It can be very difficult to research your family when it includes a common surname like Williams. In my case, it’s the Samuel H. Williams family who lives in Walpack and Frankford townships in Sussex County, New Jersey from about 1840 to 1890. Samuel’s daughter, Hannah, marries Robert H. Snook.
It’s a mistake to assume that all Williams people in a particular township are part of the same family. Sussex County isn’t that big of a county, and people often moved between townships, and between counties. In the case of Sussex County, they’d also move to Orange County, NY, plus Warren County, NJ and Morris County, NJ, all next door to Sussex.
My only recourse was to research ALL the Williams families in Sussex County during that time period, hoping that my Williams family would be uncovered. I’ll post my preliminary list of Williams families here, and add a Williams family timeline over the next month or two.
If anyone has any info on these families or has a Williams DNA kit on Ancestry, please let me know. I’d love to connect!
There are essentially these families, and the order in which they arrive in Sussex County:
- John Williams and Lea Decker Williams beginning 1742 – Delaware, Pike, PA and Walpack/Minisink, NJ – they marry in Walpack in 1742
- John is born in Briston, Norfolk, England per his marriage record.
- Any Dutch Church records are because of his wife, Lea Decker. She is the daughter of Broer Decker and Annetje Van Etten. Important note: Broer Decker’s farm is attacked by Indians in December of 1755 and several family members are killed. Many settlers leave the Delaware River area and go east to safer areas until the French & Indian War is over. So John and Lea might leave the Walpack area around 1755.
- He might be the John Williams in Hardyston in 1774 and 1780, though that’s on the other side of the county. But I have other Dutch families from Walpack in my family who also move to Hardyston, so it’s not out of the question. However, the John Williams in Hardyston could be John from Wales who is also in Morris and Warren NJ.
- Baptizes children at Walpack and Minisink churches.
- When his daughter Rachel marries Daniel Decker in 1771, the marriage record says she was born (1749) and was residing in Delaware Township, Pike, PA. It’s right across the river from both the Walpack Church (to the south) and the Montague Church (to the north). John baptizes children at both churches.
- John Williams of Hardyston, the tavern keeper, beginning 1774
- He has land records in Hardyston
- Might be John (Johannes) Williams m. Van Winkelen or Van Winkle
- Might be bondsman for Martha Coult William’s father, Isaac Coult, in 1792 Newton, Sussex, NJ. Martha Williams is mentioned in Isaac Coult’s will as a daughter.
- Sons might be Isaac and Francis
- Abraham Williams m. Martha Coult, his first record is his estate record in January 1797 Sussex.
- Isaac Coult is Martha Coult Williams’ father. In his 1792 will, he calls her Martha Williams. The fellow bondsman on the will is Isaac Williams. Their son, Isaac Williams Jr, would be too young to be a bondsman, so this Isaac Williams is probably her husband, and likely the Isaac from Hardyston.
- The son might be Isaac Williams who marries Hannah Morris, born abt 1789 NY, moves to Wantage then to Vernon.
- This can’t be the Martha Williams who marries William Southworth in July 1796 unless Abraham’s inventory isn’t done until much later after his death, which is unlikely.
- I believe he is a son of John Williams m. Van Winkle
- John Layton Williams and Julia Rutan Williams, Wantage beginning 1795 – family stories say he’s from the Roger Williams family of Rhode Island. I’ve never seen proof of this. His wife is Lydia Rutan.
- The first record I have for this family is their marriage in Sussex County in 1795.
- Roger Williams was Baptist, so that might be a clue. They might be associated with the First Baptist Church of Wantage. I need to research if there’s a connection between the Roger Williams of Rhode Island and any of the Sussex County Williams.
- The family story is that his father is killed by Indians in Sullivan County, NY in 1777 and his mother and two sisters travel to Port Jervis, Orange, New York, and then into Wantage, Sussex, NJ.
