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William Wills

William Wills

Male 1775 - 1844  (69 years)


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  • Name William Wills  [1
    Born 1775  , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Gender Male 
    Court Records Oct 1797  , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Assault and Battery Charge
    Age: 22 fined fifty cents 
    Court Records Oct 1798  , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Executor of Estate of George Wills.
    Age: 23 William Wills named executor for father George Wills 
    Land May 1806  , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Land Sale
    Age: 31, sells 200 acres to David Lucas, believed to be his brother in law, husband of Mary wills 
    Court Records 1803-1807  , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Jury Duty
    Oct 1796, Apr 1798, Apr & Jul 1799, Apr & Jul 1801, Jan 1802, Apr, Jul & Oct 1803, Aug 1804, Aug & Nov 1806, Oct 1807 
    Court Records 1808-1811  , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [6
    Jury Duty
    Age: 33, 1808, Jan & Oct 1809, 1810 
    Court Records 1811-1818  , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [7
    Jury Duty
    Age: 36 served as juror 10 times during this period 
    Census 1820  Springfield, Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    7 Aug 1820 
    • 1820 United States Federal Census 1820 United States Federal Census
      Name: William Wills
      Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Springfield, Robertson, Tennessee
      Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
      Free White Persons - Males - Under 10: 4
      Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 15: 1
      Free White Persons - Males - 16 thru 18: 1
      Free White Persons - Males - 16 thru 25: 3
      Free White Persons - Males - 45 and over: 1
      Free White Persons - Females - Under 10: 1
      Free White Persons - Females - 26 thru 44: 1
      Slaves - Males - Under 14: 2
      Slaves - Females - 14 thru 25: 1
      Slaves - Females - 45 and over: 1
      Number of Persons - Engaged in Agriculture: 6
      Free White Persons - Under 16: 6
      Free White Persons - Over 25: 2
      Total Free White Persons: 11
      Total Slaves: 4
      Total All Persons - White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 15


    1820 Federal Census Springfield, Robertson, Tennessee
    1820 Federal Census Springfield, Robertson, Tennessee
    William Wills
    Court Records 16 Feb 1825  Springfield, Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Wills Court Doc16 Feb 1825.jpg
    Wills Court Doc16 Feb 1825.jpg
    Census 1830  , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • 1830 United States Federal Census 1830 United States Federal Census
      Name: William Wills Junior
      Home in 1830 (City, County, State): Robertson, Tennessee
      Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9: 1
      Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 14: 1
      Free White Persons - Males - 15 thru 19: 1
      Free White Persons - Males - 60 thru 69: 1
      Free White Persons - Females - 15 thru 19: 1
      Free White Persons - Females - 50 thru 59: 1
      Slaves - Males - 10 thru 23: 2
      Slaves - Females - Under 10: 3
      Slaves - Females - 55 thru 99: 1
      Free White Persons - Under 20: 4
      Total Free White Persons: 6
      Total Slaves: 6
      Total - All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 12

      Notes:
      dates on Census indicate family members: Saladin, John B., Finis E., Elizabeth, and their parents, William Wills, Sr. and Margarette his wife. (note: head of family is incorrectly identified as William Wills, Jr.)
      [3]
    1830 Federal Census, Robertson County, Tennessee
    1830 Federal Census, Robertson County, Tennessee
    William Wills
    Mathew T Wills
    Ethnic Group 1830  , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Census says they are Free White 
    Census 1840  , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [8
    01 Jun 1840
     
    • 01 Jun 1840
      1 Male under 20
      1 male under 30
      1 male between 60-70
      1 female between 60-70

      Free Whites
    Will 17 Jan 1844  , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [9
    Will Dated.17 Jan 1844
    "I Give and bequeath the children of my son Mathew Wills deceased, sixty dollars. I give and bequeath to me daughter Betsy Colgin, a Negro girl name Elisa. To my wife Margaret Wills during her natural life, the tract of land on which I live and all Negroes with their increase except the one I given my daughter. With all my stock framing utensils, and household and kitchen furniture of every description, whatsoever at her death I give and bequeath to me son Saladean H. Wills the land on which I live and the Negroes with their increases to be divided equally between my sons, George Wills, William Wills, James Wills, John B. Wills, and Fines Wills, and Saladean Wills. I will and direct that as much of my stock farming utensils and furniture be sold as will be sufficient to pay the legacy to the children of my deceased son Mathew Wills and the balance be equally divided, my three sons, John B. Wills, Fines E. Wills and Saladean H. Wills. I appoint my beloved wife, Margaret Wills sole Executor of this my last will and testament. 
    Will: Wills. William Wills dated 17 Jan 1844, Robertson county, Tennessee
    Will: Wills. William Wills dated 17 Jan 1844, Robertson county, Tennessee
    Died 17 Jan 1844  , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [10
    • Will proved 17 Jan 1844
    Relationships 1896  [12
    Relationship to Betsy Berryhill, None Proved

