This thriving city of 1,170 people, located on the west bank of Old Man's Creek, in Troy Township, was founded
by Richard Williams and laid out by him on May 20, 1856. It is situated near the geographical center of the county,
is located in a rich farming community, is a trade center for the surrounding townships and has splendid railroad
facilities upon the Kansas City branch of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. The nationality of the
people in Williamsburg and the immediate surrounding country is more varied, perhaps, than any other community
of its size in the state. There are representatives of America, Germany, Wales, Scandinavia, Ireland, Scotland
and Switzerland, living here together, all of them loyal subjects of the Stars and Stripes. The Welsh and their
descendants form the leading nationality group. They take great pride in their intellectual developments. But all
nationalities and all classes are highly intelligent, social, and full of patriotic devotion to American institutions.
With the exception of a few older people, all speak the English language, and all classes and all nationalities
fraternize, do business and associate as one common people.
Richard Williams, the founder of the town, was a sturdy Welshman; in fact, nearly all of the very Hirst settlers
to this community were of this blood. The names of Williams. Evans, Jones, Roberts, Davis, Hughes, Powell, Edwards,
and Harris are yet familiar in the town.
During the early years of the life of Williamsburg there was very little growth; in the year 1880 there were only
13o people who claimed it as their residence. The presence of the Rock Island Railroad eight miles to the north
of the town drew the trade and people away in that direction and it was not until the coming of the Chicago, Milwaukee
& St. Paul in 1884 that the growth of the town had a fair and sure start. Trade and commerce began to take
on new life; outside capital was attracted by the natural advantages and location of the place; and soon the country
hamlet shook off her rustic garments and donned her urban robes. Most of the old frame business structures have
been superseded by substantial brick buildings; churches built; the town incorporated; a system of waterworks installed;
a lighting system established; and with all, many beautiful dwellings; so that today, in some respects, Williamsburg
is the foremost town in the county.
Williamsburg is typically a livestock center; the shipments of stock from the town being one of the most prolific
sources of revenue. As an agricultural center the town also occupied an enviable position. As a trading point every
advantage is offered to the individual; the business houses are arranged around a public square, the latter shaded
with a beautiful second growth of trees and made comfortable with numerous seats for the trader. As a residence
town Williamsburg bears a good reputation. There is good city water and at present a municipal gas plant; there
is just being completed a transmission line from Marengo for the supply of electricity to the town, which will
be a decided step in the way of municipal improvement.
In 1885, the Town of Williamsburg having attained sufficient confidence and size, the citizens decided to incorporate
and accordingly the necessary steps were taken to this end. The first officers elected by the voters of the city
were: W. R. Evans, mayor; E. M. Long, recorder; O. A. Taylor, assessor; Benjamin Harris, J. E. Jones, W. G. Fletcher,
P. C. Powers, John Dobbs, David T. Jones, trustees. Following Mr. Evans, the following men have filled the office:
John Hughes, Sr., R. W. Pugh, H. E. Leasure, H. E. Blasier, D. E. Evans, H. E. Hull, A. F. Shotts, T. T. Osborne,
Benjamin Harris, Walter Harris, R. W. Yoss, J. A. Ogle and Ralph E. Jones. Mr. Ogle died while in office and Mr.
Jones is now acting as mayor pro tern.
The civic and commercial spirit of Williamsburg is inspiring. The citizens, as a whole, are ever working for the
better things which make a town modern and progressive. This work has had a decided impetus in the last five years
and the greatest change had undoubtedly come in this period. A booster club, composed of the townsmen, is the formal
way of expressing their cooperative industry and mutual sympathy.
The electricity now being brought into the city by means of a transmission line from Marengo and Cedar Rapids,
the power supplied by the Iowa Railway and Light Company, is the most recent municipal improvement. This will supply
a great help, as the gasoline gas plant which was established fifteen years ago was not giving the required service.
The city water plant was established twenty three years ago. Water is now drawn from three deep wells. The compressed
air system is used to force the water to the patrons. A cooperative creamery, built and opened eighteen years ago,
is another feature of the town. Also a canning factory is in operation during the season.
