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1886 – Samuel Stacker Williams

On March 20, 1836 in the northwest corner of Tennessee at Dover, Stewart County, Tennessee, Samuel Stacker Williams was born to David and Mahala Squires Williams. While he was still quite young the family moved to Ohio, first settling in Scioto County, but a few years later they moved to Granville in Licking County. M. W. Brother Williams received his early education in the common schools of Licking County and later was a pupil in the Granville Male Academy. Before becoming 18 years old he was a teacher in the county school system and before he had reached the age of 21, he was a superintendent of the public schools of Hanging Rock, Ohio. Being a born farmer, he felt his opportunities were on the farm, not in the schoolroom, and so he returned to Licking County and engaged in the buying and selling of wool. Following the Civil War, however, this profession did not prove to be as profitable as he had hoped; he left farming to enter the dry goods business, an occupation he followed until about 1885. At this point he retired from active business and devoted himself principally to Freemasonry.

In 1860 Brother Williams married Miss Elizabeth Cochburn, an English lady in Kentucky, to this marriage three daughters and one son were born.

M. W. Brother Williams was known as a calm, deliberative person who was not moved to hasty action, but rather one who, through a process of reasoning arrived at a careful and deliberate conclusion. He sat in the Ohio Legislature for two sessions and in 1896 ran for the 72nd General Assembly. He was characterized as being “absolutely fearless in his character never hesitating to take a stand on any important question and his vote, if not always on the winning side, was always cast in favor of the people.” He was a man of fixed and firm convictions and was at all times obstinate in the advocacy of what he thought to be right.

On January 21, 1864, M. W. Brother Williams received his Entered Apprentice Degree in Center Star Lodge No. 11 in Granville, Ohio. He was passed to the degree of Fellow Craft on February 18, 1864 and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on March 19, 1864. At the annual election in November 1864, he was elected Secretary of Center Star Lodge. In 1866 he was elected Senior Warden, and in 1867 became its Worshipful Master. For thirty successive years he installed the officers of Center Star Lodge, the last time being in 1901. On this occasion, due to ill health, it was necessary for the elected officers to come to his home in Newark and be installed by him in his parlor.

M. W. Brother Williams was a member of Warren Chapter No.6 R. A. M. of Newark, Ohio, Bigelow Council No.7, R. & S. M. at Newark, Ohio and Clinton Commandery No.5 K. T. at Mt. Vernon, Ohio. He later became a member of Newark Commandery No. 34. In December 1865, M. W. Brother Williams received the degrees of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Cincinnati and was created a 33 Mason on September 20, 1887.

In 1867, the same year he was elected Worshipful Master of his Lodge, M. W. Brother Williams was appointed Senior Grand Deacon of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio. He apparently played no further part in the affairs of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, until in 1878 he was appointed a Grand Representative, and in 1879 presented a report of the Committee on Ways and Means. In 1881 he was commissioned by the Grand Master to communicate to Lodges within the State of Ohio, for a period of one year, the approved ritual of the Grand Lodge. This same year, he was elected Deputy Grand Master and again in 1883 and 1884. On October 22, 1885, at the 67th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, M. W. Brother Williams was elected Grand Master. On the succeeding two years he was re-elected to this position.

It was during his administration that the controversy growing out of the Cerneau question came to a head in Ohio. There can be no doubt that the firm and vigorous stand taken by M. W. Brother Williams in upholding the authority of the Grand Lodge, and the intelligent manner in which the dispute was handled by him, not only within the Grand Lodge but in the civil courts, was to be credited for the suppression of spurious Masonry in the Jurisdiction of Ohio.

M. W. Brother Williams was a great Masonic student and across his many years of active Masonic life he collected one of the outstanding Masonic libraries in the United States. This library was donated to the Grand Lodge of Ohio and forms the basis of the Grand Lodge Library, which is presently housed in the Grand Lodge headquarters building in Worthington, Ohio. His extensive correspondence, much of which is preserved in the Grand Lodge Library, led to him being one of the most widely know Masons in the country. For a number of years he was active in, and president of, The Masonic Veterans Association of Ohio.

Death came to M. W. Brother Williams on April 3, 1904 at Washington Court House. He was buried at Newark, Ohio. His body was interred in the Cedar Hill Cemetery, Section 5, Lot 542, Newark, Ohio.