I’ve seldom mentioned my maternal grandfather, Clarence Devan Williams. It’s because I don’t remember him. He died in July 1958 in Owego, Tioga County, about 20 miles from Binghamton, Broome County, at the age of about 71.
From what I knew, he was the son of Margaret, or Marguerite (1865-1931) and Charles Williams, who was a year older or a year younger, depending on which Census you check.
Clarence had a brother Charles Nathaniel Williams (1885–1923) who was about two years his senior, and they both reportedly played Negro Leagues baseball somewhere.
In 1900, they lived on 103 Paige Street in Owego.
But there’s a record in the New York, Census of Inmates in Almshouses and Poorhouses, 1830-1920 suggesting that a Clarence Williams was the “illegitimate child of Mary Williams – December 20, 1887.”
Someone suggested in a note in Ancestry.com that Clarence might have been adopted. Presumably Mary was the sister of the elder Charles.
Clarence was a laborer at some point in his early twenties. I have no idea how he met Gertrude Williams in Binghamton, but they apparently got married in 1927 and had two children. One was my mother, born in 1927, and the other was a female child who died in early 1929.
The family lore suggested that Gertrude’s mother somehow drove Clarence away. But Lillian Holland died in 1938, yet he mostly stayed away.
There’s a guy, a black male, named Clarence Nat Williams, who had a 1942 draft registration card, though he was 55. If it’s the same guy – by then he was living in Deposit, Broome County, with a Charles Williams. Did he take his brother’s middle name as a tribute?
This was just a quick and dirty search in Ancestry for less than an hour, and it was like falling into a wormhole. I acknowledge that some of my assumptions may be wrong.
This is why I need to retire, in order to track these and other familial mysteries down. I have a feeling it’s going to take awhile, especially since I have no contact with the Williams tribe, and, of course, I can’t ask my mother.
Maybe sometime I’ll go to Evergreen Cemetery in Owego. I don’t believe I’ve ever been to the grave site of Clarence Devan Williams, unless my mom took me there when I was very young.