The first bank building in Williamsburg was built by O. B. Dutton in January, 1884, on the west side of the
square on a lot now occupied by the Farmers Bank. It was later moved to the north end of the lot now occupied by
the Williamsburg Savings Bank. Then again it was moved across the street on a lot north of the present Journal-Tribune
Building. This building is now located on the Story property in the southwest part of town. It was first occupied
by the Farmers and Merchants Bank, was bought February 18, 1884, by John Hughes, Jr., and operated as a private
bank until July I, 1884, when the Williamsburg Savings Bank was organized.
There are now three excellent banks in Williamsburg, all doing a splendid business. The Citizens Savings Bank has
a capital of $25,000, a surplus of $4,000, and deposits of $75,000. James Nicholas is president of this institution;
M. Harrington is vice president; C. A. Mains, cashier; and Harry Nicholas, assistant cashier. The Farmers Savings
Bank has a capital of $75,000 and a surplus of $78,000. The deposits average $507,000. A. C. Moon is president;
J. G. Lortz, vice president; C. J. Simmons, cashier; and O. E. Jones, assistant cashier. The Williamsburg Savings
Bank has a capital stock of $100,000 and a surplus of $90,000, with deposits amounting to $600,000. The officers
of the institution at the present time are: J. Hughes, Jr., president; B. Harris, vice president; A. H. Evans,
cashier; and H. W. Hild, assistant cashier.
Stellapolis Lodge No. 391, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons was established first in Williamsburg on January
9, 1879. The charter members were: J. A. Wilson, A. J. Myers, Joseph E. Jones, D. E. Evans, Charles Fletcher, Francis
McDermott, H. T. Ogden, Robert McEachran, A. P. McCallister, J. A. Cushman, I. F. Cushman, J. B. Myers, Nelson
Bruner, Thomas Ellis, G. W. McCallister and T. McPatton. The lodge built and occupied their own halal over the
frame building which stood on the site of their present property. The present hall was constructed in 1890.
Troy Chapter No. 117, Royal Arch Masons, was organized August 7, 1891, with D. E Evans as first high priest and
the following as charter members: M. J. Kelly, T. C. McFarland, W. G. Fletcher, Ed Blasier, W. E. Evans, J. J.
Jones, and M. S Anderson.
Williamsburg Chapter, Order of Eastern Star, was organized February 22, 1898.
Williamsburg Lodge No. 172, Knights of Pythias, was organized May 11, 1887. The charter members were: W. M. Beck,
H. H. Bartholomew, H. C. Beck, J. B. Vernon, Harry Choat, John Dobbs, Ed W. Evans, W. A. Gale, Joor Harris, W.
F. Harris, G. H. Hughes, H. E. Hull, J. E. Jones, Dixon Jones, Ed W. Jones, George Klein, E. E. Lloyd, H. E. Leasure,
A. C. Moon, L. J. McFann, A. C. Osborne, T. T. Osborne, A. W. Perry, G. E. Poyneer and William Vandenburg. During
1911 the lodge constructed a building on the west side of the square at a cost of $6,000.
Williamsburg Temple No. 129, Pythian Sisters, was organized on December 17, 1899.
Williamsburg Lodge No. 388, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was organized November 28, 1889, with sixty seven
Rebekah Lodge, No. 367, was organized in October, 1896.
Mystic Workers of the World were organized November 20, 1908.
Rees Lloyd Post, No. 403, Grand Army of the Republic, was organized September 28, 1885. Comrade H. F. Garrittson,
commander of I. M. Huston Post, 394, of Victor, Ia., was the mustering officer. The charter members were: James
A. Wilson, D. D. Boyd, I. N. Schooley, Henry A. Standish, A. C. Lewis, M. A. Sheitz, D. F. Moffit, R. C. Butler,
W. R. Stewart, J. E. Jones, P. Crinnigan, A. J. McDonald, Thomas Ellis, D. H. Phillips, John W. Carmichael and
M. W. Lyon. The list of members since the organization have been: John Springer, M. Fitzpatrick, James M. Woods,
James Laing, Thomas E. Hughes, C. S. Harris, John G. Evans, John Nash, J. M. McDougal, John Hughes, Jr., H. W.
Evans, E. L. Edwards, Peter McKenna, C. D. Popham, C. E. Ray, Hiram Dinamick, John Quinn, Ed Blasier, Peter Mumm,
B. F. Richmond, Ellis Hakes, Robert McEachran, Andrew Gallup, William Grace, Henry Soidt, Wilson T. Houghan, Ed
Roberts, Owen Slater, Rev. W. B. Smith, E. J. Pike, J. A. Story, John Mulherin, Jacob S. Funk.
