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RG4112.AM:  Williams Family

Papers:  1884-1983

Sidney, Cheyenne County, Nebraska:  Military officer stationed at Fort Sidney

Size:  0.25 cu.ft.; 1 box


Fort Sidney, known until 1871 as Sidney Barracks, had been established mainly to protect construction crews building the Union Pacific Railroad across Nebraska in the late 1860’s.  The Fort reached the height of activity during the Indian Wars period of the 1870’s.  By the 1880’s, Fort Sidney had settled into a quiet existence.  It was at this time that Lt. Charles A. Williams of the 21st U.S. Infantry served at the Fort as Post and Regimental Quartermaster.  A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy class of 1874, Williams had served at Vancouver Barracks and Ft. Townsend, Washington; Ft. Wrangel, Alaska; and Ft. Lapwai, Idaho, before his arrival at Ft. Sidney in May 1884.  He was stationed at Ft. Sidney until May 1892, although he participated in detached service during 1890-1891 at Columbus Barracks, Ohio.

After his service at Ft. Sidney, Williams was stationed at Forts Niagara and Porter, New York, from 1894 to 1899.  As Captain in the 21st Infantry, he served in Cuba and between 1901-1911, he had four tours of duty in the Philippines.  During that time, around 1904, he was promoted to Colonel.  After forty years of service, Williams retired in 1911.  He was recalled to active service in 1918, at the age of 66, to serve as Commandant of the Student Army Training Corps at Harvard.  Charles A. Williams died on July 4, 1926, in Washington, D.C.

Charles Laurance Williams, son of Charles A. Williams, was born on March 31, 1881, at Ft. Lapwai, Idaho, where his father was stationed at the time.  Laurance arrived in Sidney in the Spring of 1885 and spent the formative years of his life at the fort.  After a twenty-year military career, C. Laurance Williams retired as a Major in 1928.  During his retirement years, much of Williams’ time was spent in trying to get Sidney residents to preserve the buildings of Ft. Sidney and create a memorial to its former inhabitants.  Charles Laurance Williams died on December 19, 1966 at Winooski, Vermont.


This collection consists of one box of manuscript material arranged in two series: 1) Correspondence, 1884-1983; and 2) Miscellany.  This material relates to life at Ft. Sidney, Nebraska, in the 1880’s, as well as to efforts made by Charles Laurance Williams to gather information about the Fort’s history and to preserve its buildings.

The bulk of the collection is comprised of the correspondence, 1884-1983, found in Series 1.  Letters form the 1880’s consist of correspondence written and received by Lt. Charles A. Williams while he served as Post Quartermaster at Ft. Sidney.  Official correspondence includes orders and bid requests for building construction and repairs.  In letters to his family, Williams describes social events at the fort.  The letters of Charles Laurance Williams include reminiscences of Ft. Sidney in the 1880’s and early 1890’s.  Much of his correspondence relates to his efforts to locate old Ft. Sidney residents and to provide for a memorial to the former military inhabitants.  Other letters in this series are between Nebraska State Historical Society Curator, Tom Buecker and John A. Williams, son of Charles Laurance Williams and grandson of Charles A. Williams.  Mr. Williams provides information on his family and on some of the material that he has uncovered.

The miscellany of Series 2 includes the 1892 diary of Charles Laurance Williams, kept while he was a ten-year old at Ft. Sidney; and newspaper clippings and notes.

See the photo component [RG4112.PH] for related images.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1884-1983

Box 1


  1. 1884-1886

  2. 1887-1888

  3. 1920-1928; 1940-1943

  4. 1944-1946, Feb.

  5. 1946, Mar.-Apr.

  6. 1946, May-1948

  7. 1949-1954; 1967        

  8. 1981-1983

Series 2 – Miscellany

  1. Miscellany, including 1892 diary of Charles Laurance Williams, newspaper clippings, notes


Subject headings:

Cheyenne County (Nebraska) — History

Fort Sidney (Nebraska) — History

Military life — Nebraska

Sidney (Nebraska) — History

Soldiers — Nebraska

U.S. Army. Infantry. 21st Regiment

Williams family

Williams, Charles Andrews, 1852-1926

Williams, Charles Laurance, 1881-1966

Williams, John Andrew, 1908-2006


AIP/pmc                07-07-1987

Revised TMM       05-09-2019