Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tracking the Williamsons

After posting my St. Patrick's Day tribute to my Williamson ancestors, Chris Dunham, of the Maine Genealogy Network, found and shared additional information on William Williamson. The Obituary Record of the graduates of Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine contains the following information:

Next, I began looking for records to verify this information. The 1860 census shows my 4th great-grandparents, John & Ann (McClure) Williamson living  near their son, William's family. The children appear to be Julia and Jane (not James, as the Bowdoin book suggests). I couldn't help but notice that Lydia was much younger than William. 
This divorce record shows that a divorce was granted to Lydia (Alfreda) in 1866. According to the obituary, William would have been completing his Civil War service about that time. I wonder if leaving his much younger wife for a couple of years contributed to the divorce. I noticed that he is the defendant and his wife is the one requesting the divorce. 

I haven't found any further records for Lydia Alfreda (Bean) Williamson or for the child, Jane. It is possible that another child was born between 1860 and 1866 and named James but I found no record of that. It would seem likely that she remarried since she was only about 35 when she was divorced. In 1870, William is living in Bethel with his 14 year old daughter, Julia and his uncle, William. Would a young girl be living with her father if her mother were alive? Or at 14 was she acting as housekeeper for her father and elderly uncle? My 4th great-grandmother died and my 4th great-grandfather, John Williamson, remarried a woman named Jane. William's sister, my 3rd great-grandmother married to my 3rd great-grandfather, Elias M. Carter. They are all living in close proximity with only the Farwell family between them. 

I am still looking for a death record for William in Kansas. I'd love to know why he chose Kansas and moved at age 68. Perhaps it was for better farming. Did his Civil War service cause him to prefer agriculture over working as a doctor? I'm still looking for Civil War records for him. Did he ever remarry? It doesn't sound like it from the obituary. Was he alone in Kansas? The obituary says both his children died "in youth." Julia was alive at age 14 so when did she die? I'd like to find a death record for her. What happened to William's wife after the divorce? I've explored some of her family to see if I could find her living with any of them but no luck yet. I've looked for marriage records and found one possibility but it needs more investigation. I don't have a death record for Lydia so perhaps she died fairly young without remarrying. So many questions and so little time! 


  1. Their divorce record is online here:


    Your suspicions are correct about the grounds for divorce.

  2. While searching for William, I found two deeds that might shed light on his time in Kansas. On 25 Nov. 1884, Margaret Williamson of Newry quitclaimed her interest in the homestead farm of David Williamson in Newry to William Williamson of "Township twenty-four, County of Stafford and State of Kansas. William sold it back to Margaret on 30 Dec. 1884 [Oxford County (Eastern Division) Deeds, 203:218, 242].

    Mary I. Williamson signed off on the second deed, so this is probably the William Williamson who married Mary I. Foster of Newry in 1881. I assume that this was William Williamson, son of David and Margaret Williamson, who was just a few years older than Mary. The 1895 will of Margaret Williamson refers to her son William, then living in Newry. William's 1897 marriage record to Mattie E. (Stark) Smith says that he had married once before, and was divorced, but I can find no divorce record in Maine. As Dr. William Williamson's obituary mentioned only one wife, I am guessing that he was not the one who married Mary Foster and signed those deeds. But still, it seems that both Williams were at one time living in Stafford County, Kansas. One or both of them were issued land patents in Stafford County, Kansas in 1890 and 1891. (The 1890 land patent was for land in Township 24, where Macksville is located.)