Ohio Biographies

James P. Williams

James P. Williams, of Delhi township, was born January 29, 1804, on the south branch of the Potomac, Hampshire county, Virginia. His grandfather, Richard Williams, was a resident of this place at the time of the French and Indian wars, and a few days before Braddock's defeat nineteen Indians beset the house, killed his father, his mother, and one of his brothers; his wife being in the yard milking escaped; but he and his little daughter, eighteen months old, were made prisoners. They were taken to Fort Pitt, where the child was taken from him. From Fort Pitt, on the day of Braddock's defeat, he was taken to Detroit, and after some days escaped, taking with him a Frenchman's gun and ammunition, and pushed forward, first by curve lines, then in a more straight direction. Before this he had feasted on wild berries and horse flesh; but the trying ordeal was yet to come. He was pursued by the Indians and again captured. He had waded through a deep stream, the water went over his head and wet his powder, and for three days he went on until, being pressed by hunger, he stopped to dry his powder. when he found it all dissolved. He went on, dug sarsaparilla for sustenance; at one time found a fish which a bird had dropped, and ate that; once a fawn. which he roasted, picked the bones and marrow, and carefully preserved the meat for future use. After this, for three succeeding days, he found a squirrel; he afterwards caught and ate a polecat; at another time he saw a hawk fly up and going to the spot found a wild turkey; sometimes for two and three days he would get nothing, and his flesh and strength would desert him; rivers and streams he crossed by wading, and on rafts made of logs, but fortune did not favor him long at a time. He would be captured by the Indians, taken back, hands pinioned. closely guarded, and again would escape, but apparently only to be recaptured. He was finally captured, taken to Fort Pitt, and doomed to be shot, but to this some one objected, fearing his spirit would haunt them. He reigned derangement, but understood everything they said. He was closely guarded, as before, but while the guards were asleep he shook off his shackles and made his escape. He finally arrived home safe. The last time he was captured the Indians made him a cook. and by his cleverness won their confidence. He remained with this tribe a long while, and had plenty to eat. They went to war and left him with the squaws, when he made his escape. He died September 3, 1786, in Virginia, aged sixty-five years. His wife, Susannah, died the twenty-third of February, 1785, aged fifty-five years. They were Methodists. Bishop Asbury often preached at his house.

Peter Williams father of James Peter, was born in Virginia, and married there Miss Ann Dugan, who was of Irish descent, but removed his family to the Scioto valley in 1807. At that time General Meigs was Postmaster General, with whom a Mr. Granger a great friend of Mr. Williams, had influence, and secured for him an appointment under the Government of establishing mail routes in the west. He began operations in Cincinnati as a centre, posted pack-horses all over the country, and employed carriers for the different routes. The mail was packed down one side of the river from Cincinnati to Louisville and up the other side once every two weeks; likewise at regular intervals from Cincinnati to Chillicothe, Ohio, Maysville, Kentucky, and other points. In 1820, when John McLean was postmaster, stage routes were established, but Mr. Williams was financially successful, and with the money made a large purchase of one thousand two hundred or one thousand four hundred acres in Delhi township, purchasing section eleven and other lands reserved, not of the Symmes tract. He was born in 1770, and died February 23, 1837. Ann Williams his wife, died July 13, 1828. She was born October 8, 1776.

They reared a large family, James Peter Williams being the third child. He was born and reared on the home farm, section eleven, Delhi township; attended to his father's business, which, owing to its magnitude. made his a responsible position. On the farm alone were about fifteen men to look after, to be paid off, and in addition the mail agents to be looked after and every three months their claims to be adjusted. The horses on these routes were posted about forty miles apart, but the work was profitable as well as onerous. On March 19, 1829, he married Harriet Mayhew, of Massachusetts, whose father was a school teacher in Martha's Vineyard, and after their marriage the parents lived with them until their death. Mr. Williams has reared a large family, and been an active business man all his life, the business consisting in managing his estates. He never performed manual labor outside of making extensive surveys of roads, farms, filling out deeds, etc., He was an adept surveyor, and frequently employed to adjust questions of surveying. He shipped produce, hay, corn and pork to New Orleans.


From History of Hamilton County, Ohio, Henry & Kate Ford, L. A. Williams & Co., Publishers, 1881