husband, Samuel May Williams, gained fame in Texas
in the struggle for freedom from Mexico
and as a wheeler-dealer in the world of finance.
Her father, William Scott,
was well-known as an early colonist in Baytown
and as the organizer of the Lynchburg Volunteers in the Texas Revolution.
husbandís brother, Nathaniel Felton Williams, developed a sugar plantation that
evolved into a business we know today as the Imperial Sugar Co.
away back in history, we find that the Williams brothers claimed a famous ancestor,
Roger Williams, the New England pioneer.
So what is she, Sarah Scott Williams,
known for -- besides being Sam Williamsí faithful wife and Bill Scottís dutiful
Thatís about it, but thatís saying a lot. Sarah Williams was
one of those stoical pioneer women who kept things in order single-handedly on
the home front, and it never was easy. Although financially secure with a lovely
home in Galveston
Ė thanks to her husbandís Midas touch Ė Sarah Williams led a lonely life. Sam
was an absentee husband/father, always on the go, traveling often to New York
and Washington, and when home, he was preoccupied with business deals.
make matters worse, Sam Williams was not the most popular guy in Texas,
having been accused Ė rightly or wrongly -- of shady business practices. Along
the way he had collected enemies and some folks called him ďthe most hated man
a wife to do when she hears derogatory remarks about her husband and when people
make her the victim of their wrath, branding her with accusations because Sam
himself was nowhere in sight.
Williams suffered in silence. She didnít fight back; she didnít respond; she just
Meanwhile, she had a house to manage, myriad decisions to make.
example, she had to make arrangements to evacuate in Racerís Storm, the vicious
hurricane that struck Galveston
and the bay area in 1837. I presume she and the kids came to Baytown,
but that must not have been much a homecoming for Sarah. Her father died in the
wake of the storm.
The Scott home on Scottís Bay (in the vicinity of present-day
ExxonMobil docks) took a beating, and with her fatherís death came more responsibilities
for Sarah. She became a primary caregiver for her mother and young sister, spending
much of her time in Baytown
looking after them.
A year before, she had to decide whether or not to
join the Runaway
Scrape as the Mexican Army was advancing. Sarah and the children ran. Iíve
not read where they went but likely the destination was one of two places, Anahuac
or New Orleans.
Not having her husband by her side during a crisis was
not the worst for Sarah. The worst was not knowing always where Sam was or what
he was doing. Once he was in s shipwreck. Another time he was imprisoned briefly
even heard that he had died, but that report, as Mark Twain would say, was highly
Until her eyesight failed, Sarah sewed garments for her family.
No need -- she had servants who could have done that and she could have afforded
store-bought clothes. The lady of the house just liked to sew.
of her seven children died in childhood, and these tragedies took a tremendous
toll on Sarah Williams. Failing vision and other maladies made life even tougher
and by the age of 47 she was described as an old, white-haired woman. In her last
years, her responsibilities increased as she inherited the family land in Baytown.
Sam died in 1858 and she, in 1860. They are buried in the Episcopal Cemetery
Sarah Scott Williamsí life reminds me of an inscription I saw on a tombstone
in a Nacogdoches cemetery.
"She did what she could."
© Wanda Orton -
March 1, 2012
Baytown Sun Columnist
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