While driving down Atascocita Road, one may notice the sign for Williams Gully, or when looking at a map of Humble, you may spot the name “Williams Cemetery” on a small plot of land north of Atascocita Road. The gully and cemetery are named for the Benjamin Franklin Williams family. Benjamin moved to the prairie land southeast of Humble in 1840. He built a house, barn and corral on his property and planted fruit trees. He became a farmer and rancher who was quite successful in his business endeavors.
However, Benjamin died when his son, Willis William Williams, was 18 years old. Willis became the head of the family and managed the businesses his father had built. Willis acquired additional land from Mexico on the south side of what is now Atascocita Road. While the number of cattle Willis owned increased and his ranching business grew, he worked as a lumber estimator, surveyor and consultant. Willis was prosperous in all his ventures. Willis was an honest man who was trusted by those he knew. His cattle were allowed to graze on land that was not his. The owners knew that Willis would not claim the land as his own and allowing his cattle to graze on the land kept others from trying to take it.
Willis married Annie Dunks and they lived about 5 miles from the town of Humble in a wood-frame house on the south side of Atascocita Road. Willis and Annie had three sons. The oldest was Herbert, who married Hazel Harrison; they lived on the north side of Atascocita Road. Willis built quite an estate for his family which Herbert managed after Willis’ death in 1947. The estate continued to flourish under Herbert’s watchful eye. Herbert acquired a pilot’s license and kept a small airplane in a hangar behind Willis and Annie’s home.
When my mother came to the Humble area, she worked as a housekeeper for Willis and Annie. After Mama married, Willis and Annie were friends of her family. Mama continued to work for Annie occasionally. She took my sister and me with her on the days she worked. Those days spent at Annie’s home were rare opportunities. We passed the time with activities in the small sitting room or on the back porch. We didn’t bother Mama and Annie while they were working.
When my sister and I were 10-12 years old, we accompanied Mama to Annie’s house on a nice, sunny day. We were on the back porch when Herbert came over. He was walking to the backyard when he stopped and looked at us. He asked, “Would you like to ride in an airplane?”
We excitedly said, “Yes!” and followed him to the airplane hangar. Herbert guided us to the two back seats and we buckled our seatbelts. When the airplane was high above the house and fields, Herbert turned, looked at us and asked, “You’ve never been in air airplane before, have you?” We quietly answered, “No.” That was the signal for our friendly pilot to begin his tricks in the air. The airplane rolled over and over; it made loops and quick dives. We managed to not scream or throw up; our first airplane ride was eventful and memorable for the two of us.
My sister and I were just a few years old when Willis passed away. We have pictures of him and Annie at our home when we were 2 and a picture of them at their home. Mama became sick not long after the airplane ride and we didn’t see Annie again. We went off to college and Annie and Herbert sold their land to Harris County for the detention/rehabilitation center that’s on Atascocita Road. Herbert retired and he, Hazel and Annie moved to Corpus Christi to be near other family members. I have enjoyed learning more about the Williams family and continue to treasure the memories of our adventures in Annie’s home.