Strother and Willis Families of 1850 Rapides Parish
by Randy Willis
Most of the Strother and Willis Families, in Rapides Parish, La., were neighbors in 1850. (Pay special attention to the 1850 Census household numbers. The dates in parenthesis are dates of birth and are estimates based upon census records in many cases).
(649) Sally Willis (1798/1802). She may be a daughter of Rev. Joseph Willis. She was probably the Sarah Willis (1798) who married Nathaniel West. Their children were: Jackson West, William West (1828), Nathaniel West, Jr. (1834), John West (1836), Hettie West (1838), Andrew West (1840), Sophia West (1844) and Wade West (1852).
(661) Francis E. Strother (1823) and his wife Mary S. Willis Strother (1827). There children were: Martha Ann Strother (1842), Elizabeth Strother (1844), Solomon Strother (1846), Mary Ann Strother (1847), Sophia Strother (1851), Francis P. Strother (1854), John Riley Strother (1859), Eliza Strother (1861), Henrietta Strother (1863). Francis E. Strother was Richard Strother, Jr.'s brother. Mary Willis was Agerton Willis' daughter and a sister to Rev. Daniel H. Willis (1817-1887), my great-great-grandfather. Agerton Willis was the eldest son of Rev. Joseph Willis.
(660) Agerton Willis (1785) and his wife Sophie Story (1787). He was Rev. Joseph Willis' eldest son. Agerton Willis' son Rev. Daniel H. Willis, Sr.'s two eldest daughters were named Eliza Willis (1842) and Mary Jane Willis (1845). I believe Agerton named these two daughters after his sisters Eliza Willis (1818) and Mary Willis (1827). Family tradition states that Rev. Daniel H. Willis, Sr.'s sister would read the Bible while he preached because he was blind in his later years. Sophie Story was an Irish orphan brought from Tennessee by a Mr. Park, who then lived near Holmesville below Bunkie, Louisiana.
(659) William Strother (1817) and his wife Mary Doyal/Dyer/Dyal ( 1826). Mary Doyal/Dyer was a daughter of Thomas Doyal/Dyer and Mary Willis. Mary Willis (1787) is also listed. She was probably the daughter of Rev. Joseph Willis. Their children listed in this census are Nancy Strother (1846) (married John Droddy) and William Strother (1849-1932).
(658) Joseph Willis, Jr. (1792) and his wife Jane/Jennie Coker (1810). He was a son of Rev. Joseph Willis. Their children were: Joseph P. Willis (1824), Charles Willis (1833), Lemuel Willis (1836), and Elizabeth Willis (1839). It would appear they also raised a granddaughter, Martha "Patsy" Coker (1830-1899).
(657) Lemuel Willis (1812) and his wife Eveline/Emeline Perkins (1823 date listed in census has to be wrong). He was a son of Rev. Joseph Willis. Their children were: Mary Willis (1833), Hawkins Willis (1834), Martha Willis (1835), Sarah Willis (1837), Lemuel I. Willis (1839), Olivia "Olive" Willis (1841), James K Polk Willis (1845), Lucinda "Lydia" Willis (1847), Carolyn Matilda Willis (1855), Crawford Willis (died in the Civil War at Shiloh), Sidney P. Willis, and Shrilda Willis. Lemuel Willis and Eveline/Emeline Perkins' daughter, Carolyn Matilda Willis, married John Houston Strother, Sr. and their daughter Lucinda "Lydia" Willis had a daughter (named Matilda) by Richard Strother, III.
(654) John A. Strother (1820) and his wife Eliza Willis (1818). Eliza was Agerton Willis' daughter and a granddaughter of Rev. Joseph Willis. She was a sister to Rev. Daniel H. Willis. The children of John A. Strother and his wife Eliza Willis were: John A. Strother, Jr. (1865), Alfred Strother (1841), Josiah Strother (1842), Bernard Strother (1844 and killed in the Civil War), Dempsey Strother (1846-1910), Henry Zachariah Strother (1848-1933), Mary Ann Strother (1852), George William Strother (1855-1908), Elizabeth Strother (1856); she married David Johnson), Sarah Jane Strother (1858), Richard Strother (1860), Nancy Strother (1862); she married T.J. Greer), and Martha Strother (1867); she married Frankin/Francis Perkins). John A. Strother then married Artimesa Smith; they had one child: Azariah Columbus Strother (1873-1933).
