Considered one of the early settlers and “founding fathers” of Stratford, community leader Hosea Williams was born in Berkshire Co., MA, in 1792. He married Charlotte Elizabeth Avery in 1817 and moved to Ohio in a covered wagon. They rented a house in Delaware and purchased a 300-acre farm, 2 miles west of town. The newlyweds built a double log house in the fall of that year.
Hosea worked hard to open up the farm and erected a large frame house in 1823. In 1825, the family moved to Delaware (NE corner of Winter and Washington Streets) and lived in town thereafter. Instead of farming, he embarked in the mercantile business and became a community leader.
Along with Caleb Howard, he purchased the woolen and gristmills in Stratford from Forrest Meeker in 1838 and converted them to a paper mill. Located on the “Whetstone River” (now the Olentangy) the mill had an undershot water wheel that provided power and turned the presses. He also erected a building on the NE corner of Winter and Sandusky St. which housed the Williams Opera House on the second floor.
Judge Williams was a county commissioner and became the first president of the Delaware County branch of the State Bank of Ohio in 1845, which later became the Delaware County National Bank and held that position until his death. He also was a member of the first board of directors of the Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati Railroad.
Hosea and Charlotte had 5 daughters: Charlotte, Anna, Harriet, Margaret and Caroline. After Charlotte’s death in 1839, Hosea married Mrs. Clarinda Delano Starling (1804 – 1876) on October 20, 1841.
Judge Williams was said to be a kind-hearted neighbor and friend, and as a citizen and businessman was universally regarded as a man of high character, rare judgment, and unquestioned integrity. He died in Delaware in 1876 and is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery. (Source and for additional information see: https://delawareohiohistory.org/judge-portrait-donated-society/)
Williams is the great, great, great grandfather of Gale Warner, whose idea it was to create Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, which was brought to fruition by her parents, Jack and Louise Warner. Louise Warner donated the portrait to the Delaware County Historical Society in December 2017, where it is proudly displayed in the parlor over the fireplace mantle.
The oil on canvas portrait of Judge Williams was painted by William Walcutt in 1856. Walcutt was born in Columbus, Ohio and died in New York City. He studied surveying and engineering. He began his career as a painter of portraits at the age of sixteen (16). He studied in London in 1852, followed by two years in Paris. On September 10, 1860, his most famous work, a statue he designed of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry was dedicated at Cleveland, Ohio. The portrait of Hosea was painted from a daguerreotype, that was possibly sent to Walcutt in New York. (For additional information see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Walcutt)