|Birth: ||Jul. 15, 1881, Luxembourg|
|Death: ||May 18, 1959|
John Martin Willems was born July 15, 1881 in Niederwampach, Luxembourg. His parents, Phillip and Katherine (Katrina) Neiseus Willems moved their small family to America about 1883. The family made Streator, Illinois their home. From there the family moved to Wakeene and then Cuba, Kansas to farm. During John's boyhood the family moved again, this time to Charleston, Arkansas, where Phillip's brother Mathias had already settled. John Martin Willems was the oldest of nine children. The other siblings that lived to be adults, Frank, Alois, Katie, Mary, Anne, and Joseph, eventually lived in Saskatchewan, Canada with most homesteading their own farms.
In his early years, John took music lessons and could play several instruments including the accordion and violin. As he matured he took a job selling organs and other musical instruments as a traveling salesman. This was how he met his bride-to-be Anna Marie Guenther at her family's log cabin home near Paris, Arkansas.
John was proud of the fact that he was quite educated for having attended school for only two years. Those that knew realized that was greatly due to his mother Katrina being a former school teacher, although even after he was grown John often read to learn about a variety of subjects and continued to educate himself throughout his life. He planted fruit trees, grapevines, and a variety of crops on the farm he bought from his mother-in-law. His plantings often proved fruitful and along with livestock, and wood milled from the family farm was a good insulator against hard times when the great depression hit.
Over a 24 year period the couple had 12 children together, 8 boys, and 4 girls, all living to adulthood. All were valuable in maintaining the farm and for their unique contributions to the family.
It wasn't always easy for the Willems family, being German while the USA was at war against the Germans in WWI and WWII. After one of the conflicts word came to the family that a second cousin had been killed in Europe when the child found an unexploded munition that went off while the child was playing.
As a member of the community John Martin Willems was very influential and much respected. He served in the Arkansas State Legislature in the 2 year terms of 1911, 1913, and 1933 when his wife Anna died. He served as president of the McLean's Bottom Levee Board of which he was a member for 44 years. In this capacity he was instrumental in negotiating the construction of levees along the Arkansas River for flood control of farmland north of Paris. He was a devout Catholic and always considered God to be of great importance in how he lived his life.
After Anna Marie, his wife for thirty years death, John married the widow Zola Mae Manus. At the time of John's death in 1959 their marriage had endured 25 years.
In John Martin Willems handwritten will dated February 28, 1950 he provides for his wife Zola Mae and children then states "the sum of $500 five hundred dollars to be paid toward building of Church (St. Benedict's)at Subiaco. It is hearby humbly asked to be remembered by the monks in their prayers and a Gregorian Mass to be said in my behalf."
Phillip Willems (1859 - 1939)
Katharina Neiseus Willems (1851 - 1929)
Anna Marie GŁnther Willems (1882 - 1933)
Zola M. Stanley Manus (1893 - 1981)
Catherine Philomena Willems Schwartz (1904 - 1989)*
Elizabeth Willems Werner (1907 - 1989)*
Phillip Joseph Willems (1908 - 1959)*
Mathew John Willems (1911 - 1970)*
William Mathew Willems (1913 - 1939)*
Fred Victor Willems (1914 - 1997)*
Aloys Jacob Willems (1916 - 2009)*
Frank Joseph Willems (1919 - 2000)*
Justin J. Willems (1921 - 1992)*
Anna Marie Willems Kloke (1923 - 2010)*
Margaret Grathwohl (1925 - 1969)*
John Stephen Willems (1928 - 2004)*
John Martin Willems (1881 - 1959)
Frank Xaver Willems (1883 - 1938)*
Joseph Earnest Willems (1886 - 1951)*
Alois John Willems (1888 - 1931)*
Mary Willems Glabus (1890 - 1973)*
Katherine Lucille Willems Loeffler (1891 - 1984)*
Cecilia Willems (1893 - 1893)*
Saint Joseph Catholic Cemetery
Created by: K W Hodnett
Record added: Sep 07, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 29647904