Welcome to the Williams genealogy site.
Join us as we guide you through the history of the descendants. of Matthew Williams who settled in Weathersfield Connecticut in the early 1600’s and their migration to Essex County New Jersey to be among the first settlers of the region. Our presentation includes the family history in the city of Orange and their domination over the lands leading up to the First Mountain.
You will enjoy biographies of many of the family members and learn of their church affiliations as well as their occupations and political loyalties particularly during the period of the Revolutionary War in the late 1700’s. The burial sites of many of these early Williams’ can be seen at the First Presbyterian Church in Orange NJ. The editing of the sources of the material for this site is a long and arduous effort so the complete history is going to be an ongoing effort. Periodically we will be adding more information as it is completed so check back often and hopefully discover some of your earlier roots.
History of the State of New Jersey
This section contains the complete history of the New Jersey Williams family beginning in Wethersfield, CT in 1630 till 1910 in Essex County, NJ taken from “The History of the State of New Jersey.” The entire Williams history is presented here containing historic biographies with descriptions of the temperament, political affiliations, religions, occupations and loyalties of hundreds of early Williams’. An absolute wealth of information for anyone researching the Williams genealogy along with associated surnames.
HISTORY OF ESSEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY (Published 1903-1904)
It is a family tradition, that Matthew Williams, progenitor of the Williams family came from Wales, about 1630,
that he sailed from Glasgow that he made the acquaintance of a Scottish girl on shipboard, and that she became
He settled in Weatherfield, Conn., as stated in Savages Genealogical Dictionary. He had a son, Amos born in 1645; Matthew, born in 1647, and died young; another son, Matthew born in 1651; and Samuel,born in 1653.
This son Matthew came to Newark and was admitted a planter by a vote of the town, -Nov.29, 1680, fourteen years after the first settlement of Newark, when he was twenty-nine years old; he had no trade, and was written down as “yeoman.” It is probable that his brothers Amos and Samuel, one or both, came to Newark also about the same time, but there is no record on this point except that the name of Amos appears among the grand jurors of Essex County in 1700 and among the signers to the agreement to the third Indian purchase of over mountain lands in 1701, on which lands he may have ,settled and became the progenitor of the Williams’ of the Northfield region (now Livingston). He may have been the father of David Williams, lieutenant in a troop of horse, who purchased half of the Anthony Olive farm May 18, 1726 (of Jonathan Lindsley who bought the same of Peleg Shores), and in 1730 bought the other half.
According to the records, Matthew received the customary allotment of land in Newark, in the neighborhood of High and Hill Streets (see town map of 1806) and outlands at the mountain bounded probably by a line beginning on Wigwam Brook, at the mill dam, running west up the ravine to the mountaintop; thence north along the crest to a fault or off-set a little south of Eagle Rock; thence east to Wigwam Brook and south to place of beginning, containing forty or fifty acres In 1685 the heirs of George Day had set off to them by W. Camp surveyor sixty acres bounded with the mountain, west; Matthew Williams, south Wigwam Brook east and the Common, north provided they pay the purchase for their lands as others have done.”
In 1688-89 George Day exchanged lands with Matthew Williams the latter parting with a dwelling house, shop, other edifices and orchard and lands near Newark, and receiving two tracts at the mountain one bounded east by Wigwam Brook and the other on Parrow’s Brook. For some reason the lands near Eagle Rock so acquired were known to the later descendants as the David Day fields.
Matthew had four sons, Amos, born 1690 Matthew, born 1695; Gershom, born (about) 1698 and Thomas, born 1701, the last, said to be the first white child born in Orange. Also daughters; Joanna, born 1680, married John Condit (their wedding is said to be the first in Orange) ; Jemima, born 1686, married Samuel Harrison; Rebecca, born (?)-, married Joseph Hedden; Ruth, born 1708, died 1724.
