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Patrick Willis 1822-1889 Elizabeth Ann "Betsy Ann" Pittman 1827-1889

By Don Rivara, (donrivara@aol.com) March 2004

Patrick Willis was born in Hanover County, Virginia, on May 15, 1822. We know this from a Bible sheet in the possession of his grandson Cecil Dell in the 1970's. Patrick was a son of William "Buck" Willis [1795-1878] and his first wife Elizabeth Kersey [c.1798-c.1841]. Both parents were from Virginia. They were married April 30, 1816, in Louisa County, VA, which is adjacent to Hanover County. Buck was a veteran of the War of 1812, serving in Capt. William Dade's company under General Porterfield in September 1814. He was discharged at Holly Springs Camp, VA, in February of 1815, serving only in the state of Virginia. For his military service, Buck was granted military land warrants in Claiborne County, Tennessee. The family moved there in the middle 1820's. In addition Buck purchased 90 acres of school land for $300. When the government surveyed the western lands, they set up a system of townships made up of thirty-six sections one-mile square. One of these thirty-six sections was designated "school land," the sale or rental of which was used to build a school for the township. It was part of this square mile that Buck purchased. Buck is believed to have been the son of the Joel Willis that shows up on the 1830 Claiborne County, Tennessee Census. At that time Joel was a widower between sixty and seventy years old. He appears to be living with a man in his thirties with a wife in her twenties and three children under five as well as a female between ten and fifteen years old. A Joel Willis earlier showed up on the 1810 Census of King and Queen County Virginia, on page 228. The household consisted of one female of 0-10 years of age; one female from 10-16 years of age; two females from 16-26 years of age; one female aged 26-45; nine slaves; one male 10-16 years of age [Buck], and one male over 45 years of age [Joel]. A John J. Willis appears also in that census with exactly the same household makeup. It is believed that Joel was enumerated twice in that census, once as John J. Willis and once as Joel Willis. That this John Joel Willis was Buck's father is further evidenced by the appearance of John J. Willis and a John Williams as administrators of securities in a legal matter in Hanover County, Virginia, in 1827 where Patrick Willis was born in 1822 [Hanover County, VA, Chancery Wills and Notes]. In the 1830 U.S. Census of Claiborne County, Tennessee, the family of Joel Willis consisted on one male under 5; one male aged 20-30; one male aged 30-40; and one male aged 60-70 [Joel]; one female under 5; one female aged 10-15; and two females aged 20-30. Woodson Willis and Hugh Willis of Claiborne County, Tennessee, may also have been sons of Joel, notwithstanding that one of the censuses there showed Hugh to be much older than he appeared in other censuses [an error, I think]. The 1830 Census of Claiborne County also listed the family of William C. "Buck" Willis: one male aged 30-40 [Buck]; one male aged 10-15 [James]; one male aged 5-9 [Patrick]; one male under 5 [Robert Fleming]; one female aged 30-40 [Elizabeth Kersey Willis]; one daughter aged 10-15 [Charity?]; and one daughter age 5-9 [name unknown]. Patrick was the third child of Buck and Elizabeth. His siblings were James, 1817; a sister [Charity?] c.1819; another sister c.1825; Robert Fleming "Flem," c.1828; Watson "Watt" Willis, c.1831; Luretta "Retta," c.1833; Bartlett "Bartly," c.1838; and Docker G. "Dock," c.1840. Elizabeth Kersey Willis died after the census in 1840 or in 1841, and Buck married Elzira "Elziry" King, on January 21, 1842. She was sixteen years old at the time, younger than Buck's three oldest children. He was forty-six. Elzira produced another eight children for Buck, half-siblings to Patrick: Amanda, c.1844; Sarah, c.1846; Lucy Ann, c.1847; America, c.1849; William, Junior, c.1851; Elizabeth, c.1854; John, c.1855; and Angeline, c.1860. That made seventeen children in the family. While all his half-siblings were being born, Patrick married Elizabeth Ann "Betsy Ann" Pittman on December 14, 1845, when he was twenty-three and she, eighteen. They were married in Claiborne County by George M. Cheek, a justice of the peace, who was the husband of Olivia Hurst Cheek, the sister of Silvia Hurst Pittman. The young couple probably attended the Big Spring Primitive Baptist Church in a hamlet called Springdale between Tazewell and Bean Station. Betsy Ann's grandfather, Thomas Hurst, was the preacher there until that August, when he retired due to age and infirmity. This log church was built in 1796 and is the oldest church in Tennessee. Betsy Ann was the daughter of Silvia Hurst Pittman [c.1805-1860] and James Pittman [c.1795-c1837]. She was born November 26, 1827, near Tazewell, Claiborne County, Tennessee. She and her sister Martha Emeline were probably twins since they were born the same year. Her father died when Betsy was about ten. She was third of seven children, all girls except for Betsy's younger brother Salem. Her siblings were Nancy Pittman True [1824-after 1880]; Mary "Poppy" Pittman Breeding [1825-after 1870]; Martha Emeline Pittman Allen [1827-early 1850's]; Olive "Ollie" Pittman Estes Work [1829-1872]; Salem Rolle Pittman [1832-1876]; and Louisa Pittman [1834-?]