John Francis Williams I, 1859-1939, merchant, salesman, oldest surviving son of Joseph Augustus Williams and Ann Maria Penny, was born in Newbern, North Carolina on May 5, 1859, just one century after the birth of his grandfather, William (Joseph) Williams, in 1759.
When less than three years of age, he was obliged to flee Newbern by wagon with many members of his family during the war between the states. The years immediately following that war were rugged and harsh years for both children and adults. Some of his brothers had to be "farmed out" to land owners near Charlotte, North Carolina, where food (and work) was available.
Formal education was not available to him during his youth; because of poverty and other unfortunate circumstances he left home and was "on his own" after the age of thirteen.
He married Annie Keenan, 1864-1908, a war orphan, on November 5, 1879 in Greenville, South Carolina. He died June 13, 1939 and was buried in Elmwood cemetery in Charlotte in a family plot which encloses the remains of his wife, his parents and other relatives.
There were eight children: Robert, Anne, Mary Agnes, Clare Elizabeth, John Francis II, Keenan Bernard, Genevieve Anne, and Frederick.