    Granddaughter, M J O'Neal claimed Betsy Berryhill and Wm I Wills, both Indians were grandparents. She and brother were granted Creek Indian Citizenship (1/4 blood). No other sources support a claim to Indian heritage.  
    • The Wills Family of Robertson County Tennessee

      Introduction

      In early 2004, I began to research the family of my great grandmother, Justina Annette Wills Means (1836-1902). On Ancestry.com, I found several trees which indicated that her Wills ancestors had come from Tennessee, and that one or more of them were American Indians. I thought it was rather interesting to discover an Indian ancestor. Since I wanted confirmation of this new revelation, I requested a DNA test kit from Family Tree DNA that tested for general ethnicity. Much to my surprise, the results of the test showed no markers (zero percent) for Native American Indian ancestry. A small percentage of Sub-Saharan African was indicated. In order to double check the results, another Wills descendant also did the DNA test in 2007 through a different company. The results were the same. It was now clear that I needed to do in depth research of the primary sources, i.e., the records that are contemporary with the ancestors in question.
      Several sources located in the Public Library of Mexia, Texas, talked about my ancestors, the Wills family who came to Freestone and Limestone Counties Texas about 1848. They came from Robertson County Tennessee. The sources stated that William Wills, Sr. had died in 1844, and his wife Margarette came to Texas with James S. Wills, her son. Reading further, I learned that there were several brothers and one sister of James S. Wills and they all came to Texas, about the same time from Robertson County Tennessee and settled variously in Van Zandt, Coryell, Limestone and Freestone Counties.
      In 2008, I traveled to Tennessee to access hundreds of documents in various Libraries, Archives, Courthouses and Genealogical Societies across the state, but mainly in Springfield Tennessee where the Robertson County Archives are located. Here I studied volumes of Deeds, Wills and Court Minutes, marriage records, genealogical files, loose papers and letters, histories, misc. documents, cemetery transcriptions, Bible records and US Census and Slave Schedules. Not one single document that I found having to do with the Wills family gave any indication of Indian relatives or any contact with Indian people.

      The Main Subjects of this Paper

      There were four distinct people named William Wills who are the subjects of this paper. They are listed here to help the reader keep them straight.

      1. William Wills, Sr. (1775-1844) white race, lived in Robertson County Tennessee and died there, married Margarette (1779-1863), both white race. Margarette moved to Freestone County Texas where she died.

      2. William Wills, Jr. (1804-1865) also called "Billy", son of William Wills, Sr., (above) born in Robertson County Tennessee, moved to Kaufman County Texas in 1848, then to Van Zandt County Texas. Married Mary A (Polly) Phillips (1810-1892).

      3. William I Wills, Sr. (1785-?) born in Old Creek Nation, Georgia, moved to Creek Lands West, Alabama or Arkansas, then to east Texas Indian Lands (Henderson and Rusk Counties). Married Betsy Berryhill, both Creek Indians. Had one known son, William I (J) Wills, Jr.

      4. William I (J) Wills, Jr. (1806-1839) also called "Billy", son of William I Wills (above) and Betsy Berryhill. Creek Indian. Married Martha B Thompson (1813-1853). He fought in the Texas Army of the Republic 1835-36. His son was Vardy J Wills (1829-1881), Indian, born in Arkansas who petitioned for his father?s headrights in 1860 in Rusk County Texas.

      The "Berryhill Manuscript"

      On the internet, I found a document known as the "Berryhill Manuscript". It is an unpublished book by Thelma Nolan Cornfeld (1924-1996) entitled, Creek Indian by Blood, The Story of John Berryhill and Elizabeth Deerisaw and Their Descendants, 502 pages, put on the internet in 1996. This is a wonderful account of the Berryhill Family. But, it is the only source I have found that gives a reason to believe there may be Indian ancestors in the Wills family of Robertson County Tennessee.
      The "Berryhill Manuscript" uses many Indian sources including the testimonies taken by the Dawes Commission in Okmulgee Indian Territory (Oklahoma) just after the Dawes Severality Act of 1895 was enacted. Under the act, the common Indian Lands were divided into individually owned parcels and given to persons who could prove Indian Citizenship or a fraction thereof. The policy was not successful and not compatible with Indian customs and was eventually abandoned by the government.
      In chapter four of the "Berryhill Manuscript" where the Wills ancestors are talked about, the author's procedure is to quote portions of the testimonies of persons applying for Indian Citizenship and the witnesses to their testimony. The applicant, would make an opening statement, then witnesses would be called to verify their statements. The judge would ask questions of the applicant and the witnesses. After these statements are presented in the book, the author, Mrs. Cornfeld, makes commentaries on the testimonies and fills in details about each applicant.