One of the best managed and edited papers in the county at the present time is the Williamsburg Journal-Tribune.
T. T. Osborne has charge of the business end of the publication, while J. P. Gallagher, well known as a writer
of prose and verse, manages very successfully the editorial end. The paper is the result of the consolidation of
the old Journal and the Tribune in February, 1901.
The Williamsburg Journal was started by A. C. and T. T. Osborn in the year 1884. The Iowa County Democrat was started
by Art Dunne, but owing to the death of the editor and the paper as well, the plant was left standing without anyone
to operate it. Leo Kinney, and Harvey Jones finally bought up the publication and started the Williamsburg Tribune
in 1889. Then, in February, 1901, these two papers were consolidated and the Williamsburg Journal-Tribune established.
The firm name was Osborn, Jones & Kinney. In March, 1901, J. P. Gallagher bought the Kinney and Jones half
of the firm, and now the paper is issued under the management of Osborn & Gallagher. The sheet is independent
in politics and is a six column quarto, with over two thousand subscribers. When the consolidation occurred the
paper was moved into a building formerly used by the Williamsburg Savings Bank and is using this at the present
time, during the construction of a new building. This new building is to cost $6,500, to be of brick and concrete,
with flexotile front and plate glass windows. The foundations of the structure are of solid concrete, so as to
insure a minimum of vibration. The latest newspaper machinery is to be installed and the plant in every way, both
mechanically and editorially, will be one of the best of its size in the state.
The first school in Williamsburg was taught in the '5os by Minerva Long, who is still living. This old school
was taught near the present site of the Congregational Church. Another authority claims that the first teacher
was Mrs. Hannah Long. Later a two story frame building, located where the high school now stands, was used for
school purposes. Reference to this particular school building would hardly seem complete without mentioning the
name of Prof. James Root, Jr., a New Yorker who afterward taught as principal of the Marengo public schools. Perhaps
Mr. Root was not up to the full requirements of present day professors, but he was a fine man and a good instructor,
and it is safe to say that more successful present day men of affairs, who have gone out into the world from this
county, came under the tutelage of James Root, Jr., and his good wife, than any other teachers who have ever taught
in Iowa County. The first high school building was constructed east of the square on land which had been donated
by the town. The funds to construct this school were subscribed by the good citizens. The first class was graduated
from here in the year 1891.
In the spring of 1908 the need for a larger building "became imperative. The number of people in the town
had materially increased and consequently there were more children to go to school. The quarters then used were
too cramped for comfort and the best efficiency could not be maintained. Accordingly a bond issue of $20,000 was
subscribed; the election for the plan of raising the money was carried in favor by a large majority. The plans
for the new structure were drawn by George M. Kern, architect, of Ottumwa and the contract for the building was
let to the L. J. Crissman Company, also of Ottumwa. The building is of brick, with stone trimmings, and is three
stories in height. It combines with its architectural beauty, all of the latest ideas in school construction, aimed
for the best care of scholars. The equipment of the school is modern and adequate.
The Welsh Congregational Church was organized in the year 1856 at the home of William Evans. This is the oldest
church society in Iowa County. The first building was constructed in 1859 and the new brick house of worship was
put up several years ago. The original congregation consisted of Evan J. Evans and wife, Levi H. Evans and wife,
Mrs. John Watkins, Hugh C. Evans and David H. Williams, William Evans and wife, William Rowlands and wife. Evan
J. Evans was the first pastor of the church. The first Welsh pastor who visited them was Rev. David Knowles of
Long Creek, and then came Rev. George Lewis of Old Man's Creek and Rev. Morris Jones. The church at present is
prosperous and has a strong 'membership.
The American Congregational Church of Williamsburg was organized in 1857 with seventeen members by Rev. W. P. Gale.
He was the first pastor. The church building was constructed at Williamsburg in 1871 at a cost of $1,200.
The Presbyterian Church was organized in September, 1882, and since this time has had a steady growth. There
are now about three hundred members of this church in Williamsburg. This is the legitimate successor of the American
Congregational Church organized here in 1857 as mentioned above. Reverend Gale was succeeded by the following after
the close of his work here in 1862: Reverends Hill, Jones, Patten, Clarke, Archer and Ritchie. In 1880 Rev. W.
