Friday, September 25, 2009

Desperately Seeking Willis

I am searching for any information that could help me shed light on the parents of Willis C. Chandler born 28 December 1807. South Carolina Census records say that he was born in South Carolina. The first record that I have found shows Willis signing as a witness to a Codicil added to the will of William Devenport (also an ancestor of mine) between January 1840 and July 1842. The Codicil states that Devenport purchased a tract of land from John Kirby and his children were to divide said land equaling among themselves. The 3 witnesses were listed as Lewis H. Shumate, Nimrod Donaldson and Willis Chandler.

On 12 October 1845, he and his wife Leanna Campbell Chandler joined the Fork Shoals Baptist Church in Greenville County, SC. They are listed as “RWD” in the church minutes, which means “received without detail.” No children are mentioned in the church minutes. Leanna Campbell is the daughter of John Richard Campbell and Virginia Jane Barnett.

Willis and Leanna had 3 children. Mary Jane (26 April 1837- 19 May 1884) married Mark L. Davis. Sarah Ann “Annie” (23 April 1841- 1 April 1874) married Frank M. Austin and is buried at Fork Shoals Baptist Church. My great-great-grandfather, Pinckney Lafayette Chandler was born in 29 December 1842 and married Susan Elliotte Vance (granddaughter of the William Devenport I mentioned earlier). Pinckney died on Christmas Day 1868. His only child, my great-grandfather William Vance Chandler was 17 months old.

Willis remained in Greenville County until his death 13 February 1887. He and his wife Leanna are buried at Fork Shoals Baptist Church. She died 15 January 1876. He was active in the church and served a many committees. He appeared as head of household in the 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 South Carolina censuses (in the Oaklawn Township) as well as the 1860 Slave Schedule. His name appears in the Greenville County newspaper “The Southern Enterprise” on 8 September 1869 when serving on the grand jury. He appears in the 1843-1844 Greenville City Directory, as a land owner in the Fork Shoals area.

I have been unable to find him in the 1840 census or at any time before witnessing Devenport’s will between 1840 and 1842. I have been in contact with a few of his daughters’ descendants and they have no information on his parents. I have been told that he may be the son (along with Allen, Josiah and sister Rachel) of Henry Chandler, grandson of William Hampton Chandler of Greenville County, SC but have found no proof for my Willis or the others. I have long suspected that he and Allen Chandler may be brothers or first cousins but have no definite proof of that either.

I would appreciate any suggestions you may have in determining a family for my Willis. Thank you in advance for your help.

3 comments:

  1. I have a photo of Mary Jane Chandler and husband Mark Lester Davis, can e mail to you if you don't have it. Also have Mark's Civil War records.

    They were grandparents of my two sons on their paternal side.

    Glenda Patton
    North Ga. E mail: dekalbleaves@usa.com

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  2. How did you get a copy of the church minutes? I am looking into the Campbell, Rice, and McDougle families buried there. I have a Catherine McDougle b. about 1833 S.C. who married Benjamin Campbell. He died in the 1860s and she remarried Luke C. Rice some time after his wife Eliza Smith died. I can put Luke C. Rice in Greenville County, SC in 1850 and in 1867. Luke had a son named Posey Berry Rice and even the Berry family shows up buried there.

    I've found at least 3 Benjamin Campbells by 1850 but haven't found anything that fits.

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  3. I viewed the microfilm of the church minutes here at my library on inter-library loan. I believe they came from Furman.

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