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Levonia Snowden Willis

Birth
Camden County, Georgia, USA
Death 19 Apr 1944 (aged 93)
Graham, Bradford County, Florida, USA
Burial Bradford County, Florida, USA
Memorial ID 175487171 · View Source
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Daughter of Peter Snowden and Mary Adaline Johns.

Although this article has Levonia born in 1836, she was born in 1850. Her parents were married Oct 11, 1849 in Camden, GA and Levonia was their first child born the following year in Nov. 1850. She was 93 years 5 months when she died.

Bradford County's oldest resident - one of the few centenarians in the entire county - Mrs. Levonia Willis, died April 19 at her home near Graham.
The simple funeral rites were held Thursday, April 20, in Santa Fe Cemetery with the Rev. L. G. Hemingway officiating. Arrangements were in charge of DeWitt C. Jones
When the aged, but still active and clear-thinking woman closed her eyes "weary of living" in a war-torn world, she ended a life as oddly patterned as the patch-work quilts she liked to piece together from tiny scraps of cotton.
Born in Georgia on November 10, 1936, Mrs. Willis was a young woman when she watched the "Boys in Blue" burn the town of Jessup, Georgia, a few miles from her farm home. Too, she watched a Union bullet kill her father as he sharpened an ax in the wood-lot.
But Sherman passed and fury cooled and Levonia Snowden, as it was then, began the arduous task of helping rear seven children with no man in the house.
They stayed on until Jesse Johns an uncle, who had migrated to Florida to settle a large tract of land, sent his wagon team for them. His slaves, now being free, Jesse Johns perhaps counted up the pairs of hands that his widowed sister and her eight youngsters would provide and felt suddenly benevolent toward them indeed. And so it was that Levonia was invited to the County of Bradford, Florida.
There was no room for Levonia in the wagon after her mother and the smaller children were packed in with a few trinkets and some household goods, so she and one of the older boys walked every rugged mile of the trail through the pine woods from Jessup, Georgia to New River, Florida.
Levonia Willis even at 107, still told her great grandchildren about those first years in Bradford County where the family lived as tenants on their uncle's land. There was still "alook in her eye" as she reminisced about the "gentleman" who used to help her pen cattle. He had asked her to marry him and come to live in the "Big house over on the knoll". When the child asked, as he invariably would, "Why did you take up with a no-count like Grandpap, then, Granny?" Levonia would always answer, "Hush lad, you didn't know your Grandpap them days".
Levonia Willlis was speaking of Joseph Willis whom she married soon after he came home to Bradford County in a Confederate uniform after the war. They later lived in Brooker and once, moved as far away as Titusville, but Levonia was happy to get back to Bradford County to "spend her last days".
Her own five children reared and married off, Levonia Willis turned to helping bring other women's children into the world and varied and colorful are the yarns she could spin of her years of experience as a midwife.
Even in her late years she still kept busy weaving baskets from wire grass, piecing quilts, neatly stitching her own clothes.
She accomplished all these tasks with rare agility until only a few months before her death and even then, it was difficult to dissuade her from her purpose. And despite her age, her folks will tell you, "She never had to wear specs".
During the last few weeks, as a small grandson expressed it, "Grandma mostly toted boards and shavins to the hearth and then jus' set alookin' in the fire thinkin' of what had done been, I guess most likely."
Neighbors, too, speak lovingly of this wisp of a little old lady in her full dark skirt brushing the floor, its thick folds gathered evenly on the tight bodice. She was a real character in the Graham community where she spent the last three years of her long life in the home of her daughter in law and son, Leila and Albert Willis. She realized she was lucky to have the company and care of a woman like Leila and she was grateful.
Leila did some nice things for her, too, that Granny didn't even know about. Like the time that Granny planted "pumpkins" hillls in some poor soil near her door, Leila waited "till Granny'd gone to sleep, then she slipped out by a thin moon and fertilized them so Granny wouldn't be disappointed in her crop. And, according to Leila, "They sure-nuf put on 14 pumpkins and that make Granny happy". 
Perhaps it was an ardent love of just such little things that sustained Levonia's life. She did not think much about her age. For after all, her grandmother Snowden had lived to be 117 and rode horseback to round up cattle at the age of 115.
She loved the shiny black swamp water and the smell of green pine - most of all she loved "briar berry pickin". In fact, she insisted upon it even to the point of running away from Leila to do it. It was sweet of Leila not to scold too much when she found Granny repeatedly crouched cannily beneath the bushes - being quiet as a mouse.
Even at 107 Levonia like to walk the quarter mile or so to the Robert's country store in Graham for a "cold drink, a needle or two, or a mite of peppermint candy". Down there she could find new listeners to her yarns of the early days.
Levonia Willis had one fault to find with her long life. She had lived through too many wars. Her father was killed and her husband wounded in the War Between the States. She had carried apples and cake to the soldiers passing through her town on their way to Spanish-American war camps but only distant kinfolk were among them. Her son came back from World War I a shell shock victim and now, her grandson, Sgt. John Carson Willis, is with the Army at Ft. Myers.
"I didn't want Johnny to be sent from America" she told her daughter-in-law last week. "I'm weary of war, Leila. I think I'd better go now, before I live to see it - but Leila, wait - first I want just two little sweet potatoes".
Leila got the sweet potatoes from the folks with the "tin topped" house over through the woods. Levonia Willis ate them. Then she went peacefully to sleep.

Published in the Bradford County Telegraph May 5, 1944
By Mary Jo Kent

Mother of:
Benny Willis 1874-Died between 1880 and 1885
Albert E Willis 1876-1965
Ida Willis 1879-1937
Emma Willis 1881-1974
Jesse James Willis 1884-1952
(Birth dates based on Census not SS)

Census of Willis Family

1880 Pine Hill, Bradford, FL
taken July 9, 1889
Willis, Joseph 34, Vina 28, Benny 6, Ebbert 4, Ida 6 months(makes Ida born Dec. 1879)

1885 Bradford, FL June 1, 1885
J Willis 44 Ga, V Willis 35 Ga, E Willis son 6 Fl, I Willis dau 4 Fl, J Willis son 1 Fl

1900 Titusville, Brevard, FL
Willis, Joseph 60, Vinid 42 (4 children living), Elbert 19, Ida 17, Emma 9

1910 LaGrange, Brevard, FL
Joseph Willis Head M 71 Ga
Dividic Willis Wife F 65 Ga
Albert Willis Son M 28 Fl
Emma Clemens Daughter F 22 Fl
Annie M Clemens Niece F 3 Fl
Evelin Clemens Niece F 1 Fl

Joseph dies 1912 in Titusville, Brevard, FL

1920 Titusville, Brevard, FL
Leonia Willis Female Age 75 Widowed

1930 Titusville, Brevard, FL
Lavine Willis Female Age 86 Widowed

1935 Brevard, FL
Divina Willis Age: 93 Female Florida
Est. Birth Year: 1842 Widow

Name: Levonia Willis Female Death Date: 1944 Bradford, FL


Family Members

Spouse
Children

Inscription

I don't think Levonia Snowden Willis's grave is marked.


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  • Created by: DMWK
  • Added: 18 Jan 2017
  • Find A Grave Memorial 175487171
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Levonia Snowden Willis (10 Nov 1850–19 Apr 1944), Find A Grave Memorial no. 175487171, citing Santa Fe Cemetery, Bradford County, Florida, USA ; Maintained by DMWK (contributor 47295617) .