Our County History by Coplen

Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

Every now and then in this column we like to pay tribute to one of our county's outstanding citizens of yesteryear. Such a man was William Williams, the subject of this sketch today.

In 1836 as a boy of 15, Williams was one of the chain carriers who helped survey the original plat of Warsaw. At 31 he was Whig candidate for Lieutenant-Governor of Indiana. When he was 45 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives on the Republican ticket, and was reelected for three more terms, serving a total of eight years as our representative in the nation's capital. His greatest achievement came in 1881, when President Garfield appointed the sixty year old Warsawan as charge d'affaires to Uruguay.

The Williams family moved to Indiana from Ohio in 1836 and settled about two miles north of Warsaw. As a boy he worked as a clerk in William J. Pope's general store, one of Warsaw's first business establishments. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1845.

Williams soon began to run for public office, because in those days politics offered a young man an excellent avenue to success. When he ran for Lieutenant-Governor he and his opponent, Ashbel P. Willard held joint-debates in sixty-five counties traveling almost all the way in horse and buggy, because in 1852 there were few railroads in the state.

Williams was a real estate promoter as well as a lawyer and politician. At one time he owned considerable land in East Warsaw. In fact, he built a street railway (using horse-drawn cars) from downtown Warsaw to his real estate holdings east of Bronson street.

One of Williams' greatest political assets was his remarkable speaking ability. His services were in great demand, especially during political campaigns.

Just before Williams left Warsaw to take up his state department position in South America, the people of Warsaw staged a mass demonstration in his honor and presented him with a gold watch.

Warsaw Times-Union Tues. July 28, 1953