History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/James A. Williamson
JAMES A. WILLIAMSON was born in Columbia, Adair County, Kentucky, on the 8th of February, 1829. When he was fifteen the family removed to Iowa where he took a claim in Keokuk County. Here he supported the family by farming for several years. He then sold the farm and completed his education at Knox College, Illinois. He studied law with M. M. Crocker at Lancaster, was admitted to the bar and, in 1855, removed to Des Moines. Mr. Williamson was a member of the syndicate which built the first Capitol at Des Moines and furnished it free of rent to the State for many years. He was a prominent Democratic politician until the Rebellion began, when he entered the military service as adjutant of the Fourth Iowa Infantry and as the war progressed became a warm supporter of Lincoln's administration. Mr. Williamson made a fine officer and won rapid promotion to lieutenant-colonel, colonel and for a long time commanded a brigade. He was in Sherman's march to the sea and participated in most of the battles of that army. Near the close of the war he was promoted to Brigadier-General. He was chairman of the Iowa delegation at the National Republican Convention at Chicago which in 1868 nominated General Grant for President. In 1877 General Williamson was appointed commissioner of the General Land Office at Washington, which office he held until 1881, when he became land commissioner of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad, and afterwards president of the company. He died on the 7th of September, 1902.