Some time previous to the birth of Thomas (1701) and after the birth of Matthew, Jr., (1695), the elder Matthew moved to his mountain lands, and built a dwelling on the south side of’ Eagle Rock road, near where the mountain stream unites with Wigwam Brook, at that time a dense wilderness, inhabited only by bears, wolves and panther (alias cougar or puma for whose destruction bounties were offered as late as 1751. )
Garven Lawrie writes to the proprietors in 1684 from Elizabethtown:
“Here wants nothing but people. There is not a poor body in the provinces nor that wants. Here is abundance of provisions, pork and beef at two pence per pound fish and fowl plenty, oysters, I think, would serve all England. Indian wheat (maize) two and six pence per bushel; it is exceeding good for food every way and two or three hundred fold increase; cider good and plenty for one penny per quart, good venison plenty brought its for eighteen pence per quarter, eggs at three pence per dozen, land very good as ever I saw, vines, walnuts, peaches, strawberries and many other things plenty in the woods.”
And yet with all this abundance and cheapness of beef, the story goes that the tract of land bounded by
Washington Street, Harrison A venue, Bloomfield road and Dodd Street, on which Rosedale Cemetery is located, say four miles around it, and containing six hundred and forty acres was sold for ten cows and a bull, which would indicate that land was plenty and cheap also. Lawrie describes the mode of building thus: ” They build with cloven timber, eight or ten inches broad like planks, one end on the ground and the other nailed to the raising, which they plaster within.”
Whether Matthew built in this way or with logs we have no knowledge, but timber was plenty for any style of architecture. His son “Matthew was a mason by trade, and it is probable that the stone house, erected about 1720, on the north side of the road and stream (where Mr. Bramhall now owns), was built by him or with his assistance, as he was then about twenty-five years of age.
This house was built of quarried stone, disposed to crumble, say twenty-five feet front and twenty-eight fleet deep, one and a half stories high; a clumsy chimney, like a stone fence, set on end; a roomy garret, containing a large grain bin, with a spout at the bottom to draw off the contents; two small windows in the front of the house, and an entry eight feet wide across the eastern end,-a cavernous and gloomy house, but comfortable and secure. It was demolished about 1822, and at that time looked as though it was one hundred years old. It was then replaced by a frame structure, still standing, by Zenas, a great grandson of the elder Matthew.
The headstone of Matthew, in the old burying ground at Orange, shows that be died Nov. 12, 1732, aged eighty-one years. The memorial of his wife, Ruth, is also to be seen. She died July, 1724, in her sixty-seventh year.
The following is a copy of a paper explanatory of itself:
“TO ALL WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.
Be it known that, Whereas:
Gershom Williams, Amos Williams, Matthew Williams and Thomas Williams of Newark &c., am under obligation mutually and joyntly to stand by and for each other in the maintaining securing and defending such right and property of lands as they and each of them have and hold, of, by, from and under their Hon’rd father Matthew Williams of Newark, &c., deceased, &c. These presents now show and declare that Amos Williams his heirs and executors and administrators, above said, is hereby released and discharged from the obligation above
said, so far as it may concern or have respect unto the right, interest and property of the above said Gershom Williams, his heirs executors and administrators over or above the mountain.
In witness whereof the said Gershom Williams hath hereunto met his hand and seal, this thirteenth day ofMarch, In the eleventh year of his Majesties Reign, Anno Dom. 1738.
GERSHOM WILLIAMS. [L. S.]
Signed sealed and delivered in the presence of
JEMIMA X DOD.”
After the death of Matthew, in 1732, Amos reigned in his (home) stead. Thomas seems to have occupied the lands south side of Eagle Rock road, where some of his descendants live to this day. Gershom and descendants occupied lands from the corner of Valley and Washington Streets, with some intervals, down to the corner of North Park Street, and Matthew, Jr., from Day Street to Park Street, both families remaining to this day.
Amos was a cooper by trade, also a justice of the peace. He married Mary Nutman, daughter of James Nutman, whose name appears in Newark in 1695. James Nutman came from Edinburgh, Scotland. His second wife was Sarah daughter of Rev. John Pruden, of First Church, Newark. This James Nutman seems to have been concerned in the third Indian purchase of over-the-mountain lands in 1701, and for love and affection, deeded one hundred acres of it to his son-in-law, Amos Williams (see old deed).
He died March 8, 1731, aged seventy-seven years. His will names John, Samuel, James, Isaac, Ephraim, Abigail. Mary Williams and Hannah Sargeant.
