Volume 5, Number 3, Spring 1974
Lewis Wills, the third child of Peter and Susan (Weitzel) Wills was born 17 Sept. 1810, Johnson County, Tennessee and died 3 April, 1878, Christian Co., Mo. He married Ca. 1837, Elizabeth Crabtree who was born 23 July 1813, Lee Co. Virginia. She died 8 March 1893, Christian Co., Mo. Both are buried in the Pembina Cemetery, Christian Co., Mo.
It is not known the exact time Lewis and Elizabeth came to Missouri. They are listed in the 1840 Federal Census of Lee Co. Va. as Lewis Wills (20-30), one female (20-30) and one female under five. They are living near two Crabtree families, that of Jacob and Richard, but we have been unable to establish which is her father. Richards will does not mention her name and we have been unable to find a will or probate record for Jacob. We did find a deed that lists Lewis and Elizabeth Wills buying a 210 acre farm in Lee Co., Va. 22 day of Dec., 1840, for $1,050.00. They sold the same parcel of land 10 day of Sept. 1844 for $1,700.00 There was no other record of land transactions by Lewis and Elizabeth in the courthouse in Jonesville, Lee County, Va.
On 17 March 1845, Lewis Wills bought 82 acres of land in Greene Co., Mo. He paid Thomas and Matilda Felton $400.00 for this land which was later in Christian Co. when it was organized about 1859. Eighty-three more acres were added in 1846 and in 1847 one hundred and twenty more. He retained a portion of these farms until his death in 1878. In 1868 he owned and paid taxes on 41 "fortys" in Christian Co. alone. We know that he owned land in Greene Co., Mo. and possibly in Taney Co., Mo. at the same time. They gave to each of their ten children, when they married, one hundred and twenty acres of land.
The earliest ancestor of the Wills family of Johnson Co., Tenn. of whom we have a record is a Lewis Wills, born in Strausburg on the river Rhine in Alsace. Alsace was a French privince from 1648 to 1871. Prior to 1648 it had been a German principality for about 700 years. Most of the people were of German descent and spoke the German language. According to Lewis Rev. War pension application he was born 1744 and came to Lancaster Co., Pa. in 1748. He was drown at Byrds Ford on the Nolichucky River, Greene Co., Tenn. 5 March 1832 when he was 88 years old.
There are different versions of Lewis parentage, but the most likely seems to be: that he started for America with his father and step-mother when quite young. The father died on the way and his step-mother gave him to a family of Lancaster, Pa., with whom he stayed until 21 years old. He married in Lancaster Co., 1770, Catherine Dick, daughter of Peter and Mary Elizabeth (Linton) Dick. Catherine was born 1747, on board ship as her family came to America. It is said that a close relative was Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick, one of the three physicians in attendance upon George Washington during his fatal illness. Dr. Dick was practicing in Alexandria at the time, was by birth a Pennsylvanian and by faith a member of the Society of Friends. There is a tradition that Dr. Dick stopped the clock on the mantel in General Washingtons room at the moment of his death. Mrs. Washington later presented this clock to the Doctor and he in turn presented it to the Alexandria-Washington Lodge of Masons, of which George Washington had been a first Master and later Dr. Dick served in this capacity.
The first Lewis Wills Revolutionary War pension application reads: Born Oct., 1744, Strausburg, Alsace, Germany. Entered the army for eighteen months, Virginia; served in Capt. Lambs Company, Col. Carlins Regiment; discharged Winchester Barracks, Frederick Co., Va. after serving his term. Was in battle under General Wain at Jamestown and in the taking of Cornwallis at Yorktown.
Peter Dicks (Dyches) record for the Rev. War reads: born ca. 1748 Germany; died 1790, Frederick Co., Va. Served in the War as a private in Capt. Alexander Lawson Smiths Co., Rawlings Regiment, Continental troops, commanded by Col. Daniel Morgan. He acted in the capacity of Wagonmaster.
Lewis and Catherine (Dick) Wills moved to Frederick Co., Va. ca. 1780 as that is the time they bought land there. Then in 1795 the Washington Co., Va. courthouse records show that Lewis bought a farm of 402 acres and paid $1566.00 for it. Then, it is said, that while living in Southwest Va. he entered into a contract with the state of North Carolina to build a forge, for which he was to receive a land grant. He crossed the mountains
and finding iron ore and water on Little Doe Creek (in what is now Johnson Co., Tenn.) he built a forge. Here he lived and reared their family until Catherines death about 1802. Lewis and Catherine had seven children: John, Peter, Elizabeth, Mary, Barbara, Lewis and Sarah. The oldest four possibly born in Pennsylvania. Lewis married second, Ellen M. King and they moved to Greene Co., Va. after their marriage and he died there in 1832 when 88 years old.
