The Williams Family


by Helen Williams Spickler

November 1, 1966

 This history or “story” is of the Williams family which is descended from David and Catherine (Roberts) Williams, who emigrated from Wales to the United States of America in 1862.  It is hoped that it will be enjoyed by their descendants and that each one who has a copy will keep it up-to-date and pass it on to future generations that they may know of and treasure their heritage.

Most of the “story” was gathered together by Helen Williams Spickler with the help of Nita and Albert Williams, who searched the Bibles left with Jeanette Williams Bright and talked with Cecil Williams, in searching for answers to some of our questions.  Nita Ray and Nita Williams and Albert could supply much from memory.  Gladys Rose made a tape recording on which she recalled many things about her father and her Uncle William Roberts, with whom she spent one year and attended school in Superior, Wisconsin.  Bert Williams and Evelyn Williams Sheely also supplied information and much of the typing and editing was done by Dorothy Neiswanger Williams.

Other information was found in a Bible, inner page inscribed with the name “Margret Williams, 1862, her book.”  On the fly leaf of this was written “David Williams Bibbl, Pen Pog River, Huron County, Michigan, United States of America;” the book Mary Erskine, on the fly leaf “Jennet Butler Roberts, 19 College Row, Uniscedwyn, N. Swansea, January 1862; the book Rhymes for the Nursery, on the fly leaf “Miss Mary Ann Roberts, Cornelly, Pyle, April 1855;” the book The Pretty Village, fly leaf reads “Jennet Butler Roberts, 19 College Row, Uniscedwyn, N. Swansea, from Mrs. Marryat, Uniscedwyn Iron Works, January 1862;î from the diary of W. B. Williams, year 1892; from a Welsh Bible belonging to Llewellyn Roberts which contained records and his diary; and from obituaries saved from local papers.

Jeanette Williams Bright has the Welsh Bible with the diary in back, also an American Bible given the Mary Ann Roberts on Christmas by her sister Jennie.  The Welsh Bible has records of all the children’s births, the hour and date and doctor in most of them, and then written across was the date of death of the four children.  Even tho written in ink, it is hard to make out the spelling of some of the names of towns or counties after 100 to 159 years.

Helen Williams Spickler has the first David Williams’ Bible which may have been given to him by his mother if her name was Margret.  She also has Mary Erskine, Rhymes for the Nursery, The Pretty Village, and the diary of her father, William Butler Williams, year 1892

It is interesting to read in the Williams Diary of the pattern of family life in 1892; how they helped each other with farming, building homes, and in times of trouble.  A trip of 15 or 20 miles took all day and a certain amount of preparation.

It is also interesting to note how the children of David and Catherine married young people of their community and purchased farms not too distant from the home place.  Many of the Christian names of these ancestors are still used by the present generation.


David A. Williams and Catherine Butler Roberts (probably their wedding photo)

David A. Williams and Catherine Butler Roberts (probably their wedding photo)

Our story has its beginning just a little over 100 years ago.  It is about a young couple, David and Catherine Williams, who were married on December 26th, 1859, and came to America from Wales with their first son, Thomas Lambrock Williams (who was then between six and nine months old) in 1862.

Catherine Roberts Williams was the daughter of Llewellyn Roberts, whose own father, Thomas Roberts of Merthymaur, Wales, married Jennet Thomas in February, 1808.  Thomas and Jennet’s only son, Llewellyn, born in November of 1808 at Ystrandjvorck, married Mary Butler in September 1830, and were parents of eight children, four of whom did not live to adulthood.  Those who lived were Catherine, Mary Ann, Jennet and William Butler Roberts.

H.M. Queen Victoria

Catherine, before her marriage, spent one year in London, England, in Queen Victoria’s service.  Her duties were to look after one of the “Ladies in Waiting.”  She took care of her clothes, dressed her hair and did sewing on whatever was needed.  On her off time she loved to go to the park to watch the Queen ride by in her beautiful coach, drawn by beautiful horses and followed by the footman.  After the year was up she came home and then married.

