- Robert M. Calhoon
Williams, Israel (30 November 1709–10 January 1788), provincial militia officer and public official, was born in Hatfield, Massachusetts, the son of William Williams, a minister, and Christian Stoddard. His maternal grandfather, the Reverend Solomon Stoddard, was known as the “pope” of the Connecticut Valley for his religious authority and influence. Like him, Williams would achieve military, political, and economic dominance that would earn him a double-edged label: “monarch” of the Connecticut River valley in western Massachusetts. The male members of the Williams family and their political and business associates in western Massachusetts were known as the “River Gods”—a hard-working, aggressive, tightly knit, local elite with political ties to the dominant Hutchinson-Oliver faction in provincial politics. By the 1750s Israel had become the preeminent River God....