The following is taken from an article the Old Timer found in a Lowell Tribune edition from 1928:
"There are few people who realize that Cedar Creek Township has a resident who is 102 years old, but nevertheless it is a fact. Paul Williams, who makes his home with Mr. and Mrs. Silas Latta of Shelby, will have attained that age on Mar. 24. He was born in New York on Mar. 24, 1826. He came west when he was a young man."
According to the story, Williams left New York as a young man, and being an adventurous individual, traveled to what is now the State of Minnesota, where he joined a militia group, the Rangers. Minnesota Territory, which included most of the area of North and South Dakota, was established in 1849, and Williams could have been in the service of the Rangers during that time or later when the area became the state of Minnesota in 1858. (Indiana became a state in 1816).
Williams walked into the 'Tribune' office one day in 1928 and related stories about some of the exciting things that happened to him during his stay in the North Woods. He nearly met his death a number of times at the hands of the Indians. Included in the duties of the Rangers was looking after and stopping the warlike activities of the Indians (Sioux and Chippewa) in the vicinity. He carried a scar on his forehead where he had been struck by a tomahawk by one of the Native Americans he confronted.
The nearest he came to dying at their hands was when he was captured and tied to a stake. Huge piles of brush were piled about him in preparation for burning him alive. He said it was a favorite sport in those days for Indians who captured a 'white' man.
"While he was tied to the stake the Chief of the Tribe taunted him and Williams kicked him in the shins in the hope that he would split his head open with his tomahawk and kill him in that way, so that he would be spared the tortures of being burned. The Chief, however, did not do this, but struck him only on the foot, causing scars that he carried all his life. His life was saved, however, by an Indian for whom he had done a favor."
After his five years of service with the Rangers in Minnesota, Williams made his way to Indiana, and when the Civil War began in 1861, he enlisted in the 20th Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry, a group joined by many young men from Lake County. He served with honor in that regiment until the close of the war in 1865.
Made up of companies formed in many places in Indiana, including Lake County, the regiment was formed in Lafayette and mustered in July 22, 1861, soon after the start of the Civil War.
The group left the state for Baltimore, Md., in August 1861 and from there took part in many battles and skirmishes in the East. It was one of the regiments taking part in ceremonies at the Appomattox Court House, witnessing the surrender of General Lee and his army in Virginia on Apr.9, 1865. The Regiment lost 15 officers and 186 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, while 113 enlisted men died from disease. It was mustered out in July 1865.
More from the article in the Tribune: "Mr. Williams is a man with whom it is a pleasure to talk. He retains all his faculties and can converse intelligently on any subject. He gets around very well and comes to Lowell quite often where he is well known and respected by a large circle of friends. He enjoys visiting and gives interesting accounts of happenings that took place before many of us were born. He has seen the United States grow from a comparatively weak nation to one of the most powerful nations in the world and he can well feel proud of the fact that he did his share in helping to make our country what it is today."
According to cemetery records, his burial place is the Sanders Cemetery in West Creek Township, and his stone reveals that he became a Corporal in his regiment during the Civil War. His date of death is not marked on the stone, however. He lies beside the grave of his wife, Martha, who was born in 1835 and died in 1919.
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