David A. Williams was a lawyer for Oystalyfera Iron Works, Lake of Llandile, Carmmshire, Wales.  According to records and pictures in Mary Ann Robert’s album, David and Catherine and little Thomas sailed for America in 1862 and made their first home in Pen Pog River, Huron County, Michigan.  This was verified by David’s Bible, which was given to William Williams, Helen Spickler’s father.  We don’t know how long they lived in Michigan, but Helen remembers “Auntie” Roberts telling her that Mary Jane, their second child, was born there in 1863.  The four boys, Arthur Elias, William Butler, David Llewellyn and Reese Christmas, were born in Coalburgh, now Youngstown, Ohio, during the next ten years.

Mary Butler Roberts

Mary Butler Roberts

Catherine’s mother, Mary Butler Roberts, died on April 22, 1966, at their home at College Row, Yskradgrais, County of Brenconshire, Wales.  On June 2, 1866, Catherine’s father, Llewellyn Roberts, wrote in his diary “myself and my two daughters, Mary Ann and Jennet, embarked for Youngstown Ohio in America June 2, 1866, reached New York July 13, 1866, and came to Catherine and David’s house July 16, 1866.”  His son, William Butler Roberts, was also in the United States.

From Ohio, David and Catherine moved to Nebraska in 1876.  Albert Williams remembers his father saying that he (Albert) was 7 years old, which helps to establish this date.  After a short stay in Brownsville, Nebraska, they came to Richardson County Nebraska and lived in a house about one-eighth mile west of Helenís fatherís home (northeast of Stella, Nebraska) where her parents lived all their married lives.  This must have been a real struggle for adjustment, as the average January temperature in Wales is 40 and in July, 60 — coming to Michigan, Ohio and then Nebraska, with the cold winters and hot summers.

Llewelyn Williams

Llewellyn Roberts

While living in Nebraska they farmed, and Nita Ray and Albert Williams remember hearing their Dad, William B. Williams, saying that David had also worked at the blacksmith trade.

In the year 1879 Catherine’s sister Jennet died, and in May, 1882 Catherine’s husband, David, died, only five years after coming to Nebraska, leaving Catherine a widow with six children from 8 to 19 years of age.  She was a courageous person and with the help of her sister Mary Ann (who became “Auntie” Roberts to her nephews and nieces) and her father (who came to Nebraska in 1882), as well as her children, they worked the farm and had a good life together.  Her father died in October 1894 and Catherine lived until February 16, 1916.


December 9, 1835 – February 16, 1916

recorded by Helen Williams Spickler

May 15, 1966

 It was my privilege to know my Grandmother the first sixteen years of my life.  “Grandma”, we called her, while her own children called her “Mam.”  This is the Welch custom, as we use the word “Mom.”  When I was a very small child, Grandma lived just across the road with Aunty Roberts, Aunt Jane and Bruce.  This was very fortunate for us, as they gave freely of their love and attention.  They were always ready to take us in times of illness or emergency.  Aunt Jane used to tell with great delight, about keeping us when Albert had diphtheria.  I was just a baby and Colonel was about three, and he (Colonel) told her just how to take care of me.

Nita Ray describes Grandma as very kind, tolerant and considerate.  She loved her children and their families, and was always interested in their welfare.  When I was about five years old, they moved to their farm home, about two and one-half miles away.  I still saw them as often as possible, and a week’s visit was a great treat.  Grandma was a small, energetic woman.  She ran her farm and raised her children with their help and that of helpful neighbors.  In reading father’s diary kept during the year 1892, we also find that after the boys were grown she often helped them and they went often to help her.

When we were small, the thing we enjoyed above everything else was to go to Grandmas.  She always had sugar cookies to go with tea.  It seemed that she always had a piece of elderberry pie saved for Dad.  How did she always know he was coming?

Grandma wore long, full skirts, as was the style.  Underneath, however, she wore a short petticoat that came just to her knees.  This enabled her to move about more freely when she was out of doors, like chasing pigs or climbing fences.  She enjoyed wonderful health and was rarely sick until her last illness, which lasted only two weeks.  It started with a cold and then complications set in, causing her death.  Because of her activity, alertness and keen interest in all life about her, she was greatly loved by family and friends.  Her passing left a real void for many of us.

