James A. Willis
James A. WILLIS - 1856 was the approximate date of the arrival in Moore's Prairie Twp.,
of James A. WILLIS (1809-1859), his wife Nancy White HUDSON (1809-1877), and their several
children. The WILLISES were both born in NC and married there on 01 Dec 1825. They moved
first to TN in their early years and then on to IL. Nine children of this family are
recorded as living to adulthood, with given names of William Henry, Andrew Jackson,
John James, Hugh Lawson White, Martha Jane, Benjamin Franklin, Charlotte, Nancy and
Albert Kirkendall Whitfield.
The 4th son, Hugh Lawson White WILLIS (1835-1903), nick-named "Dick", was married in
1855 to Sarah R. Jane GOSSETT (1839-1882) of TN, prior to moving to Jefferson County, IL.,
the following year. The trip was made by wagon with their first born child. The crossing
of the Ohio River in southeastern IL was made in weather so cold that the river was frozen
solid, allowing the wagon and livestock to cross on the ice. This union produced 17 children,
only nine of whom lived to adulthood. The WILLIS family owned a small farm and created
their livelihood primarily in crops, timber and livestock.
Among the children of Hugh and Sarah WILLIS who married and are known to have descendants
living in Jefferson County the date of this writing are: Sarah A. Jane WILLIS, who became
the wife of Zachariah SPURLOCK in 1875; Mary Elizabeth (Polly) WILLIS, married to
John S. WILLIFORD in 1878; John Whitfield WILLIS, married to Ella PICKETT in 1891; George WILLIS,
married to Nancy BOOK in 1893; and the 4th surviving son, Hugh Lawson White WILLIS, Jr.
Hugh Lawson White WILLIS, Jr. (1872-1960) spent most of his life in Northern Twp.,
Franklin County, earning his living from agriculture, lumber and livestock. In 1906 he
married Minnie McKee LAYMAN (1871-1961). One of their sons, Lloyd M. WILLIS, married
Mary Helen WILLIAMS of Ewing in 1930. They are the parents of Alan D. WILLIS, Mt. Vernon
Alan D. and his wife, the former Sandra (Sondra) Sue SMITH of Benton, live at 22 Webster
Hills, Mt. Vernon, with their daughter Jane Elizabeth, born 1969. Following schooling
from 1957-1966 at SIU, SLU Dental School and Baylor University, Alan D. began practice
here in 1968, and is the first full-time practitioner of orthodontics in Jefferson County.
(Note - Lloyd Willis also has sons Marvin and Bruce. Alan is now retired and lives in Florida.)
"Facts and Folks" Page 348 (with picture of Hugh and Sarah Willis)
Submitted by Mary Zinzilieta