Biography of Byron Williams

Byron Williams. The mention of the name of Byron Williams calls up associations as one of the foremost livestock men of the State of Kansas. Mr. Williams is comparatively young, only forty years of age, but in the years since he started out on his own responsibility has shown a remarkable ability in all branches of the live stock industry. He has operated extensively as a rancher and raiser of horses and cattle, his dealings have made him a familiar figure in all the leading markets of the Middle West, and he is undoubtedly one of the best known men in the business in Southern Kansas. His headquarters are at Coffeyville.

He represents a family that has pioneered in several different states. He was born in Litchfield, Illinois, June 9, 1876, a son of Joseph and Mary E. (Ash) Williams. His great-grandfather Walker Williams came from Wales in the early days and spent his last years near Litchfield, Illinois. The grandfather, Thomas Williams, was born in Kentucky in 1812, was reared in that state until his parents moved as pioneers into Illinois, and his active career was spent as a farmer. He died at Altamont, Kansas, in 1901. He had two children, Joseph and Henry. Joseph is the father of Byron Williams. Henry came out to Kansas in 1879, locating in the central part of Labette County, and remained a resident of that community until 1900. He then went back to the vicinity of his birthplace north of Litchfield, Illinois, bought a farm there, and still occupies it. Byron Williams’ grandfather on his mother’s side was William Ash, who was born in 1825, lived in the State of Illinois from the time he was thirty until he was fifty-five years of age, and thereafter on a farm at Lee Summit, Missouri, where he died in 1906. The Ash family came to the United States in colonial times, and many of its members have enjoyed a conspicuous success in business and general industrial affairs. Byron Ash, maternal uncle of Byron Williams, is a resident of Carthage, Missouri, and has been one of the men most prominent in the development of the mineral resources of Southwest Missouri. He was one of the first to develop the Joplin and Carthage mining districts, and is still an important factor in that business. Joseph Williams, father of Byron, was born in Maconpin County, Illinois, in 1845. He grow up and married in his native state, but had previously at the age of seventeen in 1862, enlisted for service in the Union army with the Twenty-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was with the army until the close of the war and came home with a splendid record of service. He participated in the battles of Shiloh, Gettysburg, Lookout Mountain and a number of others. He was married at Jacksonville, Illinois, to Miss Mary E. Ash, who was born at Collinsville, Illinois, in 1847. After his marriage he farmed in Maconpin County, Illinois, and then identified himself with the newly developing Kansas City, Missouri, where he did teaming for construction work. Returning to Jacksonville, Illinois, in a short time he finally located six miles north of Litchfield, where he lived until four of his children were born. In 1880 Joseph Williams brought his family to Kansas, making the journey in prairie schooners and locating in the center of Labette County. For $1,100 he bought 160 acres of some of the best land of that county. That farm he kept for twenty-five years, developed it to a high state of cultivation and improvement, and when he sold it he received what amounted to a fair competency as a reward for his early foresight and judgment and for his many years of industry. On selling his farm he bought a residence in Cherryvale and is now living there retired. He is a republican, and for many years has been a devout member of the Methodist Church, of which he is a deacon. He and his wife have the following children: Charles H., who is assistant cashier of a bank at Lakeland, Florida; Clarence J. died at the age of twenty years, six months, while attending Rohrbaugh’s Business College at Omaha, Nebraska; Byron Williams is the third in age; May is the wife of Fay Green, and they live on their ranch in the Big Horn Basin near Sheridan, Wyoming; Frank is in the livestock business at Vinita, Oklahoma; Hattie married Charles Fogleman, who for the past eleven years has held the position of head freight clerk in the Santa Fe freight office at Coffeyville; Ora, with the Cudahy refinery; and Delbert, the youngest son, is connected with his brother Byron selling stock at Prescott, Arkansas.

With an education supplied by the district schools of Labette County, Byron Williams, who has lived in Kansas since he was four years of age, turned his early attention to farming and stock raising, and gained much valuable experience during the eighteen years spent on his father’s farm. For a time he lived and operated in Labette County, and was then associated with J. A. Jones in the buying and selling of horses and mules at Altamont, Kansas, until 1903. Since that year his home and business headquarters have been in Montgomery County, and two very successful years were spent as a member of the firm of Coverdale & Williams, at the end of which time he bought out Mr. Coverdale’s interest and continued the business alone at Coffeyville until 1913. He then formed a partnership with John M. Grant of Kansas City, Missouri, making the firm of Grant & Williams. This firm has some very extensive interests including the operation of the old Grant farm and ranch near Oswego, Kansas, and also the large livestock ranch which Mr. Williams had in the meantime acquired five miles west and a mile north of Independence on the Elk River. Mr. Williams enjoyed three very successful years with Mr. Grant until the latter retired from business on account of ill health.

In January, 1914, Mr. Williams moved to Independence, and continued his business from his headquarters there until November, 1916, when he moved to Coffeyville. Besides his extensive business as a buyer and shipper of livestock, he produces much stock on his own farm. He has a half interest in 320 acres twelve miles southeast of Coffeyville in Oklahoma; owns 155 acres three miles east of Sedan, Kansas; has a half interest in 160 acres five miles north of Cedarvale, Kansas; a half interest in the Elk River farm of 265 acres; and is also identified with oil development, owning a quarter interest in a producing lease at Alluwee, Oklahoma, and some extensive undeveloped leases in both Kansas and Oklahoma. Mr. Williams has bought the grounds on South Walnut Street, Coffeyville, where he has shipping connections with all the railroads. He is building large barns and yards for his horses, mules and cattle.

Mr. Williams has a very attractive home at Coffeyville, located at 508 Willow Street. Politically he is a republican, has been a deacon in the Christian Church, and his wife is also an active worker in the same church. Fraternally he is affiliated with Coffeyville Lodge No. 104, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Fort Scott Consistory of the Scottish Rite; Mirzah Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Pittsburg; with the Camp of the Modern Woodmen of America at Altamont and with the Anti-Horse Thief Association. He is also a member of the Independence Commercial Club.

In September, 1898, at Altamont, Mr. Williams married Miss Lina D. Duckworth, daughter of Robert and Martha Duckworth. Her mother is still living at Altamont. Her father, who spent his active career as a farmer and stock raiser, was a gallant soldier throughout the period of the Civil war, and on April 15, 1864; was commissioned captain of Company D of the Thirty-eighth Regiment. Mr. and Mrs. Williams have three children: Robert Lloyd, born August 28, 1899, and now a freshman in the Montgomery County High School; Byron, born December 10, 1903, and attending the grade schools; and Enola Irene, born May 3, 1909, and also in school.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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