Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A New Theory on the Origin of our Williamson Family Name.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

I’ve been looking into the Willamson family line for several months now. Every time I do I run into the same problem. Our Williamson name begins and ends with George Matthew Williamson’s parents, Matthew and Selina Williamson.

We know that George Matthew Williamson was Born on the 15th of October, 1834 in Lynchburg VA. He was married to Margaret Ann Willis.

My dad (Charles) tells me that his searches for the parents of Matthew Williamson (George's dad) have proven fruitless. It seems we’ve drawn a blank. So, without a direct line to trace I start looking to secondary evidence to find the ancestors with our Williamson name.

I decided that if I can't find evidence of Matthew Williamson I needed to look elsewhere. Today I decided to trace his wife Selena Dandridge Jeffries Williamson.

Let's begin with a Relationship Chart:

Matthew Williamson married Selena Dandridge Jeffries
to Their Son
George Matthew Williamson who married
Margaret Ann Willis
to Their Son
William J. Williamson who married Effie Helen Victor
Their Children, our parents and grandparents

Vennie, Ima Della, Inez, Lillie Ethel, Josie, Emmett, Walt, Charles, Maurice.

I spent hours on the internet searching every document and census record available and today want to propose a working theory on the Williamsons of Virginia and the mystery of Matthew Williamson.

The Birth
Matthew Williamson was born sometime around 1810. We don't know exactly where but I assume Virginia.

We know that the Williamson family lived in Cambell County Virginia near Lynchburg where our Great Great Grandfather George Matthew Williamson was born.
The Following was taken from his obituary:
Mr. Williamson was born near Lynchburg, Virginia, October 15, 1834 and while yet a small boy his parents moved to Floyd County, in what is now West Virginia. There he grew to manhood and was married to Miss Margaret Anne Willis of that place on July 25, 1856.

There are no records of Matthew and Selena living near Lynchburg, but remember the US Census is taken every 10 years and George Matthew was born in 1834. I assume George was their oldest child and born shortly after their marriage. That would place their marriage sometime in the early 1830's.

The 1830 Census doesn't list members of household by name. Only the head of the household is recorded. Therefore, I believe that in 1830 Matthew was unmarried and living at home - hence no record of him by name. So, the next logical step would be to find the Matthew Williamson family in the 1840 Census. According to the obituary, I should be looking at Floyd County Virginia (there is no Floyd County in West Virginia).

My search of the 1840 Census proved fruitless. There was no Matthew Williamson anywhere. I was stopped dead in my tracks again. How could a married man with family not appear on the Census or the tax lists of Floyd County?

Perhaps they moved before the 1840 Census. No, according to the obituary the family was still living in Floyd County when George Matthew and Margaret Ann Willis married in 1856.

I went to bed last night wondering where our great grandfather and mother were in the pages of time. Perhaps consulting a physic would be prudent. Matthew and Selena could tell me their history themselves.

I woke up this morning and went right to task. I decided to try a new approach. I did a search of the 1850 Census of Floyd County looking for someone with the first name of Selena, bypassing Matthew completely. That's when something interesting appeared.

Surprised? I was. Notice that Selena's last name was Levis. This couldn't be her could it?
Notice the last name of the children in the household. That is G. Williamson. The letter "G" stood for George. What are the odds that a George Williamson, born in 1835 (the year difference in George's birthday isn't a concern. Another census later in his life records his birth in 1835) has a mother named Selena living in Floyd County, 1850? Slim. Very Slim indeed.

My Theory Takes Shape.
  • Matthew and Selena married between the 1831 and 1833.
  • Selena was 21 years old when their first child, George Matthew Williamson was born.
  • The family moved to Floyd County.
  • Our Great Great Great Grandfather Matthew died at a young age leaving Selena a widow with a young son. His death would be before the 1840 Census was taken or her would have been listed as a head of household.
  • Selena married William Levis around 1845. Together they had four children.
What did the Widow Williamson and her young son George do after the death of Matthew? We are looking at a gap of five or six years in the record before she remarries.

A mother and son, taken in the early 1840's.

Let's look at the next piece of evidence:

This is a page taken from the 1840 US Census. There she is! The Census records a certain Salina (her name was spelled several different ways on many different census records) living in the Charlotte, Virginia area. Charlotte is near Lynchburg. Also notice her middle name starts with "D". Our Great Grandmother's name was Selena Dandridge Jeffries.

This is the same Census record in text. Selena was the head of household in this Census. Notice her household consisted of 2 people, Selena and a young son listed at 5 or younger (George Matthew was born in 1834/35).

The Theory is modified:
  • Matthew Williamson died before 1840. His widow and young son moved to the Charlotte area. Why would they do that? To be close to family is my guess. Do I have evidence? Yes I do....

  • This is the actual page from the 1840 Census. Look at the other names. Notice the following: John Williamson, Cutberth Williamson and Daniel Williamson also lived in the same community.
  • I believe William Levis and Selena met each other in Charlotte and moved back to Floyd County where Matthew and Selena owned land. They farmed the land and raised a family. It was William and Selena that attended the wedding of George Matthew to Margaret Willis.
If my theory is correct, then we are related to the original Williamson settlers of Virginia.

The following information was taken from a post I wrote several months ago outlining a theory I had about Cuthbert Williamson. What I wrote then seems more credible now.

Cuthbert Williamson

There is history of a certain Cuthbert Williamson who lived and died in Charlotte County, Va., near Rough Creek.

Evidence 1:
Notice how close Rough Creek (A) is to Lynchburg VA.

