91st PA: William S Willis

William S Willis

Before the war

On 23 December 1841, his parents, Joel Willis, and Eliza L DeHart, were married, at Philadelphia, by Jos H Kennard (apparently of the 10th Baptist Church). [source: 10]

He was born in 1841/42, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. [sources: date: 3 (19 in 1861), 6 (17 in 1860), 7 (19 yrs 6 mos at death in Feb 1862), 8 (8 in 1850). place: 3, 6, 8]

In 1850, he was living in ward 4, Moyamensing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was living with Joel and Elizabeth (presumably his parents), and with John, Sarah, and Mary (presumably siblings), along with three other people. He had attended school within the year. [source: 8]

In 1860, he was living in ward 1, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was living with Jacob and Eliza Willis (presumably his parents), and with Sarah, John, Henry, and Mary Willis (presumably siblings). [source: 6]

He worked for Daniel Frites on his farm, and gave his wages to his mother to support her. [source: 10]

When he enlisted, he was a butcher. He worked for William Rich for about two years as a butcher; Rich paid him $2 per week plus board, and Willis gave that money to his mother to support the family. [source: 3]

Description

When he enlisted, he was 5 feet 3-1/2 inches tall, had a dark complexion, dark eyes, and black hair. [source: 3]

During the war

He enlisted for three years, and was mustered into service as a private in company E on 26 August 1861, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was enlisted by Captain Lentz, and mustered into service by Colonel Reiff. He was mustered in on 9 September 1861. [sources: 1, 3, 9, 10, 11]

He died on 19 February 1862, (or possibly 21 February 1862), in his tent at Camp Stanton, Washington DC, of typhoid fever or apoplexy, observed by John D Lentz. (The company death record has 'typhoid fever'; the evidence in the pension certificate file reports both, but eventually settles on apoplexy.) He had been ill for a few days before his death. He was a private. [sources: 1, 2, 3, 7 (apoplexy, 19 Feb), 9, 10, 11]

After the war

On 28 October 1862, his mother, Eliza L Willis, applied successfully from Pennsylvania for a pension under the Act of 14 July 1862. Her post-office address was 825 Leonard Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her husband, Joel, was alive, but had been a habitual drunk since about 1855, and hadn't contributed anything to the family's support. Eliza testified that 'she was not desirous of sending him to prison and deemed it useless to attempt to enforce any legal compulsion as he was not able to support her'. Matthew Hall (twice), John D Lentz (twice), and I D Knight testified supporting her application. Her application was accepted on 10 December 1870, and she received a pension of $8 per month retroactive to 20 February 1862. [sources: 4, 5]

Sources

1 Bates, Samuel Penniman. History of Pennsylvania volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, state printer, 1869-71. 5 volumes. 'Ninety-first regiment', volume 3, pages 186-233. (In the roster)

2 list of deaths, company E

3 descriptive roll, company E, entry 77 (William S Willis)

4 pension index, by name (William S Willis)

5 pension index, by regiment, 91st PA Infantry, company E (William S Willis)

6 1860 US census, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, ward 1, microfilm series M653, film 1151, page 411 = 151 handwritten (William Willis)

7 death certificate, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19 February 1862 (William S Willis)

8 1850 US census, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Moyamensing, ward 4, microfilm series M432, film 809, page 440 = 875 (William Willis)

9 index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania (William S Whillis)

10 abstract of dependent's pension certificate file, National Archives and Records Administration, record group 15, WC 146,647 (Eliza Willis mother of William S Willis)

11 index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania (William S Willis)

Sources checked unsuccessfully

1870 US census
Ancestry index (accessed 1 Jan 15)
his parents are living in ward 1, division 3, Philadelphia (page 622 recto = 97 handwritten) (FamilySearch): Joel (victualler, 50), Eliza L (56), Harry (18, bookkeeper), Mary (13), and Sallie E Henry (26), all born in Pennsylvania
1880 US census
Ancestry index (accessed 1 Jan 15)
1890 US census, veterans schedules
Ancestry index (accessed 1 Jan 15)
1900 US census
Ancestry index (accessed 1 Jan 15)
1910 US census
Ancestry index (accessed 1 Jan 15)
1920 US census
Ancestry index (accessed 1 Jan 15)
1930 US census
Ancestry index (accessed 1 Jan 15)
1940 US census
Ancestry index (accessed 1 Jan 15)
Pennsylvania, veterans burial cards, 1777-1999
Ancestry index (accessed 1 Jan 15)
records of headstones of deceased Union veterans, 1879-1903
FamilySearch index (accessed 1 Jan 15)
headstone applications for US military veterans, 1925-1949
FamilySearch index (accessed 1 Jan 15)