R. Stewart of the Presbyterian Church at Marengo was invited to supply the church and on October I, 1882, the church
was reorganized as a Presbyterian Church. The present church building was constructed in 1890 at a cost of S5,oo0.
There have been several additions and improvements made in the church property since this time.
Williamsburg was formerly the headquarters of a Methodist Episcopal circuit embracing Zion Chapel, Champion Hills,
Pilot Grove, South Ridge and Hickory Grove. The Williamsburg Methodists withdrew from the circuit and organized
for themselves on October 26, 1892. The church has a membership of 200 people at the present time and is one of
the strongest and most influential in the city.
The Welsh Presbyterian Church was organized in 187o by Rev. Thomas E. Hughes, who had charge for fourteen years.
The church is still active in the work of the town.
St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in the year 1904 in Williamsburg and a building was constructed
the same year. The first pastor was Reverend Zoliman and there were ten voting members. The membership has substantially
increased. Rev. Herman Greif is the present pastor. There is also a fine parsonage connected with this church.
St. Mary's Catholic Church was organized in 1889 by Rev, J. C. White, of Marengo, and was composed of people living
at or near Williamsburg, who were members of the Old Man's Creek congregation at Holbrook. The church was built
in 189o. Succeeding Father White have been: Revs. Mulvihill, Cassidy and Kissane. The history of the Old Man's
Creek congregation, out of which this congregation grew, dates back to about 1860 when it was served as a mission
by the well known Father Emmons of Iowa City. The present church edifice at Williamsburg is a large and well constructed
frame building with a seating capacity of about four hundred.
THE WILLIAMSBURG FAIR
Noted for its splendid exhibits of live stock, agriculture, culinary and artistic handiwork; for its racing
and entertainments; and lastly for its crowds and popularity, is the Williamsburg annual fair. This is without
doubt the superior of all fairs in the county in the lines of competitive exhibits and the equal of any in the
The fair association was established June 3o, 1897, with twenty original stockholders. George Poineer was the organizer
and chief worker for this association. The organization continued for five years and then was disbanded. It was
taken over and merged with the interests of those who owned the fair grounds. The first name to be given to the
association was that of Williamsburg Pavilion Company. The fair grounds are in good shape, with a good track, which
is used for horse and automobile racing, and adequate halls where the various exhibits are housed.
There was an old Indian burying ground near Williamsburg, in section 15. It was used at a very early day and
is now obliterated.
A postoffice was once kept by Ed Dill at his house in section 19, near the Pilot Township line.
In an early day there was a sawmill in Williams' Grove, on section to, run by Richard Williams and William Rowlands.
Williamsburg was at first called Stellapolis, and the postoffice was known by that name. John Hughes was the first
The Williamsburg Brick and Tile Works were established about 1898 and incorporated in 1901 with H. E. Hull, president,
and W. W. Lewis, manager
The Williamsburg Telephone Company was organized in 1899 and began by putting in a system confined wholly to the
town. Now the town is connected with the whole world.
The following quotation from a letter from John M. Williams, of Paso Robles, Cal., dated April 21, 1915, is interesting:
"I believe I am the oldest living man born within the Town of Williamsburg, though I have a full sister, Mrs.
E. H. Jones, and a half sister, Mrs. T. E. Gittins, still living and who were there before I was. I am the only
son of Richard Williams, the founder of the town and who died in 186o. He had also three daughters, Mrs. Lizzie
Baxter, now of What Cheer, Ia.; Mrs. Ed H. Jones, of Williamsburg, and Mrs. Jennie Jones. All are living except
the latter, who died in California several years ago. My mother, Mrs. Ann Williams, also had three children by
her former marriage, namely: Richard Pugh, David Pugh and Mary Pugh, now Mrs. T. E. Gittins. I can well remember
some incidents in regard to the early mail service, when John Hughes, Sr., was postmaster at Williamsburg. There
was no regular carrier at that time, so the boys would stand on the corner waiting for some one to come along on
their way to Marengo. Whoever this happened to be, he was created mail carrier immediately. The same one or someone
else would bring the mail back that night, provided that he did not forget, which often happened. Although only
four years of age at the time, I remember when the `Wide Awakes' were formed by the local boys and drilled in the
old schoolhouse lot or on the square. The regular infantry boys were encamped at Iowa City in 1861, but these Wide
Awakes were intended only as home guards."