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Black Heroes: Archie P. Williams Mix Race 1800s Slave Owner of Natchez Built Black Wealth in Recon

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NATCHEZ, Miss. - eTradeWire -- The tourism, oil and gas, timber and agriculture industries here in the city of Natchez have been big contributors to the local economy since the 1700s. In this special ed. coverage we examine the contributions of a local black hero in honor of Black History Month. Archie P. Williams is not a name with fame today as it was 150 years ago. Although Archie's contributions to the local economy still have an impact today.

Governmental records show that Archie P. Williams was a mixed race slave owner in the 1800s here in Natchez MS. His father was David Percy Williams from one of the old pioneer families of Adams County. The progenitor of the family, also named David Williams, migrated to the Natchez area in the 1700s. David P. Williams freed his slave Ellen who eventually became the mother of Archie from slavery in Louisiana according to government records. Thus the latter was a free person of color when he was born in March of 1843. In addition to freedom, education at the Sligo school in Natchez and college in Ohio; Archie also received a large inheritance and wealth transfer from his father. Legal, government and tax records show that Archie P. Williams inherited over $1 million dollars in 1800s currency (at least $400 million in todays currency valuations) worth of cash, properties in Mississippi, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio. His father David inherited 1/3 of a 6 million acre estate from his step grandfather Winthrop Sargent. The Williams were owners of a hundreds of slaves. Archie used his social economic clout as a slave owner and government executive to ensure that the freedmen he used to own as well as many in other communities received social advancement. Newspaper records show he was instrumental in creating schools for black families in the Natchez area during and after reconstruction. He used his social economic standing to have jobs opened for black workers in timber (Homochitto Lumber Co, International Paper etc), Oil and Gas (Callon) and many other industries. These acts were very influential in helping to create a black middle class.

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Archie P. Williams died in 1928 but his legacy of impacting communities and companies continues to this day within several of the industries he helped to diversify in the post reconstruction era. His legacy is also continued through the passing on of his estate to his descendants through 6 generations. Today, the owner of the bulk of Archie P. Williams' estate is his great great great grandson Anton R Williams. He owns the Anton R. Williams Holding Company in Kalamazoo MI, Anton R Williams Foundation in Grand Rapids MI, and Anton R Williams Renewable Energy Co of Tampa FL.

Source: WWVE
Filed Under: Manufacturing

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