The Life and Times Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr. & Julia Ann Graham Willis
by Randy Willis
He was born April 2, 1839 and diedMay 22, 1900
She was born February 22, 1845 and diedSeptember 28, 1936
They married on January 5, 1867 in Forest Hill, La.
Both are buried in the Graham Cemetery, Forest Hill, La.
Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr.was the eldest son ofRev. DanielHubbard Willis,Sr. (b. Dec. 28, 1817; d. Mar. 27, 1887) and AnnaSlaughter (b. May 29, 1820; d. Mar.24, 1876).Rev. DanielHubbard Willis,Sr. was the son ofAgerton Willis and Sophie Story.He was born on Bayou Boeufin Louisiana and is buried, along with his wife AnnaSlaughter Willis,atAmiable Baptist Church Cemetery near Glenmora, La.He established many churches and was blind the last 22 years of his life.His daughter would read the scriptures and he would preach. He settled on Spring Creek,near Longleaf, La.,at a community called Babb’s Bridge.
Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr.wasalso, a great-grandson ofpioneer Louisiana Baptist preacher,Rev. Joseph Willis (b. circa 1758; d. Sept. 14, 1854).He was the first Baptist preacher west ofthe Mississippi River.
Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr.'ssiblings were:Eliza Willis,Mary Jane Willis, David Willis, Martha Willis, Matthew Willis, Dempsey Willis, Calvin Willis, and Robert Willis.Daniel was raised nearSugartown, La. and then settled on Barber Creek near Longleaf, Rapides Parish, Louisiana.
Julia Ann Graham Willis was thedaughter ofRobert Graham (b. Aug.20, 1818; d. Feb. 10, 1890) and Ruth Smith(b. Dec. 5, 1813 d. Jun.2, 1869).Robert Grahammoved to Louisiana from Texas in 1841.Soon after marring Ruth Smith (a trapper's daughter) in Natchitoches, La., they moved to Forest Hill, La.He was a successful farmer and cattleman there.Ruth had told Robert that she wished to be buried at the top of a hill on their land near Forest Hill.She was and that hill is known today as the Graham Cemetery.Robert Graham'sfather wasWilliam Graham.Robert Graham hadtwo brothers: another William Graham and Samuel Graham.Robert and Ruth Graham are bothburied at the Graham Cemetery.
Julia Ann Graham Willis' siblings were:Annie Graham Willis, Emily Graham Butter,Maggie Graham Willis,Demerius Graham Willis, Elizabeth Graham Merchant,Katherine Graham Sermons,Lucy "Ruth" Graham Moore,William Graham, and Lorenzo Dow Graham.
Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr.married Julia Ann Graham on,January 5, 1867, soon after the end ofthe Civil War.
Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr. in the Civil War
Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr. enlisted, September29, 1861, at Camp Moore, La.,in the Confederate Army as a Pvt. 5th. Company Battalion,Washington Artillery ofLouisiana.He was(Mar.16, 1864)inRaxdale's Company E, 16th. La. Regiment, Gibson's Brigade, Army ofTennessee.He was promoted to2nd Sergt.onMar.5, 1865.He was captured and made a prisoner ofwar.Daniel was paroled at Meridian, Mississippi on May 14, 1865.(Also see Andrew B. Booth,"Records ofLouisiana Soldiers and Louisiana Confederate Commands,"(New Orleans, La. 1920) Vol. I: 1115)
Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr. fought in many of the great battles of the Civil War, includingShiloh, Bull Run, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Missionary Ridge and Chickamauga.
Excerpts from Daniel H. Willis, Jr.'s obituary: Alexandria Town Talk,23 June 1900:"He participated in all the hard battles ofthat army and for bravery, soldierlybearing, discipline and devotion to duty, he was unexcelled in his entire Brigade.He was made Orderly Sergeant ofhis Company at an early period of the war.It has always been said by his surviving comrades that when any particularly dangerous service was required, such as scouting parties to ascertain the position and movements of the enemy, he was always selected for the place, and never hesitated to go, let the danger be what it may.
He was for a long time connected with the famous Washington Artillery, and at the battle of Chicamauga so many horses of the battery to which he was attached were killed that they had to pull the guns off the field by hand to keepthem from falling in the hands of the enemy.
