Thursday, May 8, 2014


In January 2014, Amy Johnson Crow of the Ancestry blog No Story Too Small issued the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.
The premise: write once a week about a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, a research problem — any that focuses on that one ancestor. The next week, write about a different ancestor. In 52 weeks, you’ll have taken a closer look at 52 people in your family tree… and maybe learned a little bit more about them in the process.
HARRY PALMERSTON WILLIAMS was my maternal Grandfather’s (John Nelson Moore 1889-1980) 2nd cousin.  I never heard my Grandfather talk about him and I am surprised because he was a very famous person in the early 1900’s.  He was a businessman, politician, and an aviation entrepreneur in Louisiana.  He became a noted aviator and co-owner of the Wedell-Williams Air Service Corporation that dominated air racing in the United States during the Golden Age of Aviation.
Harry Williams was born in Patterson, Louisiana to Frank Bennett Williams and Emily Williamson Seyburn on October 6, 1889.
Harry Williams first started working in his father’s Cypress Lumber Company but became fascinated with flying.  In 1927, spurred by the news of the Lindbergh solo flight across the Atlantic, he had purchased a similar Ryan monoplane from Jimmy Wedell a noted race pilot. After working closely with Jimmy Wedell  learning to fly, Harry Williams formed a partnership with Wedell and his brother, Walter Wedell, that resulted in the formation of Wedell-Williams Air Service Corporation in 1928, based in Patterson, Louisiana.
The Wedell-Williams Air Service Corporation provided a passenger service from New Orleans to Houston, Louisiana’s first commercial airline and also they started their own postal air service, as well as operating a flying school.
Harry served in WW 1 as a Lieutenant in the Engineers Corp. and met his wife during a War Bonds Tour.  She was a film star, Marguerite Clark. They married August 19, 1918.
They lived in New Orleans with Harry’s parents in a house that now is the Milton Latter Library on St. Charles Street.
On May 19, 1936, as Harry Williams was returning from Baton Rouge where he had a conference with Governor Richard Leche, and flying with the company's chief pilot, John Worthen, their Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing crashed on takeoff, killing both men instantly.
The loss of Harry Williams, along with the recent deaths in air crashes of both Wedell brothers who had co-founded the company along with the company test pilot, led his wife, Marguerite Clark Williams, , to sell the assets of the company in 1937 to Eastern Air Lines. The new owner, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, folded in the Wedell-Williams Air Service Corporation into the larger airline operation, gaining the coveted mail route from New Orleans to Houston, giving Eastern its first presence in Texas.
The Louisiana Historical Society -
Louisiana State Museum -

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