Matilda Williams was born 22 October 1856 in Bulloch County, GA, to James J. Williams and his wife, Mariah, last name probably Hendricks.
James was born in Georgia in 1835, probably to Jonathan Williams and his wife Matilda. Jonathan was the son of Wilson Williams, a very early settler in the state. (The surname Williams is so common that it is difficult to absolutely certain about any of these facts.)
Known children of James and Mariah Williams include: Matilda, Sarah, Sally, Nancy Ann, Noah, Sintha Ann, Susan F, and John.
James probably served in the 21st Georgia cavalry, first with company B, then later with company E. This was a regiment organized in Savannah, Georgia, near where James was living at that time in Bulloch County. According to a Civil War history website, his horse was shot out from under him at the battle of Trevilian Station, June 11, 1864. The regiment later surrendered with General Lee at Appomattox.
James’ later occupation as a “stock minder” (1870 census), may reflect his experience with horses.
After the war, James and his family settled in Statenville, Echols County, Georgia, where the Matilda met John T. Bembry and married him in 1878. They had eight known children: John Mack, Hiram, Ellanora, Robert, Fred, Jessie, Johnie, and Julie.
Over several censuses, Matilda is never marked as able to read and write, so she was probably completely illiterate.
The 1910 census, taken just after John T.’s death, shows a large multi-generational family farm near Fort Union, Suwanee County, FL. Matilda is listed as head of household and a farmer. Still living with her were her children Robert, Fred, Jessie, Johnie and Julie. Next door to Matilda was her son Hiram Bembry with his wife Palma and two children, and next to him was her oldest son John Mack Bembry with his wife Rebecca, and their five children. All of them owned their land–probably John Mack and Hiram inherited some land when their father died.
Matilda’s death date is unclear. Her tombstone says that she died on 26 February 1910, but the above census was taken on 5 May 1910 and clearly lists her as a widow. In any case, she is buried in Rosemary Cemetery, Suwannee County, Fl, along with her husband and daughter, Jesse.