. Betsy Ann's family in Claiborne was large. Her great grandfather, "Mill Creek John" Hurst [c.1735-1817] and several of his large family had settled there. Her grandparents, Thomas Hurst [c.1764-1846] and Silvia Breeding Hurst [c.1767-1854], also had a large family in Claiborne County. There were a number of Pittman relatives as well. Living close to the widowed Silvia Hurst Pittman in the 1840 U.S. Census of Claiborne County were the families of Sterling Pittman, aged 70-80, probably Betsy Ann's grandfather; and William Pittman, aged 30-40, probably an uncle to Betsy. The Pittmans, along with other Pittman kin, had settled along Little Yellow Creek in both Harlan County, Kentucky and in adjacent northern Claiborne County, Tennessee. Many of her family were slave owners, including her Hurst grandparents. During the first few years of their marriage, Patrick and Betsy Ann remained in Claiborne. Their first two children were born there. The first child, Lucy Ann, was born November 6, 1846. Later she would style her name Louisiana as did another Lucy Ann, who was a cousin of her husband. The second child was a son, James Monroe Willis, born February 6, 1848. He would be called Monroe. Monroe was to be the only son of the Willis's eight children. He was handicapped by a clubfoot or another similar defect. He was lame and could not run and engage in normal activities that other boys did. Betsy Ann and her siblings were close, and the men the sisters married were companionable too. In 1849 the daughters were given their inheritance by their mother from the sale of the family farm, and they emigrated together to Mahaska County, Iowa. In the caravan were Nancy Pittman True and her family, Mary "Poppy" Pittman Breeding and her family, sixteen year old Salem Pittman, Elizabeth and Patrick and their two children, and Patrick's brother James Willis and his family. The Pittman siblings left behind their mother, who was living with her daughter Emeline Allen's family, and their sister Olive and her family. Patrick's father was surrounded by children from both of his marriages, so the emigration of his oldest two sons was probably not as traumatic to him as was Silvia's loss of all but two of her children to the West. Betsy Ann's grandmother, Silvia Breeding Hurst [c.1767-1854], was also still alive at the time. The Willises and Pittmans weren't to sojourn long in Mahaska County. The 1850 Census, in Household #167 enumerated on August 18, shows them living there next door to the Trues. Patrick is shown as age 28, born in VA, owning no property. The rest of the family were listed as Elizabeth, 21, born TN; Lucy A., age 3, born TN; James M., 2, born TN; Margarette, 6 mos., born IA. The clan moved on to Mercer County, Missouri, within a couple of miles from the Iowa border. The attraction there must have been Aunt Sarah "Sally" Hurst Harper [1789-1892]. She and her thirteen children lived near Princeton. She was the eldest sister of the Pittman sisters' mother Silvia Hurst Pittman. A John Willis of Mercer County may have been an uncle of Patick's; if so, that would have been another attraction to the area. The families seem to have thrived here, but the clouds of civil war were looming. After the families were well settled in, Olive Pittman Estes and her family joined her siblings in Mercer County in 1853. In the early 1850's many people who had gone to California's gold fields were returning home, many with sacks of nuggets and gold dust. The brothers-in-law Patrick Willis, George Estes, James True, Jackson Breeding, and Salem Pittman headed west. They were to be gone two years, 1853-1855, in which the women had to tend to their homes and families. The farms were probably allowed to lay fallow, but the women certainly had to maintain large gardens for family produce. When the brothers-in-law agreed that it was time to return home, George Estes chose to remain, saying that he wanted to find a little more gold before returning. Later a man appeared at the Estes farm and told Olive that he and George had been returning from California when George