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.
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.