Display



William S Willis in the 91st PA database

1850 census

[1850 US census, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Moyamensing, ward 4, microfilm series M432, film 809, page 440 recto = 875 handwritten (FamilySearch)]
[identification is confirmed, since (1) Joel's name, (2) Elizabeth's name, (3) Elizabeth's age, and (4) Joel's occupation all match the information in the mother's pension certificate file abstracted below]
line343536373839404142
Dwellings visited649        
Families visited730        
NameJoel [sic] WillisWilliam "John D "Elizabeth "Sarah E "Mary A "George McKeeAnn MeganeyMary Smith
Age32853671181636
SexMMMFFFMFF
Color         
Occupation of males over 15 yearsJr Butcher  none  App ButcherServtNone
Real estate owned         
Birthplace" [sc. Pa]"""""DelawrIreland"
Married within year         
Attended school within year 11 1    
Over 20 & can't read/write         
Deaf, dumb, blind, etc.         

1860 census

[1860 US census, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, ward 1, microfilm series M653, film 1151, page 411 = 151 handwritten (FamilySearch)]
[identification is uncertain; (1) this matches the 1850 census entry transcribed above, except (2) that the head of household's name is 'Jacob', not 'Joel'; also (3) the testimony of William Rich in the pension certificate file suggests that William should have been living with him, not his family]
line21222324252627
Dwelling number1091      
Family number1245      
NameJacob [sic] WillisEliza "William "Sarah "John "Henry "Mary "
Age394517161483
Sexmfmfmmf
Color       
OccupationVictualler      
Value of real estate owned       
Value of personal estate300      
Place of birth" [sc. Penna]""""""
Married within year       
Attended school within year       
Cannot read & write       
Deaf, dumb, blind, etc.       

index to compiled service records

[index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania]
[transcribed 2 Mar 2014, from Fold3]
[Fold3's digitization has two copies of this card]


Whillis William S
Co E, 91 Pennsylvania Inf.
Pvt | Pvt
REFERENCE CARD.
Original filed under
Willis William S

GENERAL INDEX CARD.


[card 2, transcribed 8 May 15]

Willis William S.
Co. E, 91 Pennsylvania Inf.
Pvt. | Pvt.
See also [blank]

GENERAL INDEX CARD.

