Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Our 8th Great Grandparents. Rebels with a Cause! (Williamson Side)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello Williamsons,
Many of you remember me saying at our last family get together at Kim's home in Highland, that many of our ancestors seemed to be very stubborn, pig headed and down right rebellious when it came to religion and authority. We laughed as we talked, realizing that those same traits of stubbornness seasoned with a healthy dose of pig headedness seemed to have travelled through the gene pool and across generations into many of us!

Tonight, in our digital family reunion, we take a moment to once again talk about our 8th Great Grandparents, Henry Willis and Mary Pease. Let us begin with the all too familiar Relationship Chart.

Henry Willis and Mary Pease
John Willis and Ester Brinton
Henry Willis and Mary Rachel Underwood
John Willis and Phebe Bennett
Bennett Willis and Katherine Nosseman
Jonathan Willis and Anabella Phlegar
Margaret Ann Willis and George Matthew Williamson
William J. Williamson and Effie Helen Victor
Vennie, Ima Della, Inez, Lillie Ethel, Josie, Emmett, Walt, Charles, Maurice.
Charles Williamson and Luella Mattson
Kim, Victor, Kevin, Janice, Jon, Jilane, Lisa and Annette

The following information was taken Information taken from Friends Intelligencer. March 2, 1872. Please remember that Quakers refer to themselves as Friends.

In my research I learned that the earliest mention of Quaker meetings in Westbury, New York (sometimes called Woodedge and Plainedge) was March 23, 1671. Friends (Quakers) met at the houses of Henry Willis and Edmund Titus, two prominent Friends who “soon felt the strong arm of the law”. On August 15, 1678, George Masters, a tailor from New York became engaged to marry Mary Willis. Their plans were brought to the Friends meeting. The Friends appointed Samuel Spicer, John Tilton, Mary Willis and Martha Titus to “inquire of their clearness of all other persons”.

On September 9, 1678 Mary Willis and George Masters were married in the home of Henry Willis during the Quaker meeting. This action was in violation of the law. The Court of Sessions fined Henry Willis 10 pounds. Henry Willis refused to pay. The Court demanded an “execution issued forth” and Joseph Lee, under sheriff, seized Henry’s barn of corn.

Henry Willis appealed to the Governor on May 4, 1680 for redress.

In 1687 a new Presbyterian minister, Jeremiah Hobart, was appointed for the village of Hempstead. According to the law, the villagers were required to ‘provide’ for the new minister. It appears Henry Willis, along with other Quakers, refused. There are records that the constables demanded Henry pay 34 shillings toward the building of the priest’s home. Upon his refusal one cow worth 4 pounds 10 shillings was taken.

On December 30th of the same year the constables demanded Henry pay 2 pounds 17 shillings for the priest’s wages. Henry refused, upon which eight sheep worth 4 pounds 14 shillings were taken.

On November 29, 1687 Henry Willis and Edmund Titus petitioned the Governor for relief saying,
“They have already suffered in the spoil of their goods for the setting up and upholding a worship in the town of Hempstead, which in their conscience they believe to be not the true worship of God; and are again threatened to have a part of their effects taken from them toward the maintenance of Jeremiah Hobart whom in conscience they cannot maintain, knowing him to be no minister of Christ; and so are no way concerned with any agreement made with him. The taking of our goods is contrary to the laws which give liberty of conscience to all persuasions.”
It appears the minister was at last forced to leave by reason of numbers of his congregation turning Quakers and many others being so irreligious that they wouldn’t contribute to the support of the church.

Quaker records report that on November 7, 1714 Henry Willis, aged 86 died.
“He received the Truth [ joined the Quakers ] soon after its breaking forth in these latter days, and in very early life suffered much mocking, stoning, beating, bruising and imprisoning in old England.”
As you can see, life in pre Constitutional America was quite different. In these posts we are beginning to sense the growing frustrations in the colonists for basic rights, such as the freedom of religion.

As they say in Australia
"Good On Ya Gramps!"

And Now, A Side Note

Before closing this reunion, I'd like to show you two Willis properties that are on the National Historic Register. Both were built by William Willis, our first cousin 7 times removed. William was the Great Grandson of Henry Willis.

The Willis House (135 Willis Road) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
The William Willis House built by William Willis in 1762 is significant for its associations with the early brick industry and the English Quaker Willis family who was influential in 18th and 19th century York.

The York Quaker Meetinghouse was originally constructed in 1766 as a one and one-half story brick building, two bays in width, with a gable roof and side chimney.
The York Meetinghouse, originally constructed in 1766, is the oldest religious building in the City of York. The York Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, once one of the largest religious bodies in the city, still holds weekly worship services for its nine members.

William Willis completed the masonry work in 1766. He was also one of the major financial contributors for buying the land and erecting the meetinghouse. Betty Willis was buried in the meeting's graveyard in 1769. William Willis was appointed overseer of the York meeting in 1768 and was listed as an elder when he died in 1801, at age seventy-four.


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