Levi and Rachel Field Willits Family
Alternate Spellings - See Willits Families Page linked above.
Links - Beard, Myers, Prouty, Kirlin, Drury, Pratt, Hindman (temp Artz Cemetery), Bell, Shields
Contacts - Jo Ann Wise is descended from Isaac Noble Willits; Larry Moline is descended from Albert Sinks Willits; Lolla Ballard is descended from James Monroe Willits; Jerry Hagge's wife, Dora, is descended from Levi Perry Willits. In June 2011 we heard from Melisa Peterie who helped us clear out some errors from this page. She is descended from John Peterie and Rachel Willits, daughter of Robert and Sarah Beard Willits and would be happy to help anyone with this family. If you wish to contact her contact Nadine on the About Us page and we will put her in touch with you.
Acknowledgment - We are grateful to Alfred James Willett, Jo Ann Wise, Larry Moline, Lolla Ballard, Jerry Hagge and Melisa Peterie for providing information on these families.
References - Bartlett, 1982, History of Mercer County 1882, Wayne County Indiana History 1872, Tombstone Inscriptions in Wayne Co, In (courtesy Larry Moline), Wayne Co Probate Book A, and various census and marriage records.
Note: The Levi Willits House at 202 Main St, New Boston is listed on the National Historic Register #1995-04-20
Levi Willits was son of Isaac and Elizabeth Willits, born 12/29/1777 in Catawissa, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. He married Rachel Field, daughter of Robert and Phoebe Field, 11/2/1797 in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately the records of Catawissa Monthly Meeting (Quaker) that exist today do not cover that time period so we cannot verify the information, but it fits well with other family information. Levi died 3/5/1828, age 50y 2m 5d, and is buried in Franklin Cemetery in Wayne County, Indiana. His widow married William Getson Kirlin, ancestor of the Mercer County Kirlins by his first wife, Lydia Thompson(we will be putting up a Kirlin page). Rachel died 3/10/1851, age 71y 24d, and is buried next to Levi Willits in Franklin Cemetery in Wayne County, Indiana.
From the Wayne County Indiana History, 1872: "In the valley of Green's Fork, the following named persons were early settlers: Samuel, Jesse, Levi, and William Willetts, brothers....on the west side, Levi (settled), where Caleb Lewis lately lived...William and Levi died on their farms. Levi was an early justice of the peace..."
On the 22 day of March 1828 letters of administration were granted to John Dunham and Caleb Lewis for the estate of Levi Willits. They posted a $3000 bond. At the February Term 1829 of the Wayne County Court Robert Willits was appointed guardian for James Monroe Willits, minor heir of Levi Willits, dec. A bond of $2000 was posted with John Beard as security (Robert was son of Levi and was married to Sarah Beard.) John E. Dunham was appointed guardian for Vashti Dunham (daughter of Levi Willits, married to John Dunham). $2000 bond was posted with James Scott security. At the July Term 1830 of the Court Robert Willits asked for land sale for infant heir James Monroe (no legal description of land given). At the March Term 1830 the court had appointed Samuel Hannah, Henry Bryan, and Jesse Willits to appraise real estate. It was appraised at $250 and a permit was given to sell to highest bidder at terms of 6,12, or 18 mo, to be advertised for sale in the Western Times in Centerville four weeks prior to the sale. Again a legal description is not listed but interested descendants might find the Western Times advertisement.
Children of Levi and Rachel Field WillitsAccording to Bartlett, the children of Levi and Rachel Field Willits were: Robert (b. 10/2/1798); William (born 3/3/1800); Mary (b. 3/6/1801); Sarah (b. 6/12/1806); Vashti (b. 9/24/1808), married John Dunham; Hiram (b. abt 1815); Melissa and James Monroe (twins born 6/5/1818); and Waldo (born 1820). Waldo died 7/30/1823 age 1 yr 9m 2d and is buried in Franklin Cemetery. Hiram died 7/19/1818 age 3 y 2m 15d. He is buried in Franklin Cemetery. We might guess that Melissa had also died before 1829 since there is no guardian mentioned for her in Levi's estate.
Robert and Sarah Beard WillitsSon Robert Willits married Sarah Beard, daughter of John and Mary Wright Beard, on February 1, 1820. Sarah was born about 1805 in North Carolina and would have been only 15. This family is of interest to us because of the connection to the Beards and Kirlins of Mercer County and because of interesting history of the Willits name in California.
