Williams, Amos

Born: 1794-06-15 Franklin County, Pennsylvania

Died: 1857-11-15 Vermilion County, Illinois

Flourished: Vermilion County, Illinois

Williams was an early pioneer of Vermilion County, Illinois. In 1820 and 1821, he traveled and surveyed land in central and southern Illinois. In 1821, he migrated via Vincennes and Terre Haute to Illinois, settling in Clark County. From 1821 to 1824, he surveyed and taught school near Paris. He assisted in the formation of Edgar County in 1823 and surveyed Paris. He became the first clerk of the County Commissioners' Court and Circuit Court of Edgar County. In March 1826, he married Martha Shaw. In April, he and his wife moved to Butler's Point in what would become Vermilion County. Williams became the first clerk of the County Commissioners' Court of Vermilion County, which met at Butler's Point. Williams also became the postmaster. Not liking Butler's Point, he proved instrumental moving the county seat to Danville. He moved to Danville in April 1827, and he became a pillar of the new community. He served as clerk of the County Commissioners' Court from the county's inception until 1843, clerk of the Circuit Court for twenty-five years, postmaster, notary public, county agent, master in chancery, and register of saline lands. Beyond his government positions, Williams promoted churches, newspapers, schools, and railroads; he erected mills and mill dams; and he dabbled in mechanical innovation, inventing a mill wheel and corresponding with Abraham Lincoln, a friend from the Eighth Judicial Circuit, attempting to obtain a patent for it. Though a Whig in politics, Williams proved popular with state officials and politicians from all political persuasions, carrying out an extensive correspondence with judges, lawyers, and state legislators.

Gravestone, Block 6, Spring Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum, Danville, IL; For legal cases involving Williams and Lincoln, search "Williams, Amos," Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Edgar County, 21 March 1826, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Flora Woodbury, "Amos Williams: Danville Pioneer," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 26, No. 3 (October 1933), 312-15; Jack Moore Williams, History of Vermilion County Illinois (Topeka and Indianapolis: Historical Publishing, 1930), 1:153-54.