I discovered an aged newspaper article that addresses my family history. The headline announced A Good Man Passes Away. The article then explained that J. Perry Williams, had been killed in an accidental explosion. He had been struck in the back of the head. The article said he was killed instantly.
Williams was born in 1867. He was married to Darthula Dunman in 1889, and the couple had six children. The writer included lines like, “This was one of the best known families in the county. Mr. Williams business was that of drilling water wells and has worked all over the county and became acquainted with many people who respected him in the highest terms. He was not a man of many words, but when he spoke he said something and no man had the respect of the people he had dealings with more than Mr. Williams. He is not a man that had acquired any great amount of wealth but prized honor above everything else but had enough of this world’s goods to live a comfortable life.
“His children are all grown and honest and industrious and are living a life worthy of emulation due to great extent to the example set by their father…He was a man who was always ready to lend a hand to those in need.”
The funeral service for J. Perry Williams was held at his house after which his remains were taken to the cemetery. The article entitled A Good Man Passes Away – this article that describes J. Perry Williams in such glowing terms – ends with some shocking information. It reads, “At the grave appeared 12 white robed figures, supposed to be members of the Ku Klux Klan, and placed a wreath of flowers on the grave. There were 12 or 14 others in cars nearby. They all disappeared as mysteriously as they came.”
Through the lens of history, that information presented as kind of an aside to the article lends an important piece of information to help understand what the life of J. Perry Williams might have been like. By the standards set by the inspired writer, J. Perry Williams, my great great great grandfather, possessed many positive traits. Clearly, he was a man of the community. Unfortunately, the article also calls into question just who might that community have included. Is it possible to be a "Good Man" while having other traits that taint your history? Each of us makes mistakes in our lives. Are some mistakes more condemning than others? Can we overcome such?
If he had connections with the Klan, I have questions for my great great great grandfather. If he was not connected with the Klan, I think I would enjoy getting to know him.
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