Deerfield — Men Of Note Born In Deerfield

Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.

      Hon. James Whitney, son of Stephen, was born in 1811. He removed to Conway, where he was in trade, and organized the Conway Mutual Fire Insurance Company. He was early interested in the militia, and was brigadier-general in 1863. He was sheriff of Franklin County in 1853-54; representative 1851, '54; delegate to the Constitutional Convention, 1853; superintendent of the United States armory at Springfield for five years; collector for the port of Boston, 1860-61; State Senator, 1872; president of Boston Water-Power Company; Presidential elector, 1852, '56, '60. He has been many years a leading politician in the Democratic party. He died in Boston, Oct. 24, 1878.
      Maj. Elijah Williams, son of Rev. John, was born in 1712. He graduated at Harvard College in 1732; A.M., 1758, He married, in 1736, Lydia Dwight, of Hatfield; (2d) 1750, Margaret Pynchon, of Springfield. He was a man of decided ability and activity; was a civil engineer; town clerk twenty-five years; selectman twenty-five years; representative seventeen years. He lived on his father's homestead, and went into trade in a building on the southwest corner of it, in 1742. This building, with additions, was known to this generation as the Ware store. It was removed in 1877, to make way for the Dickinson Academy. Maj. Williams took a prominent part in the French-and-Indian-wars; was captain of snow-shoe men in 1743, and controlled the military operations in this region through the war. He was four or five years in trade in Enfield, Conn. In the last French war he was commissary, with the rank of major, and did excellent service. He was a justice, and did considerable business as a magistrate. He died in 1771.
      Hon. Ephraim Williams, son of Dr, Thomas, was born in 1760. He received the honorary degree of A.M. from Williams College in 1795. He married Emily Woodbridge. He studied law with Judge Sedgwick, of Stockbridge, and practiced in partnership with him at the Berkshire Bar. When unjustly reproved by the judge one day in court, and ordered to take his seat, he replied:, "I will not sit down, but I will leave the Bar forever," and was as good as his word. He came back, and spent his days here. He was eminent in his profession; was first reporter for the Supreme Court; representative in 1806-7; Senator in 1816. He died Dec. 27, 1835. Bishop John Williams, of Connecticut, is his only son.
      John Williams, Esq., son of Maj. Elijah, was born in 1751. He graduated at Harvard College in 1769, and began to practice law in Salem in 1772. He married, in 1774, Elizabeth Orne, of Salem, and returned to the old homestead and his father's store. Here he continued in trade many years, meanwhile doing a large outside business, domestic and foreign. He was a loyalist in the Revolution, and indicted for sedition in 1783; chosen representative in 1783; was refused a seat on account of his Toryism at the May session. Reelected for the next session, he was again rejected. In 1784 he was arraigned on the indictment, but, pleading the sixth article of the treaty of peace with Great Britain, he was discharged; representative 1785-86; register of deeds for Northern Hampshire 1787; Presidential elector 1792; as a magistrate his business was enormous; was prominent in founding Deerfield Academy, and left it the bulk of his estate at his death. He was fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He died July 27, 1816, the last of his father's family, leaving no descendants.
      Dr. Stephen W. Williams, son of Dr. William S., was born in 1790. He received the degree of A.M. at Williams College in 1824; honorary member of the New York Historical Society and the Connecticut Medical Society. He married, in 1818, Harriet T., daughter of Dr. Joseph Goodhue; was professor and medical lecturer in Berkshire Medical Institute, Dartmouth College, and several other institutions. Author of "American Medical Biography," 8vo, 1845; "Memoirs of Rev. John Williams," 1837; "Genealogy of the Williams Family," 1847; "Indigenous Medical Botany of Massachusetts," 8vo; "Catechism of Medical Jurisprudence," 1835; "Medical History of Franklin County." In 1853 he published a new edition of the "Redeemed Captive," with an "appendix and notes," containing an article on the claims of Eleazer Williams to be the "dauphin of France." Dr. Williams was a graduate of Berkshire Medical Institute, and had an extensive practice in his native town and county; was a voluminous contributor to the medical and scientific journals. He removed to Laona, Ill., in 1853, where he died July 5, 1855.
      Dr. Thomas Williams, son of Col. Ephraim, from Newton and Stockbridge, was born in 1718. He received the degree of A.M. from Yale College, in 1738. He married, in 1740, Anna, daughter of Timothy Childs, and was again married, in 1749, to Esther, daughter of Rev. William Williams, of Weston. He settled here in the practice of his profession in 1739, where he was the first male physician. He had a large practice; was a surgeon in the expedition toward Canada in 1743, and of the chain of forts on our northern frontier. He left Fort Massachusetts only two days before its surrender, in 1746. In the last French war he was surgeon under Sir William Johnson. He was at the battle of Lake George, Sept. 8, 1755, and dressed the wounds of Baron Dieskau, the unfortunate commander of the French army. Col. Ephraim Williams, his brother, the founder of Williams College, was killed the same day. In the campaign of 1756 he was lieutenant-colonel. He was judge of the court of Common Pleas, judge of Probate, representative seventeen years, town-clerk, and useful in all local affairs. He died Sept. 28, 1775. Notes on many others worthy of notice are omitted for lack of space in this brief abstract of our history.

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