One of the stories often repeated was about my father, Billy.  When he was a small boy, his favorite little black dog died.  His grief was so great that it made him ill.  Grandma got him another dog and said, “Billy must never be without a dog.”  And he never was, as long as he lived on the farm.

My husband’s father, Joe Spickler, told me a story about Grandma when she was in Shubert taking care of Uncle Llewellyn.  He had just passed the crisis with pneumonia and was limited to a very strict diet.  He kept begging for watermelon.  The more she refused, the more he begged.  She finally got the biggest melon she could find, cut it in half and took the whole thing in to him.  He threw up his hands and said, “Mam, what are you going to do, kill me?”  He turned away and never asked for watermelon again.

When I was about eighteen years old, Auntie Roberts gave me three of her books, and one of Jennie’s.  She said that she was giving them to me because she wanted to give them to someone that would always keep them.  The preface of her book, Mary Erskine by Abbott, described the kind of influence Grandma and Auntie had on the children and grandchildren:

‘The development of the moral sentiments in the human heart, in early life — and everything, in fact, which relates to the information of character — is determined in a far greater degree by sympathy and by the influence of example, than by formal precepts and didactic instruction.  If a boy hears his father speaking kindly to a robin in the spring — welcoming it coming and offering it food — there arises at once in his own mind a feeling of kindness toward the bird, and toward all animals in creation, which is produced by a sort of sympathetic action, a power somewhat similar to what in physical philosophy is called induction.  On the other hand, if the father, instead of feeding the bird, goes eagerly for a gun, in order that he may shoot it, the boy will sympathize with that desire, and growing up under such an influence, there will be gradually formed within him, through the mysterious tendency of the youthful heart to vibrate in unison with hearts that are near, a disposition to kill and destroy all helpless things that come within his power.  There is no need of any formal instruction in either case.  Of a thousand children brought up under the former of the above described influences, nearly everyone, when he sees a bird, will wish to go and get crumbs and feed it, while in the latter case, nearly every one will just as certainly look for a stone.  Thus the growing up in the right atmosphere, rather than receiving of the right instruction, is the condition which it is most important to secure, in plans for forming the character of children.

It is in accordance with this philosophy that the stories of this series, though written mainly with a view to their moral influence on the hearts and dispositions of the readers, contain very little formal exhortation and instruction.  They present quiet and peaceful pictures of happy domestic life, portraying generally such conduct, and expressing such sentiments and feelings as is desirable to exhibit and express in the presence of children.”

A few memories serve to show “how she was” better than lengthy descriptions.  As a small child I remember when spending a few days with them, Grandma helped me dress for bed, then tied a warm night cap on me.  I think that was the only time we wore night caps.  She had me say my prayers and the only one I knew was the one beginning “Now I lay me down etc.”  She said she would like me to learn the one she said as a child:

“Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,

Look upon a little child,

Suffer me simplicity,

Suffer me to come to thee.”

I had a little trouble with “simplicity” but she was patient and in a few nights we had it.

When I was older, perhaps fourteen, she gave me her trading stamps and asked me to turn them in and to use my own judgment in selecting something for her.  I got a milk pitcher.  She made me feel ten feet tall by saying it was so wonderful, and that I couldn’t have picked anything that she would have like better.  Every time I went to her home, she again expressed her appreciation and we went together in the pantry to see it where it had its special place on the shelf.

Her home was typical of pioneer home but held a certain charm and warmth that made it memorable.  In the center of one wall over a marble-top table, with the Bible on it, was a large, framed picture of Queen Victoria in her royal robes.  Whenever we asked about it, she would say with great pride, “That’s our Queen.”  On each side of this picture were Currier & Ives prints in deep walnut frames.  Over the sofa with cushions of silk and velvet patch work designed with their beautiful needlework, hung a portrait of our Grandfather.  When we asked about him, Grandma, Aunty and all the children would always say, “He was such a good, kind man.”

