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Page content last modified: July 3, 2006, text change regarding the usage of the name Majorville.
June 23, 2005, added biographical information and link to children.
May 13, 2005, added text.

MAJORVILLE   CEMETERY
HANCOCK  COUNTY,  ILLINOIS

 

 MAJOR JOHN WILLIAMS 1791-1867  
MARY WILLIAMS (nee JONES)
LETITIA WILLIAMS (nee JONES) ca. 1806-1886

 

LETITIA
WILLIAMS
DIED
Feb. 20, 1886
AGED
[illegible]
JOHN WILLIAMS
BORN
Oct 12, 1791
DIED
Sept 4, 1867.

 

Author - Marcia Farina

Majorville Church and Cemetery
Major John Williams 1791-1867

When John Williams died in 1867, he left an enduring legacy to the neighborhood eventually known as Majorville.

Born in 1791, John was a veteran of the War of 1812; he served in Captain Fossett's Company of the South Carolina Militia.  It is believed that he did not have an opportunity to distinguish himself in combat, and that he earned the honorary title of Major after his military service ended.

He married Mary Jones, daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Jones in 1812.  Mary was born December 30, 1794, according to family records.

John, Mary and their young son, Lemuel, left South Carolina and moved to Christian County, Kentucky, sometime before their second son, Patrick, was born in January of 1817.  They lived in the southern portion of Christian County, which became a part of Trigg County, Kentucky, when the latter was formed in 1820.

A biography written by the Major's grandson, A. D. Williams, indicated the family left Kentucky in 1832; however, John and Mary's youngest children consistently reported they were born in Illinois (in 1828 and 1830).

They lived for a short time in Sangamon County, Illinois, then settled in Hancock County.  Mary died in 1833 or later; her burial location is unknown.  John returned to Trigg County, married Letitia Jones (Mary's sister) on March 3, 1836, and brought her back to Hancock County.  More children joined the family - the Major's offspring would eventually number at least fifteen.

By the early 1860s the Williamses were living on a small farm in Section 2 of Hancock Township. They attended church services held in private homes and then in a log school building within eyeshot of the Major's home; later the Joe Duncan district school was erected on that same site.  The Major opened his own home for worship services after a contretemps over use of the school building.

The Major then offered to donate a piece of his land, timber and his labor to build a formal church; the community joined him in the effort.  The Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated in June of 1864, with an area set aside for a free cemetery.  The cemetery is still in use today and is still a free burial area.  At some point the name Majorville came into use.  One reference says it was named Majorville M. E. Church at the dedication, a second says several years later.

In 1900 Reverend H. M. Bloomer initiated the construction of a new building; it was placed on the south side of the old church.  The new church was also financed and built by the congregation and neighbors.  The old structure was sold and moved onto the property which was the site of the Major's former home.  Not placed on a foundation, it eventually fell into disrepair.

In 1949 the owners of the former Williams' property, Ira and Doris Pogue, hired carpenters to dismantle the old building.  The carpenters respectfully commented on the firm and careful frame construction.  Parts were salvaged for use in a shed that still stands as of this writing.

Besides serving spiritual needs, parishioners' diaries indicate the church was the steady heart of the neighborhood.  Numerous weddings, ice cream suppers and other social events were held there.  In recent years the second church building was but a forlorn shell, a victim of time and disuse.  It was demolished on September 3, 2004, the refuse later burned.

For those of us whose ancestors faithfully attended, served and loved this church, Majorville will remain alive in memory.

From The News of Fountain Green, May 7, 1924, short biographical sketch by A. D. Williams, a grandson of the Major and his first wife, Mary Jones.

Also from The News, a letter from E. W. Huston primarily about the formation of the Majorville Cemetery Association.  This item mentions Major Williams and his second wife, Letitia, the Major's son, Lemuel, and refers to the specific location of the cemetery property.

Read about the location and founding of Majorville from a commemorative booklet compiled by Fay Day in 1935.

More items about Majorville Church and the neighborhood, including a picture of the original church before it fell into decline (select the 1890s Sunday School Class link).

The descendants of John Williams, Mary Jones, Letitia Jones

 

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