- I have never found proof of this man’s existence in Sullivan County, NY (then Orange and Ulster counties), nor any story of this particular Indian massacre in 1777. There certainly were Indian incursions all over this area during the Revolutionary War, but no record of anything happening in 1777 in this location. They might have gotten it confused with the Battle of Minisink in 1779, but there’s no John Williams on the monument commemorating the dead from this battle.The family story says that John Sr’s wife (not named, but in trees as Phoebe Little or Layton) escapes Sullivan NY after her husband is murdered, and goes to Port Jervis, NY with two little girls and 9-day old John Jr. (so John Jr is born around 1777, and the 2 sisters are born earlier than this)
- I believe one of these girls is Martha Williams m. William Southworth, in 1796 by Francis Price, the Justice of the Peace for Frankford Township. Martha and William name their son Francis Price Southworth. Rev. Silas Southworth is the minister for the First Baptist Church of Wantage (Deckertown) from 1787-1814.
- The other daughter might be Caty Williams m. Joseph O. Crane. There is no marriage record for Caty Williams and Joseph Crane, but they baptize their children in the Clove Dutch Church in Wantage between 1788-1799. Or it’s possible that Caty Williams is related to the John and Lea Decker Williams family because of the Dutch Church connection.
- These are the same Williams family from Hanover, Morris, NJ, see Williams Genealogy book written in 2003. They marry into the Whitehead, Condit and Ogden families, I believe. (Please note that this Williams Genealogy book is chock full of errors, and I don’t recommend it as a serious source of information about any of the Williams families without finding real proof of these claims.)
- When John dies, there is an estate division that names all his children. Many of his children go to Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Bradford counties in PA. Only Elizabeth, Peter and Andrew stay in Frankford and Wantage (and Andrew’s widow goes to Luzerne after he dies).
- Family stories say they have an adopted daughter, Mary Ann Adams. This appears to be Mary Ann Adams who marries Ira Howell of Wantage. She’s not with them in 1830, so she’s already out of the house? Mary Adams m. Howell is married by the same Rev. George Pierson as Andrew L Williams and Harriet Dunning in 1836 Wantage Presbyterian.
- Matthew Williams, from Wales to Frankford, Sussex, NJ beginning in 1790.
- He has a land record (or it is his son Matthew Williams Jr) in 1790 in New Town township, Sussex, NJ. New Town township is disbanded in 1864 and creates the town of Newton plus the townships of Andover and Hampton.
- His son Matthew is listed on the 1793 militia roll for New Town township. His son Alexander is not listed, but he should be, so either Alexander is not old enough yet, or not living in the area.
- Matthew supposedly has two sons per his obituary, and I’m guessing Matthew of Frankford (m. Crampton) is his other son, although he’s 15 years older than Alexander Williams. DNA will help to prove this out.
- Alexander marries Julia Ann Haggerty in 1797 by Francis Price, Justice of the Peace for Frankford. He is in his 30s when he marries.
- Matthew Jr marries Sarah Crampton in 1806 by Thomas Teasdale the Baptist minister. He is in his 50s when he marries.
- He dies in 1814, supposedly 124 years old, if you believe his obituary (probably written by one of his children). His obituary has a lot of problems: he has no Revolutionary War record and no pension.
- Ezra Williams m. Margaret Dennis, beginning with their marriage in 1808 Sussex (probably Wantage).
- He’s the son of Moses Williams and Sarah Miller of Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey
- His son, Moses, is buried in Sussex County.
- His wife, Martha Dennis, was born in Wantage in 1818.
- John R Williams, supposedly from Dutchess, NY, who marries Mary Randel or Carle, and moves to Vernon, Sussex, NJ, beginning 1808. After Mary dies, he marries Sarah, widow of an unknown Carey.
- His children are born in New York until at least 1791.
- The first record of them in Vernon is their son, John Isaac Williams who marries Jane Hunt in 1808, Vernon by Thomas Teasdale, Baptist minister.
- John’s grandson William Henry Williams, marries Sarah Carey’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Carey.
- Many of his children stay in Vernon.
- He has an estate record in 1832 and names his children and grandchildren.
- He and his children also have land records.
- Samuel H Williams of Walpack and Frankford, Sussex, NJ. He marries Ann Robbins of Frankford, Sussex, NJ.