There were five children by this second marriage. Catherine is buried in the Wills Cemetery, near where they lived, just north of Mountain City, Tenn. (Johnson Co.)
Peter, the second child of Lewis and Catherine (Dick) Wills was born 23 Dec. 1776, Rockbridge or Frederick Co., Va. He married Susan Weitzel, 30 April 1804 the daughter of Adam Weitzel who was born 1785, Loudoun Co., Va. and died on the Laurel, Johnson, Co., Tenn. 1870. Peter and Susan are buried in the Wills Cemetery near Mountain City and near them is the marker for her father Adam Weitzel. Peters brother Lewis Jr. married Catherine, a sister of Susan. It seems that Peter and Susan were content to live their lives in this corner of Tenn. Their children: Mary, John D., Lewis, Catherine, Caleb, William, David, Margaret, Adam, James H., Peter and Susannah.
Adam Weitzel, the father of Susan was born 1749, Lancaster Co., Pa. and died 1827 Carter Co., Tenn. (Now Johnson Co.) He had married 1773, Lancaster Pa., Mary Davis (b. 1750-d. 1822) Adam served in Capt. Boyds Co. in Lancaster Co., Pa. and took the oath of allegiance and fidelity with 300 others on Nov. 1778 in Lancaster Co., Pa.
Of the twelve children of Peter and Susan (Weitzel), Lewis seems to have been the only one to leave Johnson Co., Tenn., although some records are not complete. His brothers and sisters married into the Shoun, Neal, Murphy, Orr and Donnelly families and stayed in East Tenn. Why or how our Lewis left home and married probably in Lee Co., Va. we do not know, but he did, and then picked up and moved to what was in 1845 Greene Co., Mo. The hills and valleys he found here without-a-doubt reminded him of the hills and valleys back in Johnson Co., Tenn. and Lee Co., Va. We wish we knew who the little family traveled with to their new home. No one at that time would have made the trip alone. Usually there were at least eight to ten families in each caravan. Susan, their oldest, told tales, as she remembered them, of their trip. Of camping over nights and especially that they did not travel on Sundays. They tied up and observed the Sabbath
And thus our Lewis and Elizabeth came to Missouri. Of their ten children it is thought the first three were born in Va. and possible Hettie, the fourth, was born on the journey. The ten lived and married in Greene and Christian Counties of Missouri until about 1878 when three of them and their families moved to Kansas. Lewis and Elizabeths children:
Susan, (first) b. 19 Jan. 1838, Lee Co., Va. died 6 April, 1928, Greene Co., Mo.; married 18 Dec. 1856, William B. Gibson. William was born, 8 Nov. 1830, Tenn. son of George M. and Ann B. Gibson. He died 5 Dec. 1901. Children: Lewis, Amanda, Elizabeth, George, Mary, Hettie (Susan?) and John. Several of these children migrated to California and there made their homes. George M. and Ann B. Gibson, Susan and Wm. B. Gibson and daughter Hettie and son John are buried in the Dodson Cemetery, Greene Co., Mo.
Rebecca Catherine (second) was born 25 Sept. 1840, Lee Co., Va., and died March 1932, Christian Co., Mo. She married ca. 1859 James Calvin Woody (son of Abraham and Anna (Vaughn) Woody). They had five children: Alice, Eleanor, Mabel, William L., and Charles C. J.C. and Catherine went overland to California sometime after their marriage. Some of their children were born near Stockton, California. However they returned to Christian Co., Mo about 1871. They and a daughter Mabel, who never married are buried in Pembina Cemetery, Christian Co., Mo.
Peter Lewis (third) probably named for his g-grandfather as well as his father and also for his grandfather was born 1 Sept. 1842, Lee Co., Va. and died 11 May 1934 near Norwich, Kansas. he married 1866. Louisiana Cloud, daughter of Calvin M. and Elizabeth (Kershner) Cloud. She was born 11 April 1848, Greene Co., Mo. and died 30 May, 1923, Norwich, Kansas. Their children: William, Elizabeth, Jim, John Hagen, Frank, Mary Jane, and Hattie. Peter Lewis Wills served with the 6th Reg. 4th Cay. Vols. as a private, Co. C. under Capt. Breese, enlisting when 18, on 6 Aug., 1861, Springfield, Mo. He was mustered in 28 Oct., 1861 at Rolla, Mo., and discharged 28 Oct. 1864 at Baton Rouge, La. He is described on his service record as 59", hair, black; eyes, blue; complexion, dark; single; occupation, farmer; native of Va. and residing in Greene Co., Mo. at time of enlistment. About 1875 Peter Lewis "Pete" and
family and his brother, John, and family and sister, Mary Jane, and family went to Kansas and homesteaded. These two Wills brothers and the sister had married two Cloud sisters and a brother. None of them came back to Missouri to live, although they visited here quite often.
