By: Pat Ash
The History of the Williams Pioneer Arch and the Why we celebrate Pioneer Day
Williams Farmer 2/2/1917: The blue prints for the proposed Arch over E street at 6th, and to be erected in honor of the pioneer fathers by the sons and daughters, is here and in the possession of Mrs. M. Tedford, the originator of the idea. The arch would be an attractive addition to our town and we hope it is promptly financed and built. It will be built of steel and concrete and will display the word “Williams” in electric lights facing both directions. It will have a bronze plaque with the names of the pioneers and will cost in the neighborhood of $1,000.
3/9/1917: Mrs. Mollie Tedford ,who has been industriously working on the raising of funds and the proposed building of the arch to span over E street , has announced that she has now more than enough funds promised to go ahead and erect the memento to the pioneers who worked and strived to found the town and the surrounding community.
4/6/1917: On Tuesday evening, those most vitally interested in the erecting of the Pioneer’s Arch, met with the originator of the idea, Mollie Tedford. Mr. Eastly, the contractor who was in charge of the plans, was not yet ready to submit them.
It will take in the neighborhood of three weeks to complete the work but he also said he was not certain that he could get the steel and material immediately as such material was very hard to obtain at the present time.
A committee of five gentlemen was selected to look after the business arrangements. They were: E.A. Brim, Chairman, L.M Zumwalt, J.F. Abel, H.W. Manor and G. W. Gibson. They appeared before the supervisors to obtain their permit and it was found when they went over the plans with the contractor the cost would be quite a bit in excess of the original sum but they expect to raise enough to complete it in first class order just the same.
7/20/ 1917: Owing to the high price of material and labor being scarce, the committee in charge of the arch has decided to place the money in the bank and wait until next spring, or such as the time that the prices go down before continuing their plans.
3/1/1918: While in San Francisco last week, A.F.Webster of the A.F.Webster Co. took up the matter of the lighting of the Pioneer arch with Mr. Johnson, manager of the Northern California Power Co. asking the company in assisting the town people in this respect.
Mr. Webster reported that the power company would contribute dollar for dollar with the local citizens for this purpose.
How Pioneer Day Came to Pass..
1/5/1973: Mrs. Steve LaGrande, gave a presentation in regard to the memorial arch. Following her presentation it was moved by Dave Pennington and seconded by Bob Roper that the city will maintain the arch once it is adequately restored.
2/23/1973: Four members of the Williams FFA surveyed the damage to the Williams Arch. Danny Gomes, Richard Ellison, Danny Slover and Tim Gobel . The arch will be one of the FFA’s public service projects and work is scheduled to get underway immediately.
3/28/1973: The Williams Memorial Arch committee was jubilant on Saturday when the total collected reached $2500 mark, just $500.00 short of the required $3000. The arch committee plans to have the illuminated Williams sign before Memorial Day when the official dedication is scheduled.
5/16/1973: Plans are being formulated by the Memorial Arch committee and the Williams Business and Professional Men for the rededication of the Arch on Friday June 1st. Various state leaders have been invited to participate in the re-dedication and the Williams school band has been asked to provide music. As part of the tribute to the pioneers who settled this valley more than 100 years ago, the Williams business and Professional men are staging a Pioneer Day event. Townspeople are asked to take part in the fun day by wearing costumes remininscent of the day of the pioneers.
5/30/1973: A celebration unlike any seen on the streets of Williams has been set for Friday June 1. The events will open with the rededication of the restored memorial arch. The arch history will be given by Floyd Marsh and comments by invited guests, who include former governor “Pat” Brown who owns property west of Williams, congressman Robert Leggett; Assemblyman Ray Johnson; and Senator Fred Marler. Mrs. Annette LaGrande chairman of the arch committee will dedicate the arch and Mayor Keith Culley will accept it on behalf of the city of Williams. Emcee for the event will be Jim Manor, Arch committee co-chairman.
6/6/1973: The consensus of all interviewed was “Let’s make it an annual event! ■