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Madera Biographies: WILLIAMS

Preciado's Barber Shop
James Hussey, Walter Williams, 
and Henry Lucaeseo (?)

James Hussey and Walter Williams

(Not related to William L. Williams)

In 1910 Walter (age not given, born in CA) is listed in the census (page 62b) as an unmarried barber residing on U Street, Madera as the brother-in-law of George E. Cook (48 CA), mill engineer, with his wife Emily (41 CA) and daughters Anita (20 CA) and Florence (17 CA).


The postmaster of Madera is a member of an old and honored Welsh family and was born at Milford Haven, the largest natural harbor in the world, situated in Pembrokeshire, on the southwest coast of Wales. His father, John Williams, of Welsh birth married Fannie Lloyd, also a native of that country. In the spring of 1869, seeking a new home for the family, he came to the United States and settled at Nanticoke in the tin mining regions of Pennsylvania. Shortly after his arrival a memorable disaster occurred whereby more than one hundred men and boys were entombed in a mine that was on fire. The horror-stricken spectators of the disaster, not knowing the fate of those within the mine, sent down a dog in a cage and were encouraged when it was brought up alive. Two men then volunteered to undertake the work of rescue and were sent down, but when the cage came again to the surface both were dead. Undeterred by this calamity, two more men volunteered to descend. One of these was John Williams.  He stayed below twenty-one minutes and found the men and boys dead in a heap, all naked, having taken off their clothing to use as a barricade against the smoke.  On being brought to the surface he was overcome and passed in to a state of coma. When he recovered consciousness he found himself in a morgue.  He remained in Pennsylvania until 1891, when he settled with the John Brown colony in Madera and now owns twenty acres near this city.

When the smelter was building here he hauled bricks for its construction and while engaged at this work his team became frightened and ran away, throwing him to the ground.  For six weeks he remained unconscious. Skilled physicians in San Francisco, who examined the case, were baffled by it and confessed their inability to be of any assistance, At the end of that time he regained consciousness and soon recovered.  Notwithstanding, his age (he was born in 1837) and the many hardships he has experienced he retains a degree of health scarcely to be expected and works almost as constantly as in his younger years. He and his wife became the parents of six children, four of whom are living, all in Madera.

The oldest member of the family circle was William I., who was born July 25, 1860.  In the fall of 1860 he and the others in the family joined his father, who had preceded them to the United States. At the age of nine years he was put to work in the breaker as a slate picker, Two years later he was sent into the mines as door boy, then made a driver and next a runner finally becoming a miner. In 1886 lie left the mines to enter school, for he was ambitious to gain an education. With the money he had saved he paid his expenses in the Bloomsburg normal school, from which he was graduated in 1888, having completed the regular three years course in two years. At his graduation he received the degree of B.E. He remained in Nanticoke where he was employed as principal of the school until 1891. Meanwhile, in the fall of 1888, on the Republican ticket he was elected to represent Luzerne County in the state legislature and served in the session of 1889.

On leaving Nanticoke in 1891 Mr. Williams came to California and secured employment, in his profession at Madera, where for eleven year he was a teacher and principal. In the fall of 1902 the board of supervisors appointed him expert bookkeeper to examine the County books, and this work occupied his entire attention during the winter. In February of 1903 President Roosevelt appointed him postmaster of Madera and on the 1st of April he took the oath of office, since which time he has given all his attention to the duties of his position, Just prior to his appointment there had been a number of candidates and the determination with which each faction supported its candidate caused much ill feeling.  In order to settle the difficulty J. C. Needham proposed that the candidates be drop and the different factions unite on another Republican.  This was done.   Both sides solicited Mr. Williams to become a candidate and he consented, although prior to that he had no idea of entering the race.

During his residence in Nanticoke Mr. Williams married Mary Hughes, who was born in Glamorganshire, Wales. They have three children, Percy, Maude and Ethel, of whom the two eldest are high school students. The family is identified with the Madera Baptist Church and Mr. Williams is a member of its hoard of trustees. He was made a Mason in Madera Lodge No. 280, F. & A. M., and is further connected with the Woodmen of the World.  Through no longer actively engaged in teaching, his interest in educational affairs remains as deep and as strong as in his earlier years.  For six years he was a member of the Madera Board of Education and during four years of that time he officiated as its president.  On two occasions the Republican Party placed him in nomination for the office of County Superintendent of schools, but he was defeated with the balance of he ticket, the county being strongly Democratic.  From 1894 until 1900 he served as secretary of the County Central Convention at the time that Congressman Needham was first nominated to represent this district at Washington.  Movements for the benefit of him home town, including the Chamber of Commerce, receive his support and encouragement and he can always be relied upon to aid all such to the extent of his influence and ability.  Thoroughly devoted to the interest of this part of California, he is one of those public-spirited citizens whose coming from the east has meant so much to the development and growth of the state.

Guinn, J. M., History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the San Joaquin Valley, California, (Chicago: Chapman Publishing, 1905), page 803.

Transcribed by Harriet Sturk.


William L. Williams is superintendent of schools of Madera County. While a lawyer by profession, he has practiced but little. For a term he was postmaster of the City of Madera.

William L. Williams was born at Milford Haven, in Wales, the son of John and Fannie (Lloyd) Williams. His father came to the United States in 1869, and settled in Pennsylvania. He and his mother followed in a few months, and the family remained there until 1891. Mr. Williamís early years were spent in the coal mines, and it was not until he was 24 years old that he could go to college, the State College at Columbia, Pennsylvania. After finishing his course there, he taught school in Pennsylvania for five years, 1886 to 1891. During part of this period he served in the Pennsylvania legislature.

In 1891 Mr. Williams came to California, and at Madera became the principal of the city schools. After twelve years in this position, he was appointed postmaster, which position he also held for twelve years. In 1915, Mr. Williams became principal of the schools of the City of Madera again, continuing for five years. He was then for four years principal of the Howard school.

In 1925, Mr. Williams was appointed county superintendent of schools to fill a vacancy. In 1926 and again in 1930, he was elected to the same position. Probably no one else in Madera has held such a variety of public offices as he.

Studying law, Mr. Williams was admitted to practice in the State courts, and before the Supreme Court of the United States, on motion of the late Frank H. Short of Fresno.

Mr. Williams was married to Mary Hughes; their children were: Percy, Maude and Ethel. The first Mrs. Williams passed away, and he later married his present wife, who was Janette Jones, of Boston.

From the History of Fresno and Madera Counties, 1933, Joseph Barcroft, editor for Madera County.

Last update: February 16, 2003
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