"Daniel H. Willis, Jr. & Julia Ann Graham Willis" Willis family story
by Randy 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 River.
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, Louisiana.
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.
He 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, 1999).
Can You Feed Her Son?
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, near Longleaf.
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