      Mary J O'Neal's Testimony of 1896

      Mary Jane (Wills) O'Neal, a daughter of William Wills, Jr., appeared before the Dawes Commission in Okmulgee, (OK) in 1896 to make claim for Indian Citizenship. O'Neal states that her grandparents were William Wills and Betsy Berryhill, both Creek Indians on the rolls of recognized citizens from Broken Arrow Town in Alabama. She says that her father, William Wills, Jr., was also a recognized Creek Indian citizen, who started out here (to Indian Territory in Oklahoma) with a crowd of Indians. Continuing, she says that she was born in Alabama in Wills Valley and came out here from Tennessee in 1848, then went to Texas. She says her father, a Creek Indian, married a white woman, Mary A. Phillips. (Under questioning, however, O'Neal says she was born in Tennessee not Alabama, but close to the Alabama border.) She says she doesn't know if she was ever on the rolls of the Indians, and she doesn't know if her father had a home in the Old Nation and doesn't know if her father was on the Indian rolls. She says she is 58 years old and now lives on Wills Point on Duck Creek in Okmulgee District, (OK) where she has lived for the past five years. She says her brother is William H Wills, and her sister is Mrs. Estes (Elizabeth Margaret Wills) and another brother is Finis C Wills. (They also made application for Indian citizenship.) She says that her brother William H Wills was prone to drink, and she took care of him, and was part of his family. (None of her cousins, that is, her father's sibling's children including my great-grandmother, made application for Indian Citizenship.)
      The first witness, Sol McIntosh, says he does not know Mary O'Neal. He knew someone named William Wills, who was a Creek Indian and that Wills had an Indian wife named Lucy Mimms. They lived about one and a half miles from him. "Mrs. O'Neal claims this William Wills, but I don't know her to be his child," he says.
      The next witness seems to support Mrs. O'Neal, but admits he had met her last fall and become convinced by some things she said that she was the daughter of William Wills, a Creek Indian he knew in Texas, who spoke the language.
      The next witness, W B Self, says he knew Mrs. O'Neal and her father William Wills who he thought was a Creek Indian. He says that she claims we are of the same family, but doesn't know. He never knew William Wills in Alabama and did not know where he came from.
      The next three witnesses did not know William Wills in Alabama or any of the Berryhills from Alabama. That is the extent of the testimony in the O'Neal case. Only Mrs. O'Neal and the one brother, William Herbert Wills and his family were granted Indian Citizenship at one-quarter blood. Her brother Finis C Wills and sister Mrs. Estes were denied Indian Citizenship. Apparently, the Dawes Commission arrived at a decision only from the testimonies of the applicant and the witnesses.

      The Commentary on Mrs. O'Neal's Testimony

      It is the above testimony of Mrs. O'Neal that leads the commentary of Thelma Nolan Cornfeld found in the "Berryhill Manuscript" astray. The commentary tells a story of the Wills family in Robertson County Tennessee, in which William I Wills and wife Betsy Berryhill, Indians, are said to be the parents of William Wills, Jr.(1804-64) who moved to Van Zandt Co., Texas. It should be noted here that no Tennessee sources from the time period in question are cited. The author's only sources for these events seem to be Mrs. O'Neal's testimony, Texas Tombstone transcriptions, and the Indian Census cards of 1899, taken after the completion of the Citizenship Application Hearings which began in 1895.
      The author is certain of only one son born to Betsy Berryhill and William I Wills, and that is William I Wills, Jr. Combining the dates on the tombstone found in Van Zandt County Texas, of William Wills,Jr. (from Tennessee) and O'Neal's testimony, she concludes that he was a Creek Indian, born in the Old Creek Nation on August 10, 1804, and grew up in the Old Creek Nation. In 1828, she writes, he started from the Old Nation to the Creek Land West with his parents, but decided to leave the McIntosh Party in Alabama. After a while, he went to Tennessee and married Mary (Polly) A. Phillips (William Wills, Jr.'s wife) in 1834. They settled in Robertson County, TN. In 1848, they went to Kaufman County Texas, stopping along the way looking for William's parents, perhaps going into Oklahoma Indian Territory. Before 1860, they moved to Van Zandt County Texas. The author then names all the descendants of this family.