His son, Rev. John Nutman married Mehetable Mitchell; was pastor of the church at Whippany, and died September, 1751, aged forty- eight years. His will names (no children of his own) Nathaniel, James, Benjamin and Sarah, children of his sister, Mary Williams; Phebe, child of sister Abigail Tuttle; Rachel, child of sister, Rachel Eagles the children of his brother Isaac, (deceased), and of his sister Hannah Sargeant, (deceased), and gives ten pounds to Hanover Church. The name of Amos
Williams appears in Newark town records as surveyor of highways in 1737-38; assessor in 1741-42. He died in 1754, aged sixty-four years. His children were -Nathaniel, 1733; Benjamin, 1740; and Sarah, second wife of Joseph Dodd, born in 1742. Enos, James and another Sarah died young.
Nathaniel married Sarah Pierson, and lived in the old homestead. He learned the cooper’s trade of his father who desired him in his will to instruct his brother Benjamin, then fourteen years of age, in the same trade, which he did. Township records say he was overseer of highways in 1756. His children were Zenas, Amos, James, John, Uzal and Nathaniel.
After Benjamin became of age he took, by his father’s will the upper part of the farm, then a wilderness, and commenced clearing and building a home. The brothers built a dam and erected a saw-mill on Wigwam Brook about 1760 or ’70. Benjamin married, first, Elizabeth Condit, who soon died, leaving a daughter Elizabeth. He then married Phebe, daughter of Caleb Crane, Esq.
When the Revolutionary war broke out, the brother together with their uncle, James Nutman, for good and sufficient reason thereunto them moving, espoused the unpopular English side. James Nutman was imprisoned in Morristown and Sussex County jails by the Committee of Safety. Nathaniel went to New York. His wife petitioned the Committee of Safety not to be sent to her husband, but asked to be allowed to remain with her
children at home. He died there in 1782, of smallpox.
His property was confiscated but as his action was the result of an honest opinion, there was no personal ill-will against him by his former neighbors, but rather sympathy for his family and at the sale no one would bid against the widow. His son Amos went to Shelbourne, Nova Scotia, where he ended his days, leaving children.
Benjamin took out a written protection from a British officer, which, owing to the situation of the opposing armies, could have been of but little value.
At the last moment by law allowed he was induced by his father-in-law to take the oath of allegiance to the new government and save his property, but he never surrendered his convictions. He always said that “the Declaration of Independence was as big a lie as was ever written” and would never accept an office under the new government, although prominent as a business man.
After the war of the Revolution he acquired considerable real estate, started a tan-yard, built a bark mill, carding mill, distillery currying-shop and cider mill. Among other lands, he purchased the Co!. Peter Schuyler farm (Schuyler’s daughter, Catherine, married Capt. Kennedy). This farm was next north above Gen. Philip Kearny’s place, over the river, above Newark, at what was then known as Barbadoes Neck.
The old man finished his last barrel while a grandchild held the candle, for the day was too short, and It I will never make another” he said. Now and then his stooping form may be seen, walking with feeble step over the fields, leaning on his cane, and followed by his faithful dog, Ponto, or he reads the New York Spectator and New Jersey Eagle
He has made half a dozen mills and outlived them all. He makes a social call on his cousin, son of Matthew Jr., who is about the same age. Their children have intermarried-Capt. Tom, the patriot; Governor Ben, the loyalist,-a busy stormy life of over eighty years; each has exhausted his energies. and they live their eventful lives over again; they differ, the dim eyes flash, the indomitable old Welsh blood is up; ah! but it is all blown
over; blood is thicker than water; they part with mutual respect.
Another scene. A winter night; the hospitable kitchen fire-place piled high with blazing logs; one by one the neighbors drop in, till the semicircle is full. Among them sits the Governor,
“His head all silvered o’er with age, And long experience made him sage.”
A cloud of smoke rolling up from white clay pipes and hissing backlog goes mingling, flaming, roaring up the huge-throated chimney. They talk of observation days, l11th 12th, 13th of November o. S. ; that new cider mill and press the Harrisons, Baldwins, and Dodds are introducing will never do; the Morris Canal, some day we will be taxed to fill up the big ditch; some folks are trying to use stoves to cook with; they are trying to banish
liquors from the sideboard, forming temperance societies, going to quit making cider, abolish distilleries, cut down orchards; the Methodists are going crazy with revivals, -the Presbyterians, too; they say -New York is going to sink; Gen.