The oldest child of Robert and Sarah Beard Willits was Hiram S. Willits, born 2/5/1821, who went to California during the gold rush. He married Margaret Johnson 4/25/1844 in Van Buren County, Iowa, and together they went to California. Their intention however seemed not to be to prospect. The Historical and Biographical Record of Mendocino County (California), quoted in Bartlett, says that on April 1, 1850, Hiram Willits and his wife started for California, arriving August 17, 1850. They opened the Rough and Ready store and hotel and operated it for six months. They went to Colusa County and engaged in farming and also opened a public house. In August 1857 they went to Mendocino County and secured 807 acres of land in Little Lake Valley and sold off town lots from this farm. The town became Willitsville, and Hiram was postmaster for several years. He was treasurer of the Mendocino Agricultural Association and raised high grade horses and sold some of the fastest race horses on the coast. Willitsville is the present day town of Willits, California, where Margaret Willits died 11/13/1902. Hiram Willits died 3/27/1892 while visiting San Francisco. Larry Moline has copies of both their obituaries.
Other children of Robert and Sarah Beard Willits were: John (b 8/30/1823); Rachel (3/23/1826); Mary Malinda (9/10/1828); Minerva Jane (3/1/1831); Clarinda Ann (3/12/1834); Isaac Noble (10/21/1836); Eli Wright (10/17/1838); Albert Sinks (12/14/1841); and Robert Monroe (10/26/1844). Robert and Sarah Beard Willits went to Van Buren County, Iowa, in September 1842 according to the biography of Hiram Willits. All their children were thus born in Wayne County, except Robert Monroe who was born in Van Buren County, Iowa. The family is found in the 1850 census in Van Buren County.
Another connection of interest to us is the marriage of Minerva Jane Willits to William Kirlin on 11/21/1850. William Kirlin's father was William Getson Kirlin, born 4/20/1790 in Virginia. He married first to Lydia Thompson on 1/1/1818 in Shenandoah County, Virginia. She is the mother of his children. He married second to Rachel Willits, widow of Levi Willits, on 5/18/1837 in Wayne County, Indiana. There is more on the Kirlin page linked above. We have been unable to find further information on Minerva Jane and William Kirlin. Lolla Ballard is a descendant of James Monroe Willits and she has a letter written by William Kirlin in 1851 to James Monroe concerning the disposition of his mother, Rachel's, things after her death.
Jo Ann Wise is descended from the Isaac Noble Willits family through their son Frank Lee Willits of California. Isaac Noble Willits married Nancy Beck 11/27/1856 in Van Buren County, Iowa. Isaac died 2/10/1923 in Livermore, Alameda County, California. His middle name of Noble is interesting because there was an Indiana Governor named Isaac Noble who was probably his namesake. It is confusing as there were many Noble families in Indiana and in Mercer County, Illinois, as well, but we do not think this name implies a Noble family connection.
Larry Moline is descended from the Albert Sinks Willits family. He tells us that Jane Beck, who married Albert 12/19/1861 in Van Buren County, Iowa, was sister of Nancy Beck who married Isaac Noble Willits. Albert and Jane lived and died in Van Buren County, Iowa and are buried in the Thompson Cemetery.
William and Mary Fix WillitsWilliam Willits, born 3/3/1800, married Mary Fix 9/8/1825 in Wayne County, Indiana. They had children: Loring A. (b. abt 1826), Christopher Charles (b. abt 1827); Levi (b. 11/1/1829, d 10/3/1830 bur. Franklin cemetery) Ira L.(b. abt 1821); Dudley Willits (b. 8/3/1832, d. 8/13/1847 bur Franklin Cem); James Willits (b. 6/30/1833, d. 8/8/1847 bur Franklin Cem); Nancy E. (b. abt 1833); Vashti (b. abt 1835); Matilda (b. abt 1838); and Sarah A (b. abt 1840). We will not follow this family further here as they remained in Wayne County and as far as we know none of the descendants came to Mercer County.
