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Our Fallen Hero


The Williams
Rebecca Jane Williams Family


Of the remote ancestors of my mother, whose maiden name was Rebecca Jane Williams, I have been able to learn but little.

Her mother's father came from Germany and settled in Old Virginia in a very early day. Her father's father came from Wales about the time of the revolutionary war and also settled in Old Virginia. Her father's name was Elias Williams, and her mother's name was Francis Jennings. They were married in the year 1800. She died in the spring of the year 1841, aged about 61 years. He died about seven years later, aged about 70 years.

The children of Elias Williams and his wife, whose maiden name was Francis Jennings, were: 1, Anderson; 2, John; 3,Jesse; 4,Josiah; 5.Martha; 6.Delilah; 7.Polly; 8, Elias; 9, REBECCA JANE.

The family lived first in Knoxville, Tenn. From there they moved to Indiana in 1813, and from thence some years later to Illinois. At a very early period, sometime in the twenties, they settled in Morgan County, Ill., and in 1835 removed to Jo.Davies County, Ill.

Rebecca Jane Williams was born June 1, 1821, near Springfield, Ill., and died in Napa Valley, Cal., June 16, 1861. She married Florentine Erwin Kellogg June 11, 1837.

She was 5 feet 7 1/2" high and of rather slender build. She had very dark brown eyes and her hair was also dark brown and very glossy.

In repose there was a touch of sadness in her looks, but in conversation her face lightened up with animation.

Her parents and her husband being pioneers, all her life was spent on the frontier. She had a sweet and loving dispostion, and was noted for her generosity. Her charity knew no bounds, and never did an unlucky miner in the early days of California, or even a hungry Indian appeal to her hospitality in vain. Nevertheless there were circumstances under which she refused to have her generosity imposed upon, as the following incident will illustrate.

Although very young at the time, I have a distinct recollection of an occasion when a small band of Indians came into the house,indicating by pointing to their mouths that they were very hungry. She started to get them something to eat, when they began to help themselves to everything in sight. They were simply robbing the house. There were no men folks about the place at the time, and with two or three frightened children on her hands, it would seem that she was entirely defenseless. She did not swoon or scream or run away, but seizing a large butcher knife made straight for the marauders, who beat a hasty retreat.

In the days before banks were known here, many a miner deposited his gold dust with her for safe keeping. Her safety deposit vault consisted of a cavity mortised in one of the large timbers of her home, concealed by an easily removable plank in the floor, and know only to herself and her husband. There never were any runs on the bank, it never was robbed, and all deposits were promptly paid on demand. Far and wide the early settlers of Napa Valley affectionately called her "Aunt Rebecca," and her husband was called "Uncle Erwin."

She was an excellent cook, a bountiful provider, and a genial entertainer, and her home was a social center in the early days. Like her husband she was a faithful member of the M.E. church. The first Methodist class in that part of the valley was formed in 1848 by Rev. S.D.Simons, of which she and her husband were the only original members.

At the early age of 40 years she died, leaving a host of friends,and was tenderly laid to rest, by the sorrowing pioneers, in the old White Church grave yard, half a mile to the west of her home. Her death was almost instantaneous, and was supposed to have been from neuralgia of the heart.


"'Tis the picture of our mother,
Farther on she could not roam,
So she faltered by the wayside;
And the angels took her home.
Often now her voice seems calling
From the dim and distant shore,
And methinks I hear and angel
Softly treading heaven's floor."