Maxwell Willis, farmer, brought his family by wagon train from North Carolina to Pike Co. in the 1830`s. The actual date of his arrival is unverified. Older family sources claim he was one of four brothers (cousins?) who traveled together in 1833, while another source lists his arrival as 1836. He was in his late 30`s, when he drove his wagon pulled by white oxen through the wilderness. With him were his wife and their first three children: sons Jasper and Beverly, and daughter Louisa. His wife, Jane, may have been expecting their fourth child, William, who was born in 1836. Jasper told his grandchildren that "it was an awfully rough trip." They got lost on the way and Cherokee Indians helped them get "straightened out and out of the woods." They helped them cut a road through a road through, and ate with them, making corn cakes with unwashed hands, which they would "rub around to smooth the sides." They camped among Indians most of the way, but didn`t encounter any hostility. On the contrary, they were very friendly. When they parted ways, the tribe ran off and left an Indian girl behind who had been giving them trouble of some kind. The Willis` brought her to Indiana with them. They first camped near Charlie Hills store. (from Willis family manuscript by Powell) Maxwell (circa 1798-10 Mar.1856) is thought to have been born in Wales. He was married to Jane Miller (1806-!891 of South Carolina) in Rowan County, North Carolina 1 Jan 1825. After 31 eventful years together, Maxwell died at the age of 59. Mrs. Willis, called "Grandma Jennessy" by the great grandchildren, was one month short of 86 years of age, when she joined him in the hereafter. Both ar buried at Johnson Cemetery on Line Road. They were the parents of eleven children. All but the first three were born in Indiana. They are as follows. Jasper (1825-1901) married to Sarah Ellen Dean (1825-1903); Beverly, born in North Carolina in 1829; Louisa, born in North Carolina in 1830; William born 1836; John born 1838 died before he was 20 on 13 Apr. 1858; Elizabeth born 1840; Mary & Martha (twins) born 1843; Maxwell born 12 Jan 1845-Jan 1864 died shortley before his 19th birthday; Nancy & Amanda, possibly twins, born 1848. The family worked together to farm 640 acres of uncleared land in Washington Township. They built a log house, which stood behind the home built years later by Ol and Lillie Brenton, decendant. The Beckville School was accross the road to the South. The abudance of game in the area helped to feed the family well, as they strove to establish themselves securely. Armed with gun and axe, plow and Bible, they carved out their own special place for Willis`s and ragweed to flourish.
This article was submitted to the writer of the book by Inez R Willis.
Jasper Willis, a native of North Carolina, was born November 5,1825. He is the eldest of eleven children born to the marriage of Maxwell Willis and Jane Miller, also natives of North Carolina, from which state in 1836 they came to Pike County and lived on various farms, finally locating on the farm where Mrs. Willis still lives. The father died March 10,1856. Jasper was reared at home, receiving such an education as was afforded by the pioneer schools in the country. After his marriage he rented land for three years, and then bought forty acres of the farm where William Selby now lives. In 1864 he sold the farm which he had increased to 160 acres, and removed to Logan Township. After a four years' residence there he bought the farm upon which he now resides. He has been quite successful in his business and is now the owner of 440 acres of good land. March 6,1846, he was joined in marriage with Sarah E Dean, a native of Kentucky. Of the thirteen children born to them, nine are now living, they are: Beverly, William E, Charles L, George M, Cordelia, Maria now Mrs Jesse Richardson, Lovisa, Catherine and Elizabeth. Both Mr Willis and wife are members of the Missionary Baptist Church, and are highly respected by the community in which they live.
Algiers,Pike Co.Indiana, GEORGE J. WILLIS DIES - George Willis, 65, a farmer of Algiers died Friday morning April 18,1931 as a result of paralysis, having first been stricken a year or two prior to the last stroke. His funeral was held from the M.E. church in Algiers Sunday afternoon, conducted by Rev. Claud Hayes. Burial was in Walnut Hills cemetery here. He was born in this county and lived here all his life. He married Sallie Chew, who with two children - Ott Willis of Washington tp. and Mrs. Virgil Dorsey of Cato, survive He also leaves a brother, Mr. H. B. Willis of Winslow and a sister, Mrs. Eva Shedd of Indianapolis. In religion he was a Baptist.
April 24,1931 Princeton,Indiana Daily Clarion.
