John Harvey Wills, the father of my great grandmother Lottie Mae Wills, was born in Bedford County, Virginia according to his reporting in various census records.
The 1900 census has him in the Cabin Creek District of Kanawha County WV. It gives his birth date as December of 1853 and his age as 46. At that time he reported he had been married for 19 years to wife Mary (Mary Elizabeth Barker). The census also lists his wife and 6 children, son Albert age 18, son George age 15, daughter Lottie M age 12, son Charles age 9, son Lemuel age 5, and son Harvey (who I would come to know as ‘Ole Harv much later in his life) age 2. He lists his occupation as a coal miner and that he’s renting their home.
John married Mary Elizabeth Barker, June 16, 1881 in Pond Gap, WV (Kanawha County). In addition to the 6 children listed in the 1900 census there were two more daughters, Vada and Thelma who came after the 1900 census taker passed through their neighborhood.
Even though I spent quite a lot of time in this area of West Virginia as a child, my only interest in where I was going was connected to how long it took to get there and not where it was situated in relationship to a state or county. I found a map that shows how the county is divided into districts making it easier for me to understand where John and his family were living compared to places that are familiar to me now that I’m interested in these things.
I have not been able to document exactly when and where John died, it is estimated to have been between 1901 – 1907.
As I write this I’m sitting in a comfortable chair in front of the television, too far away from a binder where I keep records I’ve gathered up over the years that might round out the life picture of John Harvey Wills a bit more. I’ll have to let this one be a work in progress since my writing time is limited to between work and daily life responsibilities.