Individual Record 9

Name}   Williams, Simeon Clyde (Si) Family History} Hancock              
  Title}   Race} White Sex} Male
Birth:   Date} Exa 20 Dec 1897 Place} Covington, Kenton, Kentucky
Marr.: Date} Exa 24 Apr 1924 Place} Woodland, Yolo, California     (Link)
Death: Date} Exa 18 Aug 1984 Place} Napa Nursing Center, Napa, Napa, California
Burial: Date} Exa 21 Aug 1984 Place} Rose Park Memorial Cemetery, Fort Bragg, Mendocino, California
  Grave Marker} Yes
Source 1}       9 = Biography
Source 2}     26 = 1910 USA cen
Source 3}   844 = Draft registr
Source 4}   304 = 1920 USA cen
Source 5}   317 = Marriage rec
Source 6}     72 = Birth record
Source 7}   242 = Obituary
Source 8}   732 = 1930 USA cen
Source 9} 1587 = 1940 USA cen
Source 10}1187 = Draft registr
Source 11}1609 = 1950 USA cen
Source 12}    76 = Address list
Source 13}  697 = Will
Parents: } Theodore John Williams & Myrtle A. Bird
   Relationship No.}   8
1st Household No.} 190 = 137 Sixth Street, Detroit, Michigan
      Occupation 1} Musician
       Occupation 2} Accountant
       Occupation 3} Landlord
       Occupation 4} Chicken rancher
Spouses:   Prime} McFarren, Bessie Crystal (Bess)
 Total Number of} 1
Source 14}    861 = Death record
Source 15}  1599 = S.S. record
Source 16}      71 = Death certif
Source 17}    481 = Funeral rec
Source 18}  1588 = Cemetery rec
Source 19}    698 = Obituaries
Source 20}  1610 = Obituary
Source 21}  1600 = City directory
Source 22}  1601 = Voter record
Source 23}    701 = Photographs
Source 24}    676 = Photographs
Source 25}    694 = Photographs
Source 26}    751 = Photographs
Source 27}  1218 = Photographs
Notes:  What follows is the story of Simeon's life as told in his own words to Dan Hancock his grandson.  There are many more pages of autobiographical text that were pending, but not completed.  What follows after is a biography from the listed sources including notes from the additional text.  And finally, a brief story of his musical career.
I was born on December 20th, 1897, in Covington, Kentucky.  After that, my parents went to Detroit, Michigan,  I lost part of my foot due to a streetcar accident in Detroit when I was two years old.

My family came to California in about 1904.  We moved from Michigan to San Francisco by train.  It went through the Grand Canyon.  We were in San Francisco for a short period.  All of our worldly possessions were contained in one trunk.  We had very little money to live on.  In 1904, San Francisco storekeepers still looked with suspicion on paper money.  They wanted gold and silver coins.

Fortunately, my father found a job immediately at Atlas Peak in Napa County.  There was no school available for me in the Atlas Peak area, however.  So after less than a year there, my family moved from the ranch to the town of Napa.  My father rented a house at 120 Main Street.  I started to school when I was seven at Lincoln School on North Main Street.  It was a very large two-story wood-frame building.  I spent one year there.

During 1905, Napa had one of its worst floods. I remember seeing the wooden walk in back of 120 Main floating. People were rowing boats on Main Street as far north as the Catholic Church.

After a year, we moved in the Spring of 1905 to a two-story, ten-room house on Sonoma Road.  We rented it from the Hanson's for $5.00 per month.  It was near the Cutting Ranch, a 400-acre fruit ranch, where my father worked for several years until he started boring water wells.  The 1906 San Francisco earthquake occurred while we were living there.

Carneros School I began attending the Carneros School, a single-room schoolhouse.  It had two ante-rooms for coats, hats, lunchpails, etc. in the front for boys and girls separately.  I went to Carneros School for seven years.  The boys and I enjoyed numerous pranks while at Carneros.  For example, we threw dead blackbirds on the exam papers that our teacher was correcting.  I helped stuff the old metal stovepipe with rags so we could have recess.  Then there was the time we brought .22 caliber shells and put them in the stove . . . .   (Click to see students' names)

My father built a well-boring outfit with a derrick 28 feet tall and a hand-turned auger.  This combination could drill water wells to 100 feet deep.  He worked at boring water wells in the Napa area, especially all 26 wells in the Cutting tract, until his death.  Lengths of 1¼-inch diameter galvanized pipe coupled together were used for lowering a 6 foot by 7 inch auger into the ground as the well deepened.  I worked for my father as a well borer for several years.

In September 1918 I was 20 years old when I registered for the World War I draft.  I was never drafted — probably because my right foot was partly gone.  The draft board described me as tall with a medium build, light brown eyes, and dark brown hair.
Simeon Clyde Williams was born 20 Dec 1897 in Covington, Kenton, Kentucky.  His parents were Theodore John Williams and Myrtle A. Bird.  In 1900, his father was an inmate in the Michigan State Home of Correction and Reformatory, Ionia.  It is presumed that he and his mother were living in Detroit, Michigan, where he lost part of his foot when he was two years old.

In the 1910 U.S. census, Simeon 10, was living with his parents and brother David, 3, on Sonoma Road, Napa, California.  His father was a farm laborer.  During his high school years, he rode his bicycle five miles into town for three years.  He took the two-year commercial course, rather than college prep.  It took him three years, as the family worked at picking hops and box making.

On 12 Sep 1918, when he registered for the WWI draft, his address was R.F.D. #2 Box 55, and he was a well driller, working for his father.  In the 1920 U.S. census, Simeon, 22, was living with his parents and brother on Sonoma Hill Road, Carneros, Napa. His father was a well borer of water wells, and he was working as a farm laborer.

