Horace Gray Williams was born on July 4, 1899, in Augusta, Georgia, to Harold S. and Margaret Templeton Williams. His family moved to Columbia when he was three years old. He matriculated at the University of South Carolina and graduated with a degree in accounting. He moved to Anderson in 1950 and joined the Anderson Rotary Club.
Williams found work in Anderson as a public accountant where he organized Williams Accounting Service. Outside of his career, he was passionate about history and became one of South Carolina’s leading experts on the history of Anderson County. He credited his training in accounting for his ability to uncover the past. “In accounting and auditing you establish a trail and follow it. . . [and] you use the same method in historical research.”
He was a meticulous collector of artifacts and information, constantly adding to his collection. The Horace Gray Williams Collection at the Lake Hartwell Country Regional Tourism Commission Archives takes up “an entire 5 shelf shelving unit, or 26 full archival document boxes.” In his day, the organization was referred to as the Pendleton District Historical, Recreation, and Tourism Commission, and Williams was one of its commissioners. He worked to preserve historic sites and organize museums across Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens Counties. The Stumphouse Tunnel in Oconee County was one of his projects, and it remains today as a preserved site for visitors to enjoy.
He was involved with several historic groups throughout his life. Six years after moving to Anderson, he worked to organize the Anderson Historical Society. He was elected its first President, second Vice President, and held the position of Curator for many years. He also held the position of Chairman of the Highway Historical Markers Committee, and played a significant role in the placement, recognition, and up-keep of historical markers in Anderson. Furthermore, he was instrumental in organizing old records as he contributed to the creation of the Anderson County Archival Department. To assist in preservation of Anderson’s documents, he called upon the South Carolina Department of Archives and History to come to Anderson and microfilm and index old records.
Williams served as a board member for the Foundation for Historic Preservation in the Pendleton Area (now referred to as the Pendleton Historic Foundation). He oversaw the preservation of the Ashtabula and Woodburn historic houses. In continued devotion to the historic record, Williams served on the Board of Directors of the Pendleton Farmer’s Society, as a member of the Charleston Historical Society, as a member of the Executive Council of the University of South Carolina, and as first Vice President of the Confederation of Local Historical Societies. Horace Gray Williams passed away April 24, 1971, and he is interred at New Silver Brook Cemetery.