JEFFERSON COUNTY ILLINOIS
BIOGRAPHIES

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 
orthodontist.

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) 
(Published 1978)

Submitted by Mary Zinzilieta

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