Courtesy the Daily Progress. Photo by Mrs. R. J. Wojnicki.
In 1959, Mrs. R. J. Wojnicki reported that Mrs. Owen John Williams was the oldest member of Arvon Presbyterian Church. Mrs. Wojnicki’s lengthy article, “Welch Quarrymen Organized Church In Buckingham” (The Daily Progress), concluded with details about Mrs. Williams life. At that time, she had been a member for almost fifty-two years, joining the church when Rev. Plummer F. Jones was pastor. For over forty years, Mrs. Williams taught junior classes in the Sunday School, only taking a break when her sons were born.
Mrs. Williams remembered when the adult Sunday School classes were taught in Welsh. In 1959, Welsh hymnals were still kept in the church.
Born Sarah Louisa File, on December 26, 1872, at Ransons, Buckingham County, Mrs. Williams was a first generation American on her father’s side. Her father came to Virginia from England and her husband, Owen John Williams, emigrated from Wales in 1891. Mr. Williams first worked in Vermont as a slate maker, later moving to Arvonia. The couple was married in 1907 and, from 1928 to 1934, Mr. Williams served as Treasurer of the church. When he died in 1934, Mrs. Williams took over as Treasurer, serving until 1958.
Mrs. Wojnicki also noted that while Mrs. Williams was the oldest member of Arvon Presbyterian Church, her ten-year-old granddaughter, Anne File Williams, was the youngest.
For much more about Arvonia and its slate quarries, search the archives at Slate River Ramblings and enjoy the results.
Special thanks to Phil James for sharing the article from Charlottesville’s Daily Progress.