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Henry Willis (c1740-aft1785)/An Alternative View?

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The following statements were provided by another researcher who has a different interpretation of Henry Willis of Saltville. There are, in point of fact, a number of different record sets in Augusta, Botetourt, Montgomery, Fincastle, Washington Co TN, and Washington Co VA, dealing with a "Henry Willis". Some of these records are clearly for the same Henry Willis, and some are not.

It is not clear, however, that they all represent different Henry Willis'. The author of these statements tends to lump them together, I tend to distinguish them as different individuals. Since there's information in these statements of which I was previously unaware, its too early to tell which is the right interpretation. So the statements, and my comments on them are presented here for future reference. Hopefully, something will eventually crystalize. Bill 17:54, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Mary CochranEdit

1. Henry Willis was married to Mary Coughran (Cochran). He was cited for unlawfully cohabitating with her on May 5, 1773. This is in the Fincastle Co., Va records.


Substantiating data: Summers 1929:605 Fincastle County 1773 5-May Presentment of Grand jury against Henry Willis for unlawfully cohabting with Mary Cochran.

Comment: While this shows that Henry Willis did have a relationship with a Mary Cochran it does not show that they continued to live as man and wife, either lawfully or not. Direct evidence that Henry's wife, (and father of his children), was at least named "Mary". Additional evidence is needed to show that her maiden name was 'Cochran'. There does indeed seem to be evidence to these effects, and will be marshalled here in due course.

Point PleasantEdit

2. Henry fought in the Battle of Point Pleasant with the Cravens brothers.


Comment: Henry is sometimes listed as a participant at Point Pleasant. This may be so, but the data probably used to support this are the roster records for Maiden Springs Fort, and Glade Hollow Forts in SW VA. I say "probably" because some of the web sites listing Henry as a participant do not show their sources of information, or indicate why they include Henry. We are left to infer their reasons from the form and structure of their presentaiton. (see Soldiers at the Battle of Point Pleasant (Rockbridge County Genealogy?), and Soldiers at the Battle of Point Pleasant (Marion County Genealogy).)

While the Fort rosters support accepting his participation in Lord Dunmore’s War, they do not show that he was at Point Pleasant. The roster records of actual participants are notoriously sketchy, and people have filled them in in somce cases with guess work. I think this is an example. While being part of the militia is a good sign that people went to Point Pleasant, not all did---after all, someone had to stay home to protect the homefront. There were Indians about. This is discussed in more detail in the subarticle "Did Henry Willis fight at Point Pleasant". My conclusion is that while he was clearly a participant in Dunmore's War, he probably did not go to Point Pleasant.

Multiple Record SetsEdit

3. He is found in Fincastle, Montgomery which was a part of Fincastle and later in Washington Co., VA. I feel very certain that Henry Willis that married Mary Cochran that appears in Fincastle, Montgomery,Washington Co., VA and Greene Co., TN. is the same individual that is in Pulsaki Co., Ky

Comment: While there are records for a Henry Willis in all three County records, it is not clear that this is the same Henry Willis in all cases. It is most likely that these are two different persons. Some of them may be, but its not likely that all are, and some of them seem in particular to be different people. Montgomery County records show that a Henry Willis was in that area in 1779, while Washington County records show a Henry Willis in that area before and after this date. Since they are shown as living in different areas at the same time It is likely that these records are for two different people.

Harned LawsuitEdit

4. In Washington Co., VA he is sued by Samuel Harned. Henry wins the suit. He moves to Greenville (Greene Co., TN).


Comment: This court case was in the courts of Washington Co Tennessee, not Washington Co VA. At the time he was living in adjacent Greene county. I’ve seen, but can not relocate, a tax record showing him in Greene County about this time.


