History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/William Williams
WILLIAM WILLIAMS was born at Huntington, Pennsylvania, December 6, 1796. He was the eldest son and for many years after the death of his father devoted himself to supporting and educating the younger children. In 1849 he came to Iowa, stopping at Muscatine. In 1850 he joined the expedition sent to establish Fort Dodge on the upper Des Moines River. He was sutler of the post until it was abandoned by the troops when he purchased the ground for a company of which he with Bernhart Henn and others were members. They laid out the town of Fort Dodge and secured the establishment of a United States Land Office there. For many years Major Williams devoted his energies to building up the town he had founded and of which he was the first permanent settler. When the Sioux Indians threatened hostilities in northern Iowa, after the removal of the troops, Major Williams was authorized by Governor Grimes to take such action as was necessary to protect the frontier. Under this authority he organized a little army of three companies immediately after the massacre at the lakes in March, 1857, and marched to the scene of the slaughter. A full account of the sufferings, achievements and heroism of this expedition is given elsewhere. Major Williams was nearly sixty-two years of age when he led this little army on its terrible march. In 1865 he wrote a history of the early settlements in northwestern Iowa, which was published in the North West, then the only newspaper in Fort Dodge. In this he gave to the public a full and authentic account of the Relief Expedition of 1857. He died at Fort Dodge on the 26th of February, 1874. As the founder of Fort Dodge and the commander of the Spirit Lake Expedition. Major Williams will have an enduring place in Iowa history.