Iowa has been particularly fortunate in two respects. She has many sons whose sturdy qualities enable them to develop her rich natural resources in time of peace, and it has been found that in time of war, these same sons can turn their hand to the sword as effectively as to the plow. With a citizenship of this kind, there need be no fears concerning the commonwealth, because its prosperity has for its basis both moral courage and the essentials of industrial success; assuming that a state's productivity depends ultimately upon its soil. In the life of the person in whom the reader's present interest centers, are found both of the above phases of the common life. That is, he has been a hard-working, prosperous farmer, and also a brave, self-sacrificing soldier, either of which attainments are such as to merit the highest commendation.|
Thomas Williamson, now a well-known retired farmer of Audubon, this county, was born on December 6, 1839, in Bond county, Greenville, Illinois, the son of William and Laura (Brown) Williamson, the former a native of Kentucky, and the latter of Virginia, who were numbered among the pioneers of Bond county, Illinois, later moving to Logan, this state. In his early years William Williamson was what is now called an "old time Whig," but afterwards became a Republican. Both he and his good wife, who shared nobly the hardships of their early struggles, were possessed of such qualities as merited the esteem of the neighborhood in which they lived and they had many warm friends. This respected couple spent their last days in Logan. Their children were ten in number. The first-born, Benjamin, and the second born, Mary Ellen, are both dead. Thomas, the subject of this sketch, was the third child born in this household. The next son, Chapman, is also dead. Louisa is living in Logan county, and Nancy, in Livingston county, Illinois. The next three children, Lucy, Jesse and Willie are dead. Frances lives in Arizona. Of five sons belonging to this interesting family, three served in the war. These were the subject of this sketch, and his brothers Chapman and Jesse, Chapman being a member of the First Artillery of Missouri for a period of three years. Thomas Williamson enlisted on August 22, 1862, in Company A, One Hundred and Eighth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, at Peoria, Illinois, and was sent with his company to Memphis, Tennessee. He still carries the bullet with which he was shot in the shoulder while in service at Paris, Kentucky. He was also wounded in the windpipe, and was taken to the hospital at Paris where he was obliged to remain for two weeks. After his release, he was returned to his regiment and served until the fall of 1864.
Thomas Williamson, like so many other lads of those early days, desired, but could not obtain an education. It is difficult, perhaps, for the present generation to realize the heartaches of the youth of preceding generations to whom an education was but a dream, so accustomed have the youth of today become to good free schools. So, young Williamson had to be content with what the old log school house of Illinois could give him, walking three and four miles to obtain even this much. Until enlisting in the army, he lived at home and a year after his return from the army was married, on September 5, 1865, to Mrs. Margaret May, widow of Henry May, of Ohio, who was a Union soldier during the Civil War, serving in Company C. Sixty-ninth Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and who lost his life at the siege of Vicksburg. Mrs. Williamson was born in Preble county, Ohio, daughter of John W. and Nancy Ann (Beatly) Davidson, the latter of whom spent all her life in Preble county. John W. Davidson died in Audubon, in the year 1905. He and his wife were the parents of six children, of whom Mrs. Williams is the only survivor, the others having been Mary, Richard. James, Nancy and Peleg. By her first marriage, Mrs. Williamson became the mother of two daughters, May Adeline and Henrietta, both of whom have passed away. After their marriage, Thomas Williamson and his wife lived on a farm in Logan county, where Mr. Williamson took charge of machinery, including thrashing machines, for many years. In September, 1885, they decided to change their place of residence, and moved their household goods to Audubon county, securing eighty acres of land in Leroy township, three miles northeast of Audubon. Having put extensive improvements on their property, they remained there until 1905, when they again moved, this time to West Audubon, selling the farm to one of their sons. They then built a fine home on two splendidly located lots in Audubon and Mr. Williamson managed the electric-light plant for a number of years following, giving absolute satisfaction to the citizens of that city.
To Thomas and Margaret (Davidson) Williamson five children have been born, namely: William, a farmer of Madison county, Iowa, who married Ulah Phillips and has seven children, Arthur, Howard, George, Garland, Esther, Florence and Lester; George Harvey, a farmer and stock raiser of Leroy township, this county, who married Effie P. Fry and has five children, Orville, Ezma, Margaret, Lowell and Leverne; Reuben, who is deceased; Josie, who married Charles Trumell, living near Spencer, Iowa, and has six children, Eddie, Floyd, Albert, Harold, Raymond and Donald, and Martha Jane, the last born, who died while a small child.
One of the conspicuous figures at the reunions of the Grand Army of the Republic is Thomas Williamson, who has never ceased to have a real interest in all that concerns his country. He is fond of relating his war experiences, and though advanced in years, this part of his life seems as vivid and as real as his present activities. It is not improper to close this brief sketch by paying tribute to the wife of Mr. Williamson, a woman of character and attainment, and of such personality as to bring to their home many friends by whom they are both held in high esteem. In all of his efforts, this good woman has ably done her part toward helping her husband to attain success, always making her personal happiness subservient to the happiness of her family, for only thus could she find contentment. She is a member of the Presbyterian church and for years has been warmly concerned in the various beneficences of that church.
Transcribed from History of Audubon County, Iowa Its People, Industries and Institutions With Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens and Genealogical Records of Many of the Old Families, by H. F. Andrews, editor, Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1915, pp. 457-459.