The Terrible Williamsons

my intekest in cakij ma<;ic and the allied arts naturally led me to crime. That is, the section of the library dealing with gambling, hustlers and con games. Most well-researched crime anthologies describe the dubious dealings of an American family of con artists called the Terrible Williamsons. Described by one writer as "a teeming, heavily inbred tribe of nomads..." the Terrible Williamsons are well known to rural law enforcement officials for their annual migration west as they ply their back-road, door-to-door trade in bogus goods and services. Accomplished actors, the Terrible Williamsons specialize in merchandising swindles, with occasional gj digressions into con games, thievery -v 1

and assault. Cheap textiles and phony lightning rods are strewn in their wake. Houses and barns that the clan have recently painted shed their crankcase-oil-Iaden whitewash after the first rain, leaving the buildings and the surrounding grounds in an unsightly and highly flammable mess.

At first I found it amusing to share the same last name with such a notori

ous family and thought nothing more of it. But as I dug deeper I found our family's roots grew remarkably parallel. Of Scottish origin, the family has been established in the United States for nearly a century. Impossible to trace with accuracy, their lineage seems to point back to a certain McMillan clan which immigrated to North Carolina around the turn of the century. From there the Williamsons moved north taking up permanent residence in the area surrounding Cincinnati and as far north as Columbus, Ohio.

My great grandfather David Williamson, a descendant of the McMillan clan of Scotland, first came to Ohio by way of North Carolina. He settled in Cedarville, Ohio, roughly midway between Cincinnati and Columbus. My father's eleven formances I asked aloud if we were related to the Terrible Williamsons. It seemed to me that there was an almost visible shift in the mood of the farmhouse. I detected sneaking glances between uncles as a hush fell over the large dining room. Aunt Mary, who had been chatting happily with some long lost relative, glared at me over her thick glasses and said gravely, "We have nothing to do with those people." The disapproval in her tone kept me from discussing the subject for quite a while, but once again Aunt Mary ignited my imagination.

brothers and sisters still have large family reunions at which many of their first cousins, named McMillan, attend. It was at one of these reunions that I decided to pop the question. During a lull in one of my obligatory per-

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