Willis Family - Cherokee Application Article


Lumpkin County, Georgia

Willis Family
Cherokee Application Article


The Times, Gainesville, Georgia, Sunday, March 23, 1980
History and Heritage 10-D


(The copy of the newpaper article from which this was transcribed does not show the author's name)

Mrs. Ester Janie Willis Martin, wife of Alex. M. Martin, made application for a share of money appropriated for Eastern Cherokee Indians by the Act of Congress which was approved June 30, 1906, in accordance with the decrees of the Court of Claims. Several families and their Indian heritage can be traced through these records.

Janie Willis was born June 12, 1874, Dawson County, Ga. She was the daughter of Pickens E. Willis and Frances Balsingame who were both born in Lumpkin County, now Dawson County, Ga. Her grandparents were William Willis, born in Ireland, and Polly Willis (maiden name Daughrity), and John and Lottie Blasingame. William Willis and wife, Polly Daughrity Willis, went to the Indian Territory in 1835 or 1836. Polly Daughrity (her name was probably Mary-- "Polly" is a nickname for Mary) was part Cherokee, but her Indian name is unknown.

Ester Janie Willis was married to Alex M. Martin, son of Van Martin and Fannie London. Van and Fannie Martin were both born in Lumpkin County, Ga. Alex M. Martin was born May 14, 1868, and died June 24, 1938. Janie Martin died April 29, 1961.

A Supplemental Application for Minor Children made by Janie Martin on July 9th, 1907 has a list of the children of Alex M. and Janie Martin:

1. Van B. Martin, age 16, born Jan. 23, 1891. Van Buren Martin was married to Annie Mae Watson, daughter of Walter W. Watson and Susan E. Wilson. Her grandparents were Hampton and Ethel Watson, and Rubin and Linda Wilson. Van B. Martin died Feb. 10, 1961.

2. David Lee Martin, age 14, born December 5, 1892.

3. Gurley Martin, age 12, born January 22, 1895.

4. Frances Martin, age 10, born November 14, 1896.

5. Lenar Martin, age 8, born January 11, 1899.

6. Kate Martin, age 4, born February 6, 1903.

7. Smith A. Martin, age 2, born November 3, 1905.

Janie Martin stated that the two first named were, she thought, enrolled for money and annuities, land, or other benefits in June 1895 at Tahlagua Indian Territory Cherokee Tribe. "Myself and two oldest children were paid $796 and some cents at that time being our share in the sale of the Land Strip money."

Pickens E. Willis, father of Janie Willis Martin, made application for such share as may be due him on the fund appropriated by the Act of Congress approved June 30, 1906...

Pickens Willis gave his place of residence as Dawsonville, Ga., Dawson County. He stated that he was born March 17, 1830, Dawson County, Ga. Asked by what right he claimed to share, he replied, "I claim through my mother, she was living in 1851."

Frances Willis, age 68, was named as wife of Pickens. His father William Willis was dead in 1851. His mother Mary Daugherty Willis, was in Lumpkin County, Ga. in 1851. She died March 16, 1894.

The application stated that "Applicant enrolled by the Act of Congress. Brother Priestly Willis enrolled by Chapman 2005. Applicants father dead in 1851. Mother enrolled as Mary Barnhill." Mary Daughtery Willis was married to a Mr. Barnhill after the death of William Willis.

The Southern Business Directory and General Commercial Advertiser published in Charleston, S.C. in 1854, states that P.E. Willis was postmaster in Dahlonega, Ga.

A census of the Eastern Cherokees in 1851 enumerates Priestly Willis, age 27, male, mixed. Three young females listed in his household had been marked through. These were Susan Jane Willis, age 10; Catharine Willis, age 7; and Sarah Willis, age not given.

Living next door to Priestly Willis was his mother Mary Barnhill, age 45, female, mixed. Next door to Mary was Mary Daugharty, age 68, female, mixed, widow. Living in the household were Elizabeth Daugharty, 36 and Frances Eleanor McClure, 18.

Also enumerated in the census were Frances Daugharty, 22, mixed; Nancy Daugharty, 11; Susan Daugharty, 11 and Sarah M. Daugharty, age 5. Silas Palmour was named as guardian of the children.

Susan Russell, wife of William Green Russell and sister to Priestly Willis, was also enumerated with two sons. Susan Russell, age 24, mixed; John A. Russell, age 4; and William H. Russell, age 3. A note stated that Wm. Russell was head of this family.

William Green Russell was one of the four famous Russell brothers who founded Denver, Colorado. William G. and brother Levi, John and Oliver Russell went to California during the gold rush years of 1848-1850, and later lead a group of miners to Colorado to search for gold. William Green, husband of Susan Willis Russell, was probably on one of his gold mining trips at the time this census was taken.


Submitted by Dan Pierce