Ephraim Smith Williams, the fourth child of Oliver and Mary Lee Williams, was born in Concord, Massachusetts, on February 7, 1802. His father Oliver, an early settler of Detroit, Michigan, traded goods with local Native Americans in the years before the War of 1812. His family joined him in Michigan in 1815. Around 1830, Ephraim Smith Williams moved to Saginaw, Michigan, where he and his brother George worked for the American Fur Company. He served as Saginaw's postmaster for several years, until 1840. Ten years later, he moved to Flint, Michigan, where he served as the city's postmaster and mayor. Williams married Hannah Melissa Gotee on March 13, 1825, and they had seven children: Mary Abigail (1826-1872), Oliver Harvey (b. 1830), Julia Ann (b. 1833), Ephraim Schuyler (b. 1835), Elias Gotee (1838-1884), Eliza Melissa (1841-1842), and Jenny Maria (1844-1936). Ephraim Smith Williams died on July 20, 1890.