Lafayette is coming: ” bury me plainly,” says the old man. He died in September, 1826 aged eighty-seven years. The following children lived, married and had children: Caleb. Enos, Josiah, Phebe, Benjamin, Samuel, Amos, Alethea, Philip, James and Mary Elizabeth.
His son Benjamin inherited the homestead, and married Joanna, daughter of his cousin Zenas, and died in 1842,
aged sixty-six years. The homestead of 1680-1700 is part of it, still in the Williams family, and three generations left for future record. The whole family history in all its branches would spread out to such an extent as to be unsuited for this volume; hence the necessity of following it by a single thread in its later details. Will some future historian “gather up the fragments that nothing be lost,” before it is too late?
In a record of two hundred years we find very few instances of official life in the family. One colonel, one captain, three lawyer, an occasional justice of the peace, two doctors, two clergymen, some few deacons, some mechanics (good ones). Mostly the Williams’ occupy the post of honor known as private citizens.
” He that holds fast the golden mean, And lives contentedly between The little and the great, Feels not the wants that pinch the poor, Nor plagues that haunt the rich man’s door, Embittering all his state.”
Within the family were several blacks, always well treated, sharing with the family its hardships and comforts, never punished, but treated like men and brothers. If one ventured to run away and seek his fortune by his own efforts, he was not pursued and brought back, but counted as among the foolish ones. Elsewhere in this chapter is a receipt from
Schuyler Colfax for” $200 in part payment of negro man Charles.
” Notice that he is not called a slave; neither was he considered so. The Schuyler Colfax mentioned lived near Pompton Plains, and was the grandfather of our late Vice-President of same name. Abraham Williams, who took the money to New York and brought back the receipt, married a daughter of Mr. Colfax; hence his appearance in the transaction.
One striking feature, apparent at a glance, is the number of men in the family. This enabled the fathers to secure, clear up and cultivate much land, build houses, and carry on the different industries mentioned. Time has effaced nearly every evidence of the busy shops which clustered in the Comer along the banks of the Wigwam Brook. They exist to-day only in the memories of the sexagenarians.
Much of the, real estate, though divided among the children, and subdivided among the children’s children, and less some sold, still remains in the family.
The first coach that ever came to Orange was said to have belonged to Benjamin Williams, the” Old Governor,”as he was familiarly called. This was used by him and his family many years in attending Trinity Church, Newark.
The First Episcopal Church services in this vicinity were held in his house, and many of his children and children of the neighbors were there baptized. When St. Mark’s Church, Orange, was organized his children took an active part, and contributed largely, as will-be seen by a perusal of St. Mark’s, history.
Essex County’s Last Slave.
Anthony Thompson, the oldest and best-known colored man in the Oranges, died at his residence, at the junction of Washington Street and Eagle Rock Avenue, Tory Corner. West Orange,–on Tuesday night, Aug. 1884. He was the last of the old slaves of Essex County, and died of old age and a complication of troubles.
Uncle Anthony, as all his neighbors called him. was a tall, powerfully built ma_ of great strength and endurance. His great- grandmother was the queen of an African tribe and his grandmother, when a young girl, was stolen, with a number of others, by a slave trader and brought to this country. Uncle Anthony was born in Raritan, Somerset Co., in 1798, his mother being a slave in the family of Rev.
Dr. Philip Duryee, pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church of that place. Two of Dominie Duryee’s grandsons, John G. and Joseph D. Harrison, are now living and carry on the flour and feed business at No. 502 Broad Street, Newark.
While Uncle Anthony was a baby, Dominie Duryee sold out and removed to Little Falls (now Passaic County), and Anthony’s mother was sold to one David Still, Anthony being sold with her. About a year after Anthony and his mother were sold to Samuel M. Ward, of Crane town (now Montclair.) They lived with Mr. Ward until the latter’s death, in 1822. In his will Mr. Ward gave Anthony his freedom, but requested he should remain with Mrs. Ward until her death. She died in September, 1828, and Anthony, being then twenty-four years of age, was his own master. His mother was too old to begin life anew, and was a town charge. In those days the poor were sold off to whoever bid the lowest price for taking care of them.
Anthony, though he was just starting out in life bought his mother for one hundred dollars, took her home and cared for her until her death in a most filial and kindly manner. In 1828 he moved to Orange and bought a little place on Washington Street, East Orange. He lived there till 1833, when he bought the place where he ended his days.