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A Guide to the John Lee Williams Papers

Finding aid created by Dept. Staff

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
April 2012


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Williams, John Lee, 1775-1856
Title: John Lee Williams Papers
Dates: 1820-1853
Abstract: Unpublished manuscripts for the second edition of the book The Territory of Florida by John Lee Williams.
Extent: 0.2 Linear feet. 1 box.
Identification: MS 279
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

John Lee Williams (1775-1856) was born in Salem, Massachusetts. He moved with his family to a farm in New York when he was young. Disliking a farmer's life, he went to Hamilton College, attending law school and tutoring to pay his tuition. In 1820 the widowed Williams moved to the newly acquired territory of Florida. He lived in Pensacola, Tallahassee, and Picolata, just outside St. Augustine. In 1823, while living in Pensacola and practicing as an attorney, he was appointed by Governor William Duval to a commission to select a site for the new capital of Florida. He and his fellow commissioner, Dr. William Simmons of St. Augustine, ultimately selected Tallahassee. In 1829, whle living in St. Augustine, Williams married Martha Mackey Ives.

Williams authored A View of West Florida in 1827 and his best-known book, The Territory of Florida, in 1837. He had quit his law practice and spent the last years of his life exploring and working on a revised second edition of The Territory of Florida.

Source: Biographical materials in the collection, and James Cusick, "After 150 Years, a Lost Manuscript Comes to Light," Chapter One, University of Florida Smathers Libraries, Summer 2003.


Scope and Content

The collection includes unpublished manuscripts for the second edition of Williams' book, The Territory of Florida. The unpublished second edition was intended to be an expanded and revised edition including important sections on the Everglades and Big Cypress, Florida's counties, and the Second Seminole War through 1842 (material probably written between 1844 and 1853). The collection also includes biographical materials, clippings, minor receipts and deeds, and letters written by John King of Charleston to Williams' stepson, Washington M. Ives, concerning property in St. Augustine.


Access or Use Restrictions

Access

The collection is open for research.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], John Lee Williams Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

A portion of the collection was donated circa 1958 by Edward S. Kelly, great-grandson of John Lee Williams. A second portion was donated in 2003 by Nancy Meers, great-granddaughter of Williams. The full story of the acquisition was published by James Cusick, curator of the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History, in the Summer 2003 issue of Chapter One.


Contents List

Box
1 Biographical/Provenance Materials
1 Miscellaneous Documents
1 Correspondence: John King to W.M. Ives (land sales)
1 Second edition of "Territory of Florida" unpublished - Folder 1 (donated circa 1958 by Edward S. Kelly)
1 Second edition of "Territory of Florida" unpublished - Folder 2 (donated circa 1958 by Edward S. Kelly)
1 Second edition of "Territory of Florida" unpublished - Folder 3 (donated circa 1958 by Edward S. Kelly)
1 Second edition of "Territory of Florida" unpublished - Folder 4 (donated 2003 by Nancy Meers)
1 Second edition of "Territory of Florida" unpublished - Folder 5 (donated 2003 by Nancy Meers)
1 Second edition of "Territory of Florida" unpublished - Folder 6 (donated 2003 by Nancy Meers)
1 Copies of illustrations [stored separately]

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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