The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc. Chicago and New York,
Volume III pg. 36
Submitted by Gerald Bills.
JOE WILLIAMS is founder and publisher of the Pleasants County Leader, the
second oldest but the largest newspaper in point of circulation and influence
in Pleasants County and in fact one of the best edited journals in that
section of the state. Mr. Williams has been a citizen of invaluable influence
in St. Marys, is a former representative of Pleasants County, and was also
postmaster of St. Marys for a number of years.
His family were pioneers in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, going into that
mountainous section from old Virginia. His grandfather, Joseph Williams, was
born in 1800, owned a farm, but spent a large part of his time hunting. He
died in Greenbrier County in 1884. His wife was a Miss Brown a native of
the same county, who died in Kansas. James M. Williams, father of the St.
Marys editor, lived all his life on one farm in Greenbrier County, where
he was born in 1837 and died in 1909. He was a soldier in the Union Army.
At first he was a scout attached to the forces of General George Crook. Later
he joined Captain Andrew W. Mann’s Company of State Guards from Greenbrier
County, being enrolled in the Company December 1, 1864, and discharged July
1, 1865. This service was a particularly hazardous one in the No Man’s Land
between the Union and Confederate lines, and he had a full share in that
strenuous campaigning. He was a republican in politics and a member of the
Baptist Church. James M. Williams married Lavina McMillan, who was born in
1838 and died in 1905, spending all her life in Greenbrier County. They
became the parents of seven children: John R., who died on the Williams
homestead at the age of thirty, having taught school for a number of years;
Nellie Frances, wife of Moffat May, a farmer, stock raiser and lumber dealer
living near White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; Luelle, wife of Rev. S. A.
Moody, a clergyman of the Adventist Church near Macon, Georgia; Joe; Mrs.
Maggie Burns, who died on the old home farm; Emra, a farmer at Myrtle Creek,
Oregon; Mrs. Cassie Christian, whose husband operates a part of the Williams
Joe Williams, who was born January 20, 1573, lived on the farm to the age of
eighteen and acquired his early education in the rural schools of Greenbrier
County. For two years he worked for N. S. Bruffey in a store at Falling Spring
in Greenbrier County, and then as clerk for W. H.. Overholt at the same place
about two years. During 1894-95 he attended Michaels University at Logansport,
Indiana, taking a business course, and in the fall of 1895 began in connection
with journalism at Sistersville as an employee of J. H. McCoy on the Daily Oil
On September 12, 1898, Mr. Williams moved to St. Marys and established the
Pleasants County Leader, of which he has since been proprietor and editor. He
owns the Leader Building and the entire plant, and has one of the best
equipped newspaper offices in this section of the state, including linotype
machines, cylinder press, etc. It is a republican paper, circulating
throughout Pleasants and surrounding counties, and has an extensive mailing
list to all the oil sections of the country.
Mr. Williams was postmaster of St. Marys from 1905 to 1913. He was reappointed
by President Taft, but the democratic Senate refused to confirm him for a
third term. He was city treasurer in 1914-15, and in November, 1918, was
elected on the republican ticket to represent Pleasants County in the State
Legislature. He was one of the very useful members in
the sessions of 1919-20. As a member of the educational committee he
helped frame the present school code. He was chairman of the committee on
executive offices and libraries, and a member of the committees on election
and privileges, insurance and Virginia debt.
Mr. Williams affiliates with the Presbyterian Church, is a past master of St.
Marys Lodge No. 41, F. and A. M., a member of Sistersville Chapter No. 27, R.
A. M., Mountain State Commandery No. 14, K. T., Nemesis Temple of the Mystic
Shrine at Parkersburg, and St. Mary’s Chapter No. 31 of the Eastern Star.
During the war he made the Pleasants County Leader an effective source of
influence and publicity for the Government and every patriotic cause
associated with the winning of the war, and was personally active in the
various drives in his locality. Mr. Williams owns a modern home at 501 First
Street and is also owner of a baseball park at St. Mary.
In 1899 he married Miss Eloise Bachman, daughter of Captain Martin and Margie
E. (Miller) Bachman, now deceased. Her father, who was a lumber manufacturer
at St. Mary, served as a captain in the Union Army during the Civil war. Mr.
and Mrs. Williams have four children: Nellie, born August 19, 1902, is in the
junior class at West Virginia University; and the three younger children, all
attending high school, are Doris, born in June, 1905; Joe, born in August,
1906, and Mazie, born in May, 1908.