Mary Willits LewisMary "Polly" Willits was born 3/6/1801 in Pennsylvania and married Caleb Lewis 10/21/1819 in Wayne County, Indiana. Caleb Lewis served as a member of the Indiana legislature a number of times. Mary and Caleb had ten children in Indiana: Vashti (b. 1822); Leah Viney (b. 1825); Sarah (b. 1827); Mary (b. 1830); Maria (b. 1835); John M. (b. 1837); Minerva (b. 1840); William (b. 1842); Melissa (b. 1845); Levi (b. 1847). Eldest daughter, Vashti is of interest to us as she married William Drury 7/1/1840, and they were prominent citizens of Mercer County, Illinois (see the Drury page for more information.
James Monroe WillitsJames Monroe Willits was born 6/5/1818 in Wayne County, Indiana, and died 4/8/1906 in Mercer County, Illinois. He is buried in New Boston Cemetery. James Monroe Willits married (1) Sarah A. Myers, daughter of Andrew and Mary Lloyd Myers, on 9/29/1840 in Mercer County . Sarah Myers Willits was born 9/13/1822 in Pickaway County, Ohio, and died 9/23/1849 in Mercer County, Illinois. She is buried in New Boston Cemetery.
James Monroe and Sarah Myers Willits had children: Levi P. Willits (b. 1841); William H. Willits (b. 1843); Viola Willits (b. 1844); James Lloyd Willits (b. 1847); and Orpha Miranda Willits (b. 1849). Sarah Myers Willits died a few days after the birth of Orpha Miranda. James Monroe Willits is listed in the 1850 census in Township 14N, Range 5W (future New Boston Township): James M. Willits, 32, born Indiana, farmer; Levi P., 9, In; William H., 6, In; Viola, 5, Il; James L., 3, Il; Orpha M., 9/12, Il.
James Monroe Willits married (2) Sarah Prouty, daughter of William and Lydia Hall Prouty, on 6/17/1850 in Mercer County. Sarah was born 4/30/1832 in Massachusetts, and died 12/5/1895 in Mercer County, Illinois. She is buried in New Boston Cemetery.
James Monroe and Sarah Prouty Willits had children: Ledrew Willits (b. 1851); Felton H. Willits (b. 1852, d. 1853); Vashti L. Willits (b. 1854); Robert Murry Willits (b. 1856); Frederick Willits (b. 1858); and Courtney Willits (b. 1867). They are found in the 1870 census in New Boston Town: James Monroe Willits, 51, retired farmer, born Indiana; Sarah A., 36, born Massachusetts; William, 25, farmer, born Indiana; James, 22, butcher; Miranda, 20; Ledru, 19; Vashti, 15; R Murry, 14; Freddy, 11; Courtney, 3.
Levi Perry Willits, son of James Monroe and Sarah Myers Willits, was born November 21, 1841 in Indiana. Levi enlisted with his brother William Henry in Company I, 17th Ill Inf. The two were immediately transferred to Co A, 8th Ill Infantry. Levi mustered out May 4, 1866. He is not found in the 1870 census in Mercer County and may have been looking for land in the "west." He returned and married Maria Shields, daughter of William and Lucy Wilson Shields, on 3/16/1871 in Mercer County, Illinois. Levi Perry and Maria Willits resided in Lenox, Taylor County, Iowa, where all their children were born. They had children: Victor B. (b. 9/8/1873, d 11/10/1958); Britt Leander (b 11/2/1875, d 11/24/1958); Dott (10/13/1877, d 4/25/1935); Glenn (b. 8/25/1879, d. 6/7/1915); Blaine (b. 11/28/1885, d. 7/31/1957); Burr (b. 1/13/1892, d. 10/13/1977). Victor and Blaine never married. Dott died in Grants Pass, Oregon; Glenn died in Fort Dodge, Iowa; Burr died in Marshalltown, Iowa. Britt Leander married Lillie Anna Lahr and lived in Lenox. Jerry Hagge has more information on this family.
William Henry Willits, son of James Monroe and Sarah Myers Willits, was born August 15, 1843 in Indiana. He is still at home in the 1870 census and we do not find a record of a marriage. He enlisted with his brother, Levi Perry, in Company I, 17th Infantry. William Henry mustered out as corporal. He died June 3, 1930 in Mercer County.
