.; Waverly Road about 3.8 miles south from Route 14 in Williamstown), photographed by author, 6 December 2012; gravestone includes birth and death dates. Also 1820 census, Tyler County, Virginia, population schedule, p. 896 (penned), line 25, Charles Williamson household; digital image, ( : accessed 11 March 2010); citing NARA microfilm M33, roll 140; shows family location in 1820.
2. Washington County Marriage Records 2: 357, Moses Williamson and Cornelia Ann Thornily, 1850; digital image, FamilySearch, “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994” ( : accessed 21 August 2012); imaged from FHL microfilm 941,958.
3. 1850 U.S. census, Washington County, Ohio, population schedule, Marietta Township, p. 485 (penned), p. 218 (stamped), dwelling 54, family 55, Moses Williamson household; digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 21 August 2012); NARA microfilm M432, roll 738, imaged from FHL microfilm 444,731.
4. Wood County, West Virginia, Register of Deaths, vol. 1, p. 11, entry no. 69 for Moses Williamson; index, “West Virginia, Deaths, 1853-1970,” FamilySearch citing FHL microfilm 579,068; digital image, West Virginia Division of Culture and History ( : accessed 19 April 2010).
5. Compton Cemetery, Wood County, W.Va.
6. Charles Williamson will (1858), Wood County Will Book 5, 1856-1869: 127-28, digital images, “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” FamilySearch, ( : accessed 10 August 2011), imaged from FHL microfilm 577,194.
7. 1860 U.S. census, Wood County, Virginia, population schedule, post office Bull Creek, Va., p. 61 (penned), dwelling 1748, family 1744, Cornelia A. Williamson household; digital image, ( : accessed 21 August 2012); NARA microfilm M653, roll 1384, imaged from FHL microfilm 805,384.
8. “1825 Tax List” database, Tyler County West Virginia Genealogy Project ( : accessed 9 December 2012), Charles Williamson entry; shows continued residence in Tyler County.
9. FamilySearch 1850 U.S. census query for Sam* Williamson, born Virginia, 1820-1830, returned nine names plus 20 more for surname Williams or McWilliams, ( : accessed 9 January 2013.)
10. 1880 U.S. census, San Francisco County, California, population schedule, San Francisco, ED 155, sheet 134A, dwelling 323, family 341, Samuell Williamson household; digital image, ( : accessed 8 December 2012); from NARA microfilm T9, roll 77; imaged from FHL microfilm 1,254,077.
11. San Francisco County, Great Register (Sacramento, Calif.: California State Library, 1880), 7th Precinct, 11th Ward, Samuel Martin Williamson entry, voting no.343; citing Collection Number 4 - 2A; C SL roll 49; digital images, "Voter Registers, 1866-1898 California " ( : accessed 9 December 2012); imaged from FHL microfilm 977,198.
12. California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1835-1931, Samuel M. Williamson, 1884, no. 77, Kremple & Halsted Funeral Records, Vol. 1, 1883-1897; digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 8 December 2012).
13. Marriages, Vol. A: 97, Saml. M. Williamson and Mrs. Cornelia A. Williamson, 1864, Sierra County Recorder, Downieville, California.
14. Sonoma County, Great Register (Sacramento, Calif.: California State Library, 1871), Samuel Martin Williamson entry, no.7848; citing Collection Number 4 - 2A; C SL roll 132; digital images, "Voter Registers, 1866-1898 California " ( : accessed 9 December 2012); imaged from FHL microfilm 978,587.
15. Raymond Martin Bell and Edna Marian Miller, The Williamson Family of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, Washington County, Pennsylvania, Ohio County, West Virginia (Washington, Pa.: R. M. Bell, 1986), 57.
16. FamilySearch 1880 U.S. census query for Sam* Williamson, born Virginia, 1820-1830, returned three names plus 33 more for surname Williams and two Williams born in W. Va., ( : accessed 9 January 2013.)
17. Deeds, Book 32: 539-40, Cornelia A. Williamson to P.V. Thorniley, 1870, Wood County Clerk, Parkersburg, West Virginia.
18. Deeds, Book 32: 539, Virginia E. Farish to P. V. Thorniley, 1872, Wood County Clerk.
19. 1900 U.S. census, San Francisco County, California, population schedule, San Francisco City, Assembly District 37, ED 153, sheet 4B, dwelling 58, family 89, Cornelia Williamson household; NARA microfilm T623, roll 104; imaged from FHL microfilm 1,240,104. Also 1910 U.S. census, San Francisco County, Calif., pop. sch., San Francisco, Assembly District 37, ED 167, sheet 11A, dwelling 187, family 235, Cornelia A. Williamson household; NARA microfilm T624, roll 99; imaged from FHL microfilm 1,374,112. Also 1920 U.S. census, Alameda County, Calif., pop. sch., Oakland, precinct 147, ED 94, sheet 6A, dwelling 86, family 153, Cornelia A. Williamson household; NARA microfilm T625, roll 89. All digital images, ( : accessed 8 December 2012). Also Cornelia Ann Williamson, Certificate of Death local no. 211 (1922), Alameda County Recorder, Oakland, California.
20. JudyPeterson12, compiler, "Oversby/Strong Family", Public Family Tree ( : accessed 8 December 2012). [for Virginia:] Deaths (Farish, Virginia Williamson), The New York Times, New York, NY, 20 September 1936, p. N11, col. 4; "Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2009)," digital images, ProQuest ( : accessed 26 December 2012). [for Alice:] 1900 U.S. census, Amador County, California, population schedule, Township 4, ED 8, sheet 4A, dwelling/family 75, David W. Strong household; digital image, ( : accessed 13 December 2012) : NARA microfilm T623, roll 84; imaged from FHL microfilm 1,240,084; Alice is his wife and daughter Laura Strong is enumerated both here and with her grandmother. [for Laura:] 1930 U.S. census, Alameda County, California, population schedule, Oakland City, Block 1239, ED 1-12, sheet 10A, dwelling 113, family 204, William D. McNicoll household; digital image, ( : accessed 26 December 2012); from NARA microfilm T626, roll 101; imaged from FHL microfilm 2,339,836; Laura his wife at the same address where she lived with her mother in 1920. Also Laura Thornley McNicoll, Certificate of Death no. 6015 - 155 (1959), Alameda County Recorder, Oakland, California.
21. Alice Dana Strong, Certificate of Death, District no. 190, Registrar's no. 282 (1944), Alameda County Recorder, Oakland, California.