son of John Willard
JOSEPH MARTIN “Joe” WILLARD, born July 14, 1865, Oregon County, Mo.
was the first child of John and Sarah (Colyott) Willard, a
nd was named for his 2 grandfathers,
Joseph Colyott and Martin Willard. At age 21, Joe became a Christian (July 16, 1886) and began preaching soon after, preaching his first sermon when he was still 21 years old. His first text was, “If any man would come after me, let Him take up his cross and follow me.” He said “people went to shouting.”
He was preaching at a Methodist church at Liberty Hill, Sharp County, Arkansas (drawing at right) when he met Susan Rhoda Spurlock. Rhoda was born Dec. 11, 1867 in Sharp Co., Ark. and was the daughter of David and Mary Morris (Estes) Spurlock. After meeting Rhoda at church, Joe went home and wrote her a letter, received an answer from her, and wrote again. They were married March 19, 1889 at her father’s home (her mother had died 7 years earlier) in King’s Mill, Ark. at 6:00 in the evening. The ceremony was performed by John McKelvey.
Picture taken maybe summer of 1898.
Daughter Belva had died in July 1897, so it must be after that.
Joseph Martin Willard
wife: Susan Rhoda Spurlock
daughter: Gertrude Naoma Willard Spann, b 1891
son: Albert Alexander Willard, b 1894
son: Arthur John David Willard, b Dec 1896 so he would have been 1 1/2 yrs old.
1900 Oregon Co, Mo, Highland twp, #132
Willard, Joseph - b Jul 1865 Mo, par b Mo
. . . . . Susan R - b Dec 1867 Ar, par b Ky/Tn
. . . . . Naomi G - b Dec 1891 Mo
. . . . . Albert A - b Mar 1894 Mo
. . . . . Arthur J - b Dec 1896 Mo
1910 MO census - Oregon Co, Highland twp, p 69:
Willard, Joseph M. (head) - 44, m 21 yrs, b MO, par b Mo
. . . . Rhoda (wife) - 42, 7 ch/5 liv, b Ar, par b Ind/Tn
. . . . Neoma G. (daug) - 18, b Mo
. . . . Albert A. (son) - 16, b Mo
. . . . Arthur J. (son) - 13, b Mo
. . . . Walter A. (son) - 9, b Mo
. . . . Wayne W. (son) - 2, b Mo
. . . . John Sr. (father) - 70 (widowed), b Mo, par b Va/Oh
Picture at right taken probably in the summer of 1910 (Baby Wayne was born in March 1908 and Grandma Sarah had died in Dec 1908 leaving Grandpa John to live with them
1920 Oregon Co, Mo, Highland twp, p. 56:
Willard, Joseph M. - 54 Mo
. . . . . Rodah (wife) - 52 Ark
. . . . . Walter A. (son) - 18 Mo
. . . . . Wane W. (son) - 11 Mo
. . . . . Cecil B. (son) - 9 Mo
Parsons, Edna (niece) - 13 Mo
Willard, Jessie B. (daug-in-law) - 18 Mo
They lived on 40 acres about 3 miles southeast of Rover in Oregon County, Missouri where all their children were born. Joe was a pioneer Methodist circuit rider preacher for the districts of West Plains and Koshkonong, Missouri and Independence County (including Batesville), Arkansas. While Joe was gone on his preaching trips Rhoda gathered up the neighborhood children and with her own held Sunday School in her home. In 1901 he made $61 on his circuit all year, along with some food and clothing that was given to them. When he was home he farmed and raised livestock and in his spare time he loved to fish. The old church beside the Redburn Cemetery near Rover, Mo. was the last church where Joe pastore d (about 1928). After that the Methodists wouldn’t appoint him to a church because he wasn’t a seminary graduate.
When their children were grown, they deeded their
land to their son Wayne and moved to West Plains in neighboring Howell county.
When he was in his 70’s Joe served on the Howell County court as the Southern
Associate Judge (like a county administrator). His name is on a plaque
at the Howell County Courthouse in West Plains, because he was the elected
Southen District Judge at the time the courthouse was built. (The placque
is on the south wall of the mail hall east-west on the ground floor.)
He had a sales route and often took chicken or eggs at part of payment. He had a chicken coup on the running board of his Model-A (?) causing some of his grandchildren's friends to call him "Grandpa Chicken."
Rhoda was a “saintly” woman and had little tolerance for foolishness. Once when her granddaughters caught her humming a foolish tune, “Mairzy Doats", which she probably thought was some hymn, she was very embarrassed and probably prayed for forgiveness. Joe, on the other hand, was fun-loving and could be very silly and sometimes even a little coarse with his jokes. Rhoda, sometimes a little irritated, would say, “Now, Dad.”
