Nofirstname WILLIAMS Benjamin F WILLIAMS Bernice Edward WILLIAMS Huldah Irene NICHOLSON Josephine VAN TASSELL Mini tree diagram

Harvey J WILLIAMS1,2,4,5,6,3

Apr 18761,2,3,4,5,6 - UNKNOWN

Life History

Apr 1876

Born in Michigan.1,2,3,4,5,6


Resident in Benona, Oceana, Michigan, United States.6

about 1904

Birth of son Benjamin F WILLIAMS.1,4,5

23rd Nov 1907

Birth of daughter Bernice Edward WILLIAMS.7,1,5,4,10,11,8

between 1910 and 1930

Residence2 in Prairie Township, Arkansas, Arkansas.1,4,5

8th Feb 2002

Death of daughter Bernice Edward WILLIAMS in Memphis, Shelby, Tennessee.3,7,8,9


Death of Huldah Irene NICHOLSON


Death of son Benjamin F WILLIAMS



Other facts


Married Huldah Irene NICHOLSON


  • I got Harvey J Williams' name from his grandson Roger Louis McSwain,so on Louis Wirt McSwain and Bernice E Williams.  Roger reported thathis mother "didn't know much about her father and his family history,since he came to Arkansas from Michigan."  By this time (November2007) had been putting databases online on a daily basis. It was a good time to go on a family history treasure hunt. Thelocation in Michigan was a useful clue.

    Some census entries quickly told me a good bit of information aboutHarvey Williams and his family background.  In 1880 he living with hismother in her parents' home in Benona, Oceana County, Michigan.

    1880 Federal Census, Oceana County, Michigan (2005), 17 June, Benona,District 209, page 26, Hse #170, Fam #173
    Van Tassell. Julian A  W M 55  Farmer  NY Germany NY
    Van Tassell. Mary A  W F 39  Daughter  Keeping House Canada IrelandIreland
    Van Tassell. Sarah A  W F 13  Daughter  At School Mich NY Canada
    Van Tassell. Jason D  W F 7  Son  At School Mich NY Canada
    Van Tassell. Frank O  W F 4  Son  At School Mich NY Canada
    Van Tassell. James  W F 1  Son  At School Mich NY Canada
    Cumming, Josephine W F 25 Daughter Married [but no husband in thehousehold] At Home  Mich NY Canada
    Williams, Harvey J  W M 4 Grandson  At Home  Mich Wis Mich

    First of all this tells us his mother's maiden name was Van TassellThe birth places of individuals in this family and their parentsindicates that the Van Tassell family immigrated in to the US fromGermany.  It appears they settled in New York, where Julian's fathermarried a woman born in New York.  Julian was born in New York.

    Julian's wife, Harvey's grandmother, was born in Canada.  From this wecannot tell exactly where they got married.  It is likely they movedto the Midwest and met in Michigan.  Mary's Irish parents came toCanada, where Mary was born.  At some time they moved on into USterritory.  I expect they continued moving west as so many did.  Butsince he Julian is a farmer, Julian's family could have lived inupstate New York, near Ontario or Quebec, instead of staying somewherein the New York City area.

    From the ages, it looks like Mary was only about 14 when Josephine isborn.  This is young, but we find this age of marriage and birthfairly common in that era.  The birth place of Josephine's mother inCanada matches the birthplace of Mary herself in Canada, so it looksright.  An Irish pioneer family, moved to Canada, probably settling inToronto somewhere for a few years, where Mary was born, then moving abit further west, and down on Lake Michigan, where they met the VanTassell family, who had come there from New York.

    One puzzle is Josephine's last name.  She has a different name herefrom her maiden name or the name of her son.  This would make itappears that she has already been widowed and remarried and widowed asecond item., by the age of 25.  I've seen that in other familiesmoving west.  That is the simplest scenario with the few details wehave at this stage.

    The birthplace of Harvey's father is reported here as Wisconsin.  Thisis the same as in the 1930 census.  However, in between we havereports of his birth on the Ocean (Pacific, no less) and Michigan.

