|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.
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
Crossing of the Opequan on August 29th,
followed by an encounter at
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
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”.
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.
Family Search Ancestral Files
National Archives, Microfilm Archives, Film Number
M554 roll, 132
U.S. Pension Records,
17th Regiment, Pennsylvania Cavalry, Regimental