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John Wesley Williams papers

 Collection — Folder: S2550
Identifier: S2550

Scope and Contents

This collection contains documents regarding the Civil War service of John Wesley Williams and Thomas Sumner, including an 1862 muster roll for Company C, 20th Indiana Regiment; a September 27, 1862 general order by Brigadier General E. Dumont from the headquarters at Louisville; an August 14, 1862 certificate of appointment of Thomas Sumner as 1st lieutenant and adjutant of the 87th Indiana Regiment signed by Governor Oliver P. Morton; documents regarding Sumner's discharge for disability (November 1863); a November 16, 1863 discharge paper by reason of promotion for Sergeant Williams; a July 12, 1865 discharge muster roll for Company D, 20th Indiana; and correspondence and documents regarding Williams's military pension (1867-1898). The collection also includes a September 1, 1865 bond between Sumner and Williams.


  • 1862-1898


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 Notes

John Wesley Williams was born on August 20, 1840 in Wayne County, Indiana to Matthew and Mary Boggs Williams. Following the death of his parents in 1848 and 1849, he became a ward of Thomas and Mahala Sumner and moved with them to Marshall County, Indiana. He mustered into Company C, 20th Indiana Infantry Regiment on July 22, 1861 and later transferred to Company D of the 20th in 1864. He earned the Kearney Cross and was promoted several times, reaching the rank of major before mustering out of service as a captain on July 12, 1865. Following the war, he returned to Marshall County and engaged in farming. He married Martha Jane Fife on October 30, 1866 and they had seven children. He and his family moved to Gage County, Nebraska in the 1870s. To benefit Martha Jane's health, they removed to Okmulgee, Indian Territory (Oklahoma) a few years before he passed away at the age of 65 on January 3, 1906.


Information found within the collection. "John Williams." 1850 United States Federal Census. Accessed January 22, 2019. "John W. Williams." U.S. Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970. Accessed January 22, 2019. "MAJ John W. Williams." Memorial ID 153450536. Accessed January 23, 2019.

"Pioneer Dies." Beatrice Daily Express (NE), January 4. 1906.

"Death of John W. Williams." Plymouth Tribune (IN), January 11, 1906.

Thomas Sumner was born on September 22, 1820 at Centerville, Wayne County, Indiana to William and Nancy Sumner. Beginning at the age of fifteen, he worked for four years in the hatter trade, working in the same shop as Oliver P. Morton, the governor of Indiana during the Civil War. In 1843, he married Mahala Boggs Swain. They moved to a farm in Marshall County, Indiana in 1849 and the following year he was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives. In 1856, they sold their farm and moved to Bureau County, Illinois. At the start of the Civil War, Thomas enlisted in Company I, 27th Illinois Volunteer Infantry and served as a 1st lieutenant. Following the Battle of Shiloh, he resigned and returned to Indiana to help organize the 87th Indiana Infantry Regiment. The 87th was mustered in at Indianapolis on August 31, 1862 and Thomas was commissioned a major. He was later promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, but resigned his commission due to disability on November 20, 1863. He moved back to Marshall County and returned to farming and in 1880 was again elected to serve in the State Legislature. He passed away at the age of 62 on March 16, 1883.


Information found within collection.

“Death of Colonel Thomas Sumner.” Plymouth Republican (IN), March 22, 1883. “LTC Thomas Sumner.” Memorial ID 51047202. Accessed January 24, 2019.

Indiana Adjutant General's Office and William H.H. Terrell. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana. Volume III. – 1861-1865. Indianapolis: Samuel M. Douglass, State Printer, 1866.


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 from Mrs. K.L. McGill in 1965/09 and Kathy Roselman on 1980/09/05.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2019/01/24 by Laura Eliason. EAD finding aid created 2019/01/24 by Laura Eliason.
John W. Williams papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

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