On her mother's side, Williams is a descendent of the Lemon family, a leading merchant, banking and political family that played an important role in the establishment of Acworth. The Smith Lemon Banking Company, which opened in 1853, is believed to have been Cobb County's first bank. The yellow-colored Lemon House near Lemon Street in downtown Acworth briefly served as Gen. William T. Sherman's headquarters in June 1864.
But none of that history was known to Williams, who currently resides in Dallas, until her cousin, Mark Lemon of Defiance, Ohio, a history buff, contacted her in October with a slew of family information he had collected from books, old newspaper articles and online research.
"I knew that my mother had family in Acworth and I knew what my grandmother's name was. But that was pretty much the extent of what I knew about my mother's history," Williams said, sitting in her eldest son's Acworth home.
An assistant property manager in Smyrna, Williams grew up near Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport and later moved with her family to Fayetteville. The closet she'd ever lived to Acworth was when she and her ex-husband moved to Powder Springs in 1992 to be closer to his family during the pregnancy of her third son.
Her mother, Joan Lemon, who died in 2003, was the daughter of William L. Lemon Sr. of Acworth. His engagement to Jimmye Stokely in December 1910 was featured in Atlanta newspapers. The wedding was in Acworth Presbyterian Church. His father was Jesse L. Lemon, who built the colorful Queen Anne Victorian home, now known as Serendipity House on Main Street, in the 1880s.
Jesse L. Lemon owned a cotton warehouse and mercantile store, and also served in Acworth's first government after the Civil War, according to the 2003 photo book, "Images of America: Acworth." He also married Elizabeth "Lizzie" McMillan, a member of another prominent Acworth family.
He was the son of banker Smith Lemon, who was born in 1821 to James Lemon, a War of 1812 veteran and state representative in DeKalb County. James Lemon and his wife Mary moved to Cobb in 1843 and to Acworth in 1845. They purchased 800 acres and built the Lemon House, which was later greatly expanded by another son, James Lile Lemon, who served as a Confederate officer. One of James Lile Lemon's sons, Edward Lemon, served as Acworth mayor.
"At the time of his death, Smith (Lemon) paid more taxes than anyone in Cobb County, including Marietta," wrote Mark Lemon in an email to Williams. "He was a captain in the war that had the foresight to close the bank that he founded and bury $5,000 in gold coins prior to leaving to fight."
In Acworth, a story has circulated for generations that the Lemon family loaned money to the town to help it recover after the Civil War. Amounts vary from $3,000 up to $7,000, depending on what version of the story is told.
For Williams, there is much family history that remains unknown to her. A scrapbook in her possession has pages of old black and white photographs of people from the early 1900s, whom she doesn't know. A few have captions containing the names of unfamiliar organizations such as Acworth Stags and Acworth Offering.
It's become her goal to learn more about her history, she said.
If she can find any copies, there may be a few publications that can help her out, such as a 1976 book put together by the Carrie Dyer Woman's Club titled, "Acworth, Georgia, from Cherokee Country to Suburbia," said Dr. Tom Scott, a historian at Kennesaw State University. The best source of information about Cobb's early history, Sarah Blackwell Gober Temple's 1935 book, "The First Hundred Years: A Short History of Cobb County, in Georgia," has only a few mentions of the Lemon family, he said.
Williams' sons, Cole Burdett, 26, of Acworth, Jared Burdett, 24, of Dallas, and Lucas Burdett, 18, of Acworth, said they're also interested in learning more about the family's history. Cole Burdett, a mechanic, once lived in downtown Acworth with no idea of his family's deep connection to the city.
"I've lived in Acworth for six years and just recently learned about all this stuff," he said. "I really didn't think I had any lineage to Acworth."