Simeon met Bess Williams when she was working at the Veterans Home in Yountville.  When she became pregant, they told family members that they had been married 19 Dec 1919, in Woodland, California.  Their first daughter, Viola Clide was born 12 Sep 1920 in Kentucky.  Their second daughter Ruby Lorraine was born 12 Oct 1922 in Napa.  They were later legally married on 24 Apr 1924, in Woodland.

About 1924, Simeon went to San Francisco, and had the leg with the bad foot removed to several inches below his knee.  It took some time before he could get around on his prosthesis, and then he clerked in various shoe stores, and finally was manager of the Montgomery Ward's shoe department.  He took night courses at the Napa Business College in accounting and bookkeeping, and took, but never completed a "CPA" correspondence course from an accounting school in Chicago.  Over the years he set up the accounts for many business, which kept him busy.

In the 1930 U.S. census, S.C. Williams, 33, and his wife Bessie, 30, were living at 1611 F. Street, Napa.  Simeon was now a bookkeeper for a poultry plant.  Bess was a floor worker in a laundry.  Besides their two daughters, the household included Bess's brother Roy McFarren and his wife Nell.

About 1930, Simeon and Bess bought a house at 458 Brown Street, Napa.  The house was a bargain, and they rented it out, using the rental income to pay off the properties.  When the 1611 F Street was sold in about 1934, they moved their family to the 458 Brown Street house.

Simeon and Bess bought a grocery store in 1930, and in 1939 added a dining room.  Bess quit her job at the laundry, and they named the restaurant the "Green Lantern".  Also in 1939, Simeon built a one story house at 1615 F Street, Napa.  In the 1940 U.S. census, Simeon, 42, and Bess, 40, were living here with their daughter Lorraine, 17.  The house was valued at $4,000.  Simeon was a bookkeeper, Bess was the owner of the restaurant, and Lorraine was a waittress.

In 1940, when war was looking immenient, Simeon went to Mare Island, signed up with the Civil Service, and was certified to a job at the Benecia Arsenal.  He worked in the Maintainance Division until 1947, supervising 18 persons.  He commuted to work at Benecia during the day and helped in the restaurant at night.

In 1947, Simeon and Bess retired and moved to the Northern California coast, where they built a new home.  He tried commerical fishing with a 45 foot trawler, but became seasick.  Instead, he built chicken houses and raised chickens.  In the 1950 U.S. census, they are enumerated as living on the road to Cara, Highway 1, Ten Mile River, Mendocino, California.  Their home at 33601 Pacific Way was on the ocean-front lot of seven undeveloped acres located four miles south of Fort Bragg.  Simeon was doing bookkeeping chores for a Beer Distributing Co.

Bess developed ovarian cancer, and after a long illness, died 24 Sep 1976, at the Sherwood Oaks Health Center, Fort Bragg.  Simeon died 18 Aug 1984 in the Napa Nursing Center, Napa, Napa, California.  They are buried in the Rose Memorial Park Cemetery, Fort Bragg, Mendocino, California.
When Simeon was about nine, he became fascinated with hearing violin music, and asked his father for a violin. He taught himself to play with a second-hand violin and a correspondence course.  At about twelve, he rode his bicycle five miles into town, and began violin lessons with a teacher.  He made money for the lessons by making fruit boxes in the local packing shed.  About the time he started to high school, his family moved to the a house on the Old Sonoma Road, and his father built a small cabin in the back so he could practice at night without disturbing anyone.

Sineon began to play dance jobs every Saturday night with the Peters Group at various farm center halls around the valley.  He then played at the local Novelty Theater with a pianist for the silent movies.  Going to San Francisco, he obtained a job for $35.00 per week at The Minerva Cafe, a cabaret in the Mission District.  He finally returned to Napa, where he obtained a job as an "attendant musician" at the Napa State Hospital.  Besides the hard work as an attendant, the 20 - 25 piece orchestra played concerts for the inmates and staff about twice a month.  His pay was $50.00 per month plus $5.00 extra for playing in the orchestra.  He was put in as second violin, which he hated, and so left after three months.

Simeon began to play for vaudeville and the silent movies at the Empire Theater.  About 1924, it was announced that the talkies were arriving, and suddenly thousands of musicians around the country were out of jobs.  In 1932, he helped Louigi Catalano, the Napa High School Music Director, form the Napa Valley Symphony.  It only lasted about three years.  About this time, he helped his daughter Viola start a trio - Viola on the cello, Marilyn Walker, his pupil, on the violin, and Vivian Gardner on the piano. Over the years, he had begun to take on some violin students, of which Norbet Banse was his prime prodegé. In 1982 he wrote that he was still doing some playing, but not much teaching.  Norbet was now playing with the Oakland Symphony.

Simeon C. Williams The photograph at the right is of Simeon and his granddaughter Linda.  It was taken a few days before he passed on in 1984.  It was a special day for Simeon because granddaughter Linda had arranged for Norbert Banse to come to the rest home and provide a small violin concert for the residents.  The rest home made a big deal out of honoring Simeon.  He was so proud of Norbert and happy to hear him playing some of Simeon's favorite violin selections.
Time of Birth}   Time of Death} 3:10 pm Fraternal/Social}  
Baptism Date}   Place}   Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
Confirm. Date}   Photos} Simeon in 1908 (age 11)
and in 1919 on his motorcycle.
Immigr'n Date} N/A Port} N/A
Education: Grade} Eleventh grade
Military: Service} U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
Health Condition} Amputated leg
  Cause of Death} Lung cancer
Last Updated
by} Karen Hancock
Date Updated} 30 Dec 2023
Date Created}  18 Jun   1994
Copyright © 2004, 2010 by Daniel W. Hancock and 2022 - 2023 by Karen L. Hancock.  All Rights Reserved.

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