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January 7, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Slate: John R. Williams


John R. Williams (1843-1901)

 Courtesy Virginia Cavalcade and John D. Williams

On March 22, 1901, The Richmond Dispatch announced the “untimely death” of John R. Williams who, though in apparently fine health, expired very suddenly.  His obituary began:

Mr. John R. Williams, one of the most prominent and successful businessmen of Richmond, died suddenly yesterday afternoon at his home, on Park avenue.  The cause of his untimely death was apoplexy.

                Mr. Williams was a native of Wales, having been born at Carnarvon, on March 28, 1843.  Had he lived seven days longer he would have been 58 years old.  He emigrated to America in 1868, and was one of three brothers who came to Richmond about that time and opened a stone-yard on Dock street, near the foot of Twenty-eighth street….

                Some years after coming to Richmond Mr. Williams became interested in the Buckingham slate quarry.  It was through his energy that this well-known quarry has been developed and made a great thing for the entire State of Virginia.  The output has been shipped to all parts of the United States, and not a little to England.

                Besides being the head of the quarry, Mr. Williams was president of the Southern Trust Company, of this city; a director of the State Bank, largely interested in the Virginia Casket Company, and a member of the company recently formed to develop the Natural Bridge property, and to make it one of the greatest of all southern resorts. His office was located in his building, at the northwest corner of Ninth and Cary streets.


                Mr. Williams was pre-eminently a level-headed, self-reliant, and well-poised man.  He was a superbly equipped businessman, and had always been successful in his business ventures.  He was widely known, especially among architects and builders….

The obituary went on to name members of the Williams family, including Evan R. Williams, his brother and partner in Williams Slate Company as well as his brother, Hugh, and sisters, Mrs. Jeffries, Mrs. McLavis, Mrs. Ellis Jones, and Mrs. William Jones – all of Arvonia, where the quarry was situated.

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