REV. WOLCOTT BIGELOW WILLIAMS, a pioneer minister of Charlotte, and the editor of this volume, was born on a farm in Brooklyn, Connecticut, on the 13th day of August, 1823. Until thirteen years of age he attended the district schools and the Academy, which was two and a half miles distant. He then removed with his parents to Laporte county, Indiana. The country was new and the schools were few and poor. For several years he worked on the farm summers and in winter attended school in the log school houses. During these years much of his life was spent in the open air, just at the time when he was growing most rapidly, and thus he acquired the robust health that has been so valuable all through life. When seventeen years of age he taught a winter school at eleven dollars a month and board, and after the fashion of those days boarded around. The next winter he received fourteen dollars and board in the same district. After this during two fall terms he attended a select school in Michigan City taught by Rev. James Towner; one term he boarded in a club and the other he tended the light house for his board, for, besides the select school. Mr. Towner held the office of lighthouse keeper. There was at that time no harbor at Michigan City, but large quantities of wheat and corn were shipped from that point, and the vessels mould come to anchor about a half mile from shore and stretching a cable from the vessel to the pier were loaded by means of lighters pulled and polled back and forth. By working night and day vessels could be loaded in about twenty-four hours; laborers were paid at the rate of a shilling an hour during the day time and eighteen cents during the night. Money was very scarce among the boys during those days, and young Williams and other students were glad to avail themselves of these opportunities to earn a little spending money. About the year 1810 an "underground railroad" was laid from Missouri to Detroit and Mr. Williams made several trips as conductor on that road. His was a night run of about eighteen miles. In the year 1842 Mr. Webster made a treaty with Great Britain by which the right to search vessels was denied and after that when once slaves were on board a British propeller in Chicago they were as safe as if in Canada. This greatly shortened the line, and broke down the track east of Chicago. When Mr. Williams was twenty years of age, he felt that he must have a better education if he was to continue to teach school. He had heard of Oberlin College and that a young man could work his way there, and he determined to go there and spend a couple of years in studying the English branches. Oberlin was more than three hundred miles away and the journey was to be made on foot over muddy roads. He left home March 27, 1844, with a satchel filled with books and clothing strapped upon his back, an umbrella in one hand and a bag of provisions in the other. He caught a chance to ride only forty of the three hundred miles. It was before the railroads were built, and his bedding and other things were to be sent to Cleveland by water as soon as navigation opened. Meantime he was an entire stranger in town and had not money enough to pay for lodgings at a hotel. He found at once a place to work for his board and looking into the barn of his landlady, he found there a pile of hay, so after the studies of the first day were over he went down to the barn and slept there. The next day the kind woman for whom he worked inquired into his affairs, and offered him the use of a straw bed and comforters until his own goods arrived, and by forming a partnership with another student who had sheets and some other bedding, he was comfortably lodged the next night in the college building. In the fall he returned home having been gone eight months and traveled over six hundred miles. He left no debts behind him, aside from what he earned his expenses for the time were only twenty-four dollars, and twelve dollars of these went for tuition. The summer's contact with college life, however, awakened a love for study and he entered upon the regular college course, and was graduated from the college in 1850 and from the theological department in 1833. On the 5th of the following October he was married in the city of Buffalo to Mary A. Thompson. He had previously accepted a call to the newly organized church in Charlotte, then a village of about fifty families. At that time the church had only sixteen members and there was no house of worship within ten miles of the place and only two frame meeting houses in the county that were completed. During the following year after a hard struggle the society erected a house of worship costing $1,000. Mr. Williams remained pastor for thirteen years. Soon after the close of the war he resigned the pastorate to accept an agency for the American Missionary Association, which was then planting schools among the children of the freedmen in the late slave states. Previous to entering upon the work he spent a month in visiting the schools in Nashville , Chattanooga, Atlanta, Macon, Andersonville and Memphis. While in Atlanta the "Storrs" school building was dedicated and Mr. Williams delivered the dedicatory address. This was the first school building erected for the colored children in the state of Georgia. He at this time also assisted in the ordination of Rev. E. A. Ware, who was for many years at the head of the school work there. Two years later Mr. Williams was appointed by the Congregational Home Missionary Society superintendent of missions with southern and eastern Michigan for his field. In this work he continued ten years. He has been quite successful in raising money, he has assisted at the dedication of some eighty-four churches and in raising money to pay the last bills on the same. He also raised the greater part of the money for the erection of the present Congregational Church in Charlotte. In l878 he attempted to raise the money to endow a professorship in the Oberlin Theological seminary, and in about eighteen months he had secured some $19.000. In 1887 he succeeded in raising a subscription of $100,000 for Olivet College. When the union schools were established here, Mr. Williams was a member of the board and rendered much valuable help in their organization and in the establishment of the high school. He conducted the first teacher's institute ever held in the county. He also served fourteen years on the board of trustees of Oberlin College. He assisted in the organization of the college at Olivet and has been one of its trustees ever since, a period of forty-seven years. It was he who first called attention to the site of the Maple Hill cemetery, and led to its purchase and tasteful platting. He has had four children: Alice Thompson who died in infancy; Edith Burr who died in her twentieth year, and Sarah and Herbert, who still survive. Mrs. Williams also lives and has encouraged her husband in his work for more than fifty-two years. A portrait of Rev. Williams will be found as a frontispiece.