became ill. The visitor said that he had left George in a St. Louis hospital. [Apparently the story was that they had come by ship because St. Louis is east of Mercer County.] George never returned, and the family could find no record of his ever having been a patient in a St. Louis hospital. The family theorized that the visitor had murdered George for his gold, but why would the man visit the Estes home if he had murdered George? My theory is that George did not want to return to Olive. Her photo makes her look like a shrew. The hospital story was a ruse for him to his wife, making her think he had died. No one knows for sure what happened to George; Olive later married Alonzo Work. Upon his return from California, Patrick began a series of land purchases with the gold he brought back. On May 2, 1855, Mercer County Deed Book C, page 535, shows that Patrick purchased from Daniel Barthlow the west 1/2 of the northeast quarter of Section 32, Township 67, Range 25, 80 acres. On April 4, 1857, in Deed Book D, page 234, it shows that Patrick purchased from Joseph Toney a four-acre parcel in the southeast corner of the southeast quarter of Secton 33, Township 67, Range 25. It was probably on this land that the Willis School was built in 1859. On November 3, 1857, Patrick purchased from his brother-in-law, Salem Pittman, through a quitclaim deed, the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 4, Township 66, Range 25, 40 acres, recorded in Deed Book E, page 343. These parcels lay in the northwest corner of Mercer County between Saline, MO, and Pleasanton, Decatur County, Iowa. The Willis School was built approximately one and one-quarter miles south of the town of Pleasanton, Decatur County, Iowa. The family lived very close to the Missouri-Iowa state line. Some family members lived in Iowa and some in Missouri, all close to one another. Among those who contributed land, labor, and materials to build the school were Patrick Willis, Kirby McGrew [father of Monroe Willis' wife Melinda], Mr. Perkypile [He died enroute to OR with the Willises], and Adam Harper [one of Aunt Sally's family]. It was not a subscription school; anyone could attend. The building had two small windows on the east side and two small windows on the west side. Under the windows, a writing board extended the entire length of the building. The seats were made of split logs with wooden pins for legs. They were placed so the students faced north. The door was in the south wall. The first teacher was Alfred Brand, a new arrival from Indiana. All of Patrick and Elizabeth's children would have attended this school. The school was sold in 1955 to a private party and the students were consolidated into the county school system. Missouri abutted the new Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory where the pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces were at war with each other after the Kansas and Nebraska Act of 1854. People from neighboring Missouri and Iowa traveled to Kansas to register to vote, stating that they were Kansas residents. They wished to vote for or against slavery, depending on their viewpoint. Salem Pittman was registered as a voter in Kansas although he didn't live there. In the years leading up to the Civil War, Patrick and Betsy Ann added five more daughters to their family: Margaret V. Willis, born February 1850; Mary Elizabeth "Liz" Willis, May 1, 1853; Amanda Arzina "Mandy," May 20, 1856; Melissa J. Willis, May 2, 1858; and Sarah Ann "Sade" Willis, June 20, 1860. When the war was in full swing, their last child, Emily Frances "Emma" Willis, was born December 16, 1863. Note that three of Patrick's daughters had the same names and his younger half-sisters: Lucy Ann, Amanda, and Sarah. In January of 1860 word was received that Silvia Hurst Pittman had died from typhoid fever. She hadn't been an old woman, just fifty-four. It hadn't been very many years since Silvia's own mother had died. 1860 was the year of the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency and the secession of South Carolina. Claiborne County, being in a border state, would have a tumultous four years following with families split in their loyalties. Silvia was fortunate in that she didn't have to live through those violent years. The 1860 Census was taken in Lindley Township, Mercer County, Missouri. Household #1,089 was that of Patrick Willis, age 36, born VA, real estate value 2,000, personal property value $1,000. Other members of the household were Elizabeth, wife, age 33, born TN; Louisiana, daughter, age 14, born TN; James M., son, age 12, born TN; M.V., daughter, age 10; born IA; Mary E., age 7, born MO; Amanda, daughter, age 4, born MO; and Malissa, daughter, age 