Henry “Harry” Willard

ca 1760 Virginia -- ca 1820 Indiana

Albert Willard’s great-great grandfather was Henry “Harry” Willard. He was probably born in Virginia about 1760. We don’t know his parents or if he was connected to the English Willards from New England or the German Willards in Maryland.  A great-granddaughter said she remembers hearing stories of Harry being in the Revolutionary War, but we’ve found no record of it. We do know, however, that Henry married a German girl, Elizabeth “Lissey” Counts (Kuntz) about 1785-90 in Virginia. Lissey was the daughter of John Counts (Kuntz) and Mary Magdaline Summer. They all lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia on Hawksbill Creek just north of present-day Luray, VA. John Counts bought his farm there in 1765. This area was Shenandoah County (pink on map at right), later put into Page county when it was created in 1831.

Many of the families in the Shenandoah Valley were German families from Phildelphia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Some of these were Quakers, who came to the Valley in 1734 and built the Hopewell Friends Meeting near Clearbrook.  The Great Wagon Road ran down the Valley along with the Shenandoah River. Settlers were moving into the Valley by the 1730's. In 1748 16-year-old George Washington made his first trip into Frederick Co, Va. with a party of surveyors.  He was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1758 & 1761 from Frederick County.

There were not any major battles there in the Revolutionary War, but prisoners were held there.  In 1777 Hessian soldiers were held there. Lizzey's sister married a Hession POW who was held in the County.   

About four years after their marriage, in 1787, Harry & Lissey traveled southwest along the Shenandoah Valley (I-81) and then west to the end of Virginia into Russell County (yellow), settling there on the Clinch River at Glade Hollow (near present-day Lebanon—red dot on map). This had been a dangerous frontier area with frequent Indian attacks, but was a bit more tame by the time they arrived. In 1788, the Glade Hollow Fort (on the west side of Lebanon at the big curve on hwy 71) was converted into the Glade Hollow Baptist Church. The church was started and pastored by Rev. Timothy Burgess. Perhaps the family attended here. By 1790 much of Lissey’s Counts family had joined them. Martin was born there in 1793. His brother, Henry Jr was born in 1801. See John Count’s farm at Glade Hollow.

About 1803 after his father-in-law, John Counts, died in Russell County, VA, Harry uprooted his family again and moved to northwest Kentucky into Breckinridge County. Martin’s brother, James, were born here in 1804. From the 1810 Kentucky census, Henry/Harry had 8 daughters and 3 sons.  In neighboring Hardin County, Thomas Lincoln lived with young son, Abe, but there is no indication they ever met at that time.

Not much is known of their time in Kentucky, but they must have lived in a log cabin and had a rough and tough frontier life as other pioneers did. From the county records:

•In 1805 The Grand Jury returned an indictment on Henry Willard for assault.

•In 1806 Henry Wilyard pleaded not guilty and asked for a jury trial.

•In 1807 Henry Wilyard paid a fine for not keeping a road in repair, of which he was surveyor.

Making this even more confusing, there was another man in the county named Henry Willard/Wilyard, who was from Pennsylvania.

About 1818-19 Harry moved his family again north over the Ohio River to Indiana. It’s uncertain where they lived exactly, however, it’s likely that it was in Spencer County, IN. There are several stories from Martin’s and James’ descendants about them knowing Abe Lincoln, wrestling and splitting rails with him. There is a question about Abe’s birthdate, which officially is 1809. Some say that he was actually born in 1804-5 in North Carolina, not 1809 in Kentucky, and was the illegitimate son of Abraham Enloe (tall and gangly), not Tom Lincoln (short and stubby). If true, it would have been in his best interest politically and socially to cover up such a beginning, and Lincoln was always reluctant to speak at all of his early family.

Though this story has been hotly debated for 150 years two things make me consider it plausible. First, the minister who married Tom Lincoln and Nancy Hanks in 1806 wrote of a “black-haired boy” with her. And second, this early birthdate puts Lincoln closer to the ages of Martin (1793), Henry Jr (1801) and James (1804) Willard for them to have been friends with him between 1818 and 1830 in Indiana. (If Abe had been born in 1809 he would have only been 9-11 in 1818-20 when Martin wrestled and split logs with him. On the other hand, Martin may have been back visiting with his family in the 10 years after that.)

It appears that in Indiana at least some of the Willards attended the same church as the Lincolns--Little Pigeon Creek Baptist Church in Spencer County, IN. The pastor of that church married James Willard and Rachel Hoover (in July) and also Sarah Lincoln (Abe’s sister, in August) to her husband. Both these weddings took place in 1826 and are beside each other in the church record book.  Martin Willard had gone to Missouri by 1821. He seems to have traveled around quite a bit during this time yet kept close ties to his family.

Harry Willard probably died before 1820 in Indiana. His wife, Lissey may have lived another 10 years. Martin and James were in Cape Girardeau County, MO in 1830 and had an older woman living with them, who may have been Lissey. If so, she probably died in Missouri.