Hester (fourth) was born 1844 either in Lee Co., Va. or perhaps on the journey to Mo. She died in California sometime after 1920. She married John Woody, brother of James Calvin Woody who had married her sister Rebecca Catherine. They were married 3 Jan. 1866 and went soon after to California. Their family was reared in and around Tulare, Ca. We have been unable to get information of this family.
John (fifth) born 1846 Greene Co., Mo. (later Christian Co.,) died in Kansas. Married, Mary Elizabeth Cloud, daughter of Calvin M. and Elizabeth (Kershner) Cloud and sister of Louisiana who married Peter L. Wills. They too settled near Norwich, Kansas and their children all reared in Kansas are: Lewis; Mary or Polly; Patrick John; Thomas; Alice, and Allen (twins); Howard; Pearl; Lucy and Dora.
Caleb Dines, (sixth) war born 15 March, 1848 Greene Co., Mo. (later Christian Co.) died 23 July, 1921 Greene Co., Mo. He married Rachel Harriett Kershner daughter of John H. and Martha A. (Amis) Kershner who came to Greene Co., Mo. from Hawkins Co., Tenn. They were married 23 July 1871. Rachel Harriett was born 24 April, 184.8 and died 13 Oct. 1922, Greene Co., Mo. Their children are: Malda Nodie, Elizabeth Howe, Maggie Belle, Minnie Alice, May Della, Mason Harry, "Little Cooney", Myrtle Jeniva, Mida Etter, Guy, and Herbert Baxter. Dines and Harriett lived all their married lives on the land in Greene Co., Mo. that his father gave them when they were married. They celebrated their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary shortly before his death. They are buried in Pembina Cemetery, Christian Co., Mo.
Lewis Patrick (seventh) was born 16 Jan. 1850, Greene Co., Mo. (later Christian Co.,) and died 28 May 1934. He married Jeniva Chapman, daughter of Stanford and Drucilla (Horn) Chapman. She was born 14 Nov. 1859 and died 12 May 1951. No children. "Pad" and "Nive" are buried in the Chapman Cemetery, west edge of Ozark, Mo. Her census records read Jeniva; Cemetery stone is Geniva and marriage record reads: L.P. Wills and G.A.J. Chapman, 3 Day of Feb. 1881, married by G.J. Cowan, M.G. C.J. Rogers, clerk and recorder.
George W. (eighth) was born 7 April 1852 Greene Co., Mo. Married 29 October 1874, Mary Elizabeth Chapman, daughter of Judge Matthew and Rachel A. (Horn) Chapman and cousin of Jeniva who married "Pad", brother of George. Their children: Flossie, Regis, and Clyde. George and Mary Elizabeth lived all their married lives in Christian Co., Mo. and are buried in the Pembina Cemetery.
Charles (ninth) was born 29 May, 1854, Greene Co., Mo.; married Alice Chapman, daughter of Judge Matthew and Rachel (Horn) Chapman, sister of Mary Elizabeth who married George Wills and cousin of Jeniva who married L. P. Wills. There was a double wedding ceremony at the home of the brides father when Mary Elizabeth Chapman married George W. Wills and Alice Chapman married Charles Wills. They had one child Gussie. Charlies mother Elizabeth lived in their home after the fathers death.
Mary Jane (tenth) was born 1858, Greene Co., Mo. (later Christian) married John James Cloud, 4 March 1876. John was the son of Calvin and Elizabeth (Kershner) Cloud and brother to Louisiana who married Peter Lewis Wills and brother to Mary Cloud who married John Wills. They settled in Kansas and had six children:
Frederick J., Lulu, Oscar, Montie M., Mark E., and Lillian G. Mary Jane and John are buried near Norwich, Kansas.
Elizabeth Kershner who married Calvin Cloud is a sister of Rachel Harriett Kershner who married Caleb Dines Wills. Elizabeth is the oldest and Rachel Harriett the youngest of John H. and Martha A. (Amis) Kershner.
This is a part of the story of Lewis and Elizabeth Wills journey to Missouri. Today (1974) their grandchildren, g-grandchildren and on into the next two generations are scattered from New Jersey and Virginia to California and beyond. It is a pleasure to go back to Johnson Co. Tenn. to visit, exchange data, information and pictures with the descendants of the first Lewis Wills who came to America in 1744. We are indebted to Carl B. Neal (a descendant) of Olympia, Washington who compiled and published "The Wills Family of Johnson Co., Tenn." Also Minerva (Wills) McEwin and sister Norma Wills of Johnson Co., Tenn. whom we have visited every year since we "found" them in 1968. We treasure our visits with the Wills relatives in Tenn. and hope we will have many more.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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