      Two William Wills, Juniors Are Mixed-up

      In another part of the manuscript, chapter two, the commentary tells us that William I Wills. Sr. and Betsy Berryhill had a grandson named Vardy J. Wills who was born in the Creek Lands West in 1830 and went to what would become Rusk County Texas. In checking both the 1870 and 1880 US Census, we find he is listed of Indian Race and born in Arkansas. Although it seems like Vardy J Wills should be the son of William I Wills, Jr., the author theorizes that he is not, probably remembering that the testimony of Mrs. O'Neal states that William Wills, Jr. is her father (and the son of William I Wills, Sr.. and Betsy Berryhill), and Vardy J Wills is not one of Mrs. O'Neal's brothers.
      The confusion evident here strikes at the heart of the issue. This is where the two William Wills, juniors are mixed up. Further research has shown that William J Wills (1806-1839), a Creek Indian, is in fact the father of Vardy J Wills. It is this William J Wills that is the son of William I Wills, Sr. and Betsy Berryhill, not William Wills, Jr. (1804-1864) from Robertson County, Tennessee.

      William I Wills, Sr. and Betsy Berryhill

      Taking the information about William I Wills,SR. provided by Thelma Nolan Cornfeld in the "Berryhill Manuscript", we know the following: William I Wills, Sr. was of Creek Indian blood and was a member of the Tuckabatchee Tribal Town, Old Creek Nation. (His estimated year of birth is 1785.) Betsy Berryhill was born in the Old Creek Nation, Georgia about 1787. They married about 1804. "William and Betsy went to the Western Creek Lands in the Second McIntosh Party that arrived in November of 1828, and settled in the fork of the Arkansas and Verdigris Rivers, by Betsy's parents." A document from May of 1828, which tells of a hostile encounter, places William I Wills, Sr. in the Old Nation. Another document addressed to the US Secretary of War, places William I Wills, Sr. signing the document as a witness, on the route to the Western Creek Lands in 1828. He is also a witness on the Creeks West Memorial, March of 1829. William I Wills, Sr. moved to Nacogdoches, Texas in the late 1830's. "I don't know if Betsy was still living," comments Mrs. Cornfeld.

      The Wills Family of Robertson County, Tennessee

      We will now give a brief account of the Wills Family of Robertson County Tennessee, so the reader might compare this with the commentary and information on the Wills Indian families found in the "Berryhill Manuscript". The accounts which follow are based on primary sources found in Tennessee and Texas, dating from the time of the subjects in question.

      William Wills, Sr. (1775-1844) lived in Robertson County Tennessee for his entire adult life, and had one wife, Margarette, the mother of his children and Executrix of his will. The year 1775 seems correct for his birth. In October 1796, at age 21, Robertson County Court Minutes show that he was on road work and also served on his first jury. In October 1797, he was brought up on assault and battery charges as an adult and fined 50 cents. (This cannot be the same person as William I Wills, Sr., born 1785, only 12 years old in 1797, now growing up in the Old Creek Nation.) George Wills, the father of William Wills, Sr., died in 1798 and William, Sr. was appointed Executor of his father's estate in October of 1798 in Robertson County Tennessee. Around this time, William, Sr. married Margarette, started a family; their first son, Matthew T Wills, being born there about 1798. (William I Wills, Sr. would be 13 at this time.)There are 61 records in the Court Minutes of Robertson County Tennessee from 1796 to 1826 that show his continued presence there. These include: jury duty, witness, security for land deeds, land transactions, and ordered road work next to his property. Court Minutes beyond the year 1826 and US Census records (1820, 1830 and 1840) show that he lived there until his death in 1844. The family is indicated as "free white" in the census records. The will of William Wills, Sr. names all his children and his wife: deceased son Matthew T. Wills (1797-ca.1839), George W Wills (1802-1861), William "Billy" Wills Jr. (1804-1864), James S. Wills (1809-1877), Elizabeth Wills Colgin (1811-1899), Finis Ewing Wills ( ca.1815? ), John Burnett Wills (1818-1890), Saladin Harris Wills (1824-1881) and wife Margarette Wills (1779-1863).

      Proof of Two Different Wills Families

      Many documents testify to the fact that the Robertson County Tennessee Wills Family is not the same as the Old Creek Indian Nation (Georgia) Family of William I Wills, Sr. and wife Betsy Berryhill. We have selected a document found in the Court Minutes of Robertson County that gives a particularly compelling argument for this fact. It is found in Court Minutes, Book 8, page 45 and dated 16 Feb 1825. It states that members of the Wills family are ordered to pay a bond of 125 dollars each as security that they will appear in court in May of the same year as witnesses in the case: State of Tennessee versus Samuel Staleap. The Wills family members listed on this document are: William Wills, Sr., Margaret Wills, George Wills, William Wills, Jr., and Mathew T. Wills. These are the two parents and the three adult children of the Wills family. Remember that William I Wills, Sr. and Betsy Berryhill are in the Old Creek Nation, Georgia, at this time, according to Mrs. Cornfeld?s writing. Documents cited in her manuscript show that in 1828, this Indian Wills family starts to the Creek Lands West in Alabama with the Second McIntosh Party. Presumably their son William I Wills, Jr. traveled with them. It does not seem possible, as Mrs. Cornfeld asserts, that he left the Party, came up into Robertson County Tennessee (north of Nashville, on the Kentucky border) and married Mary (Polly) Phillips in 1834 and assumed a position in the Wills Family of Robertson County, supplanting the William Wills, Jr. that was already there. Then, Mrs. Cornfeld says, he then left there looking for his parents in Tennessee and Oklahoma, and not finding them, went to Texas arriving there about 1848.



