Rebecca Williams was a true pioneer. Her full name, Rebecca Tomlinson Martin Williams, tells much about her. She was born in 1754 in Cumberland, MD to Joseph and Rebecca Swearingen Tomlinson. She had six brothers and two sisters. Her brother Joseph II and his son Joseph III were early Wood County WV pioneers. Rebecca married John Martin, an Indian trader, in 1770. He was killed by Shawnee Indians that same year, leaving her a widow at age 16. She married Isaac Williams in 1775; they began the community at present-day Williamstown WV (then Virginia) in 1787.
- She selected hers and Drusilla’s burial sites at an open area on a rise, not far from the Ohio River. “I want to be buried here where I’ll have plenty of room....I don’t want to be jostled at the resurrection.” The site was visible from the Williams’ cabin. But for Rebecca it became a depressing reminder of Drusilla’s loss. So, Rebecca and Isaac built a new home farther away from the grave.
- Rebecca formed definite opinions about people she met. A 1884 newspaper article that featured an interview with a Nathan Ralston: “ ‘She was a fine woman’, he said, ‘to anybody she took a liking to, a fine woman, but if she didn't take a liking’ - an expressive grimace finished the sentence.”
- She was a woman of faith. One of her books was A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians,...Contrasted With Real Christianity, by William Wilberforce. It challenged Christians to live their faith actively, not just go through the motions.
- Rebecca left a note in the Wilberforce book: “Steal not this book, for if you do, it will cause a great deal of woe,” followed by her signature. Without context of the situation, it is difficult to tell if this was humorous or serious.