I'm working on the origins of John Williams,who died March 26, 1929 at Hotel Dieu (the hospital) in New Orleans at age 38. He was counted as a member of the family of Benjamin James of Scranton and Blakely, Lackawanna Co. PA.
The James information is as follows:
In John William's funeral service pages, the flowers came from "Brother Lou James", "Sister Anne James", "Sister Sarah James", "Daughter Arlene Williams", and services were held in the home of "Sister Anne Parry". It was pretty easy to find that that family (minus Arlene) was a family who came over from Wales in 1881. The father was Benjamin James, the mother was Margaret Evan. Benjamin James was born in 1841; I could find no information on Margaret Evan until today. But I did find that Benjamin James was widowed by 1900. It left the mystery, of course, as to why the James family had a Williams child in it who never appeared on a census. My theory was that Benjamin James was widowed by Margaret, married a second woman who was also a widow and who came with a child named John Williams, then she died by the 1900 census when he called himself a widow. Today I found information indicating that I may be right.
I was pretty suspicious as to him actually being involved in the James family at all, as I could find no connections besides John's funeral book. But I found Luther (Lou) James' will and testament, in 1967, in which he left up to $100 to fund a suitable headstone for his brother John Williams, who was buried in Union Cemetery in Peckville, PA. Then I found Benjamin James' will and testament. He died in 1910, leaving all his estate to be divided between his children: Owen, David, Luther, Sarah, Anne and Harriet. But to John Williams he leaves $5. He referred to the others as his children, but not John.
Then I found a marriage certificate for Benjamin James, also of Wales, of the same age, citing him as being widowed in 1888, marrying Mary Ella Martin in 1880. She had been widowed in 1890. She married Benjamin six months after she was widowed. If Mary Ella Martin was married under her maiden name, having been widowed by a Williams, she may have been pregnant with John Williams when she married Benjamin James. In turn, John not being welcome, she may have shipped him off to be raised with other family members, accounting for why he doesn't appear on the census records but mattered enough to be in Benjamin's will. Mary then would have died by 1900. The marriage certificate says she came from Peckville. John's funeral papers state he was buried with family in the Union Cemetery (in Peckville).
If anyone researching this family knows how John came to be part of it, please email me! My email (if genforum no longer shows it after this month) is firstname.lastname@example.org