Category Archives: T.A. and S.B. Williams

Pictures and Archives

This post is rather short, but I don’t feel that there are many significant updates since my last post. I went home this past weekend, and though I unfortunately didn’t have enough time to visit my grandmother in person — my church was putting on a big event that I was helping with — I was able to get some pictures and documents from her through my dad. I haven’t yet had an opportunity to look through them in detail, but it looks like it contains some old pictures and family-Bible-style genealogies. This week, I’m going to start adding cousins and great* aunts and uncles to my tree, and this stuff should come in handy.

I also heard back from the State Archives on Friday before leaving for home. I had asked them if they could find articles of incorporation for Cheap John’s in Spartanburg, or for anything else of T.A.’s. No dice, unfortunately — which makes some sense in hindsight, I suppose, since Cheap John’s appeared to be a franchise, and since it may have never been incorporated even if it should have been. I’m looking forward to doing a brute-force sweep of Oakwood Cemetery with the class. In the vein of genealogical service, I plan on going to Greenlawn again, going through a section, and finding graves that are listed on the no-pics list — that should save the folks in the mortuary office some trouble.

Some Sticking Points

I have to say, my tree is progressing more slowly than I would like, probably because I have gotten in the habit of going through the hints for each person before adding another. I have something like 125 names in my tree and about 255 records attached, with about 150-some-odd unreviewed record hints. I also contacted my mom and grandma to ask for any family pictures they have, since the tree is rather barren of images at this point.

Another thing that I’ll just have to live with — but don’t particularly like — is that my family tree looks kind of underdeveloped in Pedigree View (but not so much in Family View). The man who is coded in the tree as my grandmother’s stepfather is the well-documented person; her biological father has a name, but no birth and death dates, which makes him hard to pinpoint since he has a relatively common name. Thus, it looks like there is a huge blank spot in my tree. The same basic thing happens with one of my great-grandmothers: her biological father is actually completely unknown, and the man who is usually spoken of as her “father” died several years before her birth. Part of me just wants to say this so that I can explain myself and not seem lazy because my tree looks “empty” — my family’s distinguishing trait appears to be its penchant for convoluted marriage situations.

There is a silver lining, though. When I called my grandmother — the one mentioned above — I asked if she had ever seen her stepdad’s complete service file. She said that she only had his discharge papers, and that she would love to have his complete file and might even make copies of it to give to her sister as a Christmas or birthday present. She did not even know that he had filled out a World War I draft registration card, or that he had been stationed in Charleston in 1930. The fact that through genealogical research, I could be able to help my grandmother to learn more about her stepdad, who was really like a father to her, just warms my heart.

Oh, and this post just wouldn’t be complete without a short T.A./S.B. update! I began to develop a theory that T.A. was lying about his birthplace since it was literally impossible to link him to a family in North Carolina. I found a Thomas A. Williams in the Georgetown militia of 1869 at the age of 22, putting his birth year in the right ballpark, so I thought this might have a chance at being him. Nope. This T.A. Williams died in 1875. *facepalm*

With a little help from my friends… and my priest

The Episcopal Church of the Advent - Records and History

I have been hoping to find more information about Sarah Burns Roberts Williams’ family, especially since I have learned that they attended my church many, many years ago.

I didn’t think that I would find anything until we visited the church as a class and searched through old records, but my priest, Father Ned Morris, suggested that I find a copy of The Episcopal Church of the Advent: History and Records 1848-1998, by John B. Edmunds, Jr.

I went to the library this afternoon (without Will – who decided it would be more fun to play with a friend), and I found a copy of the book in the Kennedy Room along with the other church history titles.

Edmunds’ book contains all records of the church for 150 years.  I now have a complete list of all activities of the Roberts family – birth, baptism, marriage, communing members, death, and burial (no burial info for Sarah).

