Third Great-Grandparents John Wesley and Mary Elizabeth (Randall) Williams

Normally, I would go on to write about my great-great grandmother Altie May (Williams) Atwell, but much of her story is covered in my post about her husband. I can say that prior to marrying William Armstrong Atwell, she was employed as a boxmaker. She also has the distinction of being doubly enumerated in the 1880 Census: first boarding in Providence with the Denison Reynolds family, then later in June with her own family in Johnston, Providence County, RI. So I will move on to her parents, who may give a better background on Altie’s life.

The only source I have for the origins of John Wesley Williams is the book Randall and Allied Families, which states that he was born on April 25, 1837 in Cambridge, Washington County, NY to Jason and Lucy Williams. The 1840 Census does show a Jason Williams in Cambridge whose household does have a male under the age of six, so I have no reason to doubt this source.

Randall and Allied Families also states that John married Mary Elizabeth Randall on December 5, 1859. This fact, too, is supported by their presence in the 1860 Census, marked as having been married within the year. Mary was the oldest child of Gorton Bailey Randall and Mary Ann Gardiner. She was born on August 7, 1837 in Providence, Providence County, RI. Although the 1860 Census states that John was a painter, every other record I’ve found (directories, censuses) shows him to be a mason. This has made it easier to pick him out from other John Williams in the area.

The Williamses ended up having three children:

  • Altie May, born November 30, 1863 in Providence.
  • Charles Weston, born February 26, 1869; married Mary Elizabeth Pilou (or at least, that is the only spelling I’ve found) on June 19, 1890; occupied as a house painter; died April 21, 1926.
  • Harry Clinton, born January 13, 1874; married Catherine _____ in 1897; occupied as a sign painter.

Sometime between 1880 and 1885, John and Mary separated. The a885 Census seems to indicate that Mary had custody of Charles and Harry (although that census does not list family units – just individual names – Mary is listed as head of household). As I’ve written before, Mary lived for a time with her daughter’s family during the 1890s.

In the 1900 Census she lived with her son Harry and his wife, and her marital status is shown as widowed. At first I thought that John had died, but the 1903 and subsequent city directories show him as living with his son Charles and his family. In fact, the 1910 Census states that he was divorced! (The truth comes out!) I later found out that stating that one was widowed kind of avoided the social stigma as being known as divorced, so that explains Mary’s status.

Just these little bits of information raise so many questions for me: Why divorce after about twenty-five years of marriage (especially in the 1800s)? How did this impact Altie May and her later divorce from William? Since John and Mary each were living with different sons, how did that affect Charles’ and Harry’s relationship?

John passed away on October 14, 1918 (I assume in Providence). So far, I haven’t been able to tell where he is buried. Mary died on June 20, 1919 in Providence and is buried with her parents and other ancestors in Woodlawn Cemetery, Johnston County, RI.

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Paine and Bass: Braintree Beginnings

In my last post we looked at the lines of Stephen and Hannah (Bass) Paine. In this post, I’d like to take a look at both sets of parents. In both cases, I’m not sure of their towns of origin in England (though there is some sketchy information on some online trees).

Moses and Elizabeth Paine had three children that I know of:

  • Moses, born 1622/23; married Elizabeth ____; died December 15, 1690 in Boston.
  • Elizabeth, born circa 1625, married Henry Adams of Medfield on November 17, 1643; both Elizabeth and Henry were shot in their own home by natives during King Philip’s War on February 21, 1676. Henry died immediately and Elizabeth died one week later (perhaps this event provided motivation for Stephen to serve his second stint during the war).
  • Stephen, whose information can be found here.

The Paine family immigrated from England and were living in Braintree by 1632. Over time, Moses also acquired land in Mendon, Cambridge, Concord and Piscataqua. In 1641 he became a freeman.

I’m not sure of the date that Elizabeth passed away, but in 1642, Moses had re-married widow Judith (Pares) Quincy. On June 17, 1643, Moses made out his will, leaving Judith with a mere 20 shillings. The authors of the books I’ve read about this fact wonder why this could be. My guesses are perhaps Judith was already well off from her previous marriage, or perhaps Moses’ children had something to say about her inheritance. Regardless of the reason, Moses was close to death at the time of his will, for his date of burial was only four days later on June 21.

Moses and Ann Bass (both born circa 1600) arrived in America about 1632, but first settled in Roxbury. They acclimated quickly, becoming members of the First Church of Roxbury under Rev. John Eliot, who would go on to become “the Apostle to the Indians”. They seemed to have the first two children – Samuel and Mary – in England. Their remaining children (John, Hannah, Ruth, Thomas, Sarah and Joseph) were likely born in Roxbury. (Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of information on most of them.) On May 14, 1634, Samuel became a freeman.

In 1640 the family moved to Braintree and became involved at the First Church there. In July, Samuel was “received into communion” and soon became the church’s first deacon, a position he maintained until his death. In 1653 he became the ruling elder of the church. Before his death in 1694, he, William Veasey, John Ruggle and David Walesby gave a gift of an inscribed silver communion cup to the church, which remains in its possession. (I would LOVE to see a picture of it!)

First Congregational Church of Braintree as it appears today.  Courtesy Google Earth.

First Congregational Church of Braintree as it appears today. Courtesy Google Earth.

Samuel’s position was prominent in civic matters as well. Between 1641 and 1664 he sat in twelve General Courts. He was also appointed for various causes, such as improving the town marsh, settling small legal matters, and looking into the building of a cart-bridge over the Neponset River. I even found that he and Moses Paine were among those who signed an acknowledgement of the sale of a schoolhouse by a Mr. Flint in 1648, so they certainly were acquainted with each other.

Ann Bass died on September 5, 1693 and Samuel on December 30, 1964. His will indicates that he thoughtfully provided for each of his surviving children. Both Samuel and Ann are buried in Hancock Cemetery in Quincy, MA and their headstones remain there today.