BROWNSBURG — Most residents here are familiar with Williams Park, but they may not know the back story.
Barney Williams once owned the property where the park now sits. And while he wasn’t looking to sell, he did agree to part with it when the Town of Brownsburg needed more park space. Williams died three years ago at the age of 94, but his name is now etched in town lore.
“I can’t explain it to you, how much he loved the town of Brownsburg,” Candy Williams, his daughter-in-law, said during a ceremony at the park this week in which a bench was dedicated in Barney’s honor. “He paved all of the roads and the sidewalks, he put all of those in. And he lived in the same house. He’d never move.
“He had owned that property for around 50 to 60 years and when Brownsburg was trying to find a location for the park, they came to him and asked him if he’d been interested in selling, and he sold it on contract. He wouldn’t sell it to anybody else, but when they told him it was going to be a park, he agreed.”
Barney Williams came to Brownsburg as a child from Gravel Switch, Ky., in a covered wagon when U.S. 31 was nothing more than a dirt road. He married a local girl, Doris Brackett. Barney and Doris had both gone to Brownsburg High School.
Barney started Williams Brothers Construction in the 1930s and owned a gas station in Clermont as well. He also owned several properties in Brownsburg.
At the dedication ceremony, Barney’s son Ron and grandson Ronnie installed a cedar bench into concrete to honor his memory. The family said that even at age 94, Williams would ride his Harley Davidson motorcycle through the park, just to check on the 77 acres of park land.
“He loved Williams Park,” Candy said. “After he passed away we wanted to dedicate something for him because he loved it out there. He rode it two weeks before he died. Every week he’d come to Ron and I’s house on Sunday night, ride down to Greencastle where we’d live. And we’d ride over to the park once a week just to make sure it was OK.
“He always said he loved the idea that people could walk through the park, but he said he should get a bench out here so when people like him were walking, they would have a place to sit down. When he passed away, we asked the parks department if we could dedicate the bench, so Ron and I and our children bought the bench and had it made.”
The solid cedar, weather resistant bench sits near the entrance of the park in the shade of a tree with Barney and his wife’s names etched into it and “In Loving Memory” above that.
“He’s been gone three years, but he would be ecstatic,” Candy said. “You would see the big smile on his face. He was a man of few words, but when it came to the history of Brownsburg, he knew it all. He was a very giving man. If you came to his house and said that you didn’t have enough money for groceries, he would have went to the bank and gave you the money you asked for.”
Williams Park is at 940 S. Locust Lane. It features Blast-Off Playground, a spaceship-themed wooden play structure built by community volunteers; Maple Ridge Trail, which is a .79-mile crushed stone nature trail in the wooded area along White Lick Creek; six shelter houses including a gazebo pavilion; a second playground; basketball courts; and a paved .78-mile oval track.