Viola Jane Willits, daughter of James Monroe and Sarah Myers Willits, was born November 17, 1844 in Illinois. She married Daniel Hinderman (marriage license record - name was actually Hindman) 9/6/1866 in Mercer County, as his second wife. He was the son of Dr. Andrew and Margaret Trembly Hindman and was born in Butler County, Ohio, February 22, 1839. He served in Co I, 17th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War. The History of Mercer County, Illinois, 1882 states he became Captain of his company, but if this is true it is not recorded in the records of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois. The History also states he went into business in New Boston. The 1870 census shows him living in New Boston Town: Daniel Hindman, 31, born Indiana, carpenter; Viola, 25, born Illinois; Grace, 2, born Illinois. They also had a son George. In 1882 Daniel was County Treasurer in Aledo according to the History. In 1895 Viola was residing in Britton, Marshall County, South Dakota. In 1920 she was widowed and living with her half brother Fred Willits in New Boston at 146 Locust Street. We will be putting up a Hindman page but in the meantime have a temporary family group sheet up on the Artz Cemetery page where Daniel's mother is buried.
James Lloyd Willits, son of James Monroe and Sarah Myers Willits, was born January 29, 1847 in Illinois. He is living with his parents in New Boston in 1870. We do not find a marriage record for him. In 1895 he was residing in Los Angeles County, California, but he died in Mercer County Illinois on 2/18/1919 and is buried in New Boston Cemetery.
Orpha Miranda Willits, daughter of James Monroe and Sarah Myers Willits, was born September 10, 1849 in Illinois. She married Rezin Harvey Pratt, son of Lacey and Elizabeth Baker Pratt, on 6/2/1875. Rezin and Orpha Willits Pratt had children Netta Mae Pratt: Lacey R. Pratt (b 1879, died 1880); and Hortense Pratt. Rezin and Orpha are living in New Boston in the 1900 census and have a niece, Winifred Willits, born September 1895, living with them. Winifred was daughter of Orpha's half brother Courtney. They also have five boarders. Rezin Pratt died 1916 and is buried in Eliza Creek Cemetery. Widow Miranda is living in New Boston in 1920, with daughter Neta who is a public school teacher. Miranda is buried in New Boston Cemetery (1849-1923).
Ledrew Prouty Willits, son of James Monroe and Sarah Prouty Willits, was born March 6, 1851 in Illinois. On 1/9/1878 he married Charlotte Kirlin, daughter of Anderson and Mary Willits Kirlin (see Kirlin page linked above). They had children: Glenn Roy; James Anderson; Stella; Don Poe; Clair; Lloyd; Grace; and Nellie. Both Ledrew and Charlotte and some of their children are buried in Sun River Cemetery in Cascade County, Montana. You can use the Findagrave link on our Cemeteries page to search for the Sun River Cemetery and see photographs of the tombstones. (information courtesy of Judy Van Vleet who is researching this Willits family for a friend.)
Vashti Lydia Willits, daughter of James Monroe and Sarah Prouty Willits, was born July 16, 1854 in New Boston. On October 21, 1874, she married Omer H. Bell, son of James C. Bell of New Boston. Vashti died January 1, 1924 in Dallas, Texas.
Robert Murray Willits, son of James Monroe and Sarah Prouty Willits, was born March 20, 1856 in Illinois. On December 19, 1878 he married Jennie E. Worley. They had children Vie, Omer, and Maude.
Fred Willits, son of James Monroe and Sarah Prouty Willits, was born July 27, 1858 in Illinois. We do not find a marriage record for him. He died August 31, 1935 and is buried in New Boston Cemetery.
Courtney Willits, son of James Monroe and Sarah Prouty Willits, was born January 27, 1867 in Illinois. He married first Ellen C. Hultquist on 11/29/1893 in Mercer County. They had children: Gladys, born and died 1894; and Winifred Augusta. Winifred was living with her aunt and uncle Rezin and Orpha Willits Pratt in the 1900 census as Ellen died 3/31/1897. Winifred died unmarried on 4/21/1916 and is buried in New Boston Cemetery. Courtney Willits married (2) Lollie Martin on 2/12/1902 in Mercer County. Lolla Ballard tells us that Courtney and Lollie had five daughters: Novella Ruth, born 1903; Sara Fonda, born 1905; Wilma Alice, born 1908; Maxine, born 1910; and Geneva Vashti, born 1913. We have not included their married names here as some are still living.
7/2011 Corrected Rachel Shields to Rachel Field - we apologize for this long standing error.
Added burial information for Ledrew and Charlotte Kirlin Willits under the James Monroe Willits family above.