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Eagle Scout Preserves Historic Richard Williams Cemetery
The Richard Williams Cemetery east of Willis recently received a facelift, thanks to members of the Montgomery County Historical Commission’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB). For his Eagle Scout project, member Ross Ohendalski worked with fellow YAB members Robert Lynch and John Taylor to clear the overgrowth, install a granite protective base path around the line of the historic family cemetery headstones, and clean the headstones of moss and weathering.
Williams was born in 1808 in Milledgeville, Georgia and came to Texas in 1834 as a single man to find his fortune in the new land. He fought in several battles of the Texas Revolution, including the Bexar Campaign in 1835. During the campaign’s Grass Fight battle, he was severely wounded by a canister shot. The shot struck a pistol at his side, which saved his life. He remained nearby until the city of San Antonio was taken.
Williams married Mary Miller in 1836 in Washington County (now Montgomery County) Texas. The Republic of Texas gave Williams a large tract of land for his service in the war. He and his wife settled in the Washington Municipality east of what later became the Danville Community. He built a cabin near the present site of this cemetery and there operated his farm that included a sawmill, gristmill and cotton gin.
In 1837, he and several landowners in the Washington Municipality petitioned the Republic of Texas for a new county with the Brazos River as the dividing line. The Act creating Montgomery County was passed in December. In 1842, Williams led a Montgomery County volunteer militia for the Somervell Expedition to invade Mexico at Sam Houston’s request. Along the way, he became severely ill and had to leave the force, thereby avoiding the fate of the men who were later killed or captured. By 1849, Williams was serving as Montgomery County Commissioner.
Originally a half-acre of the farm was set aside for family burials, but later was used by the community. The Williams’ daughter, Leila Jacinto Williams, died on March 8, 1842 at age 3 and was buried in the family cemetery. Her tombstone is thought to be the oldest known legible tombstone in Montgomery County. Their son, Sam Houston Williams, died in 1852 and is the only other child of theirs known to be buried in this cemetery.
Williams died on October 10, 1876 and was buried in the cemetery with his son and daughter. Mary died on November 9, 1894 and is buried next to her husband. A Texas State Historical Marker was placed at the cemetery in 1975.
Financial support for the materials used in this preservation effort were provided by the Commission, with donations by Chaparral Genealogical Society, the Joanna Troutman Chapter, NSDAR and cemetery property owner Richard Molk.
The Montgomery County Historical Commission provides the content for this page.
For information on the commission and its efforts, visit montgomerycountyhistoricalcommission.com