He was paroled at Meridian, Miss.,in May of1865, and brought home with him a copy of General Gibson's farewell address to his soldiers and of him it can be truly said that through the remaining years of his life he followed the advicethen given by his beloved commander.
His love for the Southern cause, and for the men who wore the gray, was notdimmed by years, but he lived and died firmly convinced of the justice of thecause for which the South poured out so much of her best blood and treasure...Before death he expressed a wish that he might see his children who were at home, especially Randall L., his baby boy, whom he had named in honor of his beloved Brigadier General, Randall Lee Gibson.He also requested that his Confederate badge be pinned on his breast and buried with him."
Gibson,later helped establish Tulane University and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1883. I was named after my grandfather,Randall Lee Willis,who was named after Randall Lee Gibson,in 1886.Current, ed.,"Encyclopedia of the Confederacy"(also see "Army ofTennessee Louisiana Division The Association and Tumulus"by Jerry Johnson Wier, The Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana,1999).
Can You Feed Her Son?
Soon after the Civil War, Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr., became the first offour Willis’ brothers to marry four Graham’ sisters.He married Julia Ann Grahamon January 5, 1867.(Daniel called her affectinglyJulieann).When Daniel asked JuliaAnn's father, Robert Graham,for her hand in marriage;Robert askedhim ifhe could feed her.Daniel replied "that he had a horse, a milk cow, a barrel of corn and a barrel of molasses."Robert responded "my goodness son you have enough to marry several of my daughters."They were married at Robert Graham's home near Forest Hill.
Later, three ofDaniel's brothers would marry three ofJulia Ann's sisters. Calvin Willis married Demerius Graham , Robert Willis married Annie Graham and Dempsey Willis marriedMaggie Graham.A fifth brother, Matthew Willis, also asked a fifth sister, Lucy "Ruth" Graham,to marry him.She said no and later confided in her sisters,"he was just too ugly."Ruth Graham later found her true love,James Moore, and married him.
Daniel made good his promise to"feed" Julia Ann and on January 16, 1868 (just a year after their wedding) he sold his father-in-law, Robert Graham,119 acres "in the fork ofBarber Creek,"for $350.00. A sum that would have been a years wages for many at that time.When Daniel died, in 1900, he left Julia Ann,$35,000.00 in gold, a home, land, and the woods full of cows, on Barber Creek, near Longleaf.
The Law, Cattle, Barber Creek & Home
After the end of Civil War, in 1865,Daniel H. Willis. Jr., was made ConstableofSpring Hill, Rapides Parish.Julia Ann often spoke ofthe time Daniel captured an outlaw from Texas who was hid out in the piney woods ofLouisiana.She said it was to late to make the horseback trip to the jail,in Alexandria, therefore Daniel handcuffed the outlaw to the foot oftheir bed for the overnight stay.Daniel told the outlaw he better not make a sound.She said Daniel slept soundly, but she did notsleep a wink all night.
He later was a successful rancher. He and his sons would buy cattle in East Texas and then drive them to the railroadat Lecompte, La. to be shipped north.Once, on a cattle drive from Texas, in 1898,the cattle stampeded in the woods. My grandfather,Randall Lee Willis, who was only12 at the time and riding drag, thought his dad, Daniel, had been killed;but then he could see his father's huge white hat,waving high in the air,in front of the cattle.
Julia Ann's grandchildren recalled that she would read her red-lettered New Testament Bible daily on the front porch ofthe "Old Willis Place"near Longleaf on Barber Creek.She would then open her trunk and pull out Daniel's photo, who had preceded her in death,and a tear would often be seen in her eye.
Julia Ann also loved oranges. She would eat them, laythe peals on the window sealand later eat the peals.When askedwhat she was doing she replied"I don't know for sure, but I thinkthese orange peals are good for you."She once was bitten by a ground rattler, at age 75, and survived.
Julia Ann swamin Barber Creek, twice a day,until age 90. There is a huge gravel pit where theirhome, the "Old Willis Place"once stood.The gravel pit has destroyed the timber and Barber Creek.It became overrun with sand and silt;literally smothered to death.The EPA finally madethem shut down,but it was too late.
My late cousin, Ilie Willis Close (1907-1995),wrote to me about the Old Willis Place:
"The home was a gathering place for all the family.There was always food cooked for family and friends. There was lots of blackberries, huckleberries and fruit of all kinds for good pies.
