Elihu S. Williams was born in Bethel township, Clark county, Ohio, on the 24th of January, 1835, and is the eldest son of Rev. Henry Williams and Elizabeth (Pettigrew) Williams. He worked upon the farm until sixteen years of age, when he started in life for himself. His education was such as could be obtained in the winter schools of the country district in which his parents resided. He worked for Major McCain and Joshua Peck and John Peck, Jr., farmers, residing near Troy, until he got money enough to pay his board for a few months in Troy, when he studied and recited to Prof. Arnett, of Troy, until he was able to pass an examination entitling him to a teacher's certificate, which he obtained from Professor Edwards and Barton S. Kyle, county examiners for Miami county. He taught school in the winter of 1851-52 in Brandt, and in the meantime he continued his studies, reciting to Professor Thomas Harrison, of New Carlisle. After the end of the term he attended the academy in New Carlisle during the spring term. In the summer months he worked among the farmers, and then obtained another certificate from the same examiners in Troy, and taught school in the Kepper school-house during the winter of 1852-53. At the close of his term he again attended Linden Hill Academy, in New Carlisle, during the spring and fall terms, when he again went to work until he earned money enough to pay his tuition for the first and second years in the preparatory school at Antioch College, when his money gave out, and he became discouraged and gave up (much to his regret in after life) his plan or rather hope of obtaining a collegiate education. He went to work again until he earned and saved some money, when in 1858 he commenced reading law in the office of F. P. Cuppy, of Dayton, Ohio, and by working in harvest fields and teaching in the winter he supported himself until February, 1861, when he was admitted to practice by the supreme court of Ohio. He then went to Illinois, prospecting for a location, and while there Fort Sumter was fired upon. He returned to Ohio for the purpose of enlisting in an Ohio regiment, but before he reached home Ohio's quota was full. He then located in Celina, Mercer county, Ohio. When the second call for troops was made he enlisted and helped raise Company A, Seventy-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and on the 5th of October, 1861, he was elected first lieutenant of the company and was commissioned February 14, 1862, and promoted to captain February 10, 1863. He was in the battle of Shiloh. His captain being slightly wounded on Sunday morning, he had command of the company during the bloody battle of that day, and fought with his troops until night closed the fierce contest. Captain Williams was with the brave Major Hart at Fort Donelson when the rebel colonels, Woodward and Johnston, with their commands, attacked four companies of the Seventy-first and were repulsed. He was with the regiment in all its marches and skirmishes until September, 1863, when, although he was the fifth captain in the line of his regiment, he was sent by General Payne with three companies of the regiment and a section of artillery to take charge of the post at Carthage, Tennessee. The post was established by General George Crook with a division, and afterwards held by General Spears with a brigade. There was a large accumulation of government stores there for the use of the army, which could not be moved on account of the low water in the Cumberland river. The post was thirty-six miles from any other military post, and the Confederate commands of Colonel Hughes and Colonel Hamilton, estimated from one thousand to fifteen hundred men, were in striking distance, but Captain Williams held the post until the river rose, so that the government stores could be removed to Nashville and thus saved. His troops not only held the post, but a part of them, mounted upon horses, captured and "pressed" from the rebels, rendered efficient service in driving the guerrillas out of the country and protecting the loyal citizens of that part of Tennessee. His camp was made a recruiting station for loyal Tennesseans and Kentuckians and by the spring of 1864 a regiment was recruited., which under the command of Colonel A. E. Garrett did effective service for the Federal cause. By the request of Andrew Johnston, then military governor of Tennessee, Captain Williams was detailed for organizing troops in Tennessee, and remained in Carthage until the close of the war. After the close of the war Captain Williams remained in Smith county, Tennessee, and engaged in the practice of law. He also took an active part in the reconstruction of that state, and was a member of the first convention held in Nashville for that purpose. In April, 1865, he was commissioned attorney general of the sixth judicial district of the state, and held that position until