The 1810 census shows Harry with 8 daughters and 3 sons.

There were marriages in Ky/In/Mo for Sarah, Elizabeth, Chrissy and Margaret Willard, all listed as daughters of a Henry Willard. These might be his daughters (though there were other Henry Willards around).

Margaret most likely was a daughter. She married Ephriam Greer in Cape Girardeau, MO in 1827. Margaret and her mother may have gone to Cape with Martin when he went around 1820.

The 3 sons were: Martin (1793), Henry Jr (1801) and James (1804).

Martin & James ended up on Oregon County (southern) Missouri, while Henry Jr. settled in Jo Daviess County (northern) Illinois.

Go to “2-Martin” link at the top of this page for a continuation of this family or click on “Martin” in the Site map below

Willard Site map: Willard lineJames - Martin - Squire - Wm. HenryJohn - David - Joseph - home

If you would like to check my database to see if the information on your family is correct, go to my ancestor file then search for the name of one of your ancestors. (Only those born before 1930 or no longer living are listed by name. I have names of the living, but they are not displayed in the online database.)  Please email me maryjo@mjgen.com if there are any corrections or additions.


                                                                                                                                                                           Henry “Harry” Willard   (see below)

                                                                                                                                   Martin Willard                b  ca1760 Va - d ca1820 IN              

                                                                                                                                      b 1793 Glade Hollow, VA      Elizabeth Counts            

                                                                                   John Elbert? Willard                d ca1865 Oregon Co, Mo                     

                                                                                    b  1839, St. Clair Co, Mo

                                                                                    d 1912 Rover, Oregon Co, Mo        Mary “Polly” Lindsey 

                                                                                                                                                               b 1803 Ohio

                                   Rev. Joseph Martin Willard                                                     d bef 1880 Oregon Co, Mo

                                    b 1865 Oregon Co, Mo                                                                                                                             Nicholas Caillot/LaChance

                                            d 1963, West Plains, Mo                                                                          Joseph Colyott                 b 1785 Ste. Genevieve, Mo

                                                                                                   Sarah Jane Colyott                   b 1822 Mo, d 1897 Mo          Cecile Chevallier                                                           

                                                                                                    b 1847 Madison Co, Mo

Albert Willard                                                                  d 1908 Brandsville, Howell Co, Mo                                                Nimrod Brewer                                                                                 

b 1894, Rover, MO                                                                                                                               Mary “Polly” Brewer      1793 Ga - 1875 Mo

  d  1975 Lawrence, KS                                                                                                                         b 1823 Madison Co, Mo         Mary Louisa Short?         

                                                                                                                                                              d 1905 Iron Co, Mo

                                                                                                                                                                                                              John Spurlock, Jr.            

                                                                                                                                                             David Spurlock Sr             b 1760 Va - d 1816 Ky

                                                                                                                                    b 1783 Va - d 1846 Ark.        Frances Turman           

                                                                                                   David Drury Spurlock Jr                                                    b 1760 Va - d 1853 Ky

                                                                                                     b 1818 Floyd Co, Ky

                                                                                   b 1904 Sharp Co, Ark                                                                       John D. Hancock                       

                                  Susan Rhoda Spurlock                                                                       Susanna Hancock             b 1733 Va - d 1802 Va

                                           b 1867 Sharp Co, Ark                                                                                b ca1780 Va, d bef1850 Ark    Elizabeth Maddox         

                                           d 1962 West Plains, Mo                                                                                                                               b 1732 Va - d ca1805 IL

                                                                                                                                                                                                               Burris Estes Sr            

                                                                                                                                                              Burris Estes Jr                   b 1765 NC - d aft1829 TN

                                                                                                    Mary Morris Estes                   b 1805 NC - d 1863 Ark          Martha “Patsy” Lloyd   

                                                                                                     b 1832  Tn; d 1882 Ark.

                                                                                                                                                               Martha “Patsy” Morris           

                                                                                                                                                               b ca1804 Tn, d 1872 Ark.                                                                                                 

                                   John Ira Lindesmith                                               

                                     b 1878 Centralia, IL

                                            d 1924 Douglas Co, Mo            

Maymie Lindesmith

b 1901 Bonham, TX

d 1938 Topeka, KS

                                   Nora Myrtle Pease              

                                     b 1881 Old Horton, Mo

                                           d 1957 Hanford, CA

Glade Hollow Baptist Church, Lebanon, VA

Virginia counties in 1790, before

West Virginia was separated out.

Shenandoah County in pink;

Russell County in yellow.

Harry’s son James Willard

For more on James, click the “James” link on the site map at bottom.

Willard Family Tree

1-Henry Willard line -  2-James - 2-Martin - 3-Squire - 3-Wm. Henry -  3-John - 4-David - 4-Joseph - 5-Albert - 5-Gertrudehome