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James D. Williams collection

 Collection — Folder: S1424
Identifier: S1424

Scope and Contents

This collection contains 4 items related to James D. Williams in Indiana ranging from 1876 to 1880: (1) an April 20, 1876 letter from Thomas R. Cobb to Honorable James D. Williams informing him that he was selected as the Democratic candidate for governor for the next October election; (2) an April 29, 1876 letter from J. D. Williams to Honorable T. R. Cobb, chairman of the Democratic State Convention, in Vincennes, accepting the nomination; (3) an April 25, 1879 certificate signed by James D. Williams, appointing John Collett as chief of the Department of Statistics and Geology; and (4) a handwritten, undated, two-page biography entitled "Ex-Governor James D. (Blue Jeans) Williams," which must have been written sometime after 1888, because that year is given in reference to a presidential election. The unknown biographer wrote: "During the governor's term a public log rolling was given on the farm of Dr. Furnas near Danville, Ind. at which Gov. Williams drove the yoke of fine red oxen of Dr. Furnas to drag the logs to the various log heaps made in the pasture that day. It was such a novelty to see a governor of Ind. driving a yoke of oxen, that the event was heralded thruout the country and excursions were run into Danville early that day as well as carriages, buggies, wagons etc. to carry the people to see such an unknown sight. Thousands of people were there from all walks of life."


  • 1876-1880


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

James Douglas Williams was born January 16, 1808 in Ohio. A Democrat, Williams was the only farmer elected as the governor of Indiana, serving from 1877 to 1880. He and his wife, Nancy Huffman, whom he married in 1831 in Columbus, Indiana, had seven children and ran the family farm of 3,000 acres in central Indiana. Williams served in the Indiana House of Representatives (1844-1860), the Indiana Senate (1860-1872), and the U.S. House of Representatives (1875-1876). Williams died on November 20, 1880, shortly before the end of his term as governor and was buried in the Walnut Grove Cemetery near Monroe City, Indiana. The cemetery is on the ground he donated for the Walnut Grove Methodist Church.

Williams was known as "Blue Jeans Bill" because he wore "a fine quality of blue-jeans all his life practically except in the summer months." When he became wealthy, he had suits made of denim and lined with silk.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing and finding aid completed 2015/04/23 by Nikki Stoddard Schofield. EAD finding aid revised 2020/12/12 by Brittany Kropf.
James D. Williams collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.