Cemetery Walk Featured Script: Maria Stahring Williams

As we get ready for our 9th Annual Cemetery Walk next Sunday, on October 16, 2016, please enjoy reading this script that was presented during our 2012 event. It features the story of a Williams family member whose family farm was on Williams Road.

If you want to learn more history behind other street and park names in town, please join us on the 16th. More information can be found here http://wp.me/p1fT1q-Qe.

Mrs. Maria “Mary” (nee Stahring) Williams, birth February 14, 1786, death April 16, 1864

Maria Sterling Williams’ family owned large tracts of land on the west side of Warrenville.  She was born on February 14, 1786 in Mohawk, New York, where her father was a Judge.  Her husband, William Williams’ family had been in the Americans since the 1600s and had lived in Connecticut.  During the early 1800s William decided to move to New York to make a better life for himself.  The couple met in New York and married.  Not long after their marriage, war broke out and William joined the American fight and helped defeat the British in the Battle of Sackett’s Harbor in 1812, as part of the War of 1812, often referred to as the Second American Revolution.  After the war William returned to working on area farms.

With eight children, the couple was always looking for new opportunities to better provide for their family.  When they heard about open land available in Illinois, they set off for the prairie.  William arrived at Fort Dearborn, today’s Chicago, in 1834 and received a loan of $43 to help him purchase land in what was then called Big Woods, just west of the area being settled by Colonel Warren.  The oldest daughter, Mary, and two of the sons traveled west to meet their father in 1836 and started building the family home.  By 1838, Maria and the other five children arrived in Illinois.

Early Map of Warrenville, shows the Williams farm in the bottom left-hand corner, Henry S. Williams was one of Maria and William's sons

Early map of Warrenville landowners, shows the Williams farm in the bottom left-hand corner, Henry S. Williams was one of Maria and William’s sons

Their land in Warrenville had finally given William the prosperity he had so much desired.  The farm on Big Woods Road, now called Warrenville Road, was connected to the DuPage River by Williams Road, named for the family.  Besides the farm, they also had 100-acres west of today’s Route 59 and an 80-acre timber tract near the Kane County line.

Early map of Winfield Township, son Henry (H.S. & S.) Williams listed as property owners

Early map of Winfield Township, son Henry (H.S. & S.) Williams listed as property owner along the bottom

The financial success of the Williams family could not provide everything though.  Their daughter Susan died shortly after marrying Platt Conde at the age of 20 in 1845.  Their oldest son, William dropped dead on the Wells Street bridge in Chicago in 1851, at the age of 33.  Another son George passed away in 1853 the age of 21.  When William died in May of 1860, Maria did not think she could take any more tragedy, however the Civil War broke out the next year and the small Warrenville community faced the stress and pain of seeing some of the town’s boys and men leave to fight for the Union.

In 1862, her daughter Mary’s husband, William Griffith, left the family farm which he had inherited when William Williams died and joined the 69th Illinois Infantry.  Warrenville had faced the death of eight of our volunteers by 1864 when her son John left for the war.  Shortly thereafter another son Samuel died at home with his mother in Warrenville.  This was more stress than she could take and she shortly followed him to their final resting place in the Warrenville Cemetery on April 16, 1864.  Despite the tragedy that had plagued the family, her son-in-law William Griffith returned home and he and Mary lived out the rest of their days in Warrenville.

Published in: on October 7, 2016 at 1:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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