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.

 **footnote**  This bio was reproduced as published.  I would assume that the reference to “Jesse White” must be an error on the part of the publisher and probably picked up from the following statement “oddly” referencing the Old White school house………..L.Pingel.

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel






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