Grandma’s sister Mary Anne lived with her; also her father until he died.  They were both very much loved and very important in the lives of their families.  Auntie told me that her father had been a bookkeeper.  He took the weights down as the minder came in with their day’s output.  He kept all the records and books for the mine owners.  Nita Ray remembers, in his later years, that he made calling cards with beautiful penmanship, decorated with flying birds and other embellishments.  Jeanette Bright has his Bible and diary, where he recorded all the births, deaths and attending physicians.  Uncle Arthur learned the beautiful penmanship and we saw it on the signatures in some of their books.

Nita and I remember our father telling that when they, Catherine’s boys, had other boys in from the neighborhood, Grandfather would ask them, “And who is this you have with you today?  Do you think they would like to hear me sing?”

Mary Ann and Jennet never married.  They lived with and cared for their father until Jennie’s death in Ohio.  Jennet and Aunty were milliners and dressmakers and did beautiful needlework of all kinds.  We have two of her Biblical pictures of fine needlepoint.  “King David Blessing Absolom” was made when she was fifteen years old.  “Christ and the Woman at the Well” was made when she was seventy-five.  Guests in our home never fail to admire and comment on this beautiful work.


December 6, 1939 to February 27, 1927

Recorded by Helen Williams Spickler

May 15, 1966

 We were blessed to have had an “Auntie” like Mary Ann Roberts.  She, her sister Jennet, and their father, came to Youngstown Ohio from Wales on June 2, 1866, to live near Catherine and David Williams, as she was their only living sister and their only living brother was also in the United States.  They spent 23 days on the ocean; Mary Ann was seasick all the way.  She said she would never cross the ocean again.

They lived in Youngstown for fourteen years.  Mary Ann and Jennet made hats, dresses, shirts, and I think at one time tailored men’s suits – when it was all done by hand.  I remember Auntie saying that Jennie was 30 years old when she died in 1879.  On November 20, 1882, Mary Ann and her father, Llewellyn Roberts, left Ohio to come to Nebraska and live with Catherine, as Catherine’s husband David had died in May 1882.  Mary Ann continued her sewing for her nephews and good friends.

I spent many hours in Auntie’s room, looking at her treasures and hearing her stories of when she was young.  She had a china closet with glass doors so we could look but not touch.  There was a china lamp and china slippers; one was Jennie’s, with pink rosebuds.  Jennie had won this for being able to answer the most questions about the Bible.  The brass spoon and tongs they had used by their fireplace when the fireplace was used for cooking, was there.  She had two beautiful linen tablecloths; before leaving Wales her father had had charge of the Communion table in the church for many years, and when the communion was ready it was covered with this long, linen cloth.  The church presented him with this cloth as a departing gift.  Auntie had made two tablecloths from it; one was for Grandma, which was to go to Mary Jane.  I don’t imagine they were ever used.

Then we looked at the Photo Album – I would ask who they were and she would tell about each, her sisters, brothers, friends from Wales, friends from Ohio and friends she had made dresses and hats for.  She had pictures of what their homes looked like in Wales.  The thatched roofs puzzled me.  Auntie had stayed home and did beautiful needlework.  She felt her mother needed her as evidently she was not well, but Catherine the more adventurous had spent one year in London in the service of Queen Victoria.

Auntie told about Sunday in Wales.  All work was done on Saturday, even the cooking.  On Sunday morning they went to church services, which lasted all morning.  In the afternoon they sat quietly at home and read, mostly from the Bible.  They observed Sunder very quietly all their lives and would never do any work that wasn’t necessary.  When they were seamstresses, and someone wanted a dress finished, they would work on it Saturday night until midnight, but at the stroke of 12:00 they quit.

During the week, Mary Ann’s fingers were always busy.  She crocheted, did cross-stitching and hemming and things that needed neat handwork.  As she grew older she put her sewing away when daylight was gone as she could not see well by lamplight.

Grandma had perfect eyesight at eighty.  She had worn glasses at one time by they always said she had her second eyesight.  A friend, Thomas Harris, would send them paperback books and magazines from Wales.   One was The Life of Our Queen, which I now have.

