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09/27/2021 04:45 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate

William McKnight Williamson

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Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia of the Juniata Valley: Comprising the Counties of Huntingdon, Mifflin, Juniata and Perry, Pennsylvania, Containing Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens and Many of the Early Settlers.  Chambersburg, Pa.: J. M. Runk & Co., 1897, pages 29-30.



Session Position District Party
1889-1890 33 Republican
1891-1892 33 Republican
 Counties   Franklin, Huntingdon


1840 - 1901

Father of state  Senator Richard Woods Williamson; HON. WILLIAM McKNIGHT WILLIAMSON, president judge of the Twentieth Judicial district of Pennsylvania, Huntingdon, Pa., was born at Academia, Juniata county, Pa., June 29, 1840.  He is the son of Rev. McKnight and Jane (Woods) Williamson.  The Williamson family are of Scotch and the Woods family are of Scotch-Irish descent. Both of Judge Williamson's parents were natives of Cumberland county.  His father devoted his whole life to the Christian ministry. He is remembered as having founded the Tuscarora Academy, over sixty years ago. Four of his brothers were also Presbyterian ministers; and Mrs. Williamson was a sister of Rev. James S. Woods, D.D., the late lamented pastor of the Presbyterian church at Lewistown, Pa. They had five children, Judge Williamson and two sisters; Frances, wife of W. H. Woods, Esq., of Huntingdon, and Mary J., wife of S. A. Walker, of Hillsboro, Ohio. Their mother died at New Athens, Ohio, in 1849. By a subsequent marriage, Williamson had two children, one of whom is deceased; the other is Martha B., wife of Howard Work, of Altoona, Pa. The father died in Huntingdon, March 27, 1893, aged over ninety-three years.  Until he was six years old, William M. Williamson lived in Juniata county; at that time his parents removed to Ohio, and resided successively in Belmont, Muskingum and Athens counties. His primary education was accordingly carried on in the common schools of Ohio; he also attended for some time the college at New Athens, Ohio. At about sixteen years of age he became a pupil at Milnwood Academy, Shade Gap, Pa. He took an extended course of studies, excelling in the classics, and still more in mathematics. He afterwards taught for some time; was for three years principal of Milnwood Academy, at the same time finding leisure for the study of the law. On January 17, 1865, he was admitted to the bar. His first practice was as the partner of his brother-in-law, W. H. Woods, Esq., under the firm name of Woods & Williamson. Their practice was extensive and their professional reputation high. Mr. Williamson received from Gov. Hartranft, November 24, 1877, the appointment of prothonotary of Huntingdon county; was elected to the office at the election following, and again in 1881. He was efficient and diligent in the performance of his duties. He originated the custom, perpetuated by his successors, of refusing fees for the execution of the papers of soldiers. At the close of his term as prothonotary, he resumed the practice of law, without a partner, in which he was again interrupted by his election to the State Senate as representative of the Thirty-third District, in 1888. As a Senator, he was always alive to all that concerned the interests of his constituents, and diligent in promoting them. He, with his cousin, Hon. Joseph M. Woods, of Lewistown, drafted the bridge bill, which, although vetoed after its passage in the legislature at that time, was recently taken up, somewhat modified, passed both houses, and received the approval of Gov. Hastings. To him the Judicial Apportionment Bill also is due, not only as its originator, but because it owed its passage in great measure to his persevering efforts. Those best acquainted with Judge Williamson both in public and private life, speak most unequivocally of his intellectual ability and equipment, his integrity, consistency, and genuine kindness of disposition.  It need scarcely be mentioned that the Judge
adheres to the Republican party. The marriage of Judge Williamson to Rachel, daughter of George and Rachel Sipes, took place at Shade Gap, October 7, 1862. They had six children: George McKnight, lieutenant in the Eighth United States Cavalry; William W., mining stock broker, of Colorado Springs, Col.; Frances (Mrs. J. H. Laughlin), of Philadelphia.; Richard W., partner in his father's law business; Mary L., died aged thirteen; and John. S., died in infancy.  The family attend the Presbyterian church; Judge Williamson has been a member of the congregation at Huntingdon since 1876. William McKnight Williamson died in 1901 at he age of sixty years.