Edward H. Williams III Family

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Gladys & Edward

Edward, Jean, Jacqueline, C. Richard

Family Information

Edward H. Williams III: born June 18, 1889, died May 15, 1971
Gladys House Williams: born August 2, 1890, died July 11, 1976 (See Obituary)

Married: June 19, 1914 at Hastings on Hudson, NY.

Edward IV: born March 20, 1915
Jean Adeline: born June 4, 1917
G. Jacqueline: born March 16, 1919
C. Richard: born March 29, 1921

Ned, Jean, Jackie and Dick. August 1962, Woodstock VT.

Biographical sketch of Edward H. Williams III

by his son the Rev. E. H. Williams IV and grandson David M. H. Butler

Edward H. Williams IIIEdward Higginson Williams, III was born the eighteenth of June 1889 in Bethlehem, PA where his father, Edward H. Williams, Jr. was a Professor at Lehigh University, teaching Geology and Mining Engineering. His mother was Jennie Olive Bemis, a Bostonian.

He was christened by Bishop Ethelburt Talbot of the Episcopal diocese of Bethlehem. He had many nicknames during his life: He was known as Ned to his parents and siblings and most of his friends; he was nicknamed Skipper by his daughter Jacqueline Williams Butler, a name thereafter used by his children and grandchildren; and he was called Ta-ta by his Butler grandchildren, a corruption of Grampa by his granddaughter Jacqueline Butler Zeppieri.

A wonderful photograph called "The Three Edwards" was taken when he would have been about six years old. He is on the left dressed in Little Lord Fauntleroy style with ruffed white collar, and dark wide horizontally striped silk tie. His father to the right of him wears a wing tip collar with a silk knitted tie, and far right, his grandfather wears a bow tie. All three direct their glance to the right, probably to the upheld hand of the photographer. Son and grandson look quite serious, but the grandfather has the hint of a smile about his twinkling eyes, framed by their gold rimmed spectacles.

In 1922 when Edward IV was in his seventh year, his grandfather "the professor" (as his wife always called him), stopped by from his house "Westerdale" to pick up young Ned. He had set up an appointment with J. O. Stone, the village photographer, and they were to meet Skipper there, in a few minutes. Young Ned was wearing shorts and a "middy" blouse. There was no time to dress up, but they ran a wet comb through his hair, and off they went. When copies of the second "Three Edwards" picture arrived they noticed that young ned was not wearing a black string tie such as a middy required. (Years later, Rev. Edward Williams drew a tie in, when producing a family calendar which reproduced both 3 Edwards pictures.)

Ned was the fourth child in a family of eight children, three older sisters: Olive, Cornelia, and Elizabeth, and four younger brothers: Norman, Amory, Wentworth, and Laurens. They were a lively and energetic group from all accounts we heard at family gatherings. There is a picture of the 5 sons on a beach, probably Beach Haven, NJ. In it the 5 sons are standing one behind another with the shortest in front, and Ned towering at the rear. The grins and grimaces for the camera are evidence of high spirited fun. But there are more serious aspects to the family life. One was the often noted event of Sunday afternoon musical events. Every child learned to play at least one instrument, as recalled Professor Williams played the piano. Skipper played the viola, and it was an Amati. Regrettably we never got to hear him play, as the viola was stored in a room in the great barn at Westerdale while he was away at school, and was lost in the fire when it burned. But his musical bent, and sense of perfect pitch made him a useful church choir member. And his children's upbringing included a Sunday evening hymn sing. He would pitch the first hum, and as each child picked a favorite hymn in turn, they were trained to pitch it correctly from the final note of the preceding hymn, or lose their turn to choose a song to someone else.

Edward H. Williams III. 1889, 1890 and 1902

From an early age Skipper had a strong bent for mathematics. Each of our grandparents encouraged every child to keep a diary, and many of his entries show a constant awareness of measurements. Just recently was found a box containing photo albums which he kept. The pages invariably note the date, and frequently detail measurements of things. For example during a visit to Gloucester harbor Sep 13, 1910 a picture of the breakwater occasions the notes that it was 2200 feet long, with "about 740 stones on the top ridge", and "each stone is 3'x3'x9'." This was in the summer following his freshman year at Williams College.

