Biography of Charles E. Williams

This noted frontiersman is now a resident of Spalding, and to give a full account of the thrilling adventures, the weary and trying journeys, the terrible hardships, the difficult explorations of many years on the very outposts of the frontiers and in the almost impenetrable wilds would take an entire volume and therefore we will be obliged to touch on only the salient points in this review. Mr. Williams is a man of staunch character and uprightness and all those qualities that make the hardy pioneer.

Charles E. Williams was born in Springfield, Illinois, on April 22, 1847, being the son of Cornelius and Alary J. (Harvey) Williams. The father was a native of Pennsylvania, of Welsh extraction, and died in Illinois, having been a miner in the coal regions. The mother of Charles E. was also a native of Pennsylvania as were her ancestors, and she died at Cascade Locks, Oregon, in 1901. Our subject was brought by his mother across the plains to Cascade Locks, in 1852. She took a donation claim and. he remained with her for fifteen years. She married R. G. Atwell in 1853, an attorney of an old Virginia family. Mrs. Williams’ grandfather fought in the Revolution.

Charles F. was educated in Portland at the academy and when that part of his life was done, he commenced the operation of a pack train. He packed from Walla Walla to Helena and Fort Boise, which latter he helped to build in 1864. In 1871, Mr. Williams did the herculean task of taking a pack train of flour from Helena to Cassier bar in the Fraser river country. He had six men and seventy-seven mules. The start was made on March 18, 1871, and they arrived at the destination on July 18, 1871, the goods being for Perry Kent, an old Californian. In this trip, Mr. Williams built two hundred miles of road and came over the land where Spokane now stands. Following this, he took charge of a train for the Canadian government and for several years did excellent service in this capacity, much of the tune handling the supplies for the engineers of the Canadian Pacific. In this work he packed across glaciers where they had to cut steps for the animals in the ice and thus get them down the precipitous sides. Following this service Mr. Williams settled down to ranching and a commercial life in British Columbia and seven years were spent in that labor. Selling this business for eighteen thousand dollars to James Sullivan he came to the Flathead reservation in Montana and embarked in the stock business. A hard winter killed all his stock and then he went to Spalding, where land was allotted his wife and children. Mrs. Williams has two granddaughters, Maggie B. and Ida K. Elliot, who are good musicians and own eighty acres of land each.

Mr. Williams started to dam the Clearwater for the purpose of mining the Webfoot bar, but after spending three thousand dollars he failed, although he found considerable gold. Since that time he has been prospecting all over the country and now he has located the Lost creek, known as the Bill Rhodes property, which he has been searching for twenty years. It is doubtless a bonanza for Mr. Williams and his associates.

At Kamloops, on December 25, 1877, Mr. Williams married Mrs. Christina, widow of James McKenzie and daughter of Angus and Kathrina McDonald. Mr. McDonald was chief factor in the Hudson Bay Company at Fort Colville. In a time of great trouble between the Indians and the whites, Kathrina stood nobly with the whites and not only did many things for their advantage but in the fight she loaded the arms of the white man and never flinched from the trying dangers. This brave and noble action so touched the heart of McDonald that he later married the maiden, she being a beautiful woman. Mrs. Williams was highly educated and given every advantage that her wealthy father could supply and she is a gracious and accomplished lady of refinement and culture. She has rive brothers and one sister, Duncan, Angus, Joseph, Thomas, Donald, and Margaret, a noted business woman on the Bitter Root river in Montana, who has an immense stock ranch and who is styled the “Cattle Queen.” To Mr. and Mrs. Williams have been born children: Charles, married and farming his allotment; Mary, wife of George Campbell, owner of a hotel in Spalding and a portion of the townsite. Mr. Williams has one brother and two half brothers, Cassius M., James and John Atwell, the former a marine engineer and captain on the Columbia boats and the latter a contractor and builder at Cascade Locks.

Mr. Williams is a member of the Methodist Church while his wife and children are members of the Presbyterian, except Kate, who is an adherent of the Catholic faith. By her former marriage Mrs. Williams has two children, Alexander D: McKenzie, farming on the allotment; Kate, widow of W. Elliot, and now wife of Louis Forrest, a mechanic at Lapwai.

Recently Mr. Williams cut thirty-five miles of trail in the Eldorado country and is interested in mining.

Source: An Illustrated History of North Idaho: Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone counties, state of Idaho; Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903

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