Daughter of the Masons: Julia Storey Williams
By Dallas Pattee
Julia Ann Adella Storey entered into life on November 1st, 1849, in Georgetown, Texas. She was the only child of Captain Edward Farris Storey and Adella Calhoun Johnson Storey. Sadly, Mrs. Storey died when Julia was just two, leaving her beloved husband of three years and her teary eyed toddler to mourn her loss.
Shortly thereafter, Capt, Storey put his daughter in the saddle in front of him and together they road across Texas, crossing the Rio Grande into Mexico on May 12, 1852. Traveling with others on horseback, they rode 24 days from Durango to Mazatlan where they boarded a boat destined for California via the Isthmus of Panama the end of June. They arrived at Santa Clara on October 1, 1852, exactly five months after they left their Texas homestead.
Capt, Storey took up farming and by the spring of 1854, he was raising hogs at San Juan Bautista. When Capt. Storey herded his hogs lo the mining camps where the demand for pork was always high, he left young Julia in the care of a Mrs. Goodman. This also gave him an opportunity to do a little mining lo supplement the income from the sale of his hogs.
In 1857, Capt. Storey and Julia settled in Visalia where he went into the cattle business. He also took it upon himself to organize a Masonic Lodge. He had belonged to the San Gabriel Lodge in Texas before coming to California and then helped organize the Texas Lodge #46 at San Juan Baulista where he served as Worshipful Master.
The charter for the Visalia Lodge «128, F.&A.M. (Free and Accepted Masons) was granted May 14, 1859, and Capt. Storey served as the first Worshipful Master. He held the post from 1857 to I860. While working to gel the lodge chartered, Capt. Storey made several trips lo San Juan Bautista and Sacramento acquiring and filing the necessary paperwork. During those out-of-town trips, he left Julia with his sister-in-law Mrs. Elijah B. lockley. She was his late wife’s sister and was married to a man of the cloth. Rev. Lockley was pastoring the Rock of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South in Visalia during this time. It was good that Julia could spend time with her aunt and uncle while Capt. Storey tended to business.
But in 1860 when Capt. Storey struck out for the rich silver mines of Virginia City, Nevada, he could not leave Julia with his in-laws the Lockley’s because Rev. l.ockley had moved out of the area to pastor another church. It was decided that his Mason brothers and Their wives would look after Julia in his absence.
Capt. Storey was busy forming a Masonic Lodge al Virginia City when trouble broke out with the Paiutes. He quickly organized a troop of volunteers naming themselves the Virginia Rifles, and he took command as Their captain. He was no stranger to danger as he had served as a Texas Ranger and was also a veteran of the Mexican War. Sadly, Capt. Storey was mortally wounded at Pyramid Lake on June 2, 1860, leaving his 10-year-old daughter an orphan.
The Visalia Delia ran a long article “The Burial of Capt. Storey [sic]” on June 30, 1860, taken from the San Francisco Bulletin, and the Rev. Dr. Webb composed an eight stanza Masonic Funeral Hymn which also appeared in the Delia. In Nevada shortly thereafter, Storey County was named lo honor the fallen hero and Virginia City is its county seat. In 1930, a fine monument was erected over his grave which still stands proud and prominent on the crown of the ridge of the Masonic Cemetery in Virginia City.
But what became of Capt. Storey’s orphaned daughter, Julia, who was living in Visalia? Well, the Masons of Lodge #128 of the F.&A.M. adopted her of course! The lodge members and the probate court appointed Joseph N. Thomas as Julia’s guardian. He was the Worshipful Master of the lodge and conducted a blacksmith shop in town. He was held in high esteem within the community.
Soon thereafter, a man claiming to be Capt. Storey’s cousin arrived from San Francisco seeking to remove Mr. Thomas as Julia’s guardian and have himself appointed to the position. This did not set well with the Masons who responded, “They would fight the matter through the courts and if that did not result in a decision that was acceptable to them, they would fight it out with pistols.” The man wisely took the hint and was never seen or heard from again.
Julia was settling into her life as a daughter of the Masons and finding her place in the Thomas” family’s heart and home, when her aunt Eliza Lockley wrote lo invite Julia to spend several weeks of her summer vacation with her and Rev. Locksley al Spelling, California. It was the summer of 1862, two years after her father’s death and her guardian Mr. Thomas consented to the visit as long as Julia returned in lime to start school when it recommenced. She hadn’t been there long before Mr. Thomas received a letter from someone stating that Julia was not receiving “proper treatment” in Parson Lockley’s home and if he did not intervene, “others would.” Mr. Thomas immediately struck out for Snelling.
Rev. Locksley assured Mr. Thomas on the evening of his arrival that everything was fine and he’d have Julia packed and
ready to leave the next morning. Mr. Thomas then look a room in town while Rev. Lockley quickly induced a man named Devons to abduct the girl and whisk her out of town and into The night. Fortunately, a Good Samaritan promptly roused Mr. Thomas from his sleep, who immediately saddled up and gave chase. He “overtook them at the point of a pistol” on the road to Stockton, thus rescuing young Julia form the clutches of her kidnapper and the wicked Rev. Lockley. The Visalia Delta reported the ordeal after their safe return home on August 28, 1862. The article stated, “Why the Parson should have abducted the child against her own consent, we are at a loss to imagine. We hope the Grand Jury of Merced will attend to his case a little, and if the Methodist Church, South ever does expel a man for rascality, it has now an opportunity.”
It is not known if Rev. Elijah B. Lockley ever had to answer to his actions in a court of law, but it is known he was shot and killed January 27, 1871, near his home on the banks of the Kings River near Centerville. Perhaps he answered to a higher court at that time at the mercy of his maker. Although Rev. Lockley was not the intended target of the shooter, rather his barking dog was, he nonetheless wandered into the path of the flying lead which killed both him and his dog. Rev. Lockley was laid to rest in the Sanger Cemetery.
By then Julia was happily hitched. She had married John W. Williams on June 24, 1865. Julia’s new husband was a Mason as well as Visalia’s City Marshal. He held that position for twelve years and later served six years as a deputy sheriff for Tulare County. He was also nearly 19 years older than his young bride of 15. In those times, one was considered a young adult by age 14, and Julia had certainly shed her childhood early due to tragedies and tribulations. She no doubt was a very strong and capable young woman when she entered into marriage which would span 41 years until widowed in 1901.
Their union was blessed with the birth of a son. Sadly, the infant died and was laid to rest in the Visalia Cemetery in 1868. However, they had another son, James Fred Williams who grew into a fine young man. Fred, as they called him, married Nellie Jones and they had two sons, Farris and Storey, thus making Julia a grandmother while honouring the memory of Capt. Farris Storey. For many years, Fred and his business partner ran the highly-respected Visalia clothing firm William and Butz.
For the little girl who had such a rough start in life, Julia Storey Williams trudged forth and found love and happiness first as the adopted daughter of the Masons and then as a wife, mother and grandmother.
She always kept her faith and was a charter member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. She died January 21, 1929 at the age of 79 years, 2 months and 2 days. She reposes in the Visalia Cemetery in an unmarked grave; but may this remarkable woman never be forgotten. She now has a marker thanks to the Visalia Cemetery