- This is my Williams line. Their daughter, Hannah, marries Robert H. Snook.His death certificate says he was born in New Jersey (doesn’t give a location) and that his parents were John and Katie Williams. This is likely the Catherine Williams in the 1830 Walpack census, see below. He is born 5 May 1815, and dies 10 Apr 1893 per his death certificate (the online index on Ancestry is a year off, he dies 1893, not 1892).His brother is Thomas A Williams who lives next to him in Walpack in 1840, then moves to Pike and Bradford counties in PA with his wife, Mary Turner or Trusdell.He might have two other siblings: Joseph who marries Cornelia Kyzer who moves to Pike, PA, and Mary who marries Daniel Kithcart and stays in Sussex County. DNA is inconclusive at this time. I’d love to hear from others in any of these Williams or Kithcart families who have a DNA kit on Ancestry.com to compare notes about shared matches.It’s entirely possible that Samuel and Thomas are original immigrants and not related to any of the other Sussex County families. But in 1880, Samuel, Thomas and Joseph all say their parents were both born in New Jersey. Their mother may be Catherine Williams who shows up in the Walpack township 1830 census as a widow.
- Mary, widow of a Williams, born 1754, dies 1851 in Frankford, Sussex, NJ.
- She is in the 1850 census in Warren County with (I’m guessing) her granddaughter, Margaret (Williams?) Collins. Mary says she’s born 1754. Her death record says she dies in Frankford, Sussex, NJ in 1851.
- Margaret Williams Collins husband is Rev. Benjamin Collins. When he dies, Francis Williams of Warren is the administrator of his estate.
- So, somehow, the Warren County people and the Frankford people are connected.
- I believe she is Mary Decker, daughter of Daniel “Dan” Decker of Hardyston. His will lists her as “Mary Williams” in 1786. This means she’s likely a second wife of John (Johannes) Williams of Hardyson, who first married Van Winkle.
- Here’s Mary’s tree:
- Catharine Williams, who is in the 1830 census in Walpack, Sussex, NJ. Catharine dies in May 1854, Frankford at the County Almshouse. She has several children with her, including two men the correct age for Samuel and Thomas Williams.
- The two men in Walpack in 1840 are Samuel H Williams (marries Ann Robbins) and Thomas A Williams (marries Mary Turner or Trusdell). They’re living next door to each other. Samuel H Williams is my line and I have DNA connections to Thomas’ children.
- There is no 1850 census for Catharine. She might be in the Almshouse at this time.
- She dies in 1854 Frankford in the Almshouse, and if only because of the Walpack-Frankford connection, she’s likely the mother of Samuel and Thomas.
- She might be related to Mary Williams who dies in 1851, also at the Almshouse, either a mother-in-law or an aunt-in-law. On Margaret Williams Collin’s 1840 census in Warren, NJ, there are three women: Margaret, one that appears to be the right age for Mary Williams and one who appears to be the right age for Catharine Williams. Catherine is not on any of her childrens’ census records in 1840. We know Mary is living with Margaret Collins in 1850.
- Here’s Catherine’s info:
- Francis “Frank” Williams of Hardyston, Sussex and Mansfield, Warren, to Ohio, likely son of John m. Van Winkle. He is the administrator for the estate of Rev. Benjamin Collins, whose wife, Margaret Collins lives with Mary Williams in 1850. (As always, it might be a coincidence, and Margaret and Mary are not related at all, simply two widows living together.)
- Elizabeth and Ann Eliza Williams of Byram, Sussex, NJ – they marry Sutton men in Byram in the 1830s. Ann Eliza’s marriage record says she’s “of Newark” (Essex County, NJ). Elizabeth has a marriage dower agreement with James Sutton in Sussex land records. My best guess is that this is not a Sussex family but one from further east in NJ.
- John Williams from Wales – he’s in Morris County, but several books mention that his kids wander into Sussex County and Warren County. I’m still working on this line.
- William Williams of Maryland and New York, who arrives in Wantage in 1829 and dies there in 1831. His daughter, Elinor Williams, marries William W. Litteer, and Litteer is the administrator on both William Williams’ estate, and Isaac Williams’ estate, both in Wantage. William Williams has a Maryland Revolutionary War pension.