      William Wills, Jr.

      William "Billy" Wills, Jr. (1804-1864) son of William Wills, Sr. and Margarette Wills lived in Robertson County Tennessee, where he was born until he left there for Texas in 1848. Besides the 1825 Court Minutes record cited above, the 1830 US Census records of Robertson County indicate William Wills, Jr. resided in Robertson County, and he was married by this time. Two free white adults, one male and one female, between 20 and 29 are indicated in the 1830 Census. In the 1840 US Census, he is shown to still be in Robertson County, and now there are one male and one female (free white) 30-39 (William, Jr. and wife Mary A); one female (free white) under 5 (Mary Jane); and one female (free white) 5-9 (Elizabeth M). This lines up with the family as known in Texas.
      It was shown earlier that William, Jr's. father, William Wills, Sr., appears in court records frequently during the time of William Jr's. birth, which would further indicate that he was born there (not in the Creek Nation to William I Wills, Sr. and Betsy Berryhill). He received land from his father's estate in 1845, and sold part of it immediately to his brothers, George and Saladin (Deed Book 4, p. 546, Robertson Co., TN Deeds). In 1848, he sells the rest of the land (Deed Book 6, p. 21, Robertson Co., TN Deeds), and travels from Tennessee to Texas. It is believed that several of the Wills family brothers and their mother, and slaves, all traveled together, so there would be quite a large group like a "crowd", which Mrs. O'Neal remembers. The 1850 US Census shows William Wills, Jr. had moved to Kaufman County Texas. This 1850 Census indicates that he was born in Tennessee along with his wife and four of their children; the fifth and youngest child was born in Texas. He is listed as an early settler of the area in the History of Kaufman County. Vol 2, p. 7 (pub. by Kaufman Co. Hist. Commission, 1984.) The 1860 US Census in Van Zandt County Texas, where the family moved, also indicates all were born in Tennessee except the youngest child in Texas, all shown to be white. None of the census records indicate anything other than white for all family members, and this goes for all the Wills brothers and sister, their mother and father and children as well. Mrs. O'Neal is not on the Indian rolls; she is here on all of these US Census records, beginning in 1840. She is listed as white in censuses of 1840, 1870, 1880 and 1910. We believe she is on the 1900 Census in Creek Territory (Oklahoma) under the name Mary Criswell. This is after she was granted Indian Citizenship, and here she gives her percentage of Indian blood as one-quarter. Brother William H Wills and family appear on the same page, showing one-eighth Indian blood for him and one-thirty-second for his children.
      William Wills, Jr. and Mary (Polly) Wills settled on what was then titled "Government Vacant Land" owned by the state and obtainable by settlers living on a tract for three successive years. They were the first settler to come to the area, and they operated a "Traveler's Rest" out of their home near Wills Point in Van Zandt County. They had corrals for the cattle that were driven through the country and opened up their house to strangers. This was Indian country at first, and it is entirely possible that William Wills Jr. picked up some of the language by association.
      It is not too difficult to see how Mrs. O'Neal could be mistaken in her understanding of the family if she left Tennessee at nine years old and traveled with a group through Tennessee to Kaufman County Texas, then moved again to Van Zandt County, having at least two residences there. She does not remember the old place or the route they took, just that they were traveling in a group. She does not seem to be aware of her father's brothers and sister or any of their children living in Texas. At least there are no references to them in her testimony or witness statements from them. Maybe, family history was not talked about too much at home, and after her father died, she heard mention of a William I Wills, Sr. and Betsy Berryhill, who had a son William I Wills, Jr. who she believed was her father.
      Genealogists have been able to identify the areas where the Creek Indians, William I Wills, Sr. and his son, lived in Texas in the 1830's. Those places are in the areas that became Henderson and Rusk Counties, one of which borders on Van Zandt County and the other not far away. Remember that the whole area of eastern Texas was considered one territory, and the counties there were not formed until the years 1845-1850. The fact that there were two William Wills, seniors, each having a son named William could explain how witnesses in the O'Neal case could get all the people named William Wills mixed-up, especially now that in 1896 about 40 to 50 years had passed. It is known that the Indian, Vardy J Wills, mentioned earlier as a grandson of William I Wills, Sr. and Betsy Berryhill, married an Indian woman named Georgianna Berryhill (see "Berryhill Manuscript" Ch. 6), his second cousin, indicating that he was in fact a grandson of Betsy Berryhill. In fact, there are a number of Wills/Berryhill unions in Texas at this time, which further clouds the picture.
      A few more things indicate that William Wills, Jr., of Van Zandt County was not the son of William I Wills, Sr. and Betsy Berryhill. William Wills, Jr. and wife Mary (Polly) of Van Zandt County Texas were Presbyterians, and Wills land in Van Zandt County was donated for the Presbyterian Church there and also the Cemetery where William, Jr. and Mary are buried. Similarly, William's brother, James S. Wills of Freestone County Texas, also donated land for these purposes in the county where he lived. Presbyterians were generally from Scot-Irish stock, perhaps English, and their faith was passed on from generation to generation. Indications are that the Wills family in Tennessee attended Presbyterian Church in Sumner County Tennessee, the county adjacent to Robertson County.
      The Wills family members of Robertson County Tennessee who moved to Texas were big land owners. Remember that as a rule Indian people owned land collectively, so when we find George Wills, the father of William Wills, Sr., owned 640 acres in Logan/Lincoln County Kentucky at the end of the 1700's, we have to question his supposed Indian heritage. The Old Creek Nation was in the South, mainly Georgia, Alabama and Florida. An examination of the deeds in Tennessee reveals many land transactions involving the Wills family of Robertson County. William Wills, Jr., in coming to Texas, is described as a "settler", who owned many acres. Indians were already in Texas and would not be considered "settlers", nor did they usually own property individually. Not only did the Wills family own property, they served on juries, held public office (for example, William Wills, Jr. was County Commissioner), were business men, and three of the brothers of William Wills, Jr. were Doctors: John B Wills, James S. Wills and Saladin H Wills, which meant they had medical education.