Of course, I’m not going to give you that list.  Instead, I hope that you will find the book in the library and do a little research on your own.  Remember that the course isn’t about who finds something “first” — it is about encouraging each of you to go through the process and learn new research skills.  So even if someone posts the information before you, please don’t let that stop you from seeking the information on your own.

My Struggles: Updates on T.A./S.B. and My Own Family Tree

I went to the County Offices today to locate the deeds for the Williamses, as well as the articles of incorporation for Cheap John’s. I was able to find the deeds without much hassle, which showed that T.A. had owned a plot of land on S. Church St. since 1881. This may be what appeared to be John St. in the census of 1900, under the name “Theodore Williams.”


On the subject of articles of incorporation, I was much less fortunate. It turns out that, prior to 1895 (I think that is the date I was told today, at least), incorporation was not handled uniformly and was mostly the responsibility of county or even town governments. More recent articles of incorporation are in Columbia, either in the Archives or the Secretary of State’s Office, but if Cheap John’s had even been incorporated at all, the papers would be in either the County Building or the Archives (if we’re lucky). Of course, no one seemed to know quite where inside the County Building those records would be. I called the Archives and gave the reference librarian the relevant information, and he said I could expect a response in about a week.

I happened to have the idea to search the state Archives just to see if I could find anything — articles of incorporation aren’t indexed on the website. I found a Roll Call for the Georgetown militia in 1869 listing a Thomas A. Williams as a white, 22-year-old male (which puts his birth year as 1847) on the 4th line from the top. This may be our Thomas, or it may not be, but if it is, it breaks past the barrier of 1880.

TA Williams Georgetown militia 1869

Concerning my own family tree, I can already feel that it will make things harder not having many birth dates or any written genealogies to rely on for my mom’s side of the family. That said, I discovered that one of my ancestors died on my birthday, which I thought was pretty cool. My approach right now is to focus on one branch of my family tree at a time, rather than going generation-by-generation, and I’ll add in cousins and aunts and uncles after adding all my direct ancestors, unless I hit a road block and need to do so as a workaround.

The Saga Continues: Sleuthing Around in the Library and Courthouse

Hi, all! This is Zack. This afternoon (technically, at the time of this writing, yesterday afternoon), Erin and I went to the library to try to find some deeper information on Alice Williams. Like Eli and Sapana, we found Alice’s obituary, which listed her death date as 16 Jun 1936. I’ll try not to repeat anything that’s been said, but I want to give a brief rundown of our thought process.

While Erin was looking up the obit, I was working on tracking down the file number for T.A.’s, S.B.’s, and Alice’s wills. This was rather awkward because the microfilm for the wills does not have a main index at the beginning; you have to scroll through to sectional indices. Sarah had no will on file, likely because, as a wife whose husband is living, she had not made a will, and so her entire estate passed to T.A. by intestate rules. T.A. and Alice did have ones on file, however. I noted their individual file numbers so that we could look them up at Probate. (T.A.’s was 7342 and Alice’s was 11007, in case you want to take a look at them.)

But at this point, we did not know if this was the right Alice, or just a happy coincidence. The will indices listed a “date” as 19 Aug 1936. Not knowing what this “date” was, I asked the reference librarian, who said that the “date” is the day the estate was resolved through Probate Court. This squares up nicely with the death date in the obituary, but we wanted a little more proof in order to substantiate that this was in fact our Alice.

We looked up the Census of 1920, which listed Sarah’s age as 56, giving a likely birth year of 1864 +/- 1 year. We then traced her death certificate through, which listed her birth date as 26 Jun 1864, her death date as 16 Jun 1936, and her parents: James W. Metze (sic) and Sarah E. Swain. All this information taken together gave us, we thought, a pretty thorough vital profile of Alice Williams. As a bonus, it listed her first married name, McGorty (also spelled McGarty) and her burial place, Oakwood. The plats of Oakwood listed her as Susan Barbara Alice McGorty. This woman’s full name was therefore Susan Barbara Alice Metz McGorty Williams, the first 3 being given names and the last 3 being family names. No wonder she was so difficult to find. These plats also listed family members and their vital dates and relationships; Erin put these in her Williams family tree and is working on merging them with Catherine’s.

