Is the son of John R. Williams, and was born in the state of Tennessee, February 14, 1817. At an early age his father moved to the state of Indian,(?) Where he died, in the year 1826, leaving a wife and eleven children in a new and thinly settled country, exposed to all the hardships and privations experienced by people in limited circumstances in a new country. But notwithstanding the many hardships to be overcome, and privations to be endured, Mrs. McWilliams succeeded in raising her large family of children in a manner that would be a credit to any one. She certainly is entitled to great credit for the Christian fortitude displayed in the many struggles encountered while laboring under so many disadvantages in bringing up her children in the way to make them good citizens. She remained in Indiana until the time of her death, which occurred about the year 1833. James R. was the eleventh child, and remained at home until the death of both his parents, after which, in the year 1834, he emigrated to the territory of Iowa, where he located land, and under embarrassing circumstances, commenced farming. He remained on his farm until he succeeded in bringing it under a good state of cultivation. In the year 1841, on account of the failure of his health, he sold his farm and all his effects in Iowa, receiving his pay in currency. But our banking system at that time not being as sound as at the present day, Mr. Williams soon found the greater part of his bank notes of little value.
In December, 1842, he came to Illinois and commenced life anew, by renting land in Pleasant Vale township, Pike county, where he carried on farming. March 10, 1845 Mr. Williams was married to Miss Elizabeth A. Baldwin, who was born in the state of New York, August 6, in 1828. She lived till November 15, of the same year, when she died. November 1, 1846, Mr. William married for his second wife, Mrs. Mary Blair, widow of the late Hon. Wm. Blair, who died in the state legislature in the year 1845. In the same year, and soon after his marriage, Mr. Williams purchased a good farm, on section 36, in Barry township, where he has since remained successfully engaged in farming and raising stock. He has had born to him five children, and is the step-father of three children, seven of whom are now living — four married, and three single, at home.
Notwithstanding the many hardships and reverses encountered by Mr. Williams through life, by dint of industry, energy, and perseverance, he has succeeded in placing himself in the front rank of Pike county farmers. Depending entirely upon his honest labor, he has always maintained an unblemished reputation for honor and integrity. Mr. Williams is an enterprising, public-spirited man, and is always ready to lend a helping hand to matters of public interest. He and his wife are both noted for their generosity and benevolence, considering it a part of their Christian duty to relieve suffering and distress wherever found.