Hon. Samuel Willis (Biography)

Hon. Samuel Willis and Mrs. S. Willis

Samuel Willis was born in the town of Lake Pleasant, Hamilton Co., N.Y., in the year 1818. He remained in his native place until seventeen years old, when a desire to better his circumstances induced him to remove to Onondaga County. He arrived in Syracuse with a surplus, over and above his traveling expenses, of only eighty cents. This he expended for some small article of clothing, and went on foot to Vesper, in the town of Tully, where he found employment as a farm laborer with Orange Smith, working one year for one hundred and eight dollars. During the year his father visited him, and was induced by young Samuel to remain and purchase a small farm, the latter pledging his year's wages to make the first payment upon the same. The land was purchased of Mr. Orange Smith, and, after the expiration of the first year Samuel was engaged with his father in improving the new farm.

At age of twenty-four years he was united in marriage to Miss Rachel Van Wormer, daughter of Isaac and Agnes Van Wormer, who were among the early settlers of the county.

Subsequent to his marriage he purchased upon credit, eighty acres of the farm on which he now resides. This was no inconsiderable undertaking for a young man in his circumstances, but the responsibility stimulated the exertions of both himself and wife, and by their united efforts, diligence, perseverance, and economy they not only succeeded in paying for their land, but in subsequently increasing it to a farm of one hundred and twenty acres. For many years Mr. Willis has carried on farming on a large scale, having worked from three hundred to five hundred acres of land. He has one of the most desirable homes in the section of the county where he resides, a sketch of which is shown on the opposite page. For his success in life, he attributes no small share of credit to the good judgement and skillful management of his estimable wife, who has ever been ready, by word and deed, to second his efforts and assist him in all his undertakings.

Residence of Hon. Samuel Willis, Tully, Onondaga Co., N. Y.

Mr. Willis has served his town in various public and official capacities, having held office of assessor for six consecutive years, and that of supervisor for seven years, and is now a member of assembly from his district, having been elected in the fall of 1877.

Mr. Willis is the architect of his own fortune. Without the aid of inherited wealth or social prestige, he has made his way from poverty to affluence, and from obscurity to a high position in the gift and trust of his fellow-citizens, by his own energy, industry, and economy. While his official duties occupy much of his time, his highest pride and enjoyment are in his well-ordered farm, and the associations and comforts of his delightful home and the society of his many friends.

Mr. Willis has had five children,-- one son and four daughters. The oldest, Ann Eliza, married Erastus Clark, and is living near her parents; George I. died at the age of twenty-one, in 1865; Sophia L. married Adrian Cummings, and is living about three miles from her father; Mary L. died May 4, 1876, aged twenty-seven years; Julia H. lives with her parents at home; graduated at Cortland Normal School; afterwards became one of its teachers, which place she filled for two years; has also been a teacher in the academy at Winsted, Conn.


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