AS RECORDED IN:
COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF
TOLLAND AND WINDHAM COUNTIES CONNECTICUT.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF PROMINENT AND
REPRESENTATIVE CITIZENS AND OF MANY OF THE EARLY SETTLED FAMILIES
PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903 P. 602
FRANK E. WILLIS.
The Willis family has been for generations an old family in Tolland
county, Conn., as is also the Martin family from which the mother of our subject
descended. The father of Frank E.
Willis was Jesse Willis, who was born June 26, 1814, in Tolland, a short
distance north of what is still considered a landmark, the old White school
house, and was a son of James and Sally (Johnson) Willis.
James Willis was a shoemaker and lived on a small farm, and in those days
when a job of shoemaking was required by his neighbors, they would come for him
and he and his kit of tools would settle down in the family until the work was
completed, others often waiting for like services before one task would be
completed. At his death in 1845 he
was sadly missed, as he was a very reliable and obliging workman.
His wife survived him some years and both rest now in the old North
Cemetery in Tolland. The grandmother
was a most estimable woman and highly regarded in the community.
The children born to James Willis and his
wife were: James, born in 1802, who
died in Stafford; Sally, born in 1804, who married a Mr. Richardson, and died in
Wales, Conn.; Minerva, born in 1806, who married a Mr. Whipple, and died in
Tolland; David, born in 1808, who died in Tolland; Ephraim, born in 1810, who
died in Hartford; Jeduthan, born in 1812, who died in Tolland; Jesse, born in
1814; Sophronia, born in 1816, who married Samuel Case, and died in Rockville;
Roxie, born in 1818; Mary Ann, born in 1819, who married William Orcutt, and
lives in Rockville; Samuel, born in 1822, who died in Rockville; Wealthy Jane,
born in 1824, who married Robert Vantine, and died in 1864; and Lucia, born in
1826, who died when about nineteen.
Jesse Willis was a well known farmer of
Tolland, where he lived a long and respected life; he was twice married and died
in Tolland, Aug. 21, 1887, and was buried in Grove Hill cemetery at Rockville.
The first marriage was to Nancy Robbins Martin, one of twins, the other
child dying in infancy, the daughter of Elisha and Almira (Robbins) Martin; her
death took place in Tolland, that neighborhood having been her home during her
whole life. From this union a large
family was born: Leveretta, who died
in boyhood; George E., who resides in Tolland; Henry, who lives in Tallapoosa,
Ga.; Charles, who lives in Tolland; Albert W., a farmer of Tolland; John L., who
resides near Fort Collins, in Colorado; Arthur, a resident of Rockville; Frank
E.; Samuel J., a resident of Rockville; Emily, who died young; Abbie, who is
Mrs. William Crossett, of Rockville; and Emma, who married William Martin, but
died early. The second wife of Mr.
Willis was Miss Jane Bowley, of Rockville, but a native of Weld, Maine;
she still survives.
Frank E. Willis was born Nov. 25, 1854,
in Tolland, the home standing along the Rockville turnpike, a son of Jesse White
(**see footnote**) and Nancy R. Martin; he was reared in his native town
where he attended in White school house during his whole educational career.
Being lusty and strong he was early introduced to farm labor, and
faithfully worked for his father, and later for others in the neighborhood who
needed his services. He remained at
home until he was about twenty, when he made a little trip to Massachusetts,
spending one winter there; he then came to Rockville, which was beginning to be
known as a great industrial center. There
he was soon employed by George M. Paulk as a driver in his lumber business, and
giving satisfaction in this line, he decided to save his money and enter into
something similar. As soon as his
savings permitted, Mr. Willis bought a team of his own, and as he was favorably
known to the public by this time on account of his reliability and energy, he
very soon was at the head of a prosperous business, enabling him in 1891 to buy
out his brother Arthur’s ice interests, when he combined it with his own
business and has very successfully carried out his projects ever since.
Mr. Willis owns property on School
street, which he bought from the Francis Keeney estate, and after extensive
alterations he has now probably the most complete, commodious and best arranged
barns for the accommodation of his stock and equipments, of any in the city.
The marriage of Mr. Willis took place
March 3, 1891, in Vernon, to Mrs. Mary Webster, who was born in Manchester,
Conn., May 5, 1856, the widow of Edward Webster, and a daughter of Hiram and
Mary (Daniels) Dart; she was but a child when her parents settled in Vernon and
was fourteen years old when she came to Rockville, where she has since lived.
Politics have never been of much interest
to Mr. Willis, although he regularly votes the Republican ticket, but he desires
good government and does what he thinks for the best interests of town and
country. His case is that of one who
has bravely made his own way in the world, and built up a business which
entitles him to the respect of the community, where he is regarded as one of the
most substantial and reliable citizens.
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