2, born MO. Salem Pittman was among those who registered to vote for a free Kansas. When the war finally started in 1861, Salem enlisted in the Union Army in Company M, 6th Missouri L. M. Cavalry. It is believed that the Willises' daughter Margarette died about this time, though we have no direct proof. She was not living with the family in the 1870 U.S. Census, and there are no photos, no stories, no marriage record, nothing to show her alive past the 1860 Census. It is conceivable that she married elsewhere and moved away, however. Missouri, as a border state, probably suffered from the most atrocities of any state during the war. Not only were the regular forces fighting, but guerilla groups were fighting each other will, no holds barred. Missouri civilians lived in terror. The situation led the families of Patrick and Betsy Ann and those of her sisters Nancy True and Mary Breeding to seek an escape in the West. In the spring of 1864 they left for Oregon, with Patrick Willis elected wagon master. Betsy Ann's sister Olive did not chose to leave Missouri, but her son Will Estes, sixteen, unhappy with his stepfather and stepsiblings, chose to go with his aunts and uncles. Olive refused permission for her next-oldest son, Jim Estes, fifteen, to go with his aunts, but after the wagons left, Jim ran away and joined them at Council Bluffs, Iowa, the jumping-off town for the Oregon-bound population of Iowa and other points north. Will Estes lived out his life in Oregon, but Jim Estes was to return to Missouri a short while later. He lived to be ninety-three and left his memoirs of the journey across the plains. They appeared in the Leon, Iowa Journal-Reporter on Thursday, April 27, 1933, and again fifty years later on April 28, 1983:

James N. Estes, who will soon celebrate his eighty-fourth birthday anniversary, is the oldest resident of Pleasanton, the place where he lived when only Indians roamed the prairie. He has witnessed the moving of the first post office, watched the town build and grow, and has served as its marshal, justice of the peace, and mayor. His stepfather named the town. Mr. Estes had lived in the community continuously since he was a child with the exception of a few months spent west. When three he came with his parents from Claiborne County, Tenn. in a covered wagon drawn by an ox team to Iowa. They settled just across the line in Missouri. With the gold rush on in California Mr. Estes' father and Patrick Willis, with others from that vicinity, went to California. Mr. Willis returned in two years, Mr. Estes' father remained owing to the mining claims he had accumulated. However, within the next year he was able to sell out and accompanied by a man from Kentucky started on the homeward trek but never reached there. Later investigations led relatives to believe the man from Kentucky had robbed Estes and did away with him. Mr. Estes' mother, left with two children, wove cloth, made clothing and did various kinds of work to care for the children. A few years passed and she married Alonso Works [sic]. At the age of nine Mr. Estes was put out to the home of a Mr. Fulton and worked there until he was fifteen. About that time his brother Will made plans to accompany his uncle, Patrick Willis, on his second trip out west. James did not receive permission from his mother to go and had to remain home. The men left with their ox teams, covered wagons, and supplies. But three days later James ran off from his mother and started out walking to catch his brother and the others. He knew they would have to wait in Council Bluffs for others to join them as the government stopped all immigrants until a large number were banded together so that they might travel with less danger from the attacks of Indians. In the group with Patrick Willis and the two boys were Mr. Willis' children, including the late Mrs. W. O. Foxworthy, Monroe Willis, and Mandy Emmons. James caught up with the Willis family at Council Bluffs and drove the ox team for them. Considerable trouble was encountered on their trip with the Indians stealing their horses. Mr. Estes recalls the many nights when he was detailed to duty with another man to lie out and guard the horses. "In those days," says Mr. Estes, "The horses could smell Indians and when the Indians were near they would hover around the guards. They would walk over us and around us but never hurt or touched us. The coyotes often made them nervous too." In Oregon he chopped wood for boats and earned enough money to back to Salt Lake City, Utah, and there he fell in with a mule team. After leaving Salt Lake City, he learned that he was with Morgan's men from Morgan's gang, and a few men from Quantrill's gang, who were masking as immigrants.

