The Lilacs

Elizabeth Williams

We have not yet been able to independently confirm some of the information we have on Elizabeth Williams – as such, we still have a lot of dots to connect on her (this also depends somewhat on how many Elizabeth Williams lived in western NY at the time).

She was born in 1797 (perhaps in Canandaigua, NY) and died in Aug 1849 at the age of 52. She is buried in Pioneer Cemetery in East Aurora – in a Blakeley family plot (in the same plot as Charlotte [King] Blakeley, wife of Erastus Blakeley).

Elizabeth purchased The Lilacs in Feb 1828 for $400 and sold it in May 1835 for $1,000. As noted elsewhere on this web site, the purchase contract between the Blakeley’s and Elizabeth Williams was completed by an up and coming young lawyer in East Aurora by the name of Millard Fillmore. With this conveyance successfully under his belt, Millard went on to much greater accomplishments, becoming the 13th President of the US.

The 1820 census shows Elizabeth living in the Town of Amherst, with 3 others in the household.
The 1830 census shows her as living alone in the Town of Aurora, next to the Joseph Blakeley family.

Elizabeth Wells of Canandaigua married Jonas Williams, an early settler near Ellicott Creek and the father of Williamsville, NY. Jonas had been a clerk in the Holland Land Company and moved to this area in 1805. A scrapbook in the Buffalo Historical Society describes Elizabeth as “brilliant and beautiful” and that she and Jonas were “often called the most handsome couple in western New York”. Both Jonas and Elizabeth came from well-to-do families. We believe that Jonas would have been considerably older than Elizabeth. We do not know what happened with their marriage, but Elizabeth was single (?) by the time she moved to East Aurora.

Land records show that Elizabeth Williams owned several properties in western NY during the first part of the 19th century, dating to a lot purchase in Williamsville in 1816. Holland Land Company records show that Elizabeth ‘renewed’ the purchase of 200 acres in Lot 14, Township 11, Range 7 (Town of Amherst) in June 1824, making a $50 payment and renewing the balance of $783 (initial Purchase Money was $833). Interestingly, Elizabeth’s transaction in the Holland Land records was bracketed with another transaction that same day – purchase of 196 acres by a Belden Slossen in the same Lot 14, apparently in cash as he received the Deed to his property. We do not know anything about Belden Slossen but are curious as to whether these two transactions were related. Incidentally, both of these land purchases indicated a price of some $4 per acre. Subsequently Elizabeth paid her land debt in full on Dec 20, 1827 – the remaining principal of $783 and interest of $187 – and received Deed to her property. The records indicate that Elizabeth made either part of this payment, or perhaps the entire payment, with grain (mostly wheat). It was not uncommon for people to make their land payments with produce. We do not know what became of Elizabeth’s 200 acre farm, or when she may have sold it. However, she then purchased the 20 acre East Aurora property in Feb 1828, for $20 per acre.

At the same time that Elizabeth sold The Lilacs in May 1835, she purchased 58 acres in the NW corner of Lot 4 (Twp 9, R 6) - south of The Lilacs – for $1,350. Note that she sold The Lilacs for $50 per acre, and purchased the new property – perhaps a mile or so south - for some $23 per acre (1835 was the height of a land speculation boom in the East Aurora area). This may have been about the time that Elizabeth and Solomon Judd were married – Elizabeth was 38 years old at that time. In any case, Elizabeth and Solomon must have encountered some financial problems, as the Court of Chancery in Rochester subsequently auctioned the Lot 4 property off in Feb 1846 for $710, due to an unpaid mortgage to Aaron Riley.

Solomon and Elizabeth may have been acquainted for some time, as records show that Solomon also owned property in Williamsville in 1816, about the same time that we found Elizabeth’s first land purchase in Williamsville. Solomon apparently had a law practice in Buffalo for a while, and then had a law office in East Aurora.

Solomon was an active member of the Aurora Literary Association, and occasionally hosted their meetings in his office. The abolition movement was a hot topic in this area during the 1830s, with slavery having been abolished in New York State in 1827. The Aurora Literary Association hosted a series of lectures and debates during the winter of 1837 regarding the propriety of the non-slave states to agitate the subject of slavery with the southern states. Solomon Judd was one of the disputants for the affirmative side during this series of debates.

We do not know of the connection, if any, between Elizabeth and the Joseph Blakeley family, other than she purchased the 20 acre farm from them, and is buried in their family plot. We also don’t know what happened to Solomon Judd. He may have left the area – perhaps to live his final years with family in Connecticut. He is not buried in East Aurora.