As you can see, Rough Creek Virginia is very close to Lynchburg where our ancestor George Williamson was born in 1834. Given that people rarely travelled great distances in the early 1800’s, and knowing the name Williamson is not that common of a name (check your phone book and you’ll see) I’m thinking that this Cuthbert may be related in some way - although not directly but indirectly.

Cuthbert Williamson was born near Richmond VA about 1740 and in 1765 purchased land in Charlotte County, again near Lynchburg. Curthbert had 16 children 14 of whom married. His first wife is thought to have been Miss Price. He had three children by his first marriage, John, Rebecca and Elizabeth. His second wife was a Miss White, and by this wife he had the following children:- Charles, Mary, Martha, Nancy, Samuel, Cuthbert, Susan, Kate Francis, William B., Daniel M., Matthew and Sallie; Kate died young, unmarried; Sallie died when a child.
(Evidence 2: Cuthbert had a son named Matthew)

More on this Williamson Family History

John Williamson, a descendant of Sir Joseph Williamson, came to Virginia and settled opposite Jamestown. 1st. John Williamson, born 1687, married Rebecca Chamberlayne. They had three sons, Thomas, John and Cuthbert.

Now the Cuthbert born around 1740 was most likely the son of Cuthbert mentioned above. Again I’m going with reasoning (since there is nothing else to go on at the moment). Even if Cuthbert isn’t directly on our line, then surely the John Williamson who came to Virginia and settled near Jamestown must be considering this Willaimson line came to Virginia around 1630.
From the Jamestown area the many members of the family settled near Rough Creek, which we’ve already established as very close to Lynchburg, home of our Williamson line.

OK, what do you think of my reasoning so far? Would you agree?

I’m doing more research on this line of Williamson's and will continue to post new developments. Perhaps we have a breakthrough and can finally, although perhaps without ever finding absolute proof that this is our Williamson line, trace our family line back to England.

Fingers Crossed,



  1. Those dates don't add up if he was born 1830 and Sellina was born 1814 she would've been 15 or 16 giving birth to George and his father only a year or so older. I think he was maybe a sibling or cousins child they took in.

  2. Forget it I read it wrong........ sorry! He still could have been a siblings or a cousins child, that happened allot back then. That might account for the DNA being different. Many people raised others kids at that time. Have you looked at cousins and siblings that may have died about the time they were together to see if they left a child behind.

  3. found another cuthbert from Va.
    Cuthbert Williamson
    this came from geneology.com I just cut and coppied it probably nobody but it's such an odd name..............

    Posted by: Thomas Franklin Coleman (ID *****4383) Date: October 21, 2010 at 06:03:36
    of 6521

    A few year back I discovered a Cutberth Williamson in Henrico County and if I remember correctly he was part of a Coroner's inquest in 1664 and possibly a Coroner. He was born at least before 1643. Some years later there was a Cuthbert Coleman from Dinwiddie Co Va that had become the Coroner of that County and I had seen possible connections to this Cuthbert Williamson through another Cuthbert Williamson in Surry County. The Cuthbert Coleman below was not the Cuthbert that was the son of Thomas Williamson and Mrs Carter. If he were related he would have been the brother of Thomas. The will below puts both John and Cuthbert both in Va abt 1680. This makes me think that they are all sons of the ealier Cuthbert in Henrico County. I go back to a another yet unknown John Williamson born abt 1712 who was the son of one of these Williamson's who married Martha Tucker the daughter of Joseph Tucker and Martha Coleson

    An interesting connection is from the will of John Williamson:
    Surry County; from the book Surry County, Virginia,
    Wills, Estate Accounts, and Inventories, 1730, 1800
    by Lyndon H. Harte III, pp4-5
    Williamson, John of Southwark Parish, Surry Co., will
    dated 30 Jan 1731, rec 17 May 1732. Cuthbert Williamson,and Robert Green, executors. Daughters: Elizabeth , wife of Hallom Sturdivant; Susanna Rottenbury, wife of John; Edith Williamson; Hannah, wife of Richard Fox. Son: Cuthbert (not 21). Granddaughter: Sarah. Brother:
    Cuthbert. Witnesses: Judith Harper and Edward Farrington.

    Hallom Sturdivant is son of Mathew Sturdivant and grandson of Old John Sturdivant of William Byrd fame

    Susan Coleman born Dec 13 1755 married Isham Reese born Aug 1748 migrated to Georgia.

    She named her sons Williamson C., born 1775, Isham, Cuthbert, Joseph, John C, Henry L and Jordan,,,daughters Susan and Sarah P Her son Cuthbert married Tabitha Clark of Orange County VA and named his sons James Williamson, Williamson Henry, Augustus Cuthbertm, Joseph Thomas, and Walton Pendleton.
    It seems obvious to me that both that the Coleman's, Reese, Williamson are related here.

    All of these names are identical and go back to Charles City County were a Cuthbert Williamson was the Coroner (1664). Incedentally many years later Cuthbert Coleman was the coroner of Dinwiddie County. Coincident???

  4. I have enjoyed reading your website. I, too, am descendant from Sir John Price Williamson on Henrico Co., Va. His father is supposed to be Sir Joseph Williamson - so far, no definate proof of this lineage. Perhaps a nephew or an illigitimate son? Sir Joseph's will does not mention John, although several lesser relatives receive inheritances - including a supposed illigitimate son. Perhaps John Price Williamson is descendant from Sir John Price. His first wife, Johan, was the daughter of a John Williamson. Has this been studied by your consortium?