John McWilliams

JOHN McWILLIAMS, Sec. 25; P.O. Oregon; born near Cornwall, N.C.; his parents Robert and Elizabeth (Brownell) McWilliams, settled, ten years later, in Oneida Co., NY; the son grew to man’s estate here, in the fall of 1843, he accompanied a family named Augur, via the lakes, to Milwaukee, thence by stage to Madison, and in September, 1843, he began work for Mr. A. on his then new farm (the present farm of Arthur & Fox); his rude shanty was a mile from any house; during the winter and summer he split 7,000 rails; the next year he hired out to Dr. W.H. Fox, and continued in his employ five seasons; he bought 40 acres of his present farm in 1845, and set out apple trees on it, in 1846, a few of which may yet be found in his large and most productive orchard; in 1850, he was in Janesville, and continued as a farm hand during 1851 and 1852. Married, in 1852, Catherine Travis, born in Chenango Co., N.Y.; twenty-eight years ago they began life in a part of the present farmhouse; Mr. McWilliams then had, and now has, 165 acres, on which he has performed many a hard day’s labor, resulting in a well-improved farm, on which he has erected good buildings.Mr. and Mrs. McWilliams have four children-Mary O. (Mrs. Albert Hook), Adelbert, Elmer and Charles. He is a Democrat; was the first Collector of Fitchburg, in 1848, and was Collector and Treasurer three years during the war; personally subscribed and paid $125 to carry on the war, and did much to encourage the war spirit in his town; was chairman in 1876, and has been Supervisor twice and Assessor three terms; he has been successful as a fruit-grower, not failing to secure an apple crop during these twenty-eight years; 120 acres of his farm are now under cultivation. In 1844, while splitting the rails, his money gave out, and his last shirt was on his back, yet pioneer pluck never gave out.

Wandering through the woods one day, rifle in hand, he descried a noble buck. His shot hit the mark, and, following the bloody trail half a mile, he came upon his game limp and lifeless. The carcass was hauled home by the breaking-team of George Watters, who was presented with the fore quarters. A yoke of oxen, hitched to the backwoods “crotch,” took himself and wife for the first visit to her parents.

Ref. 1880 History of Dane County, Wisconsin, p. 1256.

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