      Margarette Wills, Wife of William Wills, Sr.

      Records indicate that in about 1848, Margarette, the wife of William Wills, Sr., sold her land and moved to Texas with her sons, William Wills, Jr. and James S Wills (1809-1877). James S Wills had married Emily Walker and left Robertson County and lived in Haywood and Fayette Counties Tennessee before going to Texas. He returned to Robertson County to help his mother move. The 1850 US Census for Cotton Gin, Freestone County Texas, shows his mother, Margarette, living with James S Wills and family. It says she was born in Virginia about 1780. The 1860 US Census for the same place indicates she continued living with her son, and says she was born in Pennsylvania, and is white. Margarette Wills died in 1863 and is buried in Cotton Gin Cemetery, Freestone County Texas, along side her son George Wills (1802-1861) with the caption "Mother Wills".
      The 1880 US Census is valuable to genealogists because it records the birth place of the mother and father of each individual. Going to the 1880 Census for each of the then living children of William Wills, Sr., we find all of them white:
      Elizabeth Colgin, mother born in Pennsylvania
      John B Wills, mother born in Virginia
      Saladin H Wills, mother born in Pennsylvania.
      None of these records indicate that Margarette was born in Alabama or Georgia or Indian Territory, which would have to be the case if she were born in Creek Indian Lands. The listing of both Pennsylvania and Virginia can be explained if Margarette were born in Pennsylvania then moved to Virginia, answering the question "where were you from"? accurately.
      So, we have a chronology for Margarette: born about 1779 (date given in 1860 Census), mother to George Wills (born 1802), counted in (1820 Census), appeared in Robertson County Court with husband William, sons Matthew, George and William, Jr. (1825), counted in (1830 Census), counted in (1840 Census), appointed Executrix of the Estate of William Wills, Sr. (1845), sells land in Robertson County Tennessee (1848), resident of Cotton Gin in Freestone County Texas (1850 Census) and (1860 Census), and burial in Cotton Gin Cemetery (1863) next to son George.


      Conclusion

      Family trees now appearing on Ancestry.com are naming the parents of the Wills brothers and sister in Robertson County Tennessee, who moved to Texas (Freestone, Limestone, Van Zandt, Kaufman and Coryell Counties) in the mid-1800's as William I Wills, Sr. (born 1785) and Betsy Berryhill (born 1787), one or both of them from the Creek Indian Nation in Alabama or Georgia. This opinion has come about based solely on the testimony of Mrs. O'Neal found in the "Berryhill Manuscript". She states that she believes her grandparents were William Wills and Betsy Berryhill, and that they were both Creek Indians. However, Mrs. O'Neal's actual father was William Wills, Jr. (1804-1863), son of William Wills, Sr. and Margarette, free whites of Robertson County Tennessee.
      Perhaps the testimony of Mrs. O'Neal regarding her father and grandparents was incorrect through no fault of hers or the witnesses, but because of misunderstandings. We have to question if it makes sense that in this dark period for Indians, of their forced removal to reservations, Indian wars and general hostilities, that it would be possible for any person of the Wills family of Robertson County Tennessee to be Indians, buying and selling property, serving on juries, holding public office, owning slaves, writing wills and serving as executors of same, professing to be Presbyterians, being educated as physicians, and "settling" in the newly opened territories of Texas already inhabited by Indians.
      My research of hundreds of documents and court records in Tennessee and Texas does not support such a theory. No source other than the "Berryhill Manuscript" suggests Indian connections or ancestry in this Robertson County Tennessee Wills family. The "Berryhill Manuscript", which is easy to cite as a source, does not use any of the primary Tennessee sources when discussing the Wills family. It relies solely on information found in the Dawes Commission testimonies, without giving supporting evidence from sources contemporary with the subjects in question, none of which give any indication of Indian connections.
      In addition, DNA tests for ethnicity, done in 2004 and 2007, on descendants of William Wills Sr., through his son James S. Wills, indicate zero percent American Indian heritage.


      Prepared by John W. and Carol A. Reid, 2012





      [11]
    DNA 2004  [3
    Family Tree DNA A descendant of Wm Wills Sr, through James S Wills, tested for ethnic heritage including American Indian. Results show no (zero) markers for American Indian. 
    DNA 2007  [3
    2nd DNA test on different descendant.
    Genelex. Another descendant tested for ethnicity, with result of no (zero) markers for American Indian 
    Age 69 years 
    Notes 
    • Regarding the Berryhill Manuscript or Papers

      25 Mar 2012 Please see information of John Reid under event "Relationship" for a more complete explanation.

      There is some indication the William Wills was married to a Elizabeth "Betsey" Berryhill. Noted "Berryhill Papers indicate the link to be at least with child - William I. Wills Jr. "Billy" who married a Mary "Polly" Phillips. It is his children that filed for Creek Citizenship in the late 1800's and their testimonies are recorded in the Berryhill Papers. They state William (their father) was son of William and Betsey Berryhill.

      5 Dec 2009 made contact with Myrna Secor. It is possible Margarette is the 2nd wife of William. Elizabeth Betsy Berryhill born in Georgia may be the actual mother of these children. Myrna sent documentation which supports this but is not proven. The information was submitted by David Morgan (complied by Thelma Nolen Cornfeld) found at
      http://files.usgwarchives.org/tx/nacogdoches/history/berryhill/beryh4.txt and
      http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~dmorgan/berryhill/0intro.txt

      Note this is a supposition and not proven: Berryhill was Creek Indian, as was William's mother, Juda. William's son, William I. Wills Jr married to Mary Phillips,(their children) made application to the Creek Nation and have listed William as their father and Mary as mother and Betsey Berryhill and William Sr as grandparents.


    Person ID I1913  Our Family
    Last Modified 1 May 2013 

    Father George Wills,   b. Abt 1750, Of, , , Virginia, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Oct 1798, , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 48 years) 
    Mother Juda,   b. Abt 1750, Of, , , Virginia, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married Abt 1769 
    Family ID F624  Group Sheet

