ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Weston Wagons West - Ep T8 - Oliver Weston Meets Elias Williams and Ann Eliza Duncan

Updated on September 2, 2018
DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

They were each trained as blacksmiths as well as farriers

The Blacksmith at work
The Blacksmith at work | Source

Duncan Township, Mercer County, Illinois in 1860

Charles Weston (T7) is now 68 years old and had turned over his farrier and blacksmith business to his oldest son, Orin, aged 24. Orin’s younger brother, Oliver, age 22, also worked with him in the business but had begun to think it may be time for him to go out into the world on his own. Charles, with his wife Lucy, wanted to encourage his sons to do what was best for each of them, but reminded them they were still very young, and many opportunities still lie ahead. Don’t get in a rush to make changes. Orin seemed to be happy in Mercer county, so that pleased Charles. Oliver was another story. And, that is the rest of the story.

Late in the spring, Oliver had attended a ‘box social’ at the community building. This was a regular event that he had participated in regularly over time. It was set up, in no small part, to help young single men meet young single women in a friendly, chaperoned environment, and financially benefited a local cause, usually the local school, in this case. The young women would pack a lunch basket, or box, with a meal she had prepared herself. The young men would then bid on each box, and the winner of the box got to share the box with the maker, a social hour or so with the young lady, in a non-threatening setting. Frequently there were informal agreements made ahead of time as to who would bid on which boxes. Other times, the bidding was highly competitive. The men obviously had the upper hand in the outcome, but, other adult supervision of the event normally kept feelings under control, in any event.

At this particular event, Oliver had bid on a box prepared by a young lady, 18-year-old Ann Eliza Duncan (T7). However, he had been outbid by a young Welsh coal miner named Elias Williams. It had been friendly bidding. Miss Duncan, if fact, was so pleased with the attention of both young men that she asked Mr. Williams if he would be willing to share with Mr. Weston as well…she had a full basket, she said. It was not unheard of to do this, if all agreed, though certainly unusual. In this case, they all agreed. And, in this case, in short order, they all became close friends. As luck would have it, however, Miss Duncan and Mr. Williams, in this case, in a short period of time, became more than just friends. Within the year, they were talking of marriage…but Oliver was still a friend to each of them. He encouraged the relationship, saying he had no interest in marriage at his young age (about the same as theirs!) anyway.

Elias was a stone mason by trade

Tools of the Stone Mason
Tools of the Stone Mason

Oliver’s friends, Ann Eliza Duncan and Elias Williams

Although Ann Eliza was a niece of the founding settler of the township, any influence that may have entailed did not trickle down to her. As we pick up her story, both of her parents were deceased, and she had been working as a domestic servant with a local farm family. They were supportive of her social needs. The ‘box social’ for example was likely an example of them allowing her a ‘free evening’ from her work obligations. It is not hard to imagine how pleased she was to have had two young men vying for her attentions. It was likely beyond her fondest expectations.

Elias Williams had apprenticed as a stone mason, but such work was hard to come by for a recent immigrant to the United States. He had grown up near coal mines in his native Wales. He had no doubt done work in the mines there prior to earning his apprenticeship. Somehow he had learned that Mercer County was home to coal mines. They were looking for able young men willing to do the hard work in their mines. Elias saw this as his way to earn a basic living working there until a better opportunity came available. Finding a young lady to share his dreams would become a bonus.

In the spring of 1861, the Southern States seceded from the Union, throwing uncertainly into the lives of people across the country, both North and South. Was this war going to be a short affair so that folks could get on with their lives? Were more young men going to called to military duty? Some men signed up immediately, many thinking any fighting would be over quickly and they would be returning home in a few months. Many more viewed the situation with caution and adopted a wait and see approach. Our young men of interest to this latter approach.

The Weston men each had a herd of horses

Horses in the pasture
Horses in the pasture

Elias asked Ann Eliza to marry him and she said yes

The romance between Ann Eliza Duncan and Elias Williams did not grow overnight, but grow it did. Their friend Oliver Weston was happy to assist that growth in a number of ways, always positive with both of his friends. Oliver even hosted them at this parents ranch when they could each get away. They enjoyed being around the Weston family and their horse herd, as well as taking rides across the pasture and through the nearby woods.

Elias and Ann Eliza were married at the Weston ranch on April 20, 1862. They were able to rent a small cottage nearby so they could continue their visits to the ranch. Later in 1862, it was learned that Congress had approved the establishment of three new arsenals across the country. One was to be built on the Government owned Island of Rock Island in the Mississippi River. This was only about 25-30 miles to the north of Mercer County.

Elias knew this was an opportunity that he could not pass up. They would need stone masons to construct the stone buildings required to build an arsenal. He immediately started to plan for how to get in on the ground floor. They would be moving to Rock Island to be on the spot, in line, when hiring started. Ann Eliza supported him fully. Oliver saw this as a possible way for him to get a fresh start, so he offered to go along and support their plan. He would pack up his tools, and knew he would find work there as people gathered for this new effort for the Union. They would have horses that needed tending. He was the one to do that. They would always need blacksmith services, as well. If that were the greater need, he could adapt to that situation quickly. He was young, he was ambitious. He was ready to work. They all three looked forward to the new opportunities.

By the author

As noted in Episode T1 of this series of historical fiction family saga stories, all of the characters in this episode are fictional except as noted. Activities and events are consistent with known historical facts, but are entirely fictitious.

While each of the Weston family and extended family members are fictitious, all the other persons mentioned are actual historical figures used fictitiously based on the best information available at the time of the writing.

Elias Williams and Ann Eliza Duncan were the author's great-great grandparents so the other Duncan family members were comparably related as well.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)