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Williams, Walter Erskine (1860–1938)


Walter Erskine Williams, lawyer and county judge, the son of Edmund James and Almyra (Smith) Williams, was born in Collierville, Tennessee, on April 19, 1860. Following his education in the public school system of Collierville, Williams moved to Oxford to attend the University of Mississippi. In 1885 he was graduated with a Ph.B. degree. Because of a lack of opportunity in his native state, Williams immigrated to Fort Worth, Texas, where he was admitted to the bar in 1890. Two years later, on October 19, he married Ida E. Quillian. The couple were the parents of seven children. She died in 1931, and in December 27, 1933, he married Beth F. Rucker. In Fort Worth Williams quickly established a reputation as one of the leading specialists in probate law. He also was active in local politics. A life-long Democrat, Williams served one term, 1894–96, on the Fort Worth City Council. He did not seek reelection to the council in order to accept an appointment as special county judge of Tarrant County in 1897. Also in 1897 he ran unsuccessfully for congressman-at-large. Williams served as a trustee of the Fort Worth public school system and on the board of trustees of Texas Woman's College (now Texas Wesleyan University). He also was active in his church. Between 1922 and 1926 Williams served as president of the general board of lay activities of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He also represented his district eleven times as a delegate to the church's annual general conference. In 1924 he combined his interest in teaching and travel when he accepted an invitation to be the guest lecturer at the Comparative Law School in Shanghai, China. He also was a lecturer at Southern Methodist University in 1931. Although he maintained his legal practice and occasionally accepted invitations to speak to a class about law, Williams greatly reduced his workload after 1931. He spent the early 1930s rewriting his lectures, which appeared in print in 1937 under the title Lectures on the Constitution and Supreme Court of the United States. A year later, on August 29, Williams died after a brief illness.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 30, 1938. Who Was Who in America (Vol. 1).


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • Probate and Insurance Law

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Williams, Walter Erskine,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 01, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.