The family left Bethlehem, PA to live at Andover, MA to accommodate the secondary education of the children. His mother, Jennie, had been to Abbot Academy in Massachusetts. And Philips Andover Academy for boys was in the adjacent town. So during 1902, the family took a house near Philips Andover which they occupied during the school year. In the summers they lived at Woodstock, VT.

At first the stay in Woodstock was at the farm home of Hiram King, whose place had been the house of Skipper's great-great-great-grandfather, Judge Jesse Williams, and where Jesse's son the Honorable Norman Williams grew up. By about 1903 or 4 the mansion up at Westerdale was completed and became the center of activities, first as a summer home, and finally their year-round residence. Some of Skipper's photo albums give us glimpses of the house and grounds, and capture rain storms and lightning flashes, or sunsets and moonrise scenes at a period before the landscape plantings had transformed the place. The earlier photos show it as a large house at the top of a rise of land mostly used as a hayfield.

For Skipper, the years of schooling at Philips Andover commenced in the fall of 1904 and ended with graduation in 1909. Quite early in these years he was given a printing press and developed quite an enterprise. He advertised to those of the neighborhood "in need of neatly printed calling cards" etc. Gradually as his acquaintance with an expanding circle of school faculty families and other neighbors he began to publish a news sheet entitled "The Little Man". The family still has a number of issues (now over 90 years old). Faculty, family doings, engagements, weddings, tea parties, school events all found a place in its issues.

Grandmother Jennie and Aunt Olive have recounted to Ned's children of how he managed his time to accomplish this. It entailed newsgathering in varied streets in the neighborhood as he wended his way homeward after school hours. He then spent the time remaining before dinner in doing his school homework. After dinner he wrote the news out and then set the type. The copy would fill the two sides of a single sheet not quite as large as this page. Then to bed to get his sleep. He was up at the crack of dawn to print the requisite number of copies, and out before breakfast making the round of deliveries to subscribers. Home for breakfast, then off to school.

As a boy he was early caught up in the hobby of stamp collecting. He came by it naturally, as his father was a noted philatelist. Great Britain issued the first stamp, Nufables' Penny Black, in 1840. This particular stamp was printed in sheets of 240 with each stamp in a sheet bearing a different combination of letters in the two lower corners (e.g. upper left corner of sheet starts with A, A; the next row below B,A, etc.) Because these stamps were engraved it was possible to distinguish differences in small details of each plate. Grandfather was able to distinguish two such details for every stamp of all eleven plates. He had bought up the entire correspondence of a defunct law firm in England which gave him several thousand covers bearing the stamps of this issue, enabling him to develop this kind of knowledge.

Skipper, however developed two kinds of interest. First was to specialize in the stamps of the United States, and in later years those of Greece. But his sense of color was always very acute, and as a result he developed an extensive collection of stamps of the world exemplifying every known shade of the colors used in their printing. This sense of color was very precise. Often when his mother or sisters - and later our mother - were working in cloth, sewing, or in wool for knitting, they could show him the cloth, thread or work and ask him to go out to buy more to match. He never needed to carry a sample with him. It was uncanny but he always came back with the right shade of the color he had seen, if it was to had where he shopped.

Speaking of stamps, in September of 1909, shortly after he had arrived on campus at Williams College, in Williamstown, MA, the U.S. issued a 2 cent commemorative stamp recalling Hendrik Hudson's discovery of the Hudson River in 1609, and Robert Fultons launching the first steamboat in it in 1809. Most of the stamps were perforated, but they were also issued imperforate. Skipper bought a complete imperforate sheet. Over the years it became quite an investment. Before his death about eight thousand dollars. Today it is worth four times that.

In the 1912-13 school year Ned was a senior at Williams College, and had a foster sister, Charlotte Phelp attending Whittier School in Massachusetts. Charlotte had a friend, Gladys Edwards House, daughter of John Henry House, founder of the American Farm School in Greece and Susan Beers House. Charlotte invited Ned to be her escort at a school dance. At the dance he met Gladys. Somehow the engagement card for Gladys' dance partners ended up with more dances with Ned, than any other of the men present. In a diary she noted that she had "danced with men 8 times, but the best of them all were 3 I had with Ned Williams," By June of 1913 they had seen each other many times, and Gladys had been invited to Westerdale in Woodstock, the home of Prof. and Mrs. Williams.

