William Standifer Williams was born in the early 1860s in Chattanooga, Tennessee to Samuel Lowry Williams (1807-1898) and Katuriah Taylor Williams (1825-1893), a farming family. His father was one of the earliest Anglo residents of that area and is known as the Father of Chattanooga. William was one of the youngest of some thirteen siblings and half siblings. Some accounts give William’s year of birth as 1861 and others show it to be as late as 1864. William lived with his large family until at least 1880. The actual date of their marriage is unknown, but William married Minnie Alice Anderson of Sabine County, Texas prior to 1900. The couple resided for a number of years in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. William is said to have traveled to what was then Chaves County, New Mexico Territory in 1898 and began to acquire land but returned to his cattle operation in the Oklahoma Territory with his wife. They were still living in Indian Territory in 1900 when their first child was born. Two more children were born there and after the third, George Howell Williams, was born, they came by wagon in 1907 to William’s property and officially homesteaded in New Mexico on land located just east of the Caprock and roughly sixteen to eighteen miles west of Lovington. The location was near a water source known as Old Cedar Lake. It was water, but was once described as “gippy” by a descendant. Cedar Lake was a landmark in the area, however.
William and Minnie operated their cattle ranch for the next thirty-eight years until William’s death in 1936. It was known as the Plains Cattle and Sheep Company and at one point amounted to at least 275 sections of land. The ranch headquarters had initially consisted of a dugout residence but most of the time, the family resided in Artesia. Williams was often referred to in the local newspapers in connection with his cattle operation. William acquired the nickname “Colonel” reportedly from his stately stature while astride his horse, but he is not known to have served in the military. The ranch was on the western side of Lea County when it was created out of Eddy and Chaves counties in 1917.
William was nominated for the Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame for a number of years and was inducted into the organization in 1992. Comments about Williams included mention that his ranch headquarters was always a welcome stop for freighters passing through the area and that Mr. Williams was known to be a mentor to younger ranchers in the area.
Mr. Williams died in 1936. Mrs. Williams survived him until 1956. Both are interred in Woodbine Cemetery in Artesia. After Mr. Williams’ death, the ranch was divided among the couple’s children.