Raleigh, North Carolina: The Death of Thomas H. Williams, Oberlin Cemetery

Thomas H. Willliams


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Mr. Thomas H. Williams, who was born October 10, 1830, in Pittsboro, N. C., died at his residence in Oberlin on January 11, 1898. He came to Raleigh in 1866 and in the fall of the same year moved to Oberlin, where he resided until his death. He was a carpenter, and for about thirty years was in the employ of the late Mr. Thomas H. Briggs. He enjoyed the confidence and respect of all of our citizens. His was a Christian life. He leaves a wife, six sons, two daughters and twelve grandchildren to mourn his loss. His funeral, which was largely attended by people of both races, was preached at the M. E. Church in Oberlin Wednesday of last week by Rev. R. H. W. Leak, assisted by Revs. McDonald and Nunn. He was an old and honored member of Excelsior Lodge of F. and A. Masons, and was buried with Masonic honors by the fraternity, M. W., James H. Young, Grand Master, at the request of the W. M., J. J. Worlds, officiating. We extend our sympathy to the bereaved ones. – The Gazette, January 22, 1898.

Chatham County Township Map. chathamnc.org

In the 1870 Census, Thomas H. Williams is documented in Raleigh’s East Ward, a carpenter by occupation. He was recorded in possession of personal property assessed at $100, and real estate assessed at $300, a one and three-quarter acre parcel purchased of grantor L. W. Peck for $90 in 1869 (Wake County DB 27, p. 427). Also documented in the household are his wife Ann Eliza (nee Telfair, 30, unable to write), daughters Mary (15), Lucy (13), and Mariah (10), and sons Thomas (8), John (5), Walker (3), and Joshua (3 mos.).

By 1880, the family is documented in Raleigh Township. Thomas (50), a house carpenter, and wife Ann Eliza (38) “keeps house.” Also in the household are sons Thomas (18), John (16), Walker (13), Joseph (Joshua, 10), George (8), Theodore (5), Peter (2), and William (8 mos.). Daughter Lucy (22), is noted as “at school,”, and daughter Maria (20), a “wash woman.”

Thomas H. Williams was reported ill in the January 9, 1897 edition of the Gazette (Raleigh, NC). His son, Joseph, an instructor in Greensboro, North Carolina, came to visit him over the Christmas holiday.

The Gazette, January 9, 1897.

Thomas H. Williams passed away the following year. Although his obituary does not specify a cemetery, as a lifelong Oberlin Village resident, he is likely buried in historic Oberlin cemetery. Oberlin has received several preservation grants, has a dedicated advocacy group, and is currently on the National Register of Historic Places. I’ve added Thomas to Oberlin Cemetery’s listing on Findagrave, but will be prepared to change it should his grave be found in another cemetery.

Oberlin Cemetery, March 1, 2013

Photo: Nadia K. Orton. All rights reserved.
Photo: Nadia K. Orton. All rights reserved.
Photo: Nadia K. Orton. All rights reserved.
Photo: Nadia K. Orton. All rights reserved.
Photo: Nadia K. Orton. All rights reserved.

As Thomas H. Williams was a property owner prior to his death, I checked to see if he’d filed a will. I located one in Wake County records.

In the Name of God, Amen, I Thomas Williams, being of sound mind but of feeble body and realizing the uncertainty of life, do make this my last will and testament.

  • Item 1st: I give to my beloved wife Ann Eliza Williams all the personal property of whatever kind that I may die possessed.
  • Item 2nd: I give to my said wife, during her natural life the half of my dwelling, kitchen and lot lying and being north of a line running from Hillsboro road through the center of the dwelling and kitchen to a line hereafter described.
  • Item 3rd: In consideration of valuable service I give and bequeath to my dear son Walker F. Williams, during his wife, the other portion of my property lying south of the line running through the centre of the dwelling and kitchen as referred to in Item 2nd extending in a westerly direction to a point in the south line of my property 308 ft. 8 in from a point, the beginning of my south line of fence at the Hillsboro Road. At his point in my south line a line is to be run at right angles with said south line in a northerly corner to the line of the late Alfred Patterson. At the death of my said Wife, Ann Eliza the portion of said property herein bequeathed her is to revert to my son Walker during his life and at his death all the property herein bequeathed him is to go to his lawful children and their heirs and should there be none then it is to revert to the following brothers and sisters of Walker or to their legal heirs, to wit: Lucy Roan, Peter Williams, Theodore Williams, Willis Williams, Joseph Williams, George Williams, Mabel & Johnson Williams (only children of my deceased son John Williams).
  • Continued
  • Item 4th: The balance of my property lying West of the line as described in item 3  I desire to remain in my Estate until the death of my wife, Ann Eliza, at which time I desire it sold publicly or privately, to the best possible advantage and the proceeds divided my heirs as enumerated in Item 3  except Walker and his heirs. The income from the portion of property above referred to I desire my Executor to pay over to my wife after paying the taxes that are annually levied.
  • Item 5: I hereby appoint my son Joseph the executor of this my will and in case he should not be living I appoint my next younger son then living.
  • Item 6: I hereby charge my son George with the payment of any obligations I may have at the time of my death he having voluntarily agreed to see that they are paid.

The will of Thomas H. Williams was probated in Wake County Court on January 14, 1898. His estate was valued at $500.

Thomas H. Williams rests in historic Oberlin Cemetery with many of his family members. Daughters Lucy A. Williams Roane (d. January 31, 1926), Maria S. Williams Manly (d. February 20, 1931), and sons Walker F. (d. December 21, 1932), and Theodore (1875-1931), all rest in the cemetery. Son Joseph S. Williams, who passed away on August 12, 1939, in Greensboro, North Carolina, may also rest in Oberlin. Son George W. Williams (d. October 2, 1942), was interred in Montlawn Memorial Park, Raleigh, North Carolina.

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