Ward Spooner Williams was born in New Portland, Somerset County, Maine, September 20, 1841, the third son of Joseph Williams and Betsey Pease. The family descended from the early Maine pioneers, and the great-grandfather of Ward was a Revolutionary soldier and the first settler of New Portland.
He was educated at North Anson Academy. Upon graduating, he taught in country schools for a time and then acted as a teacher in the Academy.
In 1861 he went to California via Panama. After a short visit in San Francisco, he went to Copperopolis near Angels Camp in Calaveras County, where he taught school for several years. He also served as tax collector of that county and in 1869 was elected to the 18th Session of the California Legislature as Assemblyman from Calaveras County.
About 1872 he engaged in the mercantile business in Davis, Yolo County, and built a brick store. He later formed a partnership with Mr. Robert Terrill. They bought grain and farm produce along with their general store. They leased 4000 acres of the Glide Ranch in Glenn County, about 10 miles east from Willows, and Ward raised wheat on the leased ranch while Mr. Terrill looked after the business at Davis.
He sold out his interest in the business in 1882 intending to return to Maine. He visited his brother in New Richmond, Wisconsin and finally located there. In 1884 he purchased a half interest in Bixby Brothers general merchandise business and the name was changed to Bixby & Williams. In 1885 the firm erected a large double front stone building which was later destroyed by the cyclone of 1899. The firm dealt in general merchandise and shipping farm produce on a large scale. He was a director and vice-president of the Bank of New Richmond. He also had mercantile interests at different times in Shell Lake and Spooner, Wisconsin, in Ada, Minnesota, and in Postville, Iowa.
In 1888 Mr. Williams bought out the interests of Bixby, and in 1896 Bixby retired, upon which the Ward S. Williams Company was organized with Mr. Williams as the head of the firm. In October 1899, following the cyclone, the firm of Williams & Olsen was organized, taking over the clothing department. In March 1903, Olsen retired and the firm was consolidated with the Ward S. Williams Company with Harry Williams taking charge of that branch. Mr. Williams took an interest in the Bank of New Richmond shortly after he came to the city and for many years was a director of that institution. At the time of his death he was both a director and one of the vice-presidents, having held the latter position since 1898.
He was a member of the village board of New Richmond and was largely instrumental in bringing about the incorporation of the city. He was the first mayor of the city, being elected without opposition. During the administration he had an important part in the erection of the bridge over Willow River. Through his efforts as a member of the school board the addition to the high school building was erected. He was secretary of the New Richmond Cemetery Association and an active worker in the same. Fraternally he was a member of the Masonic Order in California and also of the I.O.O.F. He was one of the original board members of St. Croix County Asylum trustees.
Mr. Williams was married twice. His first wife was Estelle McFarland, whom he married at her home in Fairfield, Maine, July 2, 1870. They had three children: Freda Jeanette, Harry McFarland and Donald Ward. She died in New Richmond on February 11, 1899. His second wife was Geraldine V. Sawyer, whom he married in New Richmond on May 7, 1890. They had two children: Ward Sawyer and Abram Parker.
Abram Pease Williams
Abigail Williams Cragin
Warren Willard Williams
Orrin James Williams
John Philbrick Williams
Moses B. Williams
Sponsored by Ancestry