Micajah T. WILLIAMS, b. 29May1820


biography from Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887

HON. MICAJAH T. WILLIAMS was one of the best known and most revered of all Mabaska County pioneers. Coming to this county in the first year of its settlement, appointed as one of the commissioners for its organization, in its growth and development, the impress of his mind and character are indelibly stamped. In almost every enterprise tending to the advancement of the town and county of his choice his was the master miud to counsel and direct. Micajah T. Williams was born in Butler County, Ohio, May 29, 1820, and is the son of Caleb and Sarah (Sunderland) Williams. While yet a small child his parents removed to Indiana, locating near Terre Haute. Here the subject of this sketch enjoyed the educational advantages of the common schools, supplemented by two years' attendance at Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Ind. On leaving college he engaged in civil engineering for a few months, in the employ of the State, and then went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he entered the law office of Judge O. M. Spencer, afterward graduating from the Ohio law school, and being admitted to the bar in April, 1842. Believing the West to be a better field for an enterprising man, on the 2d day of May following he started for Iowa on horseback. Arriving at Mt. Pleasant he formed a partnership in the practice of law with Judge G. W. Teas, a somewhat noted character in that day, which partnership lasted about one year. In December, 1843, Mr. Williams came to Mahaska County, but soon after went to Iowa City, where he spent the winter in attendance upon the Territorial Legislature. By that body he was appointed as already stated, one of the Commissioners for the organization of Mahaska County. Returning here he made this his home until his death. At the first term of the District Court be was appointed its Clerk, and was subsequently elected to fill the position, serving until 1854, when he positively declined a re-election. But his official life was not to end here. At the annual election in August of that year he was elected a member of the State Legislature, and served one term. While Clerk of the Courts it became a part of his duty in the absence of the County Judge to perform the duties of that officer. In this way the title of Judge came to be bestowed upon him. At the close of his term of office as Clerk of the Court, Judge Williams formed a partnership with Hon. William T. Smith, in the practice of law. March 1, 1855, these gentlemen opened the first banking-house in Mahaska County, and continued to do a general banking and land business for two and a half years, when Mr. Williams retired from the firm. In 1858 he formed a partnership with Hon. William H. Seevers, which association continued ten years. During five of these years, from 1863 to 1868, he was associated with Henry P. Ninde, in the real-estate business, giving to its details much of his personal attention. Later on he was associated with Liston McMillan in the practice of law. Judge Williams was elected to a second term in the Legislature in 1861, and served the State and his constituents with distinguished ability. For many years he was United States Commissioner, and for six years was a Trustee of the Iowa Hospital for the Insane, at Mt. Pleasant. In 1846 he was appointed one of the Commissioners to locate the county seat of Polk County, and as one of the number failed to appear, and the other, a Mr. Pinneo, was taken sick while engaged in viewing the several locations, to Mr. Williams alone is the credit due for the selection of the site which is now the capital of Iowa, as well as the county seat of Polk County. After the stake had been driven, permanently fixing the site, Mr. Williams was called upon for a speech, and in response, he said: "Gentlemen, I have not only located the county seat of Polk County, but I have fixed upon the site of the future capital of the State." On hearing this remark the crowd in attendance fairly grew wild, and catching up the speaker, carried him upon their shoulders around the little town, yelling until they were hoarse, His prophecy was soon fulfilled, and Des Moines is not only the county seat of Polk County and the capital of the State, but is as well the leading city of Iowa. In 1850 Mr. Williams was initiated a member of Triluminar Lodge No. 18, A. F. & A. M., and subsequently became a member of Hiram Chapter No. 6, R. A. M., and also of Commandery No. 6, Knights Templar. In the welfare of this order he took great interest and aided greatly in placing it upon the firm footing it now has in this county. He was for many years a vestryman in St. James Episcopal Church. During the summer of 1845, with his own hand, Mr. Williams erected a new cottage just north of the Public Square. "To that little house," says the Oskaloosa Herald, "which we remember as a perfect bower of beauty, in 1845, he took his bride, formerly known as Miss Virginia Rebecca Seevers, a sister of Judge William H. Seevers." Miss Seevers was born near Winchester, Va., and is the daughter of James and Rebecca Seevers. The marriage ceremony was performed on the 19th of September, 1845, by Rev. Mr. Johnson, of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Two children are the issue of this marriageÄAlice Eugenia, and Beulah Joezelle; the latter is now the wife of Judge L. C. Blanchard of this city. In the organization of the Oskaloosa National Bank, our subject took an active interest, and at his death was a Director and its Vice President. Mr. Williams died at his residence in Oskaloosa, Sunday, Jan. 15, 1884, and was laid to rest beneath the spreading branches of a forest oak, in the family burying-place at Forest Cemetery. The funeral sermon was preached by Rev. W. H. H. Pillsbury, of Ottumwa. The various Masonic bodies of Oskaloosa, assisted by visiting members from many of the surrounding towns, took charge of the interment, and his mortal remains were laid away in accordance with their beautiful rites and ceremonies. No citizen of Mahaska County was more greatly mourned than Micajab T. Williams. Always of a kindly and charitable disposition, he was never appealed to in vain by those who needed a friend or substantial aid. He was a great friend to the young, and many young men have received from him wise counsel and such hopeful words as will not soon be forgotten by them. In all public matters he took an active interest, and it is said that subscription papers were few that were not graced with his name, and a liberal donation. He was a strong, stanch friend of the common school, and with him the education of the youth of the land was considered akin to religions duty. One of the local papers of Oskaloosa, in its notice of Mr. Williams' death, said: "He was a careful attorney, a splendid man in every way. Just in all his dealings, of the noblest instincts, kind and gentle as a woman, no else had ever an unkind feeling toward this knightly, courteous gentleman." The Montezuma Republican said: "He was a man honored and honorable, big-hearted and liberal-handed. His death makes a big gap in the line of pioneers of Mahaska County." Of him the Ottumnwa Courier said: "He has left a record as a lawyer, business man and public servant, second to that of no other citizen of Mahaska County. He was a very genial companion, and universally honored and respected by all who knew him." The bar of Mahaska County, in its resolutions of respect, declared him to be a pioneer and patriarch of its body. "A genial gentleman, hospitable friend, kind and indulgent husband and father, rich in the love of friends, ripe in the years of honors." It resolved to "hold in memory his many kindly words and acts, his genial welcome, his wit that pleased but wounded not, his professional integrity, his sterling manhood, and all the many qualities that endeared him to his host of friends." The Oskaloosa Herald, in its tribute, closed with the following beautiful and appropriate lines: ~As Hiram sleeps, the widow's son. So now our brother takes his rest; His work complete, his labor done, His name by every one is blest. So let him sleep his last long sleep, Fond memories clustering `round his headÄ Be comforted, ye loved, who weep The true, the frank, the fearless dead."

Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887

Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy

Iowa Genealogy

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