Jim's daughter, Vee Estes Dowling [1889-1995], who died two weeks shy of her 106th birthday, also left a written account of the stories told to her by her father, and the author met her in 1975, and she verbally gave the same account:

When my father was fourteen, Patrick Willis…started across the plains to Oregon. My father's older brother Will went with him. My father wanted to go, but his mother wouldn't give her consent. He told his mother that he was going to Decatur [Iowa], a nearby town, but he ran away and caught up with another uncle, Jackson Breeding, where he joined their train. There was quite a train by this time and they followed the "Old Oregon" trail. Uncle Patrick, who was their leader, chose the places where they camped for the night. At one place in Nebraska there was a nice little spot where some insisted would be a nice place to camp for the night, but Uncle Patrick decided to camp on higher ground. That night there was a cloudburst and another wagon train that had camped in the lower area were almost obliterated. The wagons were washed into the Platte River, all but one which was bolted down. This wagon belonged to the son-in-law of the leader of that train. He saved the life of his wife but all the rest of the women and all of the children under sixteen were drowned. The woman who was saved had lost her baby and my father said she wore a black sunbonnet and never spoke a word the rest of the way. They saved what they could and went on with Uncle Patrick's train.

The following is from Jim Estes himself. It is in the possession of his descendants:

Early one morning before the camp had broken up, a band of Indians swooped down upon us driving away nine of the horses. The horses wandered off about a mile and one of Leroy Goins' boys and I went after them. I looked up on the bluff and saw an Indian standing up straight. I told the boy to look up and the Indian dropped. About that time the Indians swooped down out of the canyon and drove the horses before us. That was the last we ever saw of those horses. The next morning after the Indians had stolen our horses, two Indians came circling down out of the brush. Not too far from us a widow had a mule team hobbled together. The hobbles had been taken off and the mules driven off. The woman's brother took after the Indians, thinking it was one of our men. He discovered it was Indians and shot two of them with the repeating rifle he was carrying. They shot him through the larynx with an arrow. The arrow had a spear on it. We all thought he would die and they just loaded him into the wagon. They discovered when he shaved his beard that the arrow had gone straight through his larynx. We had only two horses and a pony left with us. The Indians attacked us about seventy-five miles west of Laramie. The soldiers were stationed there, but before they could do anything, they had to get orders from Washington. We traveled on the north side of the Platte River where the grass had all been eaten, but it was green on the other side. Our outfit stood looking, wishing they could get the cattle across. Uncle Patrick told them if they could furnish a pony, he would furnish a boy. While the cattle ate, I lay down and rested and started back about midnight. The stream was full of big rocks and the current was so swift that it was hard for the pony to keep his footing. I held to his mane and sometimes went clear under. I was thoroughly wet and hungry. When we crossed the Cascades, I drove ahead. All of the wagons turned over except ours. When we went down big Laurel Hill, I drove four yoke of cattle--three yokes behind and one on the front axle. It was about a half mile down and the trees showed where the ropes had been tied to them.

Patrick and Elizabeth Ann Willis' granddaughter, Rose Cooper Goodrich [1875-1960] told the author one detail about the journey that does not appear elsewhere. Her mother, Lucy Ann "Louisiana" Willis Cooper [1846-1926], said that there was a man with the wagon train who foolishly shot at some Indians and received an arrow in the leg. Later the wound became gangrenous and needed to be amputated. The men held him down while another sawed off the diseased leg without the benefit of pain-killers, and he was put into his wagon and the wagons rolled on. Kermuth Carrington [1912-?] of Saratoga, CA, and his cousin Charles Henderson of Pasco, WA, descendants of Salem Pittman, in the 1960 told of Oregon Trail stories passed down their branch of the family. An Enoch Williams and a Bill Willis, probably a kinsman, and their families were among Patrick Willis' party. Most of the children rode on horses. The group had one wagon of meat and one of flour. Had they run out of flour along the trail, it would have cost them $16 for a hundred-pound barrel of flour at the forts along the way, an exorbitant price in those days. Indians could be seen perched perched on the bluffs watching the travelers. At Fort Bridger some members of Patrick's party became ill with a fever. John R. Stanley lost his father-in-law, James Perkypile, and his wife Juliette Perkypile Stanley. Stanley would later marry Nancy True's daughter, Emaline True when they arrived in Oregon. Somewhere along the trail a daughter of Patrick and Betsy Ann, either Mandy or Lizzie, fell off a wagon and was injured. She was taken to a doctor at one of the forts along the trail when they reached there. Vee Estes Dowling told me in 1975 that at the crossing of a large river, Betsy Ann was riding in a wagon with her lame son Monroe driving. Midstream, when the current began to tilt the wagon back and forth precariously, she became frightened and called out to have the men rescue her and Monroe. [Monroe probably couldn't swim due to his disability.] The two were put on horses to continue their journey across. The husband of Betsy Ann's sister Nancy True, James True, had a drinking problem. He became mean when he drank. At Fort Walla Walla, James was able to purchase liquor, and he got drunk--and mean. He beat his wife with a horse whip. It is believed that the Willises lived in Yamhill County because it was there, in the county seat of Lafayette, that their eldest daughter, Lucy Ann, married John Shepherd Cooper [1838-1901] in January of 1865. During the time the Willises spent in Oregon, Patrick and Betsy Ann became grandparents in late 1865 when Lucy Ann gave birth to a son, James Patrick Willis, on November 2. As the first grandchild, the baby was probably coddled by his grandparents and aunts. But the boy and his mother came down with dysentery or the cholera in October of 1866, and the baby quickly dehydrated and died. Lucy Ann, pregnant with her second child, survived. Betsy Ann did not like Oregon and its rainy weather. After the Civil War ended, she lobbied to return to Missouri, but then the Oglala Sioux under Chief Red Cloud were at war with the whites threatening travelers on the Bozeman and Oregon rails. In 1867 the Willises, minus Lucy Ann, returned to Missouri. Due to the Indian threat, the wagons had to be accompanied by a military escort. Separating from their daughter with such a distance to be between them had to be wrenching. Lucy Ann's baby, a daughter, was born on April 7, 1867. She was named Elizabeth Ann for her grandmother. The birth would have coincided pretty closely with the earliest time that a wagon caravan could depart from Oregon; so it is unknown if the Willises were able to see this grandchild. About this time, the Pittman sisters also separated. The Trues moved south to Lake County, California, James' drinking probably having alienated Nancy's family from him. Nancy divorced True in California. Both James True and his ex-wife were still alive at the time of the 1880 U.S. Census of Lake County. Some of their children were still living there at least as late as the 1930's. It is likely that Nancy True never saw her siblings again after moving to California. Jackson Breeding and his wife Mary Pittman Breeding moved at first to Umatilla County near Pendleton. They were there during the 1870 Census. Later they moved to Morrow County. In 1875 the Breedings bought a lot in the town of Heppner, the county seat, apparently to build a home there, but they also owned a 180-acre farm nearby. By 1895 Mary was dead and Jackson lived alone. Will Estes settled near the Breedings. In 1903 his wife, Zotta, and their grown daughter, Blanche, were two of the 250 who drowned in the cloudburst that destroyed Heppner with a ten-foot wall of water coming down the canyon from Eastern Oregon's Blue Mountains. Zotta and Blanche had gone into town in their buggy while Will worked on their farm. The Heppner tragedy is still infamous in United States meteorology history. Patrick and Betsy Ann's daughter Lucy Ann "Louisiana" Willis Cooper [1846-1926] kept in contact with her Aunt Poppy [Mary] Pittman Breeding and her cousin Will Estes. Louisiana moved to Whitman County, Washington Territory at the same time that the Breedings and Will Estes moved to Morrow County, Oregon. The distance between them wasn't so great, allowing occasional visits to take place. Heading eastward with their military escort, the Willises had no relatives except their children, and at that, minus Lucy Ann. But they did have family back in Missouri who would be happy to see them. Most probably they felt a sense of tension due to the Indian problem and probably saw Indians looking down at them from mountaintops as they had in the trip west. It must have been a great sense of relief to reach Mercer County and see their relatives and friends. It is believed that the Willises had not sold their farmland and that this militated against their staying in Oregon. The 1870 U.S. Census of Lindley Township, Mercer County, Missouri, Household #97 shows Patrick Willis, age 47, born West Virginia [sic], farmer, $1,600 worth of real estate,, and $400 of personal property; Elizabeth Willis, 42, born TN; Elizabeth Willis, 17, born MO; Amanda Willis, 14, born MO; Melissa Willis, 12, born MO; Emily Willis, age 6, born MO; James M. Willis, 22, born TN; married in April; $550 in personal property; Malinda Willis, age 20, born IN. Malinda was Monroe's new wife. Not much else is known of the Willises' lives in the 1870's. Presumably they busied themselves with their farm work as Monroe and Melinda provided them with four new grandchildren. From letters from Oregon, the Willises learned of Lucy Ann giving birth to three more children that decade. On April 15, 1879, the Willises' daughter Liz married Oliver Foxworthy, who would continue his studies after his marriage to become first a teacher then a doctor and mayor of the town of Leon, Decatur County, Iowa. The family had photographs taken that year to send to Louisiana in Washington Territory. It had been twelve years since she had seen any members of her family and had asked them to have photographs made so she could see what everyone looked like. The 1880 Census showed the Willises still in Lindley Township in Household #211. Patrick was listed as age 58, farmer, born VA, father born VA, mother born VA. Elizabeth was listed as age 52, born TN, father born North Carolina, mother born Tennessee [some genealogies have her mother born in Wise County, Virginia]. Their only children living at home were Sarah Willis, 19, born MO, father born VA, mother born TN, and Emma Willis, 16, with the same information. Melissa and Amanda had both married earlier that year. In 1882 Patrick purchased a parcel described as the east 1/2 of Lot 2 northwest, Section 4, Township 66, Range 25, and 3 acres in the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 33, Township 67, Range 25. The Willises were saddened to hear of the death of Louisiana's oldest surviving child, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Ann Cooper, on January 12 from diabetes. The girl, called "Sis" by the family, had been named for her grandmother. Probably to uplift Louisiana's spirits, it was decided that she would make a trip on the newly opened Northern Pacific transcontinental railroad after the baby she was expecting was old enough to travel. She would not be bringing any of her children except the baby. The baby, Zelda Jane Cooper, was born on Leap Year Day, February 29, 1884, and Louisiana arrived in Missouri a couple of months later. It had been seventeen years since she had seen her family. Louisiana was anxious to see all of her family. She went visiting at Aunt Sallie Harper's home and the homes of all of her siblings and cousins. She had a photograph take of the baby in the border town of Lineville, IA, so that her parents would have something to remember. She must have expressed amazement at all the changes that had taken place in Missouri in those intervening years. She talked a great deal about her life in the Palouse Country of Eastern Washington, and her unmarried sister, Sade, 24, decided to return with Louisiana to Washington. This no doubt assuaged Louisiana's sadness at parting with her family, but it must have caused some remorse in her parents to lose yet another daughter to the West. The parting at the railroad station was the last the Willises would see of these two daughters. Letters came from Washington Territory telling how Sade was teaching school and then about her marriage to store keeper James Monroe Dell, on May 21, 1885. Later that year Louisiana had to report that her daughter Rose, 10, had come down with the whooping cough and had to be sent away to a midwife's shack to keep from infecting her other children. But the baby Zelda was already infected and died on August 22. It may have seemed strange to Patrick and Betsy Ann that the three children of Louisiana that they had seen were those who had died. [Not another would die until 1957.] It was that year that the Willises' youngest daughter "Emma" married Gold Elmore. Grandchildren were being born fairly regularly now, and Patrick and Betsy could be pleased that they had lost only one of their eight children, although they had lost several grandchildren by then. On August 12, 1888, Emma's daughter Iva, 1 1/2 died. That September Aunt Sally Harper marked her 99th birthday, and the Harper clan began to talk about a big celebration for her next birthday. 1889 dawned and Aunt Sally still appeared vigorous and bent on being there for her centennial. On February 18, one of Monroe's twin sons, Ray Willis, did at the age of four months. In August, at the age of sixty-one, Betsy Ann became ill and died on August 15, the month before Aunt Sallie's celebration. The following month Monroe's oldest daughter, Hettie, died at the age of nineteen on September 11, 1889. Patrick probably made it to Aunt Sallie's birthday party on September 27 with a heavy heart. On November 18, a second child of Emma's, six-month old Cecil Elmore died. Emma had no other children. The year had been hard on Patrick. His grandson had not yet been buried when Patrick slipped away the next day, November 19, 1889, at the age of sixty-seven. Aunt Sallie would live three more years.n Patrick and Betsy share a tombstone at Freedom Cemetery north of Saline, Mercer County, Missouri.

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