dependent's pension certificate file

[abstract of dependent's pension certificate file, National Archives and Records Administration, record group 15, Eliza Willis mother of William S Willis, WC 146,647]
[abstracted 31 December 2014, from 57 pages on Fold3]
23 December 1841
Eliza L DeHart married Joel Willis at Philadelphia, by Rev Jos H Kennard (pp.18, 19 [records of 10th Baptist Church])
26 Aug 1861
enlisted at Philadelphia (pp.14, 17 [William S Whillis], 18)
9 Sep 1861
mustered in at Philadelphia (pp.14, 17 [William S Whillis])
19 Feb 1862
died at Camp Stanton, Washington DC of apoplexy (pp.14, 17 [William S Willis], 18)
contracted apoplexy about 16 Feb 1862
'he contracted the disease of Typhoid fever from the Effects of which he died at Camp Stanton' (p.18 [declaration for pension])
28 Oct 1862
Eliza L Willis, mother of William S Willis, applied for a pension under the act of 14 July 1862 (p.18)
48 years old, residence Philadelphia, post office address 825 Leonard St, Philadelphia PA (p.18)
her husband has been a habitual drunk since about 1855, and hasn't contributed anything to his family's support (p.18)
application 5070 (pp.14, 28)
dated 8 Oct 1862 (p.18)
original attorney George W Ford (p.18)
witnesses David Conrad (325 S 7th St Philadelphia) and Abraham De Hart (resident of the Philanthropic Cemetery Philadelphia) (to her identity, dependence on William, and to Joel's being habitually intoxicated) (p.21)
attorney Jas A Morgan (fee $10)
witnesses David Conrad and William Rich
completed claim on 12 July 1869 (p.3)
certificate 146,647, dated 17 Dec 1870 (pp.28, 53)
admitted 10 Dec 1870, W B Gove examiner, approved 14 Dec (p.3)
received pension of $8 per month retroactive to 20 February 1862 (date of his death) (pp.3, 53)
15 Dec 1862
the Adjutant General's Office provided the above-summarized information to the Pension Office (p.14; see p.30 for the request)
1 June 1863
the Surgeon General's Office reported to the Pension Office that Willis's death hadn't been reported to them (p.15)
4 Jun [? maybe Jan?] 1863
the Pension Office returned the declaration, apparently asking for evidence of dependence, and sent circular 9 about his death (p.30)
12 June 1863
Matthew Hall (captain commanding co. E) certified that William S Willis 'contracted apoplexy at Camp Stanton on or about the 16th day of Feby. 1862, from the effects of which he died on the 19th day of February 1862 at Camp Stanton near Washington D.C.' (p.34)
'the disease of Typhoid Fever caused by' is crossed out, and 'Apoplexy' is written in, apparently in a different hand (p.34)
21 July 1863
Eliza L Willis, 48 years old, 825 Leonard St Philadelphia, swore that she had applied for a pension through Geo W Ford, based on the service of her son who died of apoplexy, though she was first told it was Typhoid Fever, that she married Joel Willis on 23 Dec 1841 by Rev Jos H Kennard, that Joel Willis is a habitual drunkard and has done nothing to support his family for 9 years, that her son William contributed regularly before and after enlisting, that she has no income from any source except her labor (pp.23-24)
Wm Rich (925 Lombard St Philadelphia) and John A Henry (912 South 7th St Philadelphia) swore that what Eliza said was true (pp.24-25)
1 Aug 1863
the Pension Office sent 'cert to A.G.' (p.30)
the Pension Office sent a letter to Ford (the attorney) telling him that the 'habits + general health of the soldier must be shown' (p.30)
3 Aug 1863
the adjutant general's office verified that Matthew Hall was on 30 June 1863 Captain of Co. E of the 91st, and that his signature on the certificate was genuine (p.51)
24 Nov 1863
John D Lentz certified that Willis 'contracted a disease the name of which is unknown to me but that he died very sudden [sic]' on 19 February 1962 at Camp Stanton, 'That he was always uniformly of good habits and always performed his duty cheerfully and was a good and faithful soldier, and that he was apparently a sound and healthy man at the time of entering the service', and that Lentz was Captain of Co. E when Willis died, and is now Major, 'and now in this City Detailed for the purpose of conducting drafted men to the Regt' (p.43)
26 Dec 1863
the Pension Office did something with 'Surgeon cert.' (received it? sent for it?) (p.30)
7 March 1864
the Pension Office sent a letter 'calling for certfct. as above reqd' (p.30)
13 April 1864
I D Knight certified (at Warrenton Junction VA) that Willis 'was a stout well built man apparently sound + healthy and I know of no cause that could have induced this disease'; 'He was seized with "Tetanus" from the effects of which he died' 21 Feb 61 at Camp Stanton (p.39)
28 April 1864
the pension office requested (?) information about Willis's death (p.30)
24 June 1864
the Pension Office sent circular 14 to the Surgeon General (p.30)
5 July 1864
the Pension Office received circular 14 from the Surgeon General with no evidence (p.30)
7 July 1864
the Pension Office sent circular 2 to the attorney re sec. 3, and [asked] for testimony + about physical disability (p.30)
29 Sep 1864
Eliza L Willis, 49 years old, swore that she was the Eliza whose son William died at Camp Stanton on 19 Feb 1862 from the effects of typhoid fever, that he left no wife or children, that he contributed regularly to her support and to paying her house rent, for five years before enlisting, that her husband Joel Willis hadn't contributed to the family support for more than six years bcause he was habitually intoxicated and therefore incapable of manual labor, that 'she was not desirous of sending him to prison and deemed it useless to attempt to enforce any legal compulsion as he was not able to support her' (pp.7-8)
