Name: Robert Williams 1 2
Reference Number: 8687
Birth: 30 OCT 1766 in Orange County, North Carolina 1
Death: 25 JAN 1836 in Ouachita, Louisiana 1
Robert Williams (1766-1836)
Williams, Robert: lawyer, governor, was born in 1765 in Caswell county, N. C. He was appointed governor of Mississippi territory, filling that office from 1805 till 1809. He died in Louisiana. Source: Ancestry.com. Encyclopedia of American History [database online]. Orem, UT: Ancestry.com, 1997. [Note that Caswell County, North Carolina, did not exist in 1765. If Robert Williams was born in that part of North Carolina that became Caswell County in 1777, he was born in Orange County, North Carolina.]
The following is from the Marchy 29, 1983, edition of the Monroe-West Monroe, Louisiana News-Star:
Tombstones Shed Light on Past
By Bill Sierichs, Staff Writer:
A pile of broken, early19th-century tombstones uncovered Monday on the site of the Ingleside Plantation may solve a minor historical mystery about the fate of a former Mississippi governor. Robert Williams was governor of the Mississippi Territory from 1806-1809, when Aaron Burr allegedly tried to start a civil war and create a separate nation out of Mississippi and Louisiana. Williams' daughter was an early owner of Ingleside Plantation. But historians did not know where Williams had died and been buried after he left Mississippi.
Northeast Louisiana University history teacher E. Russ Williams - no relation to the governor - says the question probably is answered. Circumstantial evidence at the site is strong that the "Robert Williams, Born in Prince Edward County, Virginia," on the tombstone was the governor. "I think he just came over here in his old age to live with his daughter," says Russ Williams. He died and was buried here.
About 15 tombstones were found Monday when a long-unused plot of land, recently purchased by Dr. Lee and Nancy Joyner of 320 Virginia Dr. was being cleared. The tombstones apparently had been located on a cemetery on nearby land now owned by the Baptist Children's Home, says Russ Williams. They had been piled, many broken, in a drainage ditch running between the Joyner's property and the Children's Home's land. Williams speculates that the land was cleared early this century and the tombstones moved off the cemetery.
The Joyners were clearing their own land of brush and an abandoned house Monday. The had hired a grader to move dirt and fill in the ditch. As its blade dug into the ditch bank next to a wire fence surrounding the Children's Home, it uncovered the stones buried in the dirt, says Nancy Joyner. She says an old property description lists the ditch as formerly being a road called Kansas Lane.
Williams says an 1863 map shows a road running through the middle of the plantation at the approximate location of the ditch. The map also has a dot nearby which denoted the cemetery, he speculates. The road probably ran from the plantation home to Bayou DeSiard.
A long-time parish resident, Mrs. W. B. Corry, said Monday that she remembers an old cemetery near where the water tower is located on the Children's Home land. She last saw it in 1921, several years before the Home purchased the land. The cemetery then was in a pecan orchard on "Kansas Plantation" adjacent to Ingleside, she says.
Joyner says she hopes a group or organization interested in history can be found to restore and preserve the tombstones. Until then, "I'm storing them in a area where I hope they'll be safe until we can decide what to do with them."
Robert Williams' daughter, Eliza Williams, had married a Natchez, Miss., native, Samuel Richardson, Russ Williams says. They bought Ingleside Plantation, which originally had been created from a Spanish land grant. They had at least two children - twins named Williams and Winston who were and died in 1819. Their tombstones are the oldest in the collection.
Richardson died in 1820. Two years later Eliza Williams married his physician, Dr. John M. A. Hamblen. He was later elected as a Justice of the Peace in the parish. The Hamblens had three children, at least one of whom died young and was buried in the cemetery.
At some point, Robert Williams apparently came to Ingleside, where he died Jan. 30, 1836. Hamblen died two years later on Feb. 4, 1838. His tombstone also was in the old cemetery.
Eliza Williams married a third time, a man named Warfield - his first name was not available - whose tombstone also was found in the ditch. Her daughter, Columbia, married Wesley J. Q. Baker, who was the Ouachita Parish judge from 1872-1874.
Robert Williams had a varied and politically controversial career. He served as a U.S. Congressman from North Carolina (term of service unavailable) until he was appointed by President Thomas Jefferson to be the third governor of the Mississippi Territory.
Williams succeeded Mississippi Gov. W. C. C. Claiborne, who was the first American governor of Louisiana.
According to "A History of Mississippi," published in 1973 by the University & College Press of Mississippi, Williams took office on May 13, 1806.
He immediately ran into a problem with a state political leader, Cato West, who had wanted to be governor. West seized the state's records and took them to his Greenville, Miss. home and refused to return them to Williams until threatened with arrest, the book records.
In spring 1806, Williams left Mississippi for a year. During that time. Aaron Burr visited Mississippi with a number of followers. Burr was a political opponent of Jefferson, a one-time candidate for president of the United States, and had killed U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a famous duel.
Burr was arrested in Mississippi on a charge of trying to separate part or all of Mississippi and Louisiana from the United States. During the investigation of his alleged plot, Williams returned to Mississippi and halted the arrests - then being made without warrants - but not the prosecution of Burr.
A Mississippi grand jury refused to indict Burr, who was later arrested elsewhere but acquitted of a treason charge.
In subsequent political battles, partially created by the Burr Conspiracy, Williams was harassed by various Mississippi political factions which he was unable to counter, the "History" says. Once Williams even dissolved the state Legislature during a political fight over reapportionment.
Williams was reappointed governor in Jefferson in 1808, but tired of the fighting and resigned on March 3, 1809. He ran unsuccessfully for territorial delegate in 1811.
The "History" also records that, during bitter disputes over land sales in the territory, Williams once accused a land registrar of favoritism. Williams was so angry he tried to stab the registrar, but forgot to take the sheath off his knife, so the registrar was uninjured.
Robert Williams, b. 30 Oct 1766, Orange Co., NC, d. 25 Jan 1836, Ouachita, La. Buried on his plantation near Monroe, Louisiana. Married 2 Oct 1790, Stokes Co., NC to Minerva Elizabeth Winston, b. abt 1775 NC, d. 25 Jul 1814 MS. Daughter of Major Joseph Winston and Elizabeth Lanier. North Carolina Representative to Congress 1797-1803. Commissioner of Land Titles, Mississippi Territory, 1804. Appointed Territorial Governor of Mississippi Territory by President Thomas Jefferson, until his term expired in March 1809. [Congressional Biography]. Source: Williams Family Website
Father: Nathaniel Williams Jr. b: 01 OCT 1741 in Hanover County, Virginia
Mother: Mary Ann Williamson b: 02 JAN 1744
Minerva Elizabeth Winston b: 1772 in Surry County, North Carolina
02 OCT 1790
in Stokes County, North Carolina 1
- Eliza Winston Williams
- Details: Williams Family Website
- Citation Text: Armstrong, Zella (Compiler). Notable Southern Families (Volume II). Chattanooga: The Lookout Publishing Co., 1922 at 373