coleman madison williamson

Early Cairo Resident and Landowner

The Village of Cairo recently had a submission from a future visitor.  This is a little history for one of Cairo’s initial residents.  Maybe you will find some of these people in your own family tree.

Coleman Madison Williamson (1831- 1920), Cairo Experience

 1883 ―  Coleman M. Williamson, born of Scot-Irish ancestry, had lost three wives and two out of         his nine children. The deceased still lie in their graves in south-eastern Ohio. After losing his third wife, Coleman had finally had enough of the Ohio and West Virginia country and for what        ever reason chose Grand Island, Nebraska as his destination.  After selling his property and    taking five of his remaining children with him, which included William Fletcher  (27), Charles           A. (17), Lucetta (16), Eddie M. (7), and Della (5),  Coleman headed west. His journey most            likely was by train since the railroad to Grand Island had been completed by 1866.

1886 ― while in Grand Island, another tragedy befell Coleman. His daughter Lucetta (Lucy) died at     the age of nineteen.  At this point Coleman must have had some connection to Cairo since     Lucy was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Lucy has two stones in the cemetery, one small             one with just the name “Lucy” inscribed located just in front of Coleman’s final resting place,      and another larger one with the name “Lucy Williamson Hare” inscribed. From records I have      searched I have found no indication that Lucy had gotten married or what caused her death.  

1888 ― Coleman (57) returned to South Lebanon, Ohio to marry yet again to Sarah Eda Brown (31).   Then returned to Grand Island where he, Eda, and one of his sons, William Fletcher operated a           hardware store. The store was called C. M. Williamson and Son Hardware and was located at       220 East 4th Street. He and Eda lived at 621 (612?) North Cherry Street

1889 to 1892 ―  Sometime between these years Coleman and family moved fifteen miles up the

         road to Cairo, Nebraska. This was around the time the railroad was completed between

         Grand Island and Cairo. Coleman and Sarah Eda had a child during this period that died in          infancy. This was Coleman’s tenth child and forth to die

1892 ― Coleman, at the age of 61 had yet another child with Sarah Eda, now 35. Topah Ari     Williamson was born on February 19. Topah was born 38 years after Coleman’s first child with         his first wife was born way back in Jackson County, West Virginia in 1854. Topah was         Coleman’s eleventh child by four wives.

1893 ― at age 62 Coleman is listed on the Civil War Veteran Census: Cairo, Nebraska (in

            South Loup Township). He had served in the (West) Virginia Scouts, 2nd Regiment from   1861 to             1864.

1900 ― census lists Coleman (68), Eda (42), and Topah (8) living in South Loup Township, Nebraska – Hall County.  Here Coleman is listed as a farmer and owned his farm free of mortgage. His          daughter, Della, now 22, who had married E. E. West, lived close by and       owned their own farm             free of mortgage.

1904 ― The 1904 South Loup Township map, which includes the western section of Cairo shows that             Coleman now owned 160 acres of land in Section 22 and an adjacent 80 acres in Section 27.       His daughter, Della (from his third marriage), now 26 years old and married to Ebberley         Ellisworth (E. E.) West owned with her husband 240 acres in Section 27 along side of and     below Coleman’s property.   Between the three of them they owned 480 acres of Nebraska’s       farmland just southwest of Cairo. Their property location was roughly three miles west of Rt 11       on both sides of Rt. 39.

1910 ― census lists Coleman (77), Eda (52), and Topah (18) living in Mayfield Township,

Hall County.  Here Coleman’s livelihood is listed as “own income”. Eda and Topah were            listed as “none”.  At the time Coleman owned several buildings in Cairo that he rented   out….this was probably his income. Coleman and Eda had now been married for twenty-one   years.

1913 ― Coleman made and signed his will on January 15. In the interim between 1913 and 1916              before his own passing, two of his other sons had died. These were William Fletcher, son of             Coleman’s first wife Lucinda Smith, and Edward (Edgar) (Eddie) M., son of Coleman’s         third wife Mary J. Day (Della’s brother). This was Coleman’s fifth and sixth child to die.

            Also in 1913, Coleman’s daughter Topah married Harry Hall, an accountant for the railroad in             Grand Island.

1916 ― Because of the death of his two sons, Coleman had to prepare a codicil to his will.

1916 to 1919 ― Coleman, now in his eighties, did what he could for his rental properties in Cairo and             farmland but weakened considerably.

1920 ― at the age of 88 years, 4 months and 24 days Coleman Madison Williamson died of

pneumonia and old age on May 19, 1920 and was buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.

His death certificate lists him as a “Retired Farmer”. His widow Eda, sons Jerome (J.P.) and             Charles A.; and daughters Della (Williamson) West and Topah A (Williamson) Hall   attended the funeral. The obituary states that these were the only remaining children of Coleman [and his number of wives] but that’s not true. Clinton, his only child by second wife     Sarah A. Waters, was still living back in West Virginia. By the time Coleman died he had      stood beside the graves of six of his eleven children and three wives. How much

grief can one man suffer.

1922 ― For whatever reason, Della’s marriage to E. E. West didn’t last, they divorced and she married             Harry Lowman. Della died two years later as Della Lowman in 1924 in Scottsbluff. She was 47 years old and is buried in Grand Island Cemetery.

1930 ― Charles A. died this year in Rock Island, Illinois at the age of 64. He, with his son Walter,             owned a second-hand store.

1933 ― After Coleman’s death, Sarah Eda lived another thirteen years and died on January 29, 1933.   She was a long time Methodist and a charter member of the Church Aid Society of Cairo and one of its original organizers. At the time of her death she was the oldest living member         She is buried beside Coleman in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

1939 ― Clinton died this year in Belleville, West Virginia at the age of 69. He was a lifetime farmer.

1946 ― Jerome (J. P.) died this year in Rock Island, Illinois at the age of 84. He was a second-hand             dealer and owned rental property.

1956 ― Topah died as Mrs. Harry Hall  in 1956 at the age of 64. She and husband Harry Hall are             buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

And so it all ended, the first and second generations of Coleman M. Williamson and his Cairo experience. But there are many third and forth generations still around….me included.

2017 ― My oh my, what a life!

Bob Kessler

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