John H Willis, a prominent citizen of Logan Township, Pike County, Indiana., is a native of North Carolina, where he was born, May 26,1825, being the fourth in a family of nine children bornto John and Elizabeth (West) Willis, who were born in the same State as their son, and resided there until 1833, when they immigrated to Indiana and located in Pike County, about one mile from our subject's present residence, where they lived until their deaths. John H., our subject, was reared on the home farm, and remained there assisting his parents until he attained the age of twenty-two years. He received a very limited education, in consequence of the poor facilities of those days. December 24,1840, his marriage with Eliza E Marvel was solemnized, and to their union eleven children have been born, of which only these three are now living: Melissa (wife of Joseph B Miley), Prentice and Sherman. Mr Willis' occupation has always been farming, in which he has been very successful. He now owns over 500 acres of land, mostly improved. He also engages quite extensively in stock raising. He and wife are members of the Missionary Baptist Church, and in Politics he is a Republican, and manifests a good, live interest in the political affairs of the day. He is much respected by all who know him, and is a member of the Pike County Agricultural Society.
Beverly Willis, farmer, was born, lived and died in Pike County. He was the eldest son born to Jasper and (Sarah) Ellen Willis. Born 24 December 1848, he died on May 7,1911 at the age of 62. His wife, Isabel Hilborn (April 10,1856- April 28, 1934) out-lived him by 23 years, thus was more clearly remembered by grandchildren. She was always called "Belle" and was 16, when they married on October 17,1872. They met at church, which was not uncommon for a time when going to church was a significant social occasion as well as a time to worship. Their home was always in what is now the Willisville area. Clark's Station was nearby, and most of the neighbors were relatives. Six of their nine children lived to adulthood. Flora Bell, the second child, lived only for 1 and 1/2 years. Te third child, Charles L. died at age 5. Bertha "Lizzie", born fifth, lived to age 12. Among clippings in Belle's Bible, which she read so faithfully, was found a poem, "in Memory of Lizzie". The other children were: Rosa E ("Rosy") 1873 married to James Nance, farmed 100 acres nearby.They had fourteen children. Louise Mae ("Mae") 1882-1975, married Lawrence Evans and lived nearby for some time before moving to St.Louis, Mo. They had five children. James Edmund ("Edmund") 1886-1935, coal-miner, was married first to Alice Abel. They had one son, Arba. After a forced delivery, Alice died and Belle Willis raised Arba. Edmund remarried to Mary Coleman. They had six children. Clarence, farmer and coalminer, married Esta Mabel Willis and lived near Clark's Station. They had four children, two of which died in infancy. Ola Gertrude married Roy Allen Kincaid, coal-miner and mechanic, had two children and lived near Clark's Station. Floyd Hunter (1897-1968), named for Dr. W M Hunter, married Inez Parker. they lived in the Clark's Station area. Willisville was named for them. They had seven children. ( Floyd H Willis) Belle Willis,being of Irish descent, probably her own nicely against her husband's love of practical jokes. Her father, James Rose Hilborn (1800-1875) was born in Ireland and her mother, Rozina Ellen (Phillips) was born in New York (1829). The Hilborn's supposedly sailed from Holland to Newark,N J. Jame's mother's surname was Rose. Tradition claims that she and President William McKinley's mother were sistes. Belle had her serious side,as well, Grandson, Imel, remembers, "She was one of the most true, serious Christians. Her Bible reading and evening prayer were regular. She consideed it one of her responsibilities to uplift her family in prayer". Because of this type of stablilty and concern she is revered as the matriarch of the Willis Family. Life for the Willis's was one of hard work and learning to manage well. Difficulties necessitated creative problem solving. Persistence and an ability to improvise seem to be Willis traits. They've been heard to say, "Where there's a Willis, there's a way"
Jesse Willis a native Hoosier,was born February 10,1842, in Pike County. His parents, Alexander and Elizabeth (Rough) Willis, were natives of North Carolina, where they were married and from whence they moved to the birth-place of our subject in about 1842. In 1847 they removed to this county (Warrick), securing land in Boon Township, where they engaged in farming. Mr. Willis also working at his trade of house-carpenter. He was one of the prominent men of his day in the county, and at the time of his death in April,1881, was County Commissioner. His Widow still survives him. Jesse Willis is the eldest of ten children, and being raised on a farm secured only a limited education. In August,1862, he enlisted in Company E,Sixty-fifth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and served his country with fidelity through the battles of Franklin, Nashville, Atlanta campaign, and numerous lesser engagements. On the closing of the war he returned home, and February,1866, wedded Mary E Hunt, who died August 15,1870, leaving one daughter-Lucy E Willis. Mr.Willis has followed farming and saw-milling all his life, being at present engaged in the former occupation and the owner of 220 acres of well-improved land. March 11,1877, he married Alice V Lawrence, who died February 3,1881, after bearing two children, named George E and William A. Mr Willis was married October 23,1883 to Sarah C Bohannon, his present wife, by whom he is the father of one child-Cora. He is a stanch Republican, a Freemason, and Mr.Willis is a member of the Christian Church.