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Samuel Williams

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Samuel Williams, 1834-1866

Samuel Williams, 1834-1866

Samuel was born in England in 1834. It is not known when he immigrated to the U.S. nor the names of his parents. The first record we have of Samuel is when he signed a Declaration of Intention to become a U.S. citizen (and renounce allegiance to "Great Britain and Ireland") on 13 Sept 1859 at Lexington, Sanilac Co., Mich. A few months later (and about 10 miles away) he married Mildred/Mindrel "Mina" K. Rockwood at Lakeport, Greenwood Twp., St. Clair Co., Michigan. They were married on January 7, 1860 by Solomon Littlefield of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Samuel and Mina Marriage

The 1860 census, which was taken on the 19th of June, show Samuel and Mina living back in Sanilac County right next to Mina's parents, Abel and Elizabeth (Knapp) Rockwood. Samuel was listed as a laborer, age 26, and born in England. That October their first child, Elizabeth, was born (reportedly she was born in St. Clair Co.). Two years later, in September 1862, their second child, Adelia, was born in Washington Twp., Sanilac County.

Samuel was still living in Washington Twp. during the June 1863 Civil War Draft Registration. His occupation was listed as laborer. Less than a year later, in March 1864, Samuel enlisted in Co. D, 10th Michigan Infantry Regiment at Lexington, Sanilac County. On the enlistment papers his occupation was listed as farmer, and his description was given as 5'6" with blue eyes and brown hair. According to a pension application by William "Billy" S. Parker (Billy married Mina's sister, Cynthia Rockwood) Samuel Williams was listed as a witness to an injury Billy sustained in October 1864 while marching from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Atlanta, Ga. According to the website "michiganinthewar.org/infantry/10thinf" edited by Don & Lois Harvey, "The Tenth was a part of General Sherman's army and participated in the march from Atlanta to the Sea [which took place from November 1864 to December 1864], then after a number of skirmishes with the southern defenders, arrived before Savannah, December the 11th. When that city fell, the Tenth encamped there until January 20, 1865, when it started with the balance of the army on the campaign in the Carolinas. The Tenth crossed the Savannah River at Sister's Ferry, Feb. 6th, then was engaged with the Confederates at Fayetteville, N.C., March 11th, crossing the Cape Fear River on the 12th. The Regiment skirmished heavily with southern forces at Averysboro, N.C. the 16th, then fighting in the battle at Bentonville on the 19th. The Tenth then marched on to Raleigh, reaching Goldsboro on the 23rd. The line of march was then continued to Richmond, Va., as that city had fallen into the hands of Union troops upon the Surrender of General Lee. On the 10th of May, 1865, the Regiment was marched to Washington, D. C., where it took part in the Grand Review with General Sherman's army on the 24th. The Regiment, then in command of Colonel Dunphy, started for Louisville, KY., where it was mustered out of service on July 19, 1865."

The above photo of Samuel in his uniform (note the corporal stripes) was taken by Daniel Stuber, a photographer at Louisville, on July 6, 1865 (the date is written on the blue two cent tax revenue stamp on the back of the photo along with the photographer's initials: D.S.). The original photo is 4 inches by 2.5 inches and belongs to Arlington Cooke who got it from his grandmother, Alice Tucker Cooke Edmonds.

Samuel and Mina's third child, James "Henry" Williams, was born in Sanilac County in August 1866. The following month on 14 September 1866 at the age of 32 years Samuel drowned while fishing in Lake Huron. This was reported by several family members, including Samuel's granddaughter, Gladys Tucker Nephew. She reported that Samuel was fishing in a boat in or near the Au Sable River when he drowned. "He was close enough to shore that a man on shore waded out and got his body." The following newspaper article dated September 1866 is posted on the Sandusky District Library website:

Samuel Williams death, 1866

It is clear that the "Williams" in the article was Samuel, because a pension application by Billy Parker (see above) dated 4 June 1892 states that John McTavish and Samuel Williams were with Billy during the war but that both of them "drowned in Lake Huron some 20 years ago. Both were fishermen at the time." Despite the newspapers statement that the fishing boats were "driven over to the Canadian shore, near the Sauble", it seems more likely that they were along the Michigan shore near the AuSable River when they capsized.

The 1870 census of Verona Twp., Huron Co., lists Samuel's widow and two of her children, along with two of her brothers. According to Samuel's grandson, Bill Tucker, "Uncle Henry [James "Henry" Williams] wanted help to locate his family in England" to see if there was a chance of inheritance. Bill also reported that Samuel had immigrated to the U.S. to "avoid the draft" in England, but ironically ended up serving in the Civil War.