The Life and
Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr.
& Julia Ann Graham Willis
He was born April 2,
1839 and died May 22, 1900
She was born February 22, 1845 and died
September 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 of Rev. Daniel Hubbard
Willis, Sr. (b. Dec. 28, 1817; d. Mar. 27, 1887) and Anna
Slaughter (b. May 29, 1820; d. Mar. 24,
1876). Rev. Daniel Hubbard Willis,
Sr. was the son of Agerton Willis and Sophie Story. He was born
on Bayou Boeuf in Louisiana and is buried, along
with his wife Anna Slaughter
Willis, at Amiable 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. was also, a great-grandson of pioneer Louisiana
Baptist preacher, Rev. Joseph
Willis (b. circa 1758; d. Sept. 14, 1854). He was the first Baptist preacher west of the Mississippi
Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr.'s
siblings were: Eliza Willis, Mary Jane Willis, David
Willis, Martha Willis, Matthew Willis, Dempsey Willis, Calvin Willis, and
Robert Willis. Daniel was raised near Sugartown, La. and then
settled on Barber Creek near Longleaf, Rapides Parish,
Julia Ann Graham
Willis was the daughter of Robert Graham (b. Aug.
20, 1818; d. Feb. 10, 1890) and Ruth Smith (b. Dec. 5,
1813 d. Jun. 2, 1869). Robert Graham moved 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's father was William Graham. Robert Graham
had two brothers: another William Graham and Samuel
Graham. Robert and Ruth Graham are both
buried 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
of the Civil War.
Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr.
in the Civil War
Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr. enlisted,
September 29, 1861, at Camp Moore, La., in the Confederate
Army as a Pvt. 5th. Company Battalion, Washington Artillery of
Louisiana. He was (Mar. 16, 1864) in
Raxdale's Company E, 16th. La. Regiment, Gibson's Brigade, Army of
Tennessee. He was promoted to 2nd Sergt. on Mar.
5, 1865. He was captured and made a prisoner of war.
Daniel was paroled at Meridian, Mississippi on May 14, 1865.
(Also see Andrew B. Booth, "Records of Louisiana
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, including Shiloh, 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 of that army and for bravery, soldierly bearing,
discipline and devotion to duty, he was unexcelled in his entire Brigade.
He was made Orderly Sergeant of his 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.
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 keep them
from falling in the hands of the enemy.
He was paroled at Meridian,
Miss., in May of 1865, 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 advice
then given by his beloved commander.
His love for the Southern cause, and
for the men who wore the gray, was not dimmed by years, but he lived and
died firmly convinced of the justice of the cause 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 of Tennessee Louisiana Division The
Association and Tumulus" by Jerry Johnson Wier, The Center for
Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana,
Can You Feed Her
Soon after the Civil
War, Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr., became the first of four
Willis' brothers to marry four Graham' sisters. He married Julia Ann
Graham on January 5, 1867. (Daniel called her affectingly
Julieann). When Daniel asked Julia Ann's father, Robert
Graham, for her hand in marriage; Robert asked him if he
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 of Daniel's
brothers would marry three of Julia Ann's sisters. Calvin Willis married
Demerius Graham , Robert Willis married Annie Graham and Dempsey Willis
married Maggie 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 of Barber 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,
The Law, Cattle, Barber
Creek & Home
After the end of Civil War, in
1865, Daniel H. Willis. Jr., was made Constable of Spring
Hill, Rapides Parish. Julia Ann often spoke of the
time Daniel captured an outlaw from Texas who was hid out in the piney
woods of Louisiana. She said it was to late to make the horseback
trip to the jail, in Alexandria, therefore Daniel handcuffed the outlaw to
the foot of their bed for the overnight stay. Daniel
told the outlaw he better not make a sound. She said Daniel
slept soundly, but she did not sleep 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
railroad at 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 only 12 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
Julia Ann's grandchildren recalled that
she would read her red-lettered New Testament Bible daily on the front porch
of the "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, lay the peals on the window seal and later eat
the peals. When asked what she was doing she replied "I don't
know for sure, but I think these orange peals are good for you."
She once was bitten by a ground rattler, at age 75, and
Julia Ann swam in Barber
Creek, twice a day, until age 90. There is a huge gravel pit where
their home, 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 made them shut down, but it was
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
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
Daniel Hubbard Willis Jr. died, from kidney trouble,
at his son, Dr. Daniel Oscar Willis' home near Leesville, La.,
on May 22, 1900. Julia Ann Graham Willis died of old age
on September 28, 1936. Both Daniel and Julia Ann are
buried at the Graham Cemetery near Forest Hill, not far from their beloved
Willis Jr. and Julia Ann Graham Children:
Henry Elwa Willis was born 6 OCT 1867. He died 18 JAN 1945 of pneumonia.
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 of liver 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), and Lester B. Benedict (d. April 26, 1899; d. May 10, 1918 of
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
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
of 1917. 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 was Huey 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),
and Ilie Jewel Willis (b. Mar. 8, 1907; d. May, 1995 - married Carl
Close). Robert Kenneth Willis, Sr.
then married Julia Mae Johnson on Jun. 13, 1922. Julia Mae was born
Sept. 4, 1899 and died Feb. 17, 1934, at age 34. Both of Robert'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,
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
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 of a 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,
Daniel Hubbard Willis, Jr.
& Julia Ann Graham Willis