Friday, November 26, 2010

Making Progress with the Pope County Williamson Crew

Back in 2008, I made a trip to Russellville, Arkasas to do some genealogy research on my Williamson line, visit cemeteries and what not. One of the things I did was go to the Arkansas Tech University campus. The school held significance because it was built on the land once owned by my Williamson ancestors.

Once on the grounds, I came across Williamson Hall. I went inside to explore:

It was named after Marvin Williamson.

He was the first student enrolled at the school and their band director for 47 years:

Now I thought I knew all of the Williamsons in the area, but Marvin was not on my radar. Did he connect to my family? And how? I know my Williamsons came to the area from Tennessee in 1830. There must have been another group that came from Tennessee at another time. But who and when?

These questions have bugged me for years. Someone even contacted me from the Marvin Williamson line, and I answered back that I didn't know of a connection.

Fast forward to this week. With everyone off doing their own thing for Thanksgiving, I stole some time to work on my own family research. In my files, there is a copy of an unsourced Williamson family history from the 1950's. It was written by Anna "May" Russell (1876-1969), who happens to be my first cousin, three times removed.

In her paper, she described what I already knew: John L. Williamson (my third-great grandfather) and his brother went back to Tennessee, married two sisters and brought them back to Arkansas for their new life. These ladies were distant cousins to the brothers, and they were also named Williamson. Russell's paper further stated that the ladies' brothers also came along on the second trip to Pope County. They got married and had lots of kids, which turned into Williamsons that weren't yet in my files.

Once I started tracking the descendants of these other distant Williamson cousins, things started to fall in place.

Marvin Williamson, the namesake of Williamson Hall, is my second cousin, three times removed. His grandfather and my third-great were the brothers that went back to Tennessee to get the brides. Our common ancestor is John Robert Williamson (1786-1861).

What's this to you? Probably nothing, but to me it's the satisfaction of having answered a question that's been bugging me for years.

Welcome to the family, Marvin Williamson. Maybe I can get my kid into Arkansas Tech as a legacy now.


  1. Hiya Amy,
    I am glad you took the picture of the "unknown" Williamson" guy who lived in the same area as your proven Williamson ancestors.

    It's a miracle that you managed to find time this busy month to do a little research and figure out the family connection.

    THANKS for sharing.

  2. That is great, if we work at this long enough a lot of our mysteries will be solved.

  3. I'm glad the mystery is solved. One less thing to work on from your pile. Good work.

  4. Thank you for the comments. What broke the case was that I went back and took another look at that family history paper. Time away from it helped me see it in a different light.

  5. It's those details that nag at you that push you into areas where you find some vital pieces of the puzzle - it's always a good idea to listen to that little voice.

  6. It's always nice to find family you didn't know about. Last month I was in Georgia wandering around a church cemetery where several of my mom's line is buried. When I talked to one of the church members, I found out that his grandfather and my great great grandfather were brothers and his grandmother and their respective spouses were sisters.