Ned's mother did not approve of the romance. But her son knew his commitment would not change. Thus it was that Edward and Gladys were married at City Hall in New York City the day after his 24th birthday, 19 June 1913. Gladys at that period was spending time in her brother's home, Col. J.H. House, Jr. of Hastings-on-Hudson. She also had a sister Florence H. House, a professor at Teacher's College, Columbia U., and another sister Ethel, soon to become the wife of Benjamin Borrows Bliss, a teacher at City College in NY.

A copy exists of a letter to Gladys from her father expressing his sorrow at the deviousness of a secret marriage. But in time all parties gradually acceded, and so it was that they married a second time at Hastings-on-Hudson, NY on 19 June 1914 with many of the 7 sisters and brothers of the groom, and his parents, and most of the brides 6 brothers and sisters and parents in attendance. The honeymoon began on the night boat up the Hudson to Albany, and by rail thence to Rutland, VT., and by car to Barnard, VT, where his father owned a secluded mountain home and forest acreage.

The Dean place was their first home, and one to which they often took their children, as a 4th of July picnic site. On a clear day it was possible to see Mt. Katahdin in ME. During the honeymoon, Dad fished the brook which flowed from the swamp back of the house, and supplied their breakfasts.

The idyllic summer soon passed, but one special memento of it is enshrined in a photograph of the two of them seated at the side of the water lily pool, on the terrace below our grandparents' Westerdale home. That photo was always hung on the wall next to their bed.

In the fall of 1914 father entered Lehigh University to study for a Civil Engineering degree. He, like his father before him, managed to graduate in 2 years, among the very few who have done so. On graduating he worked as a mining engineer in Pennsylvania.

Ned and Gladys had four children. Edward IV was born in March 1915 at Bethlehem, as was Jean Adeline in June 1917. They were living in Minersville, PA when their daughter Gladys Jacqueline was born March 1919. Their son Charles Richard was born in Pennsylvania shortly before they moved to Woodstock, VT.

Ned and Gladys bought their home, "Shagbarks", on the West Woodstock Road, across from the Ottauquechee river in Woodstock VT, in June of 1921. Several large Shagbark Hickories graced the front yard. In later years several had to come down as they posed a hazard to the house. Their remodeling of the house was quite extensive, including changing the roof shape and extending the second floor. In the back yard they carved away part of the hill directly behind the house and built a beautiful stone wall with curved stone steps leading up to a terrased garden. The curve of the steps surrounded a small area where they kept an umbrella-covered table.

Ned had several jobs in Woodstock. He worked as a teller in the bank, he ran the movie theatre, he owned a Chrysler dealership (leading to a life-long devotion to that brand), and he was a surveyor and civil engineer.

His love of photography may well have been due to the fact that he was the grandson of the railroad magnate Dr. Edward H. Williams who was an inveterate photographer, a hobby that he picked up in its formative years and followed passionately. Ned's hobby led him to take up the quest of photographing as many of the covered bridges of New England as he could. As a retired man he would often take his grandchildren with him in his Jeep (and later his Landrover) to find another bridge that he had heard of and photograph it from its best angle.

His love of covered bridges lead to one other achievement. In the mid-sixties the old iron middle bridge in Woodstock was falling into desperate need of replacement. Skipper lobbied long and hard to have the replacement bridge be a modern wooden covered bridge. His efforts were successful and in the late sixties the bridge was complete. He took many a photo as the bridge work progressed.

He was also a very talented carpenter and woodworker. There are several small tilt-top tables he made for members of the family. He also made some very notable toys: An interlocking train set, a trestle bridge for another train set, a small "steam-engine" that a child could sit on and work the digging apparatus and later a futuristic rocket console with various switches and knobs that worked lights and objects inside a large box.

Ned was a member of the Woodstock Masonic Lodge. When he was clearly dying in the spring of 1971, a delegation of his lodge brothers came down to Cromwell, CT where he was staying to award him his 50 year pin. That was early May. His illness was such that he could barely speak. Knowing her father, Jacqueline Butler said something to the effect of. "He knows that they came too early. He won't feel right if he doesn't make it to the real anniversary." And sure enough on the morning of his true 50th anniversary he died. He is buried in the River Street Cemetery in Woodstock, VT.

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Gladys House Williaams - Obituary

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