(b. May 1, 1837; d. Sept. 8, 1937)
by Randy Willis
Aimuewell Willis was Rev. Joseph Willis' youngest son. He was born at the old Joe Willis Crossing on the Calcasieu River in Rapides Parish, Louisiana on May 1, 1837. Aimuewell Willis, married twice and settled, in 1925, five miles southeast of Leesville. His first wife was Marguerite Leuemche, and his second wife was Lucy Ann Foshee (b. Jan. 28, 1868; d. Jun 17, 1960). He was a Civil War Veteran (Company D Cres. LA Inf. CSA). He was also known as "Uncle Ame" by his friends.
His obituary listed the following surviving children: Luther J. Willis [b. Jul. 19, 1908; d. Apr. 24, 1958], J. E. Willis, Elbert Willis, Earl Willis, Elzie Willis [b. Nov. 20, 1900; d. Nov. 21, 1991], Everett L. Willis [b. Oct. 14, 1875; d. Nov. 14, 1958], Mrs. George [Effie Willis] Titus, and Pearl Willis Haymon. At the time of his death he had 28 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. He died, at age 100, on September 8, 1937 and is buried at the Castor Cemetery in Vernon Parish, Louisiana.
Rev. John Houston Strother, Jr. interviewed Aimuewell Willis in 1933. The interview was later published in The Baptist Message, on July 8, 1937. I quote: "Then I asked him of his father. He sat up, his voice became mellow, and his expression cheerful. (No memory seemed so rich to him, even when coming back over those 75 years). (With pleasure he told of carrying the wasted form in his arms from bed to chair and back again)." Rev. Strother also stated, that as of 1937, nine descendants of Rev. Joseph Willis had become preachers.
I visited with Aimuewell’s daughter, Pearl Willis Haymon, of Denver, Colorado in December of 1980, and a short time later with Aimuewell’s son Elzie Willis, near Leesville, Louisiana. It was a strange feeling talking with someone whose grandfather was born in the 1750’s. Joseph was about 79 when their father was born and, Aimuewell was in his eighties when they were born.
No photograph exists of Rev. Joseph Willis. The photograph below from Durham and Ramond’s book, Baptist Builders in Louisiana (1934), is of Aimuewell, listed as Rev. Joseph Willis in error.
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