James and Sarah WILLIAMS’ Tennessee Plantation

(Had OGILVIE and ALLISON Family Connections)

Researchers working on our early Tennessee family history quickly discover the close friendships and family ties that existed between the OGILVE, ALLISON, and WILLIAMS families.

When James WILLIAMS married Sarah ALLISON on 8 October 1808, they brought the bond even tighter. Sarah was the daughter of Robert and Sarah (Ogilive) ALLISON, and granddaughter of William and Mary (Harris) OGILVIE. Sarah was born 13 June 1789 in North Carolina.

James WILLIAMS was born 26 December 1785 in Granville County, NC. His father was William WILLIAMS and the family was originally from Wales.

The newlyweds, James and Sarah, made their first Tennessee home north of the present community of Eagleville, east of College Grove. After their first child, Chesley WILLIAMS, was born on 22 July 1809, the couple decided that they needed more space. About 1812, they relocated along the old Nashville Pike, a dozen mile south in what would become Marshall County.

Their new homesite was on Spring Creek, which furnished plenty of water for the farm and a freshwater spring supplied the famly’s new two-story log house until a well could be dug. Slave cabins, a grist mill, tannery, saw mill, barns, and other outbuildings were soon added as the WILLIAMS plantation continued to grow. A blacksmith shop, woodwork shop and store made the farm almost self-supporting. The mercantile contained a general store, post office, wine cellar, and tailor shop. James WILLIAMS was a gifted tailor, cutting and fitting men’s suits form the finest materials available.

The fine plantation deserved a name, and "Civil Order" was selected because James WILLIAMS had said of the place, "Here I will have law and order." Civil Order became the name of the post office and family members have letters postmarked, in James WILLIAMS own handwriting, form the 1830’s and 1840’s.

James WILLIAMS was also a minister of the Methodist Protestant Church. He built his own church south of the family home and established a cemetery just west of the structure. Rev. WILLIAMS also traveled the region to preach the gospel and hosted Methodist conferences at his home. Large crowds attended the meetings, but under the WILLIAMS’ direction, everything moved along smoothly each time.

Rev. WILLIAMS purchased goods for his store n Cincinnati, traveling there by horseback. His supplies were shipped via boats back to Nashville, where wagons awaited to transfer the goods on southward to Civil Order. Crowds in a festive mood, would gather to watch the workers restock the shelves of the store with new merchandise.

After living in the log house for several years, James and Sarah WILLIAMS built a larger brick house…the first in the region. Every room had a fireplace and a wide porch at the front was enclosed by handmade blinds, similar to Venetian blinds of today, except heavier. The kitchen and cooks’ quarters continued to occupy buildings at the rear of the new brick home, as they had at the old house.

Cherry and mahogany furnishings graced each room and a stately grandfather’s clock was a centerpiece of the home. Cherished pieces of the furniture remain in the family today. Gardens and bordered walkways added to the charm of the place.

Rev. WILLIAMS proved many times that his wishes could be carried out. He even established a silkworm colony in his carriage house and had dresses for his daughters made from the raw silk.

In addition to his busy life at Civil Order, Rev. WILLIAMS also established a water mill on the Duck River, five miles away, and had extensive land holdings in Mississippi. His children were taught at home by private teachers who resided with the family.

Sarah Allison WILLIAMS died 6 October 1843 and was buried in the churchyard cemetery at Civil Order. In a letter to his brother, Henry, in 1850, James spoke of wanting to sell parts of his holdings and travel. He died 22 October 1850 without realizing his wish. He was buried next to Sarah at Civil Order.

Rev. WILLIAMS kept a strict account of all business and family affairs. His books have been maintained in the family and clearly show how he shared his holdings with each child reaching adulthood. After Sarah’s death, Rev. WILLIAMS married Ann POLLARD, a widow. They had no children and she survived him by about 30 years. She was buried on the other side of Rev. WILLIAMS.

The homeplace was purchased by daughter Sarah and her husband, Cowden MCCORD. It remained in the family of their son, Henry MCCORD until about 1940. Soon after the purchase, the MCCORDS built a large two-story addition onto the brick building, giving it a new front façade and plenty of room.

When the new road was built, it passed directly in front of the house instead of turning down to the creek and mill. The Nashville Turnpike and, later, the Horton Memorial Highway paralleled this same roadbed, placing the homesite two and one-half miles north of Chapel Hill.

The great house served until the late 1960’s when it was destroyed by fire.

James and Sarah (Allison) WILLIAMS had ten children:

  1. Chesley B. WILLIAMS (1809-1892) married Elizabeth JORDON
  2. Mary J. WILLIAMS (1811-1863) married Joseph H. BRITTAIN.
  3. Robert Norwood WILLIAMS (1811-1844) married Parilee ENSLEY (Endsley)
  4. Jane WILLIAMS (1812-1879) married Hiram MURDOCK
  5. William Allison WILLIAMS (1813-1902) married 1>Mary Wilhoit MURDOCK; 2>Martha HARIDSON
  6. James WILLIAMS (c. 1823-?) married Anne Eliza HUGHES
  7. Sarah An WILLIAMS (1826-1863) married Cowden MCCORD
  8. Elizabeth Angeline WILLIAMS (1828-1906) married Thomas Henry Petway MORTON
  9. Elgin T. WILLIAMS (1830-1900) married Rebecca Frances BOYD
  10. Martha Matilda WILLIAMS (1831-1864) married Alfred O. WILLIAMS

Sources for the above information include: "Cemetery Records of Marshall County" by Helen C. Marsh and Ralph Whitsell, "History of Rev. James Williams and Family" by Beulah Williams Howland, and date supplied by Elizabeth Thompson Schack of New York City, Ellen Williams of Nashville, TN, and Scott O. Fraser of Beaumont, TX.



The descendants of James and Sarah WILLIAMS and William and Elizabeth WILLIAMS (James and William were brothers, and Sarah and Elizabeth were sisters.) stagean annual family reunion at Henry Horton State Park, near the site of Civil Order. For more information about the reunion contact Ellen WILLIAMS, 5213 Overton Road, Nashville, TN 37220.