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RG2710.AM:  John William Williamson, 1850-1927

Papers:  1903, 1921-1926

Genoa, Nance County, Nebraska:  Sub-agent of the Pawnee

Size:  1 reel of microfilm and 1 folder


John W. Williamson was born at Delavan, Wisconsin, on June 28, 1850.  He came to Nebraska in 1871 and filed a homestead claim in Boone County.  He worked for the U.S. Government on the Pawnee Indian Reservation, teaching farming practices.  In 1874 Williamson accompanied the Pawnee on their move to Indian Territory.  He was with the Pawnee when they encountered a group of Sioux Indians on August 5, 1873.  This encounter became known as the Battle of Massacre Canyon.

Williamson married Carrie Atwood on April 25, 1874, and the couple would have four children.  The Williamsons eventually moved to Genoa, Nance County, where John worked at the Genoa Indian School.  In 1922 Williamson authored the book, The Battle of Massacre Canyon.  John W. Williamson died in 1927 and is buried in Valley View Cemetery at Genoa.


This collection consists of one reel of microfilm containing fourteen manuscripts arranged in three series:  1) Autobiography and reminiscences; 2) Pawnee Indians; and 3) Nance County history.  The material in this collection relates to the Battle of Massacre Canyon, to the history, customs and folklore of the Pawnee, and to the early history of Genoa and Nance County, Nebraska.  The materials were loaned for microfilming by the Williamson family in 1965.

Also included is one folder containing a newspaper clipping from 1903 about the moving of the Pawnee to Indian Territory, and several pieces of correspondence between John W. Williamson, David Gillingham, and A.E. Sheldon of the Nebraska State Historical Society.  The correspondence mostly relates to Williamson’s time with the Pawnee and efforts to get photographs of certain members of the tribe.

Note:  See the photo component [RG2710.PH] for related images.  See the library for a copy of Williamson’s The Battle of Massacre Canyon [970.1 W67].


Reel 1

Series 1 – Autobiography and reminiscences

Autobiography, handwritten, 99 pp., incomplete

Untitled reminiscence, handwritten, 12 pp.

Untitled reminiscence, handwritten, 6 pp.

Series 2 – Pawnee Indians

“The Story of the Pawnee’s Removal South,” typewritten, 42 pp.

“A History of the Pawnee Indians,” typewritten, 33 pp.

“An Indian Legend,” typewritten, 3 pp., January 1924

“An Animal Story,” typewritten, 3 pp., February 1924

“The Pawnee Legend of the Leap at Fullerton, Nebraska,” typewritten, 4 pp., April 10, 1926

“Pawnee Tale:  A Folk Tale of the Leap…,” handwritten, 2 pp.

Untitled Pawnee legend, handwritten, 4 pp.

Series 3 – Nance County History

“History of Nance County,” typewritten, 9 pp.

“Bridge Trouble,” typewritten, 2 pp.

“The Indian School,” typewritten, 2 pp.

“The Early History of Genoa,” typewritten, 3 pp.


Correspondence, 1921-1923

Newspaper clipping, 1903


Subject headings:

Genoa (Nebraska) — History

Indians of North America — Culture

Indians of North America — Legends

Indians of North America — Wars

Nance County (Nebraska) — History

Pawnee Indians — History

Pawnee Indians — Legends

Williamson, John William, 1850-1927


LW/cs                   03-19-1965

Revised TMM      05-15-2019