John W. Williams purchased a saw mill and furnace business from his father, Benajah Williams, Sr. in 1844. The foundry was located at the site of the first dam built along the Chagrin River in 1834 at the foot of W. Washington St.
The Williams Co. started production of foundry products using a small furnace called a cupola. The furnace was used to melt iron which was then molded into products such as plows, wagon skeins, bobsled shoes, stoves, and pruning tools. In 1865 John’s son Adam C. joined the business. A.C. eventually purchased the firm from his father and renamed it the A.C. Williams Company. The company added sad irons to the product line.
Floods in 1878 and 1883 damaged the foundry. The foundry was destroyed by fire in 1889 and again in 1892. Due to the lack of fire protection, the Williams Co. moved to Ravenna, OH where there was an organized fire department.