Built in 1839 by local politician Joseph Tomlinson III, the Tomlinson Mansion is the oldest home in Williamstown. Already a member of the reputable Tomlinson family of Moundsville, Joseph III and his wife Susannah McMahon frequently opened their Ohio Valley home for social gatherings. One of their most notable guests was John James Aubudon during his tour for his 'Birds of America' paintings.
Joseph Tomlinson III was the son of Joseph Tomlinson II and his wife, Elizabeth. He was born in what is now Cumberland, Maryland after the family had moved from Moundsville due to the looming threat of Native American attacks. Joesph III was raised in the Williamstown area, where he built a log cabin on land gifted to him by his father in 1809. He settled on that property with his family and slaves. As the area grew in population, Joseph III gained the respect of his peers, holding several local offices and serving a year as a representative in the Virginia legislature. He often bragged that he could make the commute to Richmond in only a week. After his cabin burnt down in 1838, Joseph III finished construction on the Tomlinson Mansion in 1839. Because of the mansion's remote location at the time, J.J. Aubudon found it to be the perfect place to study the birds of the area. The home continued to serve as a social center until Joseph Tomlinson III's wife died in 1857. Joseph III died in 1864, leaving behind his mansion and his only child, Elizabeth Ann Tomlinson Henderson.