Albert bought some land near their old place in Oregon County and they lived there for several years.
In front Rhoda, grandson
S.E. Spann and Joe.
Following are some newspaper clippings about them. Joe loved to see his name in the paper —
1947: A Trapper at 82 —
Shown above with the evidence of his success as a trapper is 82 1/2 year old Rev. Joseph M. Willard, retired Methodist minister, who lives two miles east of Rover.
He walks two miles every day over the fields and woods to examine his dozen traps. Walking, he thinks, is very beneficial to good health. He has lived in Oregon County all of his life except eight years, 1927-35, when he lived in Howell County. He served on the Howell County Circuit Court during the period when the new courthouse was built.
He traveled for a household products company for several years and always maintained a farm and supplied his family with a bountiful array of vegetables and meats.
Mrs. Willard, known to her friends as "Rhoda", is 80 years old and also in excellent health. She keeps busy the year around making rugs, quilts, working in their garden and putting up hundreds of quarts of delicious fruits and vegetables. Of course all this is in addition to her regular housework and on the side she has time to grow many beautiful flowers, and assist in the care of a flock of chickens, two cows and some sheep.
The Willards have five sons living and three daughters deceased. The sons are Albert Willard of Willow Springs; Cecil B. Willard of Ft. Madison, Ia.; Wayne Willard, Koshkonong; and Arthur and Walter of West Plains. They will have been married 59 years on March 19th.
A grandson, Lyndal Willard, lives with them and attends High school in Thomasville.
Mr. Willard makes at least one shopping trip every week to West Plains and still does some preaching occasionally.
The hides pictured above include 1 fox, 3 opossum, 3 civet cats, 1 coon and 1skunk.
1953: Joseph M. Willards Married 64 Years —
Mr. & Mrs. Joseph M. Willard celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary march 22, at their home in Rover with 46 relatives and friends present. Dinner was served at noon and followed by an afternoon of visiting and picture taking.
The dining table was centered with a two-tiered wedding cake, decorated with pink and green flowers. A profusion of spring flowered decorated the Willard home for the celebration. The couple received a number of gifts and congratulatory cards.
They were married March 19, 1889 at Ash Flat, Ark., and have lived most of their married life on the farm where they are now. Mr. Willard is 88 and his wife 85. They are still well and happy and keep busy about their farm place growing vegetables and flowers and visiting with their many friends and relatives. Mr. Willard enjoys hunting and fishing.
Four of their five sons were present for the celebration with Cecil Willard of Beatrice, Neb., being the only one who could not be there. The four who attended were Albert of Willow Springs, Arthur and Walter of West Plains and their wives, Wayne Willard of Rover and his wife.
The grandchildren present were Mr. & Mrs. Bob Stokes of Kansas City, Mr. & Mrs. Hollis Hale, Mr. & Mrs. James Oliver, West Plains, Miss Nina Fay Willard and Mrs. J.I. Willard of Rover. The great grandchildren present were Freddie Hale, Joe and David Oliver, West Plains; Joyce, Wilda and Mary Willard of Rover. There were also a number of nieces, nephews and friends present.
1954: 70 Persons Help Celebrate 3 Wedding Anniversaries and 4 Birthdays
West Plains Daily Quill, March 23, 1954:
Three wedding anniversaries and four birthdays were celebrated Sunday at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hollis Hale in Olden as 70 persons gathered for a noon dinner principally honoring the 65th wedding anniversary of Mrs. Hale's grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Willard of Rover.
It was also the 35th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. R.A. [Archie] Cunningham of Ava and the 19th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Preston Sellers of West Plains. Mrs. Sellers is a cousin of Mrs. Joe Willard. [This is probably Gladys Edna Spurlock who married Preston Sellers. Gladys was actually the daughter of Rhoda's cousin, John William Pinkney Spurlock.] Mr. Cunningham is a brother of Mesdames Arthur and Walter Willard. The four members of the family who had birthdays in March and who also came in for a share in the honors were Mrs. Hale, the hostess, and three sons of the Joe Willards, Albert, Wayne and Walter Willard.
The Hale home was decorated for the occasion with vari-colored snapdragons, Easter lilies and ivy. The serving table was placed on a long porch and held a bountiful meal. Mr. and Mrs. Joe Willard received many gifts, cards and flowers in honor of the occasion. Pictures were made, also recordings of songs by Mr. and Mrs. Joe Willard and others.
All the children were present except the youngest son, Cecil Ben Willard who lives in Beatrice, Neb. The Willard sons a wives present were Mr. and Mrs. Albert Willard, Mr. Mrs. Arthur Willard, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Willard Mrs. Wayne Willard.