(653) William Willis (1804) and his wife Rhoda Strother (1814). He was a son of Rev. Joseph Willis. She was Richard Strother, Jr.'s (listed below) sister. Their children were: William Willis (1835), Jackson Willis (1837), Sarah Willis (1839), Mary Willis (1841), Lemuel Willis (1843), Daniel Willis (1845), Joseph Willis (1847-1912), Jesse Willis (1850-1906), Matthew Willis (1853-1925), James Willis (1856), and Alexander Willis (1858).
(652) Joseph P. Willis (1824) and his wife Mary Elizabeth Sweat (1828). He was Rev. Joseph Willis' grandson and a son of Joseph Willis, Jr.. Their children listed were: Josiah Willis (1844), Isaac Willis (1846), Mary Willis (1848) and Simon Willis (1851).
(651) Richard Strother, Jr. (1806) and probably his mother or mother-in-law Sally (1787). [She is listed as Sally Ray sometimes] Richard Strother's siblings were: James Strother(?) (1808), Rhoda Strother (1814), William Strother (1817), John A. Strother, Sr. (1820) and Francis E. Strother (1823. Richard Strother, Jr.'s children were: Alexander Asaria Strother, Sr. (1829-1864), William Strother (1841), Richard Strother, III (1843-1868 - shot as a Jayhawker), Leroy Strother (1843), William Strother (1849 - named 2nd. son William also after others death), and John Strother (1852). Richard Strother, Jr's. sister, Rhoda Strother, married Rev. Joseph Willis' son William Willis. Richard Strother, Jr.'s son, Alexander Strother, was the father of John Houston Strother, Sr. who was the father of Dr. Greene Wallace Strother.
(480) Jemima Willis (1796). She was a daughter of Rev. Joseph Willis. She married William Dyer and they lived on the Calcasieu River near Masterís Creek. Their children were: James Dyer (1823), Roland Dyer (1830), Joseph Dyer (1831), Elijah Dyer (1834), Elizabeth Dyer (1836), and Jemima Dyer (1839).
(422) Rev. Joseph Willis (1758) and his fourth wife Elvy Sweat (1820 are listed. Rev. Joseph Willis' had 19 children by four wives. Rev. Joseph Willis, Sr. (1758-1854) had the following children: (1) Agerton Willis (1785), (2) Mary Willis (1787), (3) Joseph Willis, Jr., (1792), (4) Rachel Willis (1794), (5) Jemima Willis (1796), (6) Sarah Willis (1798), (7) Sally Willis (1802), [Although she could be the same as Sarah Willis (1798) above], (8) William Willis (1804), (9) Lemuel Willis (1812), (10) John Willis (1814), (11) Martha Willis(?) (1825), (12-15) (four females listed in the 1830 census between the ages of 5-20), (16) Samuel Willis (1836), (17) Aimuwell Willis (1837-1937), and two sons (18-19) that died "poisoned on honey and were buried a half mile from the present town of Oakdale, Louisiana.
Rev. Joseph Willis' Other Possible Children
The 1850 Rapides Parish Census also lists an additional four males for Joseph Willis & household: James (1841), William (1845), Timothy (1847) and Bernard (1848). It would be unlikely that Joseph would have a second son named William. Aimuwell Willis (1837-1937) always said he was Joseph Willisí youngest son. Perhaps these last four males were grandchildren of Joseph.
Historian Ivan Wise wrote in Footsteps of the Flock: or Origins of Louisiana Baptist (1910) that two sons of Joseph died "poisoned on honey and were buried a half mile from the present town of Oakdale, Louisiana." I have not been able to find their graves. Ivan Wise also said in 1910 that Rev. Joseph Willis had 19 children.
It is of interest to note that Rev. Joseph Willis, Sr.'s sons Joseph Willis, Jr., William Willis and Lemuel Willis all had daughters named Sarah.
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