Contributed by Jerome Williams
” My 3x great Grandfather was William Joseph Williams 1759-1823. He lived his last years in New Bern and is buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery. William Joseph Williams came to New Bern from Charleston, S.C. around 1804.
He’d been a regular visitor to New Bern for about 25 years before that. He was born in New York City the Son of William Williams 1727-1791 (Artist, Musician, Author of the first American novel, “Penrose”, friend of Benjamin Franklin, tutor of Benjamin West,etc.) and Mary Mare (Sister of John Mare, Jr. 1738-1804, Artist, Merchant, moved to Edenton, member of first North Carolina Cabinet with Governor Caswell, co-founder of UNC, organized NC Masons, etc.).
He served as a Lieutenant in the British Army occupying New York City and during that time taught Art (to among others Samuel Dunlap, author of “the Rise of the Arts, etc. in America” 1826). Thereafter he painted the portraits of George Washington (to whom he was recommended by his friend and patron, Richard Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, who was Governor of Virginia at the time), John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and other Revolutionary figures.
His paintings are partially listed in SIRIS at the Smithsonian and are found in private collections and in museums including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, The Adams National Historic Site, The Rockefeller Museum at Williamsburg, The DuPont Museum at Winterthur and The Museum of Southern Decorative Arts at Old Salem.