the summer of 1867, when he resigned to accept the Republican nomination for the legislature to represent the legislative district of Summer, Smith and Macon counties. The campaign which followed was exciting and at times dangerous, but he was elected by a handsome majority, and received the largest vote ever given to a Republican in those counties. He served two years in what is known as the radical Republican legislature of Tennessee. He took an active part in the legislation of what history calls the Brownlow legislature of Tennessee, and retired at the close of the term with the confidence of his party and the respect of the people. He declined a renomination, and refused to become a candidate for any political office. He remained in Tennessee until 1875, and was an active worker in the Republican party, fighting the battles all the more earnestly, because the party in middle Tennessee was proscribed, persecuted and in a hopeless minority. In January, 1875, he returned to Ohio and formed a partnership with his brother, Judge H. H. Williams, of Troy, to practice law, and has resided in Troy up to the present time. He continued the practice of law after judge Williams was elected common-pleas judge until 1886, when he was nominated by the Republicans of the third congressional district of Ohio as a candidate for congress. The district was then regarded as Democratic by a majority of from five to eight hundred. The Democrats nominated Hon. R. M. Murray, a popular man, who represented the district from 1882 to 1884. After a hard-fought campaign Captain Williams was elected over Mr. Murray by a majority of eleven hundred and thirty-three. In 1888 he was nominated by acclamation, the Democratic candidate being Hon. George W. Houk, a very talented and popular man, a leading citizen and a lawyer of Dayton, Ohio. Again there was a close campaign, and it was expected that Mr. Houk would be elected by a fair majority; but, to the surprise of all parties, Captain Williams received twenty thousand nine hundred and twelve and Mr. Houk twenty thousand four hundred and ninety-seven votes. In the fifty-first congress Captain Williams was a prominent member of the military committee, and made the record of an able, watchful, industrious member. At the end of the second term the district was gerrymandered, throwing Miami county in a district Democratic by thirty-five hundred majority. Captain Williams was not a candidate, and has not since then been a candidate for any office in the gift of the people. His career in congress was such that he won the reputation of being devoted to his constituents and untiring in his work for the interests of his district. When he returned to private life he engaged to some extent in, the practice of law, but devoted most of his time to journalism, being, since the spring of 1881, engaged in the publication of the Troy . Buckeye until September, 1899, when it was sold to W. C. O'Kane and A. S. Hoffman. Under his editorial management the Buckeye prospered and became a valuable newspaper plant. It is for the present generation of the citizens of Miami county of his ability as an editorial writer. In Smith county, Tennessee, Captain Williams was married on the 31st of May, 1866, to Alice Gordon, the daughter of Dr. Wiley B. and Virginia (Russwurm) Gordon. Dr. Gordon's father, before the war, was a planter and owned a large number of slaves. His wife's father was General John S. Russwurm, of Rutherford county, Tennessee. Dr. Gordon was a soldier in the Seminole war and a soldier under General Sam Houston in the war of Texas with Mexico. He was a physician, earnestly devoted to his profession and died of cholera in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1849. His wife died in Rutherford county, Tennessee, in 1841. Two children came to the home of Captain Williams: Olive Gordon and Henry, both of whom were born in Tennessee. The son died in Troy, December 5, 1885. The daughter, Olive G. Williams, is a graduate of the Troy High School, and for a number of years had charge of the local columns of the Buckeye. She has traveled extensively for a young lady, and with her uncle, Judge Williams, made a trip around the world, traveling east until she arrived at her home in Troy. She is a writer of more than ordinary ability. This biographical sketch is the record of an active, busy life, full of disappointments, with here and there a gleam of success. Whatever has been accomplished by Captain Williams has been due to energy, perseverance and hard work, for nature did not give him genius, nor schools an education. He was never ashamed of the poverty of his youth, or the fact that he was a day laborer. For him the energy of youth and the vigor of manhood have passed; there remains only the years of old age and the hope that his life has not been a failure.

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