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John J. Williams, the son of Moses Williams and Anne Lloyd, was born in 1839 in Llanddewi Breifi, Cardigan, Wales. Moses Williams was born in 1783 at Llanf. Clydogau, Cardigan, Wales, was married on June 9, 1826 and died on January 24, 1863 in the same location.

Anne was born in 1797 at Lland. Breifi, Cardigan, Wales and died on February 28, 1885 at Lland Breifi, Cardigan, Wales. After migrating to the United States, John continued to remain a British subject; never becoming an American citizen. On August 27, 1864 late in the war, John, though he was still not an American, became a member of Captain P. Fitzgerald’s Company K, 17th Pennsylvania Mounted Volunteer Cavalry; also known as the 17th Regiment, Pennsylvania Cavalry, 162nd Volunteers. They were discharged some nine months later, on June 16, 1865; some say at Clouds Mills, Virginia, but officials sources indicate it occurred at Washington, D.C.

John’s company was originally organized at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania from September to November in 1862.

It left Pennsylvania for Washington, D. C., on November 25, 1862 attached to the  Cavalry Brigade, 11th Corps, Army Potomac until February, 1863; then it joined the  2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Cavalry Corps of the Army Potomac, to August, 1864.

After that it became attached to Sherman’s Army of the Shenandoah until March, 1865 and remained with it until it was transferred to the Appomattox Campaign during March and April of 1865, when it became part of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, until June, 1865.

The first encounter of the 17th Pennsylvania, after John’s enlistment occurred at Smithfield Crossing of the Opequan on August 29th, followed by an encounter at  Berryville on September 6, 1864. On September 19th they participated in the Battle of Opequan, Winchester, Middletown and Strasburg on September 20th, Fishers Hill on  September 29th & October 1st, Newtonia on October 11th and Winchester again on November 16th. Other engagements included Fauquier and Loudon counties, the Madison Court House, Liberty Mills, Sheridan’s expedition to Winchester, the occupation of Staunton on March 2nd, Waynesborough, the Appomattox Campaign from March 28th through April 9th, the Dinwiddie Court House, Five Forks, Sailors Creek, Appomattox Station, the Appomattox Court
House and witnessed the surrender of General Robert E. Lee and his Army. Afterwards they marched back to Washington, D.C. and took part in the “Grand Review” on May 23, 1865. John was officially discharged from duties on June 16, 1865 while the remainder of his company was consolidated with 1st and 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry to form the 2nd Provisional Cavalry; on June 17, 1865.

After the war, Williams returned to his home in Wales where he met and married Sara Jones, on December 11, 1878. John and Sara had three children, but they were not born until after they had already immigrated to Australia.

There was Thomas John born in 1885, Eliza Ann born in 1887 and William David born in 1889.

There is little record of John in Australia, until he applied for an invalid pension on October 28, 1890. That’s when he first appeared on the records of the U.S. Consul at Newcastle, New South Wales. As such, we don’t know when or aboard what ship he and Sara arrived in Australia. Information reveals John was a hard worker, toiling long hours in the the mines of Australia. During the month of September 1891, John was examined by a physician who stated his age at that time was 51, though it was said he looked a lot older.

He was suffering  from bronchitis and lumbago and was no longer able to work as a miner; which he had done for many years. Having a rather large “warty mole” near his left armpit, which had given him considerable pain for a very long time, the doctor recommended it be removed. In addition, his lungs were said to have been severely congested and that he was most likely was suffering from “emphysematous”.   It turned out William’s health problems were far worse than anyone knew, as he progressively got worse, and died on November 15, 1891; from “La Grippe and pneumonia”.
The early Flu Epidemic, also known as La Grippe, was an unusually severe and deadly strain of influenza; a viral infectious disease that went on to kill some 25 million to 40 million people world-wide in 1918 and  1919 alone. It is thought to have been the most deadly outbreak of disease in human history, killing more people than even the Black Plague.
Although John William’s application for a military pension was at first rejected by the U.S. Government on the grounds he had never become a United States citizen, the Government finally relented and a pension was issued to his wife in the form of a widow’s pension.  John J. Williams was buried in the old Congregational Church’s section of the Sandgate Cemetery; but was lost to time until rediscovered in 1991.

“History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers”, Samuel P. Bates

 Family Search Ancestral Files

 National Archives, Microfilm Archives, Film Number M554 roll, 132

 Sandgate Cemetery

 U.S. Pension Records, Washington, D,C,

 17th Regiment, Pennsylvania Cavalry, Regimental Histories


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