The Life of Ephraim Williams, Jr.
Ephraim Williams's Signature
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Bloody Morning Scout
Free School
An Officer

Ephraim Jr. was born on March 7, 1715 (new style) in Newton, Massachusetts, the firstborn son of Ephraim Sr. (1691-1754) and Elizabeth Jackson Williams (d.1718). The Williams family at this time was a prestigious group whose members were social, economic, political, military and intellectual leaders. So influential were they, that the western Massachusetts branch of the family was referred to as the 'River Gods'. After the death of his mother, Ephraim Jr. was raised by his maternal grandparents and educated in the village school. Although he traveled abroad in his early years, he soon returned to America and settled in the western part of Massachusetts. Here he became caught up in regional and international events. Ephraim Jr. found employment as a commissioned officer as the continuing conflict between England and France over control of North American territory erupted in King George's War (1745-1748) and the French and Indian War (1754-1763). When not militarily engaged, Ephraim Jr. speculated in real estate and traveled about the Province conducting personal and family business. His death, at the age of 40, in a military campaign near the shores of Lake George, New York, provided for the college we now enjoy.

"In his person, he was large and fleshy . . . His address was easy, and his manners pleasing and conciliating. Affable and facetious, he could make himself agreeable in all companies; and was very generally esteemed, respected, and beloved." Thus did Ebenezer Fitch, first President of Williams College, describe our founder in a biographical sketch published in 1802. Because no paintings of Ephraim Williams Jr. exist, we find we must base our intellectual portrait on such verbal depictions as Fitch's and on what little we can glean from documents Ephraim Jr. and his family left behind.

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