Grandchildren present were J.I., Mary, Lyndal, Dallas, Glenn and Nina Willard, Mrs. James Oliver, Mrs. Hollis Hale, Mrs. Bob Stokes. Great grandchildren present were Joyce, Wilda, Mary Jo Willard, Freddie Hale, Joe and David Oliver, Lana Jean Willard.
All the grandchildren were present except Letitha Ann Willard of Beatrice, Neb., Dr. Joe Louis Spann of Eglin AFB in Florida and Dr. S.E. Spann, Jr., who is a medical officer in the U.S. Navy now serving off the coast of Japan.
Others present for the event were Bob Stokes, Mrs. J.I. Willard, Mary Francis Willard, Mr. and Mrs J.H. Cordell, Donald and Denny Cunningham, Shirley Napier, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Burk, Jim Duncan, Mr. and Mrs. J.D.S. Willard, Etta Ruth Willard, Beverly Rouintree, Mabel Kirkpatrick, Mrs. J.W. Kirkpatrick, Ira E. Kunkel, Annie L. Kunkel, Mr. and Mrs. Ned G. Holloway, Rev. and Mrs. M.A. Widener, E.N. McAllister, Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Calloway, Mr. and Mrs. E.M. Hale, Margaret Foth, Mr. and Mrs. W.B. Hodge, Mary Ellen Willard, Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Stoke, Mrs. M.J. Burns and Eliza Burns, James Oliver, Pansy Downing, Mrs. Glenn Willard, Mr. and Mrs. Elba Francis, Mr. and Mrs. E.M. Jarrett, Mr. and Mrs. Manuel Forrester, Herbert, Lola and Ralph Willard, Mrs. Della Spurlock, Mr. and Mrs. Preston Sellers, Mr. and Mrs. Ocia Davidson and Oleta.
1954: Joseph Willard, 88, Married 65 Years, Still Good Trapper—
If you were happily married for 65 years and were nearly 89 years old wouldn't you be ready to relax and take life easy?
But not Mr. Joseph M. Willard of Koshkonong Rt. 3. In the Quill office today he mentioned his garden he has gotten ready and planted and that this Winter he had trapped 17 foxes, one wolf, 14 opossums, 1 coon, 2 skunks and 3 civit cats.
1955: Sixty-Sixth Wedding Anniversary Party Held at Willard's —
A family dinner party celebrating the sixty-sixth wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph M. Willard of Rover was held Sunday at their home. A large decorated cake inscribed "66th Anniversary" in green, rose and white, was a feature of the dessert course.
Those present were four of their five sons and their families, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Willard of Willow Springs, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Willard and Mr. and Mrs. Walter Willard of West Plains, Wayne Willard of Rover; a grandson, J.I. Willard of Rover and his family; a niece, Mrs. Jim Summers and her family [Edna Parsons Summers, daughter of Joe's sister Linnie]; and neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Trantham. One son, Cecil Ben Willard of Beatrice, Neb., who could not be present, sent greetings for the occasion.
1955: 90-Year-Young Man Still Good Trapper —
ALTON (special) - You're never too old to try. Joe Willard, age "just past 90", stepped up recently to purchase his state trapping permit, here.
To old? Don't you believe it. Joe bought his resident trapping permit with bounty money collected that day for two coyotes he'd trapped.
1955: The below was told to Elsie Oliver by Joseph M. Willard when they
were living on Missouri Ave. in West Plains, Mo. Elsie said, "My grandfather
told me that he sure wanted this written down, so that anyone interested
would know about his life."
Joseph M. Willard was born July 14, 1865, seven miles south of Thomasville, Mo., to John and Sarah Jane Willard.
My first teacher's name was Mrs. Decker, when I was five years old. My wife and I received eighth grade educations, as high as could be achieved at that time. We used the old blue back elementary spelling book .
In my teens I practiced fiddeling (hill-billy style), but in 1886, I decided to lead a different life and professed religion on July 16, 1886, about noon. I felt that the Lord wanted me to preach, and I preached my first sermon in April, 1887 about 2 miles east of Brandsville at a hewed-log Methodist church. My text was "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and follow me."
I married Rhoda Spurlock, March, 1889, a fine girl from King's Mill, Sharp County, Arkansas. She was the daughter of David and Mary Spurlock. We had 8 children, 3 girls passed away while young, and 5 boys still living. We have 13 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, all of whom we are very proud.
I was a circuit rider.
by Joseph M. Willard
1956: 91-Year-Old Trapper in Oregon County —
ALTON (Special) - Hardin Franks, agent for Missouri hunting and fishing permits here believes that he may have sold a trapping permit to the oldest active trapper in Missouri.
Recently the Rev. Joseph M. Willard, 91, a well-known resident of western Oregon County, sent in his remittance for his 1957 trapping permit. He has caