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 Thomas Willis

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Thomas Willis

Birth
Kentucky, USA
Death
1870 (aged 44–45)
Mason, Ingham County, Michigan, USA
Burial
Mason, Ingham County, Michigan, USA
Plot
Section A - Lot 217
Memorial ID
47404018 View Source

Name originally was Frank Demas but changed it when he escaped from slavery to Thomas Willis so as not to be found by his master. According to his wife's obituary, she escaped first to Canada with her daughter Mahala (Mrs. Henry Lyon) by underground railroad. Her and her husband were reunited there later by her husband after his escape. They lived in Canada a few years, and then Detroit finally coming to Mason, Michigan where he died 4 years later. (From the information in the article of Aug 15, 1907, I estimated the year they came to Mason as 1865 and he died approximately in 1869/1870)

Husband of Mary Willis. They were the parents of:

Mahala Willis 1850 - 1928 (Henry Lyons)
James Willis 1859 - 1953
Henry D. Willis 1863 - 1942
Mary Willis 1866 (James Monroe and Albert James)

I received this message from a find a grave contributor on March 19, 2021)
My interest was drawn to this couple, Thomas & Merry, by the news item on WKAR about the donation of the manumission paper by the descendants to the Archives of Michigan. That document states that as of May 1846 Frank Demas was a freedman. In your memorial you start with him escaping. Now, it occurs to me that both statements could be true. The manumission document actually raises more questions than answers. My first question is do you know that he escaped? And if so from where? I understand that Frank was a slave working the docks. It seems likely that he worked in Jefferson county, Kentucky.
-------------------------------------------------------
1860 United States Federal Census
Name: Thomas Willis
Age: 40
Birth Year: abt 1820
Gender: Male
Race: Mulatto
Birth Place: Kentucky
Home in 1860: Raisin, Lenawee, Michigan
Post Office: Adrian
Family Number: 335
Value of real estate: View image
Household Members:
Name Age
Thomas Willis 40
Mary Willis 38
Mahala Willis 3
James Willis 7 Months

1870 United States Federal Census
about Thomas Willis
Name: Thomas Willis
Age in 1870: 45
Birth Year: abt 1825
Birthplace: Kentucky
Home in 1870: Vevay, Ingham, Michigan
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Post Office: Mason
Value of real estate: View image
Household Members:
Name Age
Thomas Willis 45
Mary Willis 52
Mahaly Willis 13
James Willis 10
Henry Willis 8
Mary Willis 4

From a Find A Grave Contributor
http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/opinion/
columnists/2016/02/05/putnam-rare-slavery-document-display-lansing/79838764/

Name originally was Frank Demas but changed it when he escaped from slavery to Thomas Willis so as not to be found by his master. According to his wife's obituary, she escaped first to Canada with her daughter Mahala (Mrs. Henry Lyon) by underground railroad. Her and her husband were reunited there later by her husband after his escape. They lived in Canada a few years, and then Detroit finally coming to Mason, Michigan where he died 4 years later. (From the information in the article of Aug 15, 1907, I estimated the year they came to Mason as 1865 and he died approximately in 1869/1870)

Husband of Mary Willis. They were the parents of:

Mahala Willis 1850 - 1928 (Henry Lyons)
James Willis 1859 - 1953
Henry D. Willis 1863 - 1942
Mary Willis 1866 (James Monroe and Albert James)

I received this message from a find a grave contributor on March 19, 2021)
My interest was drawn to this couple, Thomas & Merry, by the news item on WKAR about the donation of the manumission paper by the descendants to the Archives of Michigan. That document states that as of May 1846 Frank Demas was a freedman. In your memorial you start with him escaping. Now, it occurs to me that both statements could be true. The manumission document actually raises more questions than answers. My first question is do you know that he escaped? And if so from where? I understand that Frank was a slave working the docks. It seems likely that he worked in Jefferson county, Kentucky.
-------------------------------------------------------
1860 United States Federal Census
Name: Thomas Willis
Age: 40
Birth Year: abt 1820
Gender: Male
Race: Mulatto
Birth Place: Kentucky
Home in 1860: Raisin, Lenawee, Michigan
Post Office: Adrian
Family Number: 335
Value of real estate: View image
Household Members:
Name Age
Thomas Willis 40
Mary Willis 38
Mahala Willis 3
James Willis 7 Months

1870 United States Federal Census
about Thomas Willis
Name: Thomas Willis
Age in 1870: 45
Birth Year: abt 1825
Birthplace: Kentucky
Home in 1870: Vevay, Ingham, Michigan
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Post Office: Mason
Value of real estate: View image
Household Members:
Name Age
Thomas Willis 45
Mary Willis 52
Mahaly Willis 13
James Willis 10
Henry Willis 8
Mary Willis 4

From a Find A Grave Contributor
http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/opinion/
columnists/2016/02/05/putnam-rare-slavery-document-display-lansing/79838764/


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