The Settlement of Williams Ranch. Once a prominent frontier town, Williams Ranch grew up around the homestead of cattleman John Williams (1804-1871), who came to this area in 1855. The community flourished during the Civil War (1861-1865) because of trade with Mexico and by 1874 had stores, saloons, a hotel, mill, and blacksmith shop. In 1875 Henry Ford and J. M. Parks bought most of the land in the village and platted a townsite. They proposed the name "Parksford" but "Williams Ranch" prevailed when the post office opened in 1877. The community was a stage stop and a roundup point on the western cattle trail. It claimed the first hotel, newspaper, telegraph, and public school in Brown and Mills counties. In 1881 it was one of the towns considered as a site for The University of Texas. Williams Ranch reached its peak of activity in the early 1880s, with a population of over 250. The settlement began to decline when the railroad bypassed it in 1885. An outbreak of mob violence was quelled by the Texas Rangers in 1887. By 1892 the post office and all businesses had closed. Today the site is marked by the natural springs that attracted the original settlers and by Williams Ranch Cemetery, burial place of many pioneers and their descendants. #5426