Auntie was always busy outdoors in good weather; she loved flowers and had a lovely garden of all kinds of flowers, which bloomed from spring until fall.  All visitors were sent away with a bouquet.  This garden was fenced in, and over the gate was a vine, perhaps grape.  A big snowball bush stood beside the gate and helped shade the bench where she used to sit and enjoy her garden.  The flower beds went all around the fence and were edged with rocks.  In the center was a rock garden, with a high pile of beautiful rocks in the center.  All her friends brought rocks to her when they found a special one.  She carried a little pearl-handled knife in her pocket so she could cut flowers when she went into the garden.  She always sent some home with us – Nita usually go to carry them – she would give me a few so I would have something to carry too.

Harold Williams thought he had never seen anything so beautiful as that little knife, so Auntie got him one.  It was hard for such a small boy to keep it; then she would get another and slip it into his hand and say, “Now lose it, so I can get you another one.”  Every time she saw him she would ask if he had lost it yet.

On the other side of their farm was a small, rounded hill, called “Stony Point.”  It was fun to walk over there and see what we could find – a pretty stone for the garden?  (Auntie had carried many rocks to her garden from here.)  Wild strawberries?  Mushrooms?  Greens?  Whatever the season brought forth.  Nita Williams recalls Auntie and Grandma picking three gallons of wild strawberries.  Her comment was, “How did they ever get them all stemmed?”

On my 10th birthday, Auntie brought me a cross-stitched picture of a cow.  I still have it hanging on the wall.  I’ve always found a place for it.  She made one for Dad of a collie dog, with Scott stitched under it.  We kept it hanging in our living room when I was a child.  During World War I, she made a flag and donated it to the Red Cross “fund raising” sale.

Auntie often spoke of her Aunt Kate, a sister of Mary Butler, her mother.  Kate was Catherine Butler, for whom our grandmother was named.  She was also a fine seamstress and made beautiful needlepoint pictures.  She was an inspiration to Auntie and taught her many of her skills.  Aunt Kate had some solid silver teaspoons, which had been purchased in Cardiff, Wales.  They were to go to the Catherines in the family.  Auntie kept these after our Grandmother Catherine died and gave them to my sister Kathryn.  They are only to treasure as they bend too easily to use.

The Roberts were members of the Church of England and joined the Congregational Church in Ohio.  Gladys Rose says Grandpa Williams helped locate the site for Prairie Union Church, and bought one of the first cemetery lots.  Then he, his boys and Welsh neighbors, built the church.  It was destroyed by a tornado, and Uncle Tom, with community help, rebuilt it.  It has been remodeled since then.  It is interesting to visit the cemetery there and see the headstones of family members buried there.

It is partly because of my kind and loving Auntie that I am able to contribute to this story.  I don’t feel that I have made her come to life as I should – everyone who knew her, loved her.  Friends as well as relatives.

Kathryn Williams Eggen, daughter of William Butler Williams, adds:

“The six spoons I have are sterling silver, called solid silver at that time.  Aunt Kate handed them down to the Catherines, as it was spelled then.  Auntie gave them to me as Grandma requested her to.  They have C. B. on them; the box reads “Cardiff, Wales – James Trotter Barry, Watchmaker, Jeweller & c. Fancy Repository, 8 & 9 Duke St., Cardiff.”  Shortly after Aunt Ella moved Auntie into her home, she called up wanting me to come over to see her as Auntie had requested it.  Auntie was in bed and she gave me the spoons, saying it was Grandma’s request.  She also gave me the picture of the Hen and Chickens that Auntie Kate had made when she was in a Girl’s School in London at the age of 17.  I think I was about 18 then.  I also remember Grandma calling Dad on his birthday and telling him she wished she could come up to put black on his nose, and Mother said she was silly.”  (This was an old Welsh custom.)


Born October 25, 1884 – date of death unknown, lived to be about 80

recorded by Helen Williams Spickler

 William Butler Roberts was born in Wales on October 25, 1844.  We don’t have much information about his life, but it is believed that he came to the United States about 1862, near the time David and Catherine Williams (his sister) came to this country.

