MILLER CO. WHITE MAN SOLD AT AUCTION IN 1859
By Peggy Smith Hake
On 11 September 1859, a charge of vagrancy was brought against a man in Miller County named William Williams, filed by Constable Barnabas Reed of Glaize Township. The warrant was presented to John K. Hall, a justice of the peace who lived in the vicinity. The sheriff of Miller
County in 1859 was Samuel T. Harrison.
"Vagrancy"----a rover, vagabond, tramp, beggar who wandered around without
a regular job and made it a way of life. By law, could be arrested and jailed.....
(According to today's standards, our jails could be full to overflowing with
Three days later, on September 14, 1859, Williams (about 25 years of age) was found at the home of Samuel Ash in Glaize Township. Constable Reed put him under arrest. Samuel Ash was Williams' father-in-law. His young wife was Mary Ann Ash, age about 19 years. They had married in Miller County on March 2, 1856. William and Mary had a young son named Jeremiah who was approximately one year old when his father was arrested in 1859.
According to the testimony of Samuel Ash, Reed came to the Ash home "in the middle of the night" demanding Williams to surrender. Ash talked William Williams into giving himself over to the constable and the two of them (Reed & Ash) escorted Williams to the home of John Hall, the justice of the peace.
Even though it was after midnight, Justice Hall immediately summoned six jurors to come to his home. They arrived in a short while and without much pomp or ceremony, they found him guilty of vagrancy. One of the jurors must have been named Andrew Ulman because he insisted
Williams be untied during his trip to jail. By the next morning, probably only a few hours,
Williams was incarcerated in the county jail at Tuscumbia.
For three days a notice was hand-posted on the courthouse door advertising that a "vagrant" would be hired out for a cash payment for a period of six months to the highest bidder.
On the morning of the fourth day, the sheriff (Samuel T. Harrison) of Tuscumbia, sold William
Williams for cash at the auction.........
Mary Ann (Ash) Williams began the bidding at a dime and she continued to raise the bid at "one
cent" until she acquired her husband's freedom. The bid reached $2.55 when Sheriff Harrison yelled...."Going, Going, Gone....to Mrs. Mary Ann Williams for $2.55".
In l860, William, Marry Ann, and their two-year old son, Jeremiah, were still living in Glaize
Township near others mentioned in this article. After the 1860 census, they appear no more in Miller County census records. The Civil War scattered many families in many directions. I do not know what happened to the William Williams family.
Some History of Those Mentioned in the Williams Story:
1. William Williams......he was born in Virginia circa 1834. I do not know anything about
his ancestry nor when he came to Miller County. He married Mary Ann Ash in Miller
County on March 2, 1856, the marriage performed by J. C. Glass, a minister of the
gospel. Mary Ann was born circa 1840, also in Virginia (per census records). Their son,
Jeremiah, was born c/1858. There may have been other children but no record is found
for William and Mary Ann after the 1860 census. Their neighbors in 1860 in Glaize
Township included the families of Horton, Graham, Adams, Ulman, Hix, and Martin.
2. Samuel Ash--- was the father of Mary Ann (Ash) Williams. Samuel was born in Virginia
about 1802. He was living with his second wife, Elizabeth (Phillips) when the arrest of
Williams was made. He and Elizabeth were married in 1856 just a couple of months
prior to the marriage of William Williams and Mary Ann Ash.
3. Barnabas Reed--- He was the constable of Glaize Township in 1859. Barnabas was born
in Missouri circa 1830. He married Rebecca Ulman, daughter of Samuel and Virginia
Ulman. Rebecca was a native of Virginia, born c/1837
4. John K. Hall---He was a Justice of the Peace in Glaize Township in 1859. John was
Born circa 1817 in Tennessee and lived with his wife, Jane, near Samuel Ash in 1859.
5. Andrew Ulman---He was born circa 1825 in Virginia. In 1860, Andrew and his wife
(Dolly Tinsley) lived in Glaize Township with two young daughters. Dolly was born in
Virginia circa 1828. Andrew Ulman was a brother to Rebecca (Ulman) Reed, wife of
6. Samuel T. Harrison---He was sheriff of Miller County during 1858-186l and was the
Sheriff who arrested William Williams in 1859 on the charge of vagrancy. He was born
In Kentucky circa 1820. He and his wife, Mary (Francis) were living in Saline Township
when he was elected Miller County Sheriff in 1858.