America Connection
John T Williams

John T Williams was born at Cwmsaethau Farm, Rhandirmwyn in 1839 a son of Barbara and Thomas Williams. He went to the local school.  At the age of 16 he went to work at the Nantymwyn lead mine but in 1859 at the age of 20, John T. left for America, sailing from Swansea and landing four weeks later in New York.  He settled in Scranton, Pennsylvania and worked at the Hampton Mine of the Delaware, Lockwana and Eastern Railroad Company.  It was not long however before John T. was on the move once more, this time heading for California in search of gold.  In 1861 he boarded a steam ship in New York and sailed via Panama to San Francisco.  He remained in California for five years, mining at San Juan.  It would seem that like many others he failed to find his fortune but John T. was not a man who gave in easily.  He returned to Scranton and in 1867 he married Mary Lewis who was from Neath, Pennsylvania.  Her family roots were in Trecynon, near Aberdare, Wales.  They settled in Hampton Street, Scranton and had five children.  John T. went back to work in the mines and became foreman.  However he started to invest in mining and was described in one census as a landlord and capitalist.  In 1874 he was one of the original stockholders when the West Side Bank was formed.

In 1884 after the death of his father John T. paid a visit to Rhandirmwyn to see his mother.  Soon after he was nominated by the Republican Party as their candidate for the state legislator for Pennsylvania and was elected to this position by a 1300 majority.  This position was a very responsible one and he was in reality a member of the government for the Sate of Pennsylvania with responsibility for the enactment of state laws.

In 1886 he embarked on a general mercantile business under the company name Williams and Co.  He was in partnership with another John Williams, this time it was John H. Williams whose roots were also in Rhandirmwyn.  It was a very successful venture.  John T. was also director of the Scranton Packing Company and had large interests in coal mining.  He was a director and treasurer of the Cambrian Mutual Fire Insurance Company.  

In 1896 John T. was a delegate to the Republican National Congress which was held at St Louis where William McKinley was first nominated as the republican candidate for the President of the United States.  He was elected in 1897 and was in office until 1901.

John T. became president of the West Side Bank and died in 1903.  

(We are grateful to Martha Phillips, Scranton, John T. Williams’ granddaughter for this information).