by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Growing up, I probably saw the Williams home on a nearly daily basis. It sat on the southeast corner of the intersection of Main Street and Walnut Street. It was the only house left in “downtown” Grain Valley. Like many of the older homes in Grain Valley, it has been torn down and today it is a parking lot.
I remember the house quite well and I also remember the family that lived there -- Otis Williams and Laura McQuerry Williams along with their 3 daughters, Norma, Rosemary and Peggy Ann. Laura was the daughter of Robert and Myrtle McQuerry. She grew up on the family farm on McQuerry Road east of Grain Valley near Lefholz Road.
Otis was the youngest son of Edward and Alma (Hostler) Williams. According to the 1900 U. S. Census 5-year old Otis was living at the house on Broadway (now Main Street) with his mother, father, brother Loyd (age 24),and brother Roy (age 16).
From recent donations to the Historical Society by Otis’ granddaughter, Karen Carmack, I have learned that the Williams family were quite the entrepreneurs. I knew Otis as the butcher behind the meat display cooler at Frantz’ Grocery Store in the 1950s and 60s. I recall hearing that he and his father ran a grocery store in Grain Valley years before.
But here is what I didn’t know! Around the turn of the last century Edward Williams owned a brick-factory. It was located across the street from the house on Walnut Street, just behind the Herrington House (today the community gardens occupy that space). Brick from their brickfield were used to build the Bank of Grain Valley (1905) as well as several other brick structures in town.
The business directory of Grain Valley for 1922 lists as one of the business in town the E. F. Williams Slaughter House where they processed over 800 head of cattle and hogs yearly. And an early photo showing businesses on the west side of Main Street includes Williams Auto.
Housed between the Bank of Grain Valley and Worthmore Shoe Store, both in brick building which still stand today. I can’t help but wonder if the bricks for the family-owned auto store were made at the Williams Brick Yard?
Visit the Grain Valley Historical Society. We can show you a photograph of Otis and his father, Edward, inside the grocery store. We also have a photo of Williams Auto as well as an original copy of the 1922 Business Directory of Grain Valley.