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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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Jefferson County Coordinator Cindy Ford
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