Author: Heath, May Francis
Publisher: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company;
James Grant Williams was
born in Granville, Mass., in 1831. and a little later he came with his parents
to Franklin, Ohio, where they resided until 1850 and that winter James, at the
age of nineteen and ambitious to get into the great lumber business in
Michigan, started out on foot, walking through that swampy, reptile infested,
(saying nothing of the hordes of mosquitoes), trail from Ohio to Western
Michigan and he stopped at South Haven, then just a small settlement with
lumber mills in which he found employment, and in 1851 he was united in
marriage with Miss Sarah C. Wells, native of Cambridge, Mass., but whose
parents had migrated to Michigan during the settlement period.
In 1860 Mr. and Mrs.
Williams and two small sons, William (deceased) and Albert, came to Newark and
entered in the saw mill and civic activities of the village; he built a home overlooking
Kalamazoo lake, and here two daughters blessed the couple, Hattie (now Mrs.
Geo. Babcock) and Cora (deceased).
Mr. Williams, in company
with W. B. Griffin, in 1877 bought out the milling interests of O. R. Johnson
and Co. and continued the business until 1885, when Mr. Williams sold his share
to J. F. Henry, and he bought a large fruit farm just north of town and built
thereon a beautiful home which was noted for its generous hospitality and
He held many public
offices, being an honorable, faithful servant of the people. He was charitable
and broadminded and in Saugatuck where the many years of his activity were
passed his memory will always be revered, and many a beautiful share tree today
is a monument to his thought of planting to make a prettier town.
He was a charter member
of F. & M. both in Douglas and Saugatuck and a Past Master of each lodge.
He died, an honored
citizen in 1908. having been preceded in death by his
faithful and devoted wife several years.