John M. Williams, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of John M. Williams

JOHN M. WILLIAMS is the senior partner of the law firm of Williams & Bean and vice president of the Eugene Commercial Club, in which fact is found evidence that he is not only interested in the pursuit of his private business affairs but is also a factor in the measures and movements for the general good. Moreover, at one time he was closely associated with educational interests and his varied activities have done much to advance the welfare of Lane county. Indiana numbers him among her native sons, his birth having occurred in Porter county, February 14, 1861, his birthplace having been his father's farm in Jackson township. His parents were Azariah and Eliza J. Williams, both of whom were natives of Wayne county Indiana, while their last days were spent in Westville of that state. The mother died January 9, 1887, and the father, whose birth occurred June 17, 1828, passed away September 4, 1911, having attained a ripe old age. Throughout the greater part of his life he followed merchandising. He, too, was a public-spirited citizen and he filled the office of justice of the peace. He practiced law to some extent, having been admitted to the bar, and at all times led a busy, active and useful life. Fraternally he was connected with the Masons and was very loyal to the teachings of the craft. Both the father and mother were descended from Welsh ancestors who settled in Pennsylvania about 1692, whence representatives of the families went to Virginia, to North Carolina and thence to eastern Tennessee. Two of his great-great-grandfathers, David Williams on the paternal side and William Williams on the maternal, removed to Wayne county, Indiana, in 1826. From the former the line of descent is traced down through Azariah, Jonathan and Azariah Williams to John M. Williams of this review, while in the maternal line his descent comes through three successive ones who bore the name of William Williams.

John M. Williams was reared under the parental roof and the public schools of Indiana afforded him his early educational privileges. For a time, however, he attended high school at Stewart, Iowa, and also the Northern Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso. In his native state he took up the profession of teaching, which he followed for ten years ere his removal to the west. In 1886 he arrived in Halsey, Oregon, and in August, 1888, he came to Eugene. Continuing an active representative of the teachers' profession, he became principal of the schools of this city, which position he filled from 1888 until 1891. When he assumed the position he had eight teachers under his supervision and something of the growth of the school during his superintendency is indicated in the fact that his teachers numbered sixteen when he retired from the position. He had systematized the work of the schools, had raised the standard of instruction and had given a decided beneficial impetus to educational work in this city.

While still engaged in teaching Mr. Williams read law in the office of A. E. Gallagher and was admitted to the bar October 5,1892. Soon afterward he entered upon active practice alone and in December, 1905, was joined by L. E. Bean in a partnership under the firm name of Williams & Bean. They engage in general practice and Mr. Williams is recognized as an able and learned lawyer, having gained a comprehensive knowledge of the principles of jurisprudence and developed marked ability in the presentation of his cases before the courts. For three years he has been secretary of the bar association, which indicates his high standing among his professional brethren. A large and distinctively representative clientage is accorded him and he is connected with the most important litigated interests heard in the courts of his district. In other lines, too, his labors are an effective element for progress. He is the vice president of the Commercial Club and is interested in all its plans for the development of the city, its adornment and the exploitation of its resources. He is the secretary of the Lane County Agricultural Society, which he aided in organizing. His political support is given to the republican party and for two years he was a member of the city council and for four years has been city attorney. He has served a number of years as deputy district attorney and in office made a most creditable record.

In 1886 Mr. Williams was united in marriage to Miss Jennie M. Gwin, a daughter of William Gwin, of Wayne county, Indiana. They have three children: William G., who is an electrical engineer of Schenectady, New York, and is an expert rifleman, holding membership in the New York National Guards; Benjamin H., who is taking postgraduate work in the University of Oregon and has a record for pole vaulting there; and Vernon A., who is attending the Hill Military Academy. Mrs. Williams is a member of the Christian church and presides with gracious hospitality over her pleasant home. Mr. Williams has an interesting military chapter in his life history having for twenty-two years been a member of the Oregon National Guard. In 1911 he retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel of the Fourth Regiment. He is widely known in fraternal circles, holding membership in Spencer Butte Lodge, No. 9, I. O. O. F., of which he is a past grand, while in the grand lodge he has been grand marshal. He also belongs to Wimawhala Encampment, No. 6, of which he is past chief patriarch and now is grand representative of the sovereign grand lodge. He is furthermore, connected with the Hovey Canton, No. 4, and is colonel of the second regiment of the Patriarchs' Militant. He belongs to Eugene Lodge. No. 357, B. P. O. E., of which he is esteemed lecturing knight; holds membership with the Woodmen of the World and was a delegate to the head camp for two years, attending the session at Cripple Creek, Colorado; and likewise is identified with the Maccabees and the United Artisans. Such in brief is the life history of John M. Williams who for a quarter of a century has lived in Oregon and with the exception of two years of that period has made his home in Eugene where he is recognized as a most progressive and public-spirited citizen, interested in all that pertains to public progress, his aid and cooperation being freely given to many movements for the public good. At the same time he in making a creditable record as a practitioner before the bar and holds to a high standard of professional ethics.

Source: Gaston, Joseph, and George H. Himes. 1912. The Centennial History of Oregon, 1811-1912. Volume II. Chicago, Illinois: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1060 p.
Page(s) in Source: 781-782

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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