History of Williams, California
From: Colusa County
Its History Traced From A State of Nature
Through The Early Period of Settlement
And Development To The Present Day
By: Justus H. Rogers
Orland, California, 1891


This prosperous place derives its name from W. H. Williams, a large land owner and on whose land the place was laid out. The town had only an inchoate existence, and was not known to the outside world till sometime in February, 1876, when Mr. Williams began circulating maps showing the advantages which would accrue to those purchasing town lots there. Many availed themselves of this opportunity and have profited not a little thereby. At this period it was foreseen by all that the Northern Railway would make Williams a station on its line. Hence, as the laying of the tracks day by day sensibly shortened the distance between Arbuckle and Williams, town lot purchasers locked in, buildings were rapidly erected, and when the first train moved into the place, the long continued ear piercing salutation of the locomotive whistle greeted a live little town of stores and dwellings, whose inhabitants were confident without being boastful. Much to the future advantage and peace of mind of this people, the tonguey and lungy "boomer" did not come on this train. The first denizens of this place were sensible business people. They were conservative in their ambitions and modest in casting the horoscope of their bantling burg, which could scarcely be expected, without more or less self restraint, from a people who had just laid the foundations of their town on a spot to which the fertile plains between it and the Sacramento River on the east, and the rich soils of the foot hills nourished by canon streams on the west, were to prove tributary and to find a market and an outlet for their generous abundance.

The railroad reached Williams and the first train entered the town June 23, 1877, and though it was a terminus for something more than a year afterwards, before the road was completed to Willows, the population gathered there was not inconstant or transient, as is so frequently in new towns built merely to catch a temporary trade, and then move on. On the contrary, Williams continued to increase in inhabitants, and the rude, hastily constructed buildings first erected began to give way to handsome dwellings and substantial brick blocks, to large warehouses for the storage of grain and to churches and school house. Clay having been found in the neighborhood suitable for brick, it was with commendable prudence and foresight that most of the business buildings and some of the residences were constructed of this material. Being a great shipping point for grain, the large frame warehouse of the Stovall-Wilcoxson Company, with a capacity for fifteen thousand tons, was built near the track at the railroad station, and on the other side of the track, the fireproof brick structure of W. H. Williams, one hundred and twenty by one hundred and twenty feet, with a storage capacity of ten thousand tons, was erected. Their presence indicates the chief business of the town.

The character of the business places and their number, together with the number of those engaged in the various trades and professions, are as follows: General merchandise, two; drugs, one; hardware, two; tin shop, one; furniture and undertaking, one; boots and shoes, one; livery stables, two; blacksmith shops, three; paint shop, one; barber shop, two; hotels, two; restaurant, one; lumber yard, one; ice house, one; meat market, one; saloons, eight; flouring mill, one; Williams Agricultural Works; warehouses, two; fruit and variety store, two; harness shops, two; millinery and dress making, three; bank, one. There are, of course, all the needful commercial machinery of express office, post office, telegraph and telephone. The bank is conducted by the Stovall-Wilcoxson Company, largely interested in the business of the community. The Williams Roller Mill was erected in 1877 by a stock company, but several additions and many improvements have been made to it since. It has a capacity of eighty barrels of flour per day. A foundry and machine shop is also an important feature in the industrial life of the town.

There are two churches, of the Christian and the Methodist denominations, with the prospect in the near future for the building of a Catholic Church. To secure the blessings of education, for their children, the people of Williams have shown a commendably liberal spirit. They have erected, at a cost of $10,000, a handsome two story brick building, comfortably furnished within, and both the building and the management of the school. are the pride of its citizens. In the way of public halls, there are two, the Opera House and the Odd Fellows' Hall, both of brick, and with ample seating capacity to witness any kind of amusements. A brass band aids materially in pleasing the public ear.

The only newspaper in Williams is the Farmer. Its initial number appeared August 18, 1887, with S. H. Callen editor and proprietor. It was at that time a six column folio, but Mr. Callen, with a young man's vim and ardor, together with a boundless confidence in the future of his locality, so enlarged and established its circulation that it was made a seven column paper. As a home organ, reflecting the sentiments of its patrons and agitating with zeal every measure for the advancement of Williams and its tributary country, the Farmer has, made itself indispensable to the business man and farmer of that locality. On August 1, 1890, Mr. Callen associated G. W. Gay with him in the ownership of this journal.

Williams is located in the Central Irrigation District, the main canal of which is to run to the west about five miles from the town, while the town and its vicinity will be supplied with water from a sub-canal. To accommodate the many seeking transportation to the healing waters of Wilbur and Blanck Springs, on Sulphur Creek, a tri weekly stage line carrying the mails has been placed on the route by Messrs. Smith & Jones.

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