The CravensEdit

5. He names his land "Cravenland". I believe due to his close friendship with the Cravens brothers.

Comment: What is the basis for this? Henry served with several Cravens at both Glade Hollow, and Maiden Springs. There are, however, few other records for the Cravens in Washington County. I’m not familiar enough with the Greene Co TN records to know if there were Cravens in that area, but I’d be interested in seeing any data you have that shows. this


Witness to Cochran MarriagesEdit

6. While in Greene Co., TN, he witnessed the marriage of Elizabeth Cochran and David Johnson. A few years later, he witnessed the marriage of Nancy June Coughran to Ayress Doss [apparently in KY]. Nancy June Coughran is the daughter of Samuel Coughran and Susannah which also have ties to Greene Co., TN


Comment: What is the source of this? Dates?


Rutherford County, NCEdit

7. Samuel Harned appeals the suit, Henry is currently living in Rutherford Co., NC at the time of the appeal. This time Samuel wins. Henry Willis appears in the 1790 and 1800 census in Rutherford Co., NC.


Comment: What is the source for this? Records for the court case in Washington Co Tn show that it ran from 1791 to 1793. Those records indicate that Henry was living in Greene County TN in 1791. Its difficult to reconcile the idea that Henry of Green County TN 1791-1793 is the same person as was living in Washington Co VA 1769-1784, Montgomery County VA 1779-1786, Rutherford Co NC in 1790 and 1800. Some of those records may be for the same person, but it does not seem likely that all are.


Pulaski Co, KYEdit

8. Henry appears in Pulaski Co., KY by 1801 in tax records.


Comment: Could you provide the specific reference for this?


Other Cochran RelationsEdit

9. Henry and Mary name children Lavina, Henry, Elizabeth, Margaret, Lewis, and Samuel. I believe the name Samuel was for Mary's brother Samuel Coughran.

Comment: What is the basis for identifying Samuel as the brother of Mary?

Identity of Henry's wifeEdit

10. I have land records from Pulaski Co., KY showing that Henry's wife was Mary.


Comment: Can you provide an extract of the specific land records and their source?


William WillisEdit

11. In 1782, Willim Willis dies and leaves land to ….grandson’s [grandsons Uriah Willis, Henry Willis and Arthur Buchanan]…plus names his daughter Elizabeth and two son sons William and Jacob.


Comment: Where was this William Willis living at the time of his death. What is the source of this information?



Connection to Pulaski Co, KYEdit

12. Henry was ...was sued over and over again. In many of the lawsuits, his friends are named and they are the same individuals that moved to Pulaski Co., KY with him.


Comment: What is the basis for this information


Margaret Cochran and Jester CoxEdit

13. One of the first lawsuits was in Fincastle Co., Henry is sued by Margaret Cochran. I think she must have loaned him and Jester Cox money or sold them something and they did not pay her. I wished I knew if Margaret was related to Mary Cochran.

Comment: I would be particularly interested in the source for this. The only record I have for Margaret is when she releases her right of dower in certain property in Botetourt Co (from which Fincastle Co formed), in 1770. This record identifies her as the widow of Peter Cochran.

Margaret Cochran, widow of Peter Cochran, to James McAfee. 20 pounds. Release of dower in 32 acres of land. (Summers 1929:538)

It is possible that Margaret and Peter were the parents of Mary Cochran, though there are other possibilities. For example, there is a William Cochran who died about 1773, and whose estate is probated in Fincastle Courts. One of the administrators enters into a bond with Stephen Keewood (various spellings Cawood, Keywood, being the most common.)

On the motion of James Jarvis, administation is granted him on the estate of William Cochran, Decd., he having entered into bond with Stephen Keewood his secuirty agreeble to Law. (Summers, 1929:612)

Stephen Keywood lived near Saltville, within a few miles of where Henry Willis was living in the Saltville Gap. This record implies that Henry’s family was living near Stephen Kaywood, and that would include William Cochran. Given this proximity it is possible that William Cochran was Mary Cochran’s father

The records I haave for the estate of William Cochran include one where “Jister Cox” is one of those who is set to appraise William’s estate. This is presumably the same person as the Jster Cox you mention whoMargaret Cochran field suit against. With out a record for the specific suit that you mention Its difficult to evaluate this, but this seems to connect Margaret in some way with William Cochran, though she is not his wife (she’s the widow of Peter Cochran, who may be William’s brother.

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