    Family Margarette Davis,   b. 1779, , , Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 May 1863, Teague, Freestone, Texas, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 84 years) 
    Married Abt 1796 
    Children 
    +1. Mathew T. Wills,   b. Abt 1797, , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt 1839, , , Missouri, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 42 years)
     2. Wills,   b. Abt 1799, , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1844, , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 45 years)
    +3. George Washington Wills 2x ,   b. 20 Mar 1802, , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Mar 1861, Teague, Freestone, Texas, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 58 years)
    +4. William A Wills, Jr.,   b. 10 Aug 1804, , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Sep 1864, Wills Point, Van Zandt, Texas, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 60 years)
    +5. Dr, James S. Wills,   b. 10 Jun 1809, , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Aug 1877, Teague, Freestone, Texas, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 68 years)
    Family6. Elizabeth Wills,   b. 10 Oct 1811, , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 29 Dec 1899, Cotton Gin, Freestone, Texas, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 88 years)
     7. Wills,   b. Abt 1815, , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
    +8. John Burnett Wills, Dr 3x ,   b. 1815, , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1892, Gatesville, Coryell, Texas, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years)
     9. Wills,   b. Abt 1817, , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     10. Finis Phinaes E. Wills,   b. Abt 1820, , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 1844  (Age ~ 25 years)
    +11. Dr. Saladin Harris Wills 3x ,   b. Abt 1824, , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 3 Sep 1881, , Limestone, Texas, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 57 years)
    Last Modified 25 Mar 2012 
    Family ID F793  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 1775 - , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCourt Records - Assault and Battery Charge Age: 22 fined fifty cents - Oct 1797 - , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCourt Records - Executor of Estate of George Wills. Age: 23 William Wills named executor for father George Wills - Oct 1798 - , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsLand - Land Sale Age: 31, sells 200 acres to David Lucas, believed to be his brother in law, husband of Mary wills - May 1806 - , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCourt Records - Jury Duty Oct 1796, Apr 1798, Apr & Jul 1799, Apr & Jul 1801, Jan 1802, Apr, Jul & Oct 1803, Aug 1804, Aug & Nov 1806, Oct 1807 - 1803-1807 - , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCourt Records - Jury Duty Age: 33, 1808, Jan & Oct 1809, 1810 - 1808-1811 - , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCourt Records - Jury Duty Age: 36 served as juror 10 times during this period - 1811-1818 - , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus - 7 Aug 1820 - 1820 - Springfield, Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCourt Records - 16 Feb 1825 - Springfield, Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus - 1830 - , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsEthnic Group - Census says they are Free White - 1830 - , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus - 01 Jun 1840 - 1840 - , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsWill - Will Dated.17 Jan 1844 "I Give and bequeath the children of my son Mathew Wills deceased, sixty dollars. I give and bequeath to me daughter Betsy Colgin, a Negro girl name Elisa. To my wife Margaret Wills during her natural life, the tract of land on which I live and all Negroes with their increase except the one I given my daughter. With all my stock framing utensils, and household and kitchen furniture of every description, whatsoever at her death I give and bequeath to me son Saladean H. Wills the land on which I live and the Negroes with their increases to be divided equally between my sons, George Wills, William Wills, James Wills, John B. Wills, and Fines Wills, and Saladean Wills. I will and direct that as much of my stock farming utensils and furniture be sold as will be sufficient to pay the legacy to the children of my deceased son Mathew Wills and the balance be equally divided, my three sons, John B. Wills, Fines E. Wills and Saladean H. Wills. I appoint my beloved wife, Margaret Wills sole Executor of this my last will and testament. - 17 Jan 1844 - , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 17 Jan 1844 - , Robertson, Tennessee, United States Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Sources 
    1. [S109] Index to Tennessee wills and administrations , 1779-1861, Sistler, Byron H. and Barbara , 976.8 P22s. (Reliability: 2), 17 May 2009.
      see image

    2. [S61] Ancestry.Com, Generations Network, Inc, (Ancestry.com.[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2002.), 1840; Census Place: , Robertson, Tennessee; Roll: 533; Page: 151. (Reliability: 1), 15 May 2009.
      Male between 60-70

    3. [S61] Ancestry.Com, Generations Network, Inc, (Ancestry.com.[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2002.), Family Trees - jreidmusic - John Reid (Reliability: 1), 25 Mar 2012.

    4. [S61] Ancestry.Com, Generations Network, Inc, (Ancestry.com.[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2002.), Family Trees - jreidmusic - John Reid (Reliability: 1), 25 Mar 2012.
      Book I
      Source Information
      Source Title
      Robertson Co., TN Court Minutes
      Source Repository
      Robertson Co. Tenn. Archives


    5. [S61] Ancestry.Com, Generations Network, Inc, (Ancestry.com.[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2002.), Family Trees - jreidmusic - John Reid (Reliability: 1), 25 Mar 2012.
      Book I
      Robertson Co., TN Court Minutes
      Source Repository
      Robertson Co. Tenn. Archives


    6. [S61] Ancestry.Com, Generations Network, Inc, (Ancestry.com.[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2002.), Family Trees - jreidmusic - John Reid (Reliability: 1), 25 Mar 2012.
      Book II
      Source Information
      Source Title
      Robertson Co., TN Court Minutes
      Source Repository
      Robertson Co. Tenn. Archives


    7. [S61] Ancestry.Com, Generations Network, Inc, (Ancestry.com.[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2002.), Family Trees - jreidmusic - John Reid (Reliability: 1), 25 Mar 2012.
      Book 111 &IV
      Source Information
      Source Title
      Robertson Co., TN Court Minutes
      Source Repository
      Robertson Co. Tenn. Archives


    8. [S61] Ancestry.Com, Generations Network, Inc, (Ancestry.com.[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2002.), 1840; Census Place: , Robertson, Tennessee; Roll: 533; Page: 151. (Reliability: 1), 15 May 2009.

    9. [S109] Index to Tennessee wills and administrations , 1779-1861, Sistler, Byron H. and Barbara , 976.8 P22s. (Reliability: 2), 18 May 2009.

    10. [S109] Index to Tennessee wills and administrations , 1779-1861, Sistler, Byron H. and Barbara , 976.8 P22s. (Reliability: 2), 16 May 2009.

    11. [S231] John W. Reid, John W. Reid (Reliability: 3).

    12. [S61] Ancestry.Com, Generations Network, Inc, (Ancestry.com.[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2002.), Family Trees - jreidmusic - John Reid (Reliability: 3), 25 Mar 2012.