Moses Williams Sails for Valparaiso, Chile

Jan 12, 2016

Moses Williams established the first Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville in 1857.  Prior to becoming known as “Father Williams” to Presbyterians and many others, Williams lived in Pennsylvania and San Francisco and established a Christian school in Valparaiso, Chile.

Williams arrived in Chile in 1853, ill from his trip from New York on the ship the John Marshall. More upsetting than the storms, rough seas and snow were the crew’s behavior.  By the third day, Williams wrote in his diary about the “the most dreadful profanity” on board. The Captain promised to refrain from swearing, but Williams wrote he was “sad and pained to see such horrid manifestations of rage by the Captain.”

The Captain’s actions included a “storm of wrath” against the second mate for biting and hitting other sailors. The Captain also threw things overboard, including a chess set, sailors, and a sick puppy. He saved the puppy, and the men.

After three years in Chile, Williams requested a transfer, fearing that he would die if he stayed.  He was stationed in San Francisco, but eventually found his calling in the Rogue Valley, which he could tell required “some Godly direction.”


Source: Williams, Moses. Moses Williams Diary, unpublished manuscript, Southern Oregon Historical Society MS194; Lewis, Raymond. “Moses Allen Williams, Father of Presbyterianism in Southern Oregon,” Table Rock Sentinel, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 15-21.