William seems to have spent his life in the north woods area.  His work was estimating the board feet of timber on a tract of land for the Lumber companies.  He was successful financially.  His first wife died January 1, 1892, leaving one daughter.  We found this information in my father’s diary.  He later married Arabella Irving.  His daughter married David Gordon Wilson of Menominee, Michigan and they had one son, David.

Gladys Rose tells of the year she spent with them in their beautiful home in Superior, Wisconsin.  As she says, it was quite a change for a Nebraska farm girl.  She learned to set a table for guests, with beautiful linens, china and sterling silver.

Arabella (Aunt Belle) was a small, petite woman, with snow-white hair piled high on her head.  Thou she was delicate-looking, Uncle William called her his “little iron horse”, as she was very capable.  She was an authority on Oriental rugs and would be called in by firms to inspect and evaluate the rugs when a new shipment came in.

Uncle William was a small man.  He visited Catherine a few times that I remember.  He was always perfectly dressed and a perfect gentleman.

 Helen Williams Spickler

June 1, 1966



 The oldest of the children was Thomas, born in July 1861 in Oystalyfera, Wales.  He came to the United States with his parents in 1862.  He married Mollie Evans, who was also born in Wales.  He was a farmer and carpenter.  His daughter, Gladys Rose, tells us that at one time he went to Cripple Creek, Colorado, at the insistence of her mother’s people, to try mining, but soon decided that “digging holes” was not for him.  He did work there for a time, shoeing the little burros.

Later he moved to Ord, Nebraska, where his brothers, Llewellyn and Reese were in the harness-making business.  He was interested in horse racing as he owned a horse that he thought held great promise.  Along with his horse racing, he also was building.  He built everything – homes, bridges, and even a racetrack, which when years later was used for auto racing, almost broke his heart.

Gladys remembers her father with great affection.  As a little girl on the farm she spent much time with him.  He taught her many things about the birds and all of nature’s creatures.  He was kind and patient with her at all times.

Later in her life, when she came home to live with her young son, Robert, she was to feel his great love and sympathy.  He took over the raising of Robert while she continued her education, preparing herself to become a teacher.



 Mary Jane, the only daughter, was devoted and loyal to her brothers, ready and wiling to help in any way she could.  She and he son Bruce made their home with Grandma and Auntie.  She was the helper in the Williams family, in times of illness and with new babies.  She also helped other in the community.

After I was married, she told me that she was with mother and took care of her and me when I was born, then went and stayed with Mrs. Spickler and took care of Creath (my husband) when he was born.

Grandma took care of Bruce when Mary Jane was away.  He was the source of pleasure to all of them and was the recipient of much love and devotion.  He loved horses and liked to care for them.  Albert Williams remembers that when Grandma moved from near us to the “old place” two miles away, Bruce rode the horse and Albert rode the jersey cow.  They were young boys at that time.

As a young man Bruce farmed Grandma’s farm and continued to as long as his mother lived.  Then he took a job in Omaha as a horse-trainer and was happy in his work.  When he was no longer able to work, he moved back to Auburn, Nebraska.  Murray Williams looked after him thru his last illness and until his death in 1956.

Arthur, Sarah Ellen and Curtis Williams


April 1866 – March 1937

 Arthur Williams was a farmer with a great love and interest in his horses.  He was called “Doc”, and farmers of the community would have him come to doctor their animals.  He was self-taught in this skill.  He married Sarah Ellen Lambert and they had one son, Curtis Williams.

He raised his horses on food and love; they were never overworked nor mistreated.


January 17, 1869 – October 2, 1948

 “Billy” married Emma Frances Lambert, a sister of Arthur’s wife.  He too, was a farmer, but had outside interests as well.  He raised Scotch Collie dogs and Barred Plymouth Rock chickens.  These he sold and shipped all over the United States under the name “Brookmere Kennels – W. B. Williams, prop.”  This was hard work and time consuming, along with farming.  He loved it but finally gave it up.  When the puppies were born we picked our favorites, and loved them all.  When they were sold we were all in tears, no matter how often it happened.

