Jesse Williams was born on September 9, 1836, in Michigan, the son of Lyman (d. 1848) and Lucinda M. (Boyden, 1813-1852).
His father may have been living in Washtenaw County, Michigan in 1840. According to one source Jesse’s father died in 1848. In 1850 Jessie was probably the same Jesse Williams attending school with his siblings and living with his mother Vermont native Lucinda and the Secord family in Spring Lake, Ottawa County. His mother died in 1852, and he was living in Ottawa County in 1854, and from about 1859 until 1861 boarded with Justus Stiles, a farmer in Polkton, Ottawa County. “He obtained a fair education, and was compelled to work most of the time to secure himself from want. He was usually employed as a farm assistant, and worked, as he found opprtunity, at the carpenter’s trade.”
Jesse stood 5’8” with gray eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was a 24-year-old farm laborer possibly living in Wright, Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. (He may have been related to William Williams who also enlisted in Company B.) He was discharged on July 30, 1861, for hypertrophy of the heart at Arlington Heights, Virginia.
After he left the army Jessie returned home to Ottawa County.
He married Michigan native Ruth E. Dickerson (1846-1916) in 1863, and they had at least five children: Ida L (possibly Loal, b. 1864), a son L. D. (b. 1866), Capitola (b. 1870), George (1872-1897) and Clarence (1874-1903). Sometime around 1865 Jessie moved to Mecosta County, buying a claim of about 80 acres which by 1880s he had some 65 under tillage.
By 1870 he was working as a farmer (he owned $2500 worth of real estate and living with his wife and children in Green, Mecosta County; also living with them was one Ezra Williams, presumably Jesse’s younger brother. Jesse was still living in Green, Mecosta County in 1879, and working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Green in 1880 (he may also have lived in Big Rapids that year as well) and in Stimson in 1890.
He was a Democrat.
In 1874 he applied for a pension (no. 299,598), which was apparently rejected probably in 1885 -- possibly as a consequence of not having been in service the minimum amount of time to qualify, although this is by no means certain.
Jesse died in 1905 presumably at his home in Green, Mecosta County. He was buried in West cemetery, Big Rapids.
Ruth was probably still living in Mecosta County when she died in 1916 and was buried in West cemetery, Big Rapids.