Mar. 1, 1912

Vol. XXI No. 43


Old Ben Willis was one of the first settlers of this part of Georgia. He married Margaret Morrison, and their descendants are scattered all through the wiregrass country.

He and his family lived in Dooly County, on the old Elijah Pate place about eight miles from Sycamore near the Irwin County line which part was taken in the formation of Worth County in 1856 and Turner County in 1905.

The Willises, Story's, Warrens, Gibbs, Fords, Sumners and Hobby's were among the most prominent people of Worth County as the Pitts, Browns, etc. were in Dooly County.

Ben Willis and his family were quiet, peaceful citizens. His children all grew up, married, and settled off, except one daughter, Peggy. The Indians were on peaceful terms with the white settlers and frequently purchased provisions from and traded with the pale faced invaders. They would approach a white man's home single file, stack their guns outside the palings and were very friendly, but when unfriendly or on the warpath, they would approach the white man's home well armed.

Jim Brown, who lived in Dooly County, and a young man named Story, shot a young squaw close to the home of Ben Willis. This aroused the Indians, who wreaked vengeance on the first white settlers they came in contact with, which were Mrs. Ben Willis, who was a very old lady, and her daughter, Peggy, who had an infant child. They were the victims of the red man's wrath.

Ben Willis had been absent from home and upon his return the scene that confronted him was horrible beyond description.

The Indians had murdered his wife and daughter, drove a pine knot into the skull of the infant, ransacked and plundered the house, set it on fire and left the murdered and ruins as Ben Willis found them upon his return. All that was near and dear to him lay dead in his yard. His wife bore marks of violence and her hands were blistered by her efforts to prevent the red brutes from throwing her into the burning dwelling. His daughter was dead, her baby a corpse and his home and belongings a heap of ashes.

The nearest neighbors buried the dead and then proceeded to protect the women and children from further harm. All gathered at the home of Jonathan Smith, near the place where Rebecca is now situated, and some of the men guarded the place while others pursued the Indians and drove them off. Desperate measures required desperate remedies and these were the men in those days to meet them.


Ben Willis's children were: John, Ben, Dan, Jerry, Mary, and Sarah.

John married Tilda Calloway. Their children were: Jack, Cynthia, William, Green, Dave, Wilson, Jim, Dan, Elizabeth, Perry, George and Matilda.

Jack married Margaret Williams. They were the parents of: Mary who never married. Sarah, who married John Baker.

Matilda Anne, who married Rev. A.L. Bishop. Martha who married J.M. Mims.

Orville, who married Betty Rooks; she died, he next married Annie Musselwhite.

Ophelia married Tom Fox, whose daughter Kate, married Mr. Lindsey, County Surveyor of Tift.

Cynthia, daughter of John, married Flournoy Clarke. Their children were: Bud, Rev. George F., who married Sis Norman; Elizabeth, who married Miles Monk, and Rachel, who married Frank Monk.

William, son of John, married Eliza Hancock, daughter of Henry Hancock. Their children were: Henry, Mary Jane, Francis, Marion, and Kansas.

Henry married Miss Livingstone. Their chldren were: W.H. who married Miss Nancy Gibbs, daughter of Rev. James Gibbs. Florence, who married V.F. Norman; John M. who lives at Morven; another daughter who also married a Norman, and other children.

Green, son of John, married Mary Jane Porter. Their children;

Elizabeth married Tom Willis.

John married Eliza Willis.

Annie married Jake Young (Cripple Jake)

Jane married Richard Hayes

Samantha married Jacob Marchant.

Henry married Jane Sinclair.

Dave, son of John, married, ?ira Jordan. Their children were: Dave, Dowe, Dent, Susie and Elizabeth.

Wilson, son of John, married Miss Mauldin.

Jim, son of John, married Fannie Mauldin.

Dan, son of John, married Nancy Williams.

Elizabeth, daughter of John, married Richard Porter. Children: John, Mary, America, and Fannie.

Perry, son of John, married Minnie Powell; he died.

George, son of John, married Nancy Lovitt. She died. Their children were: Will, John, Hardy, Spencer, Albert and Mary.

Matilda, daughter of Joe, married Jim Thornhill.

Ben, son of Ben, married Sally Sumner, daughter of old Joe Sumner. Their children were: Dan , Joe, George, William, John, Betsy, Mary, Cynthia, Martha, and Sarah.

Dan, oldest son of Ben and Sallie, married Narcissa Young, daughter of Fat Jake. Their children:

Sally, married Johnny Gibbs, who died in 1907, leaving a large family well provided for.

Mary Jane married John Bozeman.

Martha Anne married Wm. Williams; she died.

Cephus married Rhody Sumner.

Morgan and Irvin.

Joe, son of Ben, married Rachel Land, daughter of Jack Land.

William and John, sons of Ben, died in the war.

Betsy, daughter of Ben, married Wm. Hobby.

Cynthia, daughter of Ben, married Jim Trammell.

Martha, daughter of Ben, married Vince Thompson.

Mary, daughter of Ben, married John Brooks.

Sarah, daughter of Ben, married Jeff Davis.

Dan, son of old Ben Willis, married Betsy Smith. Their children were: Jim, John, Joe, Augustus, Sally, Nancy, Martha, and Jennie.

Jim and John died in the war.

Joe married Jane Rooks; child, Walter. Augustus married Jennie Cox, daughter of Tom Cox.

Sally married Calvin Land, father of Henry, who married Becky Gibbs, daughter of Allen Gibbs.

Martha married Sidney Jones.

Nancy died. Jennie single.

Jerry, son of old Ben, went to Texas.

Mary, daughter of old Ben, married Dave Smith. Children: Lambert, John, Isaac, and Walton.

Sarah, daughter of old Ben, married Story.


Dempsey and Barney Willis came from Wilkinson County about eighty years ago.

Dempsy married Mary Baker, daughter of Tom Baker. Their children were: Nick, William, John, Nancy, who married Jim Willis: Amanda, who married B.H. Crum; Sarah, who married E. Lindsey: Cynthia, who married H.F. Mullis: Eliza, who married J.I. Willis; Polly, who married J.B. Mullis, and Mary Anne, who married Frank Overstreet.

Nick married Phoebe Tucker, daughter of Math, a son of Crawford Tucker. Their children were:

Charles, who married Leathy Willis, daughter of Marion.

John, who married Beula Rutland.

Dempsey, who married Miss Lawson.

Artie, Culbert, Cassie and Mary, single.

William, son of Dempsey Willis, married Mary Mullis.

Their children were: Zoe, who married Goodwin; Lula, who married Bryant; Eli, Iona and Tommie.

John, son of Dempsy, married Jane Filyaw. Their children were: Alice, Edgar and Addie.

Emily, daughter of Barney Willis, married J. Owens.

Mahala, daughter of Barney, married Wesley Hawkins.

Martha, daughter of Barney, married Claude Sharp.

Mary, daughter of Barney, married Robert Marchant.

Rachel, daughter of Barney, married Frank Parrish.

Tom, son of Barney, was killed by Henry Sinclair.


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Please take note that this information came from long ago and has not been corrected for accuracy. Many of these sketches have names transposed or just plain wrong information so use this as a starting point, not the final end to your research. THIS IS NOT AN ORIGINAL DOCUMENT. It is a summary of the genealogical findings of one man, Gus Adams, which were unsubstantiated and should be used as such. You can find much more info from the Irwin County pages of my website

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