Death certificate for Alice Williams

Next, we headed over to Probate Court (which, if you were wondering, has about the worst parking configuration of any building I’ve visited in Spartanburg). At first, the receptionist insisted that there were no wills under the name T.A. Williams or Alice Williams, but when she entered the file number, the two records appeared. We went into the Probate room where everyday people can search for proceedings on computers, but, as luck would have it, our wills were on microfilm.

The majority of the pages were legal mumbo-jumbo, but a few interesting things appeared. T.A. actually died intestate (meaning without a specified will), so his estate was appraised and divided according to probate rules by his estate’s administrator, L.W. Perrin. I’m not an expert on estate law at all, so I don’t exactly know why T.A. has a probate record but Sarah does not, assuming that both died intestate. Most of his estate was directed towards family members: Alice Williams, Mrs. A.O. Thomas, Mr. Geddie (?) Williams, Willie Williams, Ed Williams, and Clemmie Williams McAbee. Some legal hurdles were encountered because of Mrs. McAbee’s death, resulting in some more records (yay!).

TA Williams estate allotments

Examination during probate of TA Williams

Alice Williams left a bedroom suite to Annie McGraw, her niece, and the rest to her sister, Hattie McGraw. Her executor, William R. McGraw, was Hattie’s husband. She left a $1500 mortgage and a $200 “note for interest” to be used to pay off her debts. That’s about all; the will itself only takes up half a page, remarkably.

Alice Williams will

We then went back to Wofford to pick up Erin’s roommate so she could join in on the quest. From there, we went to Oakwood Cemetery, located the plot where Alice is buried and photographed the graves, but Eli and Sapana beat us to the punch.

The next step, I think, is to investigate the beneficiaries (as well as the administrator, L.W. Perrin) of T.A.’s estate — that will probably give a clue of some sort. (As I say this, I think of Dr. Lawton’s “yeah-I’ve-already-tried-that” face.)

Susan Barbara Alice McGorty Williams

Zach and I went to the library today and found much of the same information that Eli and Sapana found, so I won’t repeat everything they said. The only addition I’d like to make is to say that the gravestone marked Susan Barbara Alice is actually our Mrs. Alice WIlliams! We confirmed this based on the birth and death records we have for her. She married James McGorty first, but he died in 1915. Sarah died in 1917. That means that Alice married Thomas sometime between 1917 and his death in 1921.

Unfortunately, as Sapana pointed out, the McGraw/McGorty plot in Oakwood is home to Alice, but not Thomas, since she is buried with her first husband (and with no mention of her being Mrs. Alice Williams at the time of her death!)

So, Thomas and Sarah are still MIA, but we now know who Alice is and a lot of her family members!

Obituaries and Alice Metz’ Family

After class today, Eli and I (Sapana) went to the library to see if we could find where Alice was buried. While on the hunt, we came across the obituaries of both Thomas A. Williams and Alice Williams.

Using, we looked at census records (the 1930 census) to find Alice’s family. In that way, we were hoping to see if there was a family plot that Alice was buried in, and if there was a chance that T.A. Williams could’ve been buried there so that she could be laid to rest along side him once she dies. We discovered that there was, in fact, a family plot in Oakwood Cemetary, and buried in it was her sister Harriet Metz with her husband William R. McGraw.

Alice’s obituary says that the “funeral service will be conducted at the M. W. Bobo funeral chapel [and] internment will be in Oakwood Cemetary.” It’s possible that both Alice and Thomas could be buried in graves in Oakwood that have marred grave markers. It’s also possible that the Bobo Funeral Chapel will have records of where Alice was buried, which if we’re lucky, could also be where T. A. Williams is also.


T.A. and S.B. Williams Gallery

View the collection of images we’ve gathered about our mystery couple.