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Biographical Sketch
S. R. Willey
Brown County, Kansas


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The following transcription is from a 750 page book titled "Genealogical and Biographical Record of North-Eastern Kansas, dated 1900.  These have been diligently transcribed and generously contributed by Penny R. Harrell, please give her a very big Thank You for her hard work!

Gold Bar

S. R. Willey

One of the old families of New England that through many generations have resided in that portion of our country is the Willey family, to which the subject of this review belongs, and his birth occurred in the Green Mountain state.

Born at Wheelock, Caledonia county, Vermont, March 9, 1827, he was a son of Stephen W. and Judith (Richardson) Willey, both of whom were natives of Vermont, in which state their marriage was celebrated.  The paternal grandfather, Stephen Willey, was born in New Hampshire and was descended from English ancestry.

Through the various generations the family were tillers of the soil.  In religious belief the grandparents were Freewill Baptists.  They reared six children, namely: Josiah; Micajah; Stephen; Peggy, the wife of J. Engles; Lucina, who became Mrs. Slifield; and Mrs. Sally Fairbrother.

Stephen Willey, the father of our subject, spent his boyhood days under the paternal roof, assisted in the work of the farm and by the terms of his father's will became the possessor of the old homestead, whereon he reared his family and died.  His wife survived him for a few years, but also spent her last days on the old home farm.

She was a daughter of Jonathan Richardson, of New Hampshire, who followed farming throughout his entire life.  Mr. Richardson's children were Jonathan, Joseph, Bradbury, Sayrles, Malachi, Judith and Mrs. Lucy Nelson.  The Richardson family were also connected with the Freewill Baptist church. Judith Richardson gave her hand in marriage to Mr. Willey and throughout their remaining days they remained upon the old home farm.

As a young man he engaged in teaching music and was the leader of the band.  He possessed considerable musical talent and his services in that direction were much in demand.  By his marriage he became the father of four children, namely: S. R., of this review; George F.; Bradbury; and Luella, who became the wife of R. Walton and after his death married George Harriman.

S. R. Willey is the only member of the family living in Kansas.  Until eighteen years of age he remained upon the old home farm and followed the plow through the summer months, while in the winter season he pursued his education in the common schools.  At the age of eighteen years he began learning the blacksmith's trade and followed that pursuit for fourteen years.

In 1852 he was united in marriage, in Lancaster New Hampshire, to Miss Mary A. Raines, who was born in Jefferson, New Hampshire, August 13, 1832.  Her great-grandmother was a noble and brave woman of Scotch-Irish descent, who lived near Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in the vicinity of the fort which she defended against a strong force of Indians when the men of the family were at work in the field.  She lived to the ripe old age of one hundred and one years.

Mrs. Willey's parents, Samuel and Louisa (Miller) Raines, were both natives of the "old" Granite state.  Her father was a blacksmith by trade, but afterward became a foundryman and lumber manufacturer at Lancaster, New Hampshire.  He died in Rochester, that state, and his wife died on board a steamer while returning to her home in North Carolina.  Both were members of the Methodist church. 

In their family were eight children: Webster M.; John; Joseph; Jonas; Mary A., wife of our subject; Louisa, the wife of C. Willey; Emma, the wife of J. Appleby; and Mrs. Clara Sanburn.  The paternal grandfather of Mrs. Willey was Henry Raines, a New Hampshire farmer, whose children were Nathaniel, James, Harris, Henry, Abby and Sally. 

The maternal grandfather's children were Jonathan, a seafaring man; Mar, who operated a factory; Mary, Ruth, Eliza and Louisa.  After his marriage Mr. Willey, of this review, took up his abode in Lancaster, New Hampshire, where he remained for nine years.  On the expiration of that period he removed to Wheelock, Vermont, where he followed farming for seven years.

He then went to Delaware, where he worked at his trade for two years, after which he came by rail to Kansas and worked a rented farm near Troy for a year.  He next purchased a tract of raw land on which he made some improvements, but after six years sold that property and came to Brown county.

Here he purchased a quarter-section of land, upon which there were no improvements.  He built a barn in which to live until a dwelling house could be erected.  At Iowa Point he purchased a carload of lumber, which he had shipped to Falls City, whence he brought it by team to the farm.  This was used in the erection of the house and in building fences.

Mr. Willey broke his own prairie and soon made his farm a profitable investment, placing the fields under a high state of cultivation.  He also raised and fed stock and for several years after coming to the west he taught band music, but his attention has been given mostly to general farming, and with the skill, enterprise and adaptability of the true New Englander has carried forward his work to
successful completion.  He is today the owner of nearly 600 acres of very valuable land and is accounted one of the most prosperous and energetic farmers of his neighborhood. 

In all his work Mr. Willey has been ably assisted by his estimable wife, who has indeed proved a helpmate to him. They have also reared their children to habits of industry and economy and to the knowledge of the fact that in union there is strength.  To this end they have all worked together and have thereby secured the valuable property which now crowns their efforts and Mr. Willey is recognized as an excellent financier.

The children of our subject and his wife are Charles, born August 4, 1853; James I., born June 8, 1859; Mary E., born July 27, 1867, and is the wife of George M. Poperwell; and George E., born January 17, 1870.  Two of the children are married and reside near the old homestead, while the other two are still with their parents.  Three of the children are members of the Methodist church and Mr. and Mrs. Willey have reared a family of which they may well be proud.

In politics he is a Democrat and has filled some local offices, including that of school director.  He is recognized as a broad minded man, intelligent, enterprising and public spirited and those who know him esteem him highly for his sterling worth.

  Gold Bar

Last update: Friday, July 18, 2003 20:22:20

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