In 1905 the Auburn, Nebraska newspaper carried an item that might be of interest – it was a picture of colonel and me (Helen) with a beautiful white puppy with brown markings around his eyes and on his ears and neck… I quote from that item:

“Hon. Wm. J. Bryan is a lucky man.  On Thursday of this week he was presented with the choicest collie pup that had ever been bred in the State of Nebraska.  When he reaches Fairview Farm, Mr. Bryan will fall in love with the pup.  It was whelped February 7 of this year by Handsome Nellie, his sire being imported Emerald Galopin.  The latter has in his breeding the most fashionable strains of England.  The pup takes after the best there is in both parents, his coat being marked so that he is a rare beauty.  The greater portion of his body is silvery white and he has a collar of golden sable.  Appropriately enough, the silver and gold markings are in Mr. Bryan’s favorite proportions, 16 to 1.  Mr. Williams is and ardent admirer of the “great commoner; and is one of the leading collie dog breeders of America.”

Dad said when he noted the marking ì16 to 1î he couldn’t sell that pup – it just had to be given to Bryan.  (As you will note from the “tree”, William Bryan “Colonel” Williams was a namesake of William Jennings Bryan.)

These activities all required bookwork: correspondence, billing, etc.  “Billy” bought himself a Royal typewriter and taught himself to use it in a “hunt and peck” system.  He was a pretty busy fellow.


January 10, 1872 – death date unknown

 Llewellyn spent his early years helping his mother and brothers wit the farms.  Then he joined Reese in the harness business.  Their first shop was in Shubert, Nebraska; they later moved to Ord, Nebraska, and opened a shop.  After they gave up the shop he moved to Portland, Oregon, where he spent much of his life.

He married Bertha Skeen, who is still living in a nursing home in Lebanon, Oregon and is about 90 years of age (in June 1966).


December 25, 1874 – July 4, 1939

 Reese, having been born on Christmas day, was given the middle name, Christmas.  The youngest son of David and Catherine was a very good-natured fellow and was love by all who knew him.  As a boy he attended Higgins District School and Stella (Nebraska) High School.  he was married to Bertha Emily Anderson on August 28, 1898 at the Anderson home, 8 miles southeast of Auburn, Nebraska.  To this union were born twelve children, two dying in infancy.

Reese must have always been interested in harness making, as he had his own shop at the age of 18.  From his brother “Billy’s” diary we learn that he and Lew (Llewellyn) helped him get a job in Stella in a harness shop – later Lew goes with him to Lincoln, Nebraska to buy his supplies, and Billy helps move him into his new quarters.  Lew joined him in the shop.  Nita Ray states, “Reese was a skillful saddle-maker and made some of the finest that were ever made in the State of Nebraska.  Some are still in existence.”

Reese and Lew later opened a shop in Ord, Nebraska.  Perhaps because of the advent of automobiles and tractors, he quit harness-making to try his hand at farming.  In 1907 they were working a farm in Garfield County, near Ericson, Nebraska and in 1913 at Ansley, but times were hard and it was difficult to survive a period of drought, so they moved back to Nemaha County, to try farming there.  They were “burned out” of their home, nearly losing all of their possessions, and in 1921 moved to Peru, in order that the children might have the advantage of a college education.  As a result of this opportunity, five were graduated from Peru State Teachers’ College and three went to get Master’s degrees at other institutions.

After moving to Peru, Reese worked at the carpenter trade and excelled again in the use of tools until his eyesight failed.  His sons often went with him to help with his work, but he was nearly blind at the time of his death, July 4, 1939.

We must not fail to mention that Reese had a great love for music and could play (by ear) nearly any stringed instrument he could hay his hands on.  He was always in demand for playing when music was needed for dances, parties, etc.

His children and grandchildren remember him lovingly as the teller of “wild horse” stories and stories about “Old Duke”, their pony.

Helen Williams Spickler

Bert D. Williams


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