The home was about a quarter of a mile from Barber's Creek,known to be one of the coldest and clearest waters in the area.Grandma[Julia Ann Graham Willis] would walk down and swim sometimes twice a day. She said that was what had prolonged her life. All of the children and grandchildren loved to go swimming with her.
She was reared a Methodist but later joined the Baptist Church and was a devoted Christian.She read the Bible daily.We use to joke and say'she didn't think there would be anyone but Baptist in Heaven.'Her hobby was making quilts and she kept the family supplied with her hand work."
Daniel and Julia Ann were not immune from tragedy.On a trip away from home in 1880,Julia Ann told Daniel"I feel something is wrong at home."After returning, they found their eight year old son,David Eugene,deathly ill with appendicitis.He soon died.Julia Ann would later tell her grandchildren, that she vowed that if she every lost another child, she would never let herself grieve as she did for David Eugene.The next year, 1881, her four month old baby, Stella,died.Many years later, on December 23, 1935, she lost another son,Dr. Daniel Oscar Willis,in an auto accident.He was born three years after David Eugene.Julia Ann would live only nine months after his death.
Daniel Hubbard Willis Jr.died,from kidney trouble,athis son, Dr. Daniel Oscar Willis' home nearLeesville, La., onMay 22, 1900.Julia Ann Graham Willis died of old age onSeptember 28, 1936.Both Daniel and Julia Annare buried at the Graham Cemetery near Forest Hill,not far from their beloved Barber Creek.
Daniel Hubbard Willis Jr. and Julia Ann Graham Children:
1)Henry Elwa Willis was born 6 OCT 1867. He died 18 JAN 1945 ofpneumonia. He was a farmer and cattleman. He is buried at the Paul Cemetery in Lecompte, La. He married Sarah F. Duplissey,Dec., 1890. Henry Elwa Willis and Sarah F. Duplissey had the following children: Clarence I. Willis (b. Jan. 18, 1892;d. Dec. 4, 1940), Viola Willis (b. Dec. 28, 1893; d. Dec. 14, 1973), Elbert K. Willis (b. Feb. 26, 1897;d. Dec. 19, 1974),Henry Willis (b. Mar.30, 1899; d. Sept. 29, 1977), Mae Willis (b. May 1, 1902), Kit C. Willis (b. May 8, 1905), Bessie Willis (b. July 8, 1908), and Frank Willis (b. Dec. 2, 1915).
2)Carvelia S. Willis was born 10 FEB 1869.She died 31 MAR 1941 ofliver disease. She never married.She is buried at the Graham Cemetery in Forest Hill, La. Her date of birth on her grave marker is incorrect by 10 years.
3)Minnie R. Willis was born 7 MAY 1870. She died 18 SEP 1921. She married Charles H. Benedict. She is buried at the Greenwood Cemetery in Pineville, La.Minnie R. Willis Benedict and Charles H. Benedict children were: Arthur Charles Benedict (July 4, 1891; d. Jan. 21, 1969), andLester B. Benedict (d. April 26, 1899; d. May 10, 1918 of meningitis).
4)David Eugene Willis was born 19 JAN 1872. He died 13 FEB 1880 of appendicitis at age eight. He is buried at the Graham Cemetery in Forest Hill, La.
5)Corine Willis was born 27 SEP 1873. She died 6 OCT 1873 as a young baby.She is buried at the Graham Cemetery in Forest Hill, La.
