The Willis family took root in New England when Job Willis emigrated from England and
settled in Massachusetts. Although the name of his spouse is not known, they had
three children: Thomas, Martha Willis (Baldwin) and Daniel Shaw Willis. Daniel
married Marinda Hazelton in the 1850s. Marinda came into possession of her family's
farm soon after her marriage. The farm, which is now called the Willis Farm, on
Orford Lower Street was built by Richard Hazelton in 1808. James Hazelton, Marinda's
father, owned the farm in the early 1800s.
Daniel Willis was a wheelwright and carpenter who worked in a shop attached to the
farm. Daniel and Marinda H. Willis had three children: Mary Etta, Carrie A., and
Eugene F. Willis. Eugene married Nellie A. Flanders in Laconia, September 4, 1893.
They moved to Orford and lived in Quinttown on a farm owned by the Willis family.
Eugene and Nellie had three children: Lela M., Laura Mildred and Clarence Daniel.
Lela, the oldest was born at the Quinttown farm. After the death of Marinda H.
Willis on July 26, 1898, Eugene's family moved into the Willis farm to care for
Daniel Willis. Both Laura and Clarence were born at the Willis Farm. Eugene, a
carpenter, drowned in the Connecticut River on July 2, 1911. He was 41 years old.
His widowed family continued to care for Daniel Willis until his death on March 13,
Nellie Willis purchased the farm and continued to operate the family business. Mrs.
Willis died November 3, 1957 aged 87. Lela Willis married Mr. Lamott
and had two sons: Paul I. LaMott and Dean LaMott. She divorced and then married
Weymouth Pike. Laura M. Willis married Guy G. Smith of Fairlee, VT. They had one
son, Guy Willis Smith. Clarence D. Willis married Ruth Ibelle and had a daughter,
Janet Lee, and a son, Russell Eugene.
The collection consists of personal letters written between 1876-1933. These letters
contain family news, document marital stress and divorce, showcase the enduring love
between spouses, and describe life on a farm during the early twentieth century.
This collection contains forty-five letters, of which thirty-six were written to
Nellie Willis. Nellie received a couple of letters from her daughter, Lela, who was
going through a divorce. A few letters contain exchanges between Eugene and Nellie
when they were separated by Eugene's job. Other recipients of letters include Eugene
Willis, Clarence Willis, Daniel Willis, and Marinda Willis. The oldest letter is
from Sylvia B. (Hazelton) Davis who wrote to her sister, Mrs. Daniel Willis (Marinda
Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions
about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff
[Identification of item], Willis Family Letters, 1876-1933, MC 168, Milne Special
Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH,
Purchased: Charles Apfelbaum, Watchung, NJ, May 15, 1999 (Accession number:
|Box 1, Folder 1||1876-1901
|To Mrs. Daniel S. Willis from Sylvia B. Davis (Hazelton), April 10-20,
Sylvia writes to her sister, Marinda, regarding family matters, sicknesses and
|To Mr. Eugene H. Willis From D.L. Willis (Daniel Shaw) regarding
deeds of James Hazelton Farm, Dec. 5, 1892|
|To Mrs. E. A. Willis from Eugene (Willis), April 16, 1894|
A loving letter written to Nellie in which Eugene says he misses her and asks when will
she come home also writes of business affairs.
|To Eugene Willis from James Hazelton, Oct. 5, 1901|
In a letter addressed to "Nephew" James Hazelton requests Eugene to send him apples
|To Eugene Willis from D. S. Willis (Daniel Shaw), July 23, 1901|
Written to "My Dear Son and Daughter," Daniel discusses work, asks Eugene to send him
his tools, and writes to Nellie regarding family matters.
|Box 1, Folder 2||1892-1920
|Two (2) letters and two (2) purple note cards, Dec. 5, 1892|
To Eugene from Nellie, Wishes Eugene a happy Birthday and talks of children and family
matters. To Eugene From Livona--Writes about family matters, catching a
runaway pig, and tells him that Lela has written him (purple card).
Purple card--From Livona. A note to say she was sending the letters
|To Eugene Willis from Nellie Willis, Aug. 8,
A loving letter in which she writes of family matters.
|To Eugene Willis from Nellie Willis, Aug. 26,
A frantic letter to Eugene with the news that Mary lost her baby. Nellie pleads with him to come
|To Eugene Willis from Addie, addressed to "Friend Eugene," Sept. 8, 1904|
Addie mentions that Nellie had her teeth pulled.
|To Daniel S. Willis from Jennie M. Baldwin (niece), March 12, 1906|
A long letter to Uncle Daniel regarding family news.
|To Miss Lela Willis from Laura, a child's letter to "Sister
Lela," March 13, 1911
|To Nellie Willis from Lela Willis (daughter), July 23,
Lela asks after her Aunt Carrie, who seems to be in a bit of trouble. She also mentions her
job and expected vacation.
|To Nellie Willis from Mother Sarah, Nov.
