charles w. williams
Born in 1856 in Chatham, New York, C. W. Williams family moved to Iowa when he was a boy. He worked at many menial jobs and finally became a skilled telegraph operator. His love for horses drove him to purchase two broodmares for the grand sum of $200, to try his hand at breeding. In 1885 Williams sent the mares to Kentucky for service. The following year he was blessed with two colts he named Axtell and Allerton. In 1889 Axtell, as a three-year-old, became the world trotting stallion champion, with a mark of 2:12. Shortly thereafter he was sold to a syndicate for $105,000, the first horse to ever command such a price. With a portion of these proceeds Williams built the first kite-shaped track in the country and promoted racing in Iowa. Allerton became the first stallion to trot in 2:10 and Williams turned down an offer of $150,000 for him. Retiring from the horse business in 1908, for some years Williams travelled around the country as an evangelist. He died in 1936 in Aurora, Illinois.
Published in the Harness Racing Museum's 1994 book, The Immortals