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.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Many Moves of the William Jonathan Williamson Family

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello Williamsons,
The story of the Williamson family begins in England.  Our first Williamson ancestors crossed the Atlantic in the 1600's and settled just outside Jamestown.  From there, our Williamsons moved to the Lynchburg region of central Virginia.  There our GG Grandfather George Matthew Williamson was born.  He married Margaret Ann Willis and moved the family to Payson Illinois (1860 census).  From there the family moved to Salt River, Missouri (1870 census).  The family moved once again, settling in Nodaway, Iowa (1880 census).  Sometime between 1880 and 1890 the Williamson family moved to South Dakota.  The 1890 census could have given us a better understanding of when and where, but the census was destroyed in a fire.

The 1900 census has our GG Grandparents George and Margaret living in Pennington County, South Dakota. The 1900 census also shows our 41 year old Great Grandfather William Jonathan and our Great Grandmother Effie Helen living on the Williamson Homestead in Pennington County, South Dakota.  William and Effie's firstborn, our Great Aunt Vennie, was born on the Williamson farm in South Dakota in 1888.  It was Dakota Territory at the time.  South Dakota wasn't made a state until 1889.

Our cousin Evelyn Skelton (Eppie) sent me two drawings of the old Williamson farm done by our Great Aunt Lillie Ethel.  Eppie is the Grandaughter of Great Aunt Josie.

 This was how the William Jonathan Williamson Homestead as it looked in 1902

The William Jonathan Williamson Homestead as it looked in 1910
Notice the house was enlarge for the growing Williamson family.
I wonder if the small house to the left of the main house may have been the home of
William Jonathan's parents, George and Margaret Williamson

William Jonathan Williamson and Effie Helen Victor had 9 children:  Vennie,  Ima Della, Inez, Lillie Ethel, Josie Elvery, Emmett, Walter, Charles and Morris.  All were born in South Dakota except for Morris. Some were born on the Williamson Homestead.  At least one, my Grandfather Charles, was born in Rapid City.

The Williamson Homestead was located on Townships 1-2N. Ranges 7-9E., Pennington, South Dakota.  The homestead sat between Exit 55 and Exit 59 on Interstate 90, just outside of Rapid City, South Dakota.  Today Rapid Chevrolet  and the Windmill Truck stop sit where the homestead once was.

The marker shows the where the Williamson Homestead was located right along 
Interstate 90.

This marker shows the current location of Rapid Chevrolet, built on the old Williamson
Homestead.  You see I90 to the north

The Williamson homestead was approx 160 acres, according to my father (Charlie Williamson) .  The land was free to homesteaders if you farmed it for five years.

Dad tells a story about the Williamson Homestead.  In 1959 Dad was a young surveyor for the South Dakota Highway Department.  He was surveying I90 just outside of Rapid City.
"I remember one day there was a man who stopped the survey and ran us off his land.  He told us he wasn't about to let the highway go through.  Said it would cut his ranch in two making it impossible for his cattle to get from one side to the other.  The Sheriff had to come out and calm him down.
The man asked me my name.  
"You're a Williamson!" He exclaimed. "My grandfather bought your grandfather's homestead!"

He told me his name was Ray Lang.  He said that the Langs and Williamsons were neighbors. The Langs bought the Williamson ranch when the Williamson gave up farming and moved to Rapid City.
The man told me that one day when he was three years old he was playing and fell into a water cistern.   "Your Great Aunt saved my life," the man said.  "I was drowning and your Aunt Della jumped in and pulled me out.  You can come onto my land anytime and go ahead and put your highway through."
Great Aunt Della's act of heroism made it possible to build Interstate 90 through that section of South Dakota without a lawsuit.

The Williamson abandoned the homestead sometime around 1909.  The red dirt was useless for farming.  They moved to 5th Street, Rapid City where my grandfather Charles was born.  They lived near the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral.  They once again tried their hand at farming.  Rapid City's Arrowhead Country Club sits today on the Williamson's second South Dakota farm.

Sometime before 1914 the William Jonathan Williamson family left Rapid City and bought a 600 acre farm in Sundance, Wyoming.  The farm was called Sugarloaf, named after the Sugarloaf Mountain with sits to the west of Sundance.  Eventually the Williamson farm was given to Inez and her husband Alfred Mauch.  William Jonathan gave up farming and opened the West Side Grocery Store and Filling Station in Sundance, Wyoming.

Error in this photograph above.  Left to Right, Great Grandfather William Jonathan Williamson, Leroy Lull and my Grandfather, Charles Williamson - not Gerald Blakeman.  Yep that's Grandpa Charlie furtherst to the right.

William Jonathan died in Sundance, Wyoming on December 14, 1934.  He was 76 years old.  Effie Helen died on April 9, 1944 in Spearfish, South Dakota.  She was 77 years old.


1 comment:

  1. Hello Victor - Your story brings back a memory of My Grandmother Vinnie. Ray Lang died years ago but before he died he told me Vinnie taught school for awhile near their homestead on Deadwood Avenue and Ray was one of her students. He had tears in his eyes as he told of what a wonderful woman she was. I also was told a simiular story by an old timer that passed years ago whose name was Alton Schroder. Alton said that she had taught him at Doty school off Nemo Road. She left lasting impressions on both of them as they both teared up talking about her. Lee