With a religious tone, Mother Sarah writes of receiving a letter from Ruth, mentions her illness and
asks to exchange herbs with Nellie.
|To Nellie Willis from Mother Sarah, June 3, 1920|
With a religious tone, Mother Sarah writes of taking a trip and making a rug.
|Box 1, Folder 3||1921
|To Nellie Willis from Mother who speaks of sending letters and
packages of stockings, April 23,
|To Nellie Willis from Bertha M. Whitcher, addressed to "Aunt
Nellie," May 6,
This letter from Bertha expresses concern for Nellie (she was
sick) and fears no jobs are to be had. She also asks if Nellie would be
interested in renting her farm.
|To Mrs. Nellie Willis from Martha Chandler, May 13, 1921|
Martha writes that Anna, who gave birth, wasn't supposed to live past the night. Mentions
Nellie's sickness, stockings, and the weather
|To Nellie Willis from Kimball Union Academy, a form letter
detailing the storage of trunks, Sept. 5,
|To Nellie Willis from Clarence Willis "Just a line to know that I
am alright," Sept. 14,
|To Nellie Willis from Clarence Willis, Sept. 14, 1921
In a second letter from the same day, Clarence writes that he forgot to mention his purchase of
books and rental of a lock box at school.
|To Nellie Willis from Clarence Willis, Sept. 21,
An informative letter about laundry, buying watches, and a request for family news and
|To Nellie Willis from Clarence Willis, a note written "to let you
know I am all right," Sept. 28,
|To Nellie Willis from Clarence Willis, a short note saying
everything is fine, Oct. 4,
|To Mrs. Nellie Willis from Mother, a religious letter in which
Mother talks of her travel plans, Oct. 16,
|To Nellie Willis from Clarence Willis, Oct. 18,
A letter from Clarence at school, he asks to be sent a fountain pen and talks about winning a game
against Vermont Academy.
|To Nellie Willis from Clarence Willis, Oct. 26, 1921|
Letter asking after the farm and writes that he is thinking of buying skis,
|To Nellie Willis from Clarence Willis, Oct. 30, 1921|
Writes that he has received the letter with money and has bought a pair of skis,
|To Nellie Willis from Clarence Willis, a brief letter regarding
his return to school, Nov. 27,
|Box 1, Folder 4||1922-1928
|To Miss L. Willis [Laura] from Laura Wagner, a birthday card,
Aug. 7, 1922
|To Nellie Willis from H. E. Sherwell, Dec. 19, 1923|
A notecard sent thanking Nellie for the package and mentions parental feebleness.
|2 letters to Nellie Willis, July 10, 1924
1) To Nellie Willis from Daniel Finn regarding deeds to
lots in Laconia. 2) To Nellie Willis from C. B. Hibbard, Counsellor at Law
regarding deeds to lots in Laconia. He also requests the names of all
her children because the deeds are in the name of her deceased husband.
|To Nellie Willis from Sister, Nov 7,
A chatty letter about her sickness and others ailments.
|To Nellie Willis from Mrs. Firm, a printed Christmas Card, Dec. 22, 1924|
On back of card is a note about building a new house.
|To Nellie Willis from Josephine, April 10, 1928|
This letter, addressed "Dear Sister Nellie," Josephine talks of Harry and his sickness.
|To Nellie Willis from Josephine, a long letter about Harry,
April 26, 1928|
|To Nellie Willis from Lela Willis (LaMott), Oct 8,
Addressed to "Mother", talks about a separation and the rumors floating around about the other
woman, Mrs. P.
|To Nellie Willis from Lela Willis (LaMott), October 22, 1928|
Lela talks of divorce and feels she is in "a terrible bad tangle."
|Box 1, Folder 5||1930-1933
|To Nellie Willis from Sarah (niece to Nellie), Jan. 2,
Talks about a boy being born to Thelma on New Years Day. Attachment: newspaper clipping of
a 65th wedding anniversary.
|To Nellie Willis from Lela Willis (LaMott), a Mother's day card,
|To Nellie Willis from Sister, a chatty letter about the weather
and illness, Oct. 22,
|To Nellie Willis from Ma Ibelle, Nov. 20, 1930
Writes about her daughter Ruth and Nellie's son Clarence as a good match. She also thanks Nellie
for the gifts.
|To Nellie Willis from Mrs. W.A. Morey (Anna), Oct. 6,
Anna, in a depressed mood, writes that there is no work for her husband, and she
doesn't know how they will manage. She also mentions Indian summer, pickling and preserving.
|To Nellie Willis from Earl and Hazel, a pre-printed Christmas
card, Dec. 22, 1931|
|To Nellie Willis from Iva and William, a pre-printed Christmas
card, Dec. 22, 1931|
|To Mrs. Nellie Willis from Edith and Bill, a pre-printed
Christmas card, Dec.
|To Mrs. Nellie Willis from E[ ], Feb.
Addressed "To Folks," this letter relates news of acquaintances.
|To Clarence Willis from National Life Insurance Company, a letter
and receipt for insurance policy number 441562, Feb. 8, 1933|
|Box 1, Folder 6||date unknown
|To Mrs. Nellie Willis from Mr. and Mrs. Mayberry, a pre-printed
Christmas card, Dec. 25, 192[
|To Mildred from Josephine, a long chatty family letter, Nov. 30