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Special Home > Guide to the Willis Family Letters, 1876-1933

Guide to the Willis Family Letters, 1876-1933

Collection number: MC 168

Size: 1 box (0.20 cu.ft.)

About Willis Family

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, 1916.

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.

About the Willis Family Letters

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 Hazelton)

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Willis Family Letters, 1876-1933, MC 168, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA

Acquisitions Information

Purchased: Charles Apfelbaum, Watchung, NJ, May 15, 1999 (Accession number: 99.006)

Related Material

Information used in the biographical note comes from the Report of the Bicentennial Celebration of the Town of Orford, New Hampshire, August 7 and 8, 1965

Collection Contents

Box 1
Box 1, Folder 1 1876-1901 (5 items)

To Mrs. Daniel S. Willis from Sylvia B. Davis (Hazelton), April 10-20, 1876

Sylvia writes to her sister, Marinda, regarding family matters, sicknesses and different cures

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
Box 1, Folder 2 1892-1920 (10 items)

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, 1902

A loving letter in which she writes of family matters.

To Eugene Willis from Nellie Willis, Aug. 26, [1902]

A frantic letter to Eugene with the news that Mary lost her baby. Nellie pleads with him to come home.

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, 1914

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. 23, 1917

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 (14 items)

To Nellie Willis from Mother who speaks of sending letters and packages of stockings, April 23, 1921
To Nellie Willis from Bertha M. Whitcher, addressed to “Aunt Nellie,” May 6, 1921

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, 1921
To Nellie Willis from Clarence Willis “Just a line to know that I am alright,” Sept. 14, 1921
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, 1921

An informative letter about laundry, buying watches, and a request for family news and letters.

To Nellie Willis from Clarence Willis, a note written “to let you know I am all right,” Sept. 28, 1921
To Nellie Willis from Clarence Willis, a short note saying everything is fine, Oct. 4, 1921
To Mrs. Nellie Willis from Mother, a religious letter in which Mother talks of her travel plans, Oct. 16, 1921
To Nellie Willis from Clarence Willis, Oct. 18, 1921

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, 1921
Box 1, Folder 4 1922-1928 (10 items)

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, 1924

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, 1928

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 (10 items)

To Nellie Willis from Sarah (niece to Nellie), Jan. 2, 1930

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, May 1930
To Nellie Willis from Sister, a chatty letter about the weather and illness, Oct. 22, 1930
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, 1931

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. 1931
To Mrs. Nellie Willis from E[ ], Feb. 21, 1932

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 (2 items)

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