    We are missing some years to fill in the story of the move toArkansas.  Perhaps Harvey moved to Arkansas by himself.  In January2008, I found the 1900 census reporting him as a 24-year-old singleman boarding in the home of Elizabeth Nicholson Price.  He latermarried a Nicholson girl, Huldah, a daughter of Elizabeth's brotherFrank.

    1900 Federal Census, Arkansas County, Arkansas, 5 June, District 7,page 11A, Hse #173, Fam #183
    Williams, Harvey  Boarder W M Apr 1876  24 Single  Mich Mich  Mich

    In the 1910 census, Harvey has been married for less than ten years toHuldah Irene Nicholson, and they have two children, living in PrairieTownship of Arkansas County, Arkansas.

    1910 Federal Census, Arkansas County, Arkansas, 26 April, PrairieTownship, District 13, page 5B, Hse/Fam #87
    Williams, Harvey  Head  M W 35  Married 6 years Mich Ocean (Pacific)Mich  Farmer
    Williams, Hulda  Wife  F W 32 Married 6 years AR AL AL
    Williams, Ben F  Son  M W 6 AR Mich AR
    Williams, Bernice  Dau F W 2 AR Mich AR

    Note that here Harvey's father is reported as being born at sea.  The1880 census gave Wisconsin as the place of birth.  This makes itappear that Harvey's father was born on an immigration trip to the US. But the odd thing is that the enumerator clearly wrote Pacific afterthe word Ocean.  Perhaps he was resident in a British easternterritory  (assuming the name Williams to be English or Irish), orthey were on the seas, but associated with British western Americanterritories, like Columbia (which later became Washington.

    Why would a British family, who landed in New York and settled there,be coming across the Pacific Ocean?  If they were coming from the FarEast, why didn't they disembark on the west coast, somewhere inCalifornia?  Perhaps Harvey's grandfather was engaged in some PacificRim business ventures for British interests.  But still why thesettlement in New York?

    Did Harvey inadvertently get the wrong Ocean name, or maybe theenumerator distractedly wrote the wrong ocean name?  The name Pacificis added in smaller letters, carrying across to the next field of thecensus, as though it was an after-thought.

    The 1920 report changes again, when Harvey's father is reported asborn in Michigan.  The birthplaces of Huldah's parents is wrong, too,showing them both born in Arkansas, when we know from other censusesand Nicholson family sources that they were both born in Alabama.

    1920 Federal Census, Arkansas County, Arkansas, 26 April, PrairieTownship, District 13, page 4A, Hse/Fam #62
    Williams, Harvey  Head  M W 45  Mich Mich Mich  Rice Farmer
    Williams, Hulda  Wife  F W 42  AR AR AR
    Williams, Benjamin  Son  M W 16 AR Mich AR
    Williams, Bernice  Dau F W 12 AR Mich AR

    This census confirms that Ben's full name is Benjamin.  Note thatHuldah's name is spelled without the H in both these censuses, whilefamily sources spell it Huldah.  In the 1930 census it is spelledHuldah.

    1930 Federal Census, Arkansas County, Arkansas, 16 April, PrairieTownship, District 7, page 5B, Hse #93, Fam #94
    Williams, Harvey J  Head  M W 55  First married at age 28  Mich WisMich  Farmer, General Farming
    Williams, Huldah  Wife  F W 52  First married at age 25  AR AL AL
    Williams, Benjamin F  Son  M W 26 Single AR Mich AR Farm Laborer
    Williams, Bernice E  Dau F W 22 Single  AR Mich AR Public SchoolTeacher

    We saw that in 1920, Harvey's occupation was reported as Rice Farmer.Now I note that in 1930, he is again reported as engaged in GeneralFarming.  The birthplaces of Huldah's parents is correct again,reporting Alabama for both.

    This is the first census that has had Bernice's middle initial, E,which her son Roger McSwain tells us stands for Edward.  Bernice isteaching in a public school. The school or system is not mentioned,and the information on their residential location does not clarifywhat settlement they lived near.  In 1920, they were in the northernportion of Prairie Township, which includes St Charles town, as farback as the 1870 census.  But they are enumerated on names listed asliving on Ethel and Point Road.  This normally sounds like it iscloser to Ethel than St Charles, but I am not certain.  Ethel is inthe southern half of Prairie Township,  The boundary is a little southof St Charles.


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