David Conrad, 325 S 7th St Philadelphia, and William Rich, 925 Lombard St Philadelphia, swore that the person who made the previous declaration was Eliza L Willis, that they wll knew her son William S Willis, that they saw him in the service and have every reason to believe he died about the date stated leaving no wife or children surviving him, that they well know Joel Willis her husband, that Joel and Eliza lived together as husband and wife and are so regarded, and have every reason to believe they were married about 25 years ago, that Joel Wilis 'has been for over six years habitually intoxicated and very dissipated, that he does not perform any labour whatever nor has he contributed any thing to the suport of his family for the same period', that William contributed regularly before and after enlisting (p.9)
David Conrad also testified that 'the said Joel and Eliza L Willis lived in one of his houses for over five years that they Still reside there that he has on repeated occasions applied to said Joel Willis for the rent of Said House but always refused, stating he had no money that the said Eliza L Willis said applicant always paid the rent of the said house, she the said applicant stating to him that that was part of her son's earnings, which he had given to her for that purpose' (pp.9-10)
William Rich also testifed that 'William S Willis worked for him for about two years as a Butcher, that he paid him about two Dollars per week and Board and that the amount of wages he frequently told him he gave to his mother the applicant for her support and to aid in paying her house rent' (p.10)
29 [?] Sep 1864 [?]
G J Chamberlain, now a resident of Bustleton, Philadelphia PA, swore that he was the family physician of Joel and Eliza L Willis for over 8 years, and that Joel Willis 'has been so addicted to the use of intoxicating liquors being habitually intoxicated that he is on that account and physicall [sic] debility produced by that Cause, unable to contribute anything to the support of his family' for more than 6 years (p.11)
6 Oct 1864
the Pension Office received additional evidence--but asked, 'how about death?' (p.30)
14 March 1865
the Pension Office sent circular 14 to the Surgeon General (p.30)
24 March 1865
the Pension Office received circular 14 from the Surgeon General with no evidence (p.30)/dd>
26 May 1865
the Pension Office sent a letter about the conficting evidence about the death date and cause (p.30)
13 January 1866
the pension office sent a letter 'suspending [consideration of the application] for want of proof as to date + cause [of] death' (p.30)
30 May 1867
the Pension Office sent circular 9 (p.30)
25 September 1868
the Pension Office sent circulars 16 and 14 (p.30; p.54 is circular 14 [to the surgeon general])
26 Sep 1868
the Adjutant General's office provided the above-summarized information to the Pension Office (p.17)
30 Sep 1868
the Pension Office received a response to circular 16 (p.30)
6 October 1868
the Pension Office received a response from the Surgeon General with no evidence, and sent a letter to Morgan (the attorney) 'as per slip' (p.30; see p.54 for the request, and p.55 for the answer--that no hospital records from Camp Stanton were available, and the available records of Stanton General Hospital Washington and of the regimental hospital didn't cover that date)
1 July 1869
John D Lentz swore that he knew William S Willis 'he was present and saw him die in his tent with attack of apoplexy, when in line of duty ... and recollects the event well, that he was a faithful soldier' (p.41)
10 July 1869
Sallie E Henry swore that she knew William S Willis and his mother, and lived in a rented part of the house, and saw him give her money to pay for provisions rent etc. (p.48)
12 July 1869
Daniel Frites swore that William S Willis worked on his farm, and that he paid his wages to his mother every week, to be used for her support (p.32)
12 July 1869
Emanuel Peterson and William Penn Feeney swore that they knew William S Willis as neighbors from childhood, knew that he had excellence moral character, was industrious, supported his mother, and believe that he was healthy immediately before he enlisted (p.46)
16 July 1869
the Pension Office received some additional evidence (but the note reads: 'some addl ev recd ??', which suggests it wasn't enough) (p.30)
20 September 1869
the Pension Office sent circular 6 to the Surgeon General (p.29; p.56 is circular 6, for the Surgeon General, and p.57 is the response, which claims that Camp Stanton and the Regimental Hospital records before April 1862 weren't on file)
5 October 1869
the Pension Office received a response from the Surgeon General (p.29)
5 October 1869
the pension office sent a letter to Morgan [?] 'as per slip' (p.29)
25 March 1870
Sallie E Henry swore that William Willis gave his mother $20 after his first payment, while he was at Camp Chase, and heard him say he would have enough to pay the rent then do, and that she knows Eliza received about $25 taken from his pocket after his death (p.37)
11 May 1870
Mathew Hall (late 1st lt E 91 PA) swore that he knew William Willis, and that 'he recollects his death on the 19th of February 1862, when he died of apoplexy, very suddenly, that he had been sick for several days previous to his death, that he was a healthy many previous to this attack of sickness, and supposes that the apoplexy might have been caused by the disease or sickness he was complaining of' (p.50)
19 September 1870
the Pension Office received an agreement between Eliza L Willis (825 Leonard St Philadelphia) and James A Morgan of Washington DC that she would pay him $25; the agreement is marked 'approved at ten dollars' (p.35)
see p.38: 'Approved at ten dollars Dec 17/70 H [illegible] Coms' (p.38)

death certificate

[death certificate, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19 February 1862, William S Willis]
I certify that William S. Willis a Private in Co E. of the 91st Penn. Vols died on the 19th February 1862 of Apoplexy Aged 19 yrs 6 Months
Col. White
Lex [?] Main [?]

Isaac D. Knight
Surgeon 91st Regt Penn Vols
Washington D.C.
Camp Stanton
Feby. 20th 1862

top of document | home
revised 8 May 15
contact Harry Ide at hide1@unl.edu with comments or questions