6)Daniel Oscar Willis, MD was born 8 MAR 1875. He died 23 DEC 1935 from injuries sustained in an auto accident at LeBeau, La.He died at the hospital in Bunkie, La.He married his first wife Ella Elizabeth Lamberth (b. Jan. 16, 1871; died July 1, 1921) on Dec.24, 1895. Daniel and Ella had three children: Murphy Daniel Willis (b. Nov. 13, 1897; d. Oct. 15, 1930 after suffering with Hodgkin's disease for 14 years), Horace Oscar Willis (b. Dec. 30, 1898; d. Sept. 22, 1936) and Pearl Willis (b. Oct.24, 1900; d.Apr. 20, 1988 in Baton Rouge, La.)Pearl Willis was a music teacher for many years at LSU.Daniel Oscar Willis then married his second wife Mary Hamilton in 1928. They had one child: Hamilton Barrow Willis (b. Nov. 25, 1931; d. Abt. 1990 in St. Francisville, La.).Daniel Oscar Willis was buried on what would have been his and Ella's 40th. wedding anniversary, if they both had not died prematurely. They are both buried in the Leesville Cemetery, Leesville, La. He began his medical practice in 1904 and was the first medical doctor in Vernon Parish, La.He also owned the first automobile in Vernon Parish. He was in United States Army Medical Corps in World War I and was commissioned as a Captain in August of1917.He owned the Hotel Leesville in Leesville, La.He once (after being slandered by a young lawyer in a trial in Leesville) bodily removed the young lawyer from his room at the Hotel Leesville and through him in the street.The young lawyer's name wasHuey P. Long.
7)Robert Kenneth Willis, Sr. was born 15 JAN 1877. He died 30 JUNE 1951 of a heart attack.He was a butcher and cattleman.He married Eulah "Eula" Rosalie Hilburn in 1903. Eula was born Mar. 10, 1884 and died Feb. 6, 1919, at age 34, of the flu (she is buried at Lecompte Cemetery).Eula is buried next to her parents, Charles Hilburn (1858-1943) and Francis Hilburn (1860-1930).Robert Kenneth Willis, Sr. and Eula Rosalie Hilburn Willis had the following children: Flossie Litton Willis (b. Aug. 5, 1905; d. Sept., 1985 - married a Tomlinson), andIlie Jewel Willis (b. Mar. 8, 1907; d. May, 1995 - married Carl Close).Robert Kenneth Willis, Sr.then married Julia Mae Johnson onJun. 13, 1922.Julia Mae was born Sept. 4, 1899 and died Feb. 17, 1934, at age 34. Both ofRobert's wives died at age 34. Robert Kenneth Willis, Sr.and Julia Mae Johnson Willis had the following children:Robert "Bobby" Willis. Jr. (b. Feb.2, 1923; d. Dec. 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor - buried on the USS Arizona), Glenn Dewey Willis (b. May 8, 1924), and Billy Edward Willis (b. Jun. 2, 1925; d. Aug. 6, 1991).He is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Pineville, La.
8)Ruthey Madella Willis was born 20 JUN 1880.Ruthey Madella Willis died of cancer.She married her first husband, Henry Buckaliew, on 20 AUG 20 1898.She then married her second husband, H. C. Matthews.Ruthey Madella Willis had one child by her first husband, Illie Jewel Buckaliew(b. Apr.10, 1900; d. Feb. 3, 1902 - buried in Graham Cemetery). She had one child by her second husband,Willie Matthews.
9)Stella Willis was born 21 AUG 1881. She died 10 DEC 1881 as a young baby. Buried at the Graham Cemetery in Forest Hill, La.
10)Julia Coatney Willis was born 11 MAR 1883. She died 16 AUG 1945 of a heart attack. She married Harry Scarbrough. She is buried at Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino, California.They had one daughter named Audrey Ethel Scarbrough (b. Mar. 1, 1907; d. Oct. 22, 1980) who married Kent Hayden (b. Jun. 18, 1906; d. Nov.16, 1984).Audrey and Kent Kane Hayden, Sr.had two sons named Charles Hayden and Kent Kane Hayden, Jr.
11)Randall Lee Willis(my grandfather) was born 20 MAR 1886 in Forest Hill, La.He died 14 MAY 1940 of stomach cancer.Married Lillie Gertrude Hanks on 11 JAN 1914. Buried at the Graham Cemetery in Forest Hill, La.He was named after his father's commanding General in the Civil War: Randall Lee Gibson who founded Tulane University. He was a farmer and logger. He died of stomach cancer and she died ofa heart attack.Randall Lee Willis and Lillie G. Hanks Willis had the following three sons: Howard Lee Willis (b. Feb. 15, 1915; d. Oct. 2, 1993), Herman Floyd Willis (b. Sept. 17, 1918; d. May 15, 1977), and my father Julian Everette Willis (b. Oct. 5, 1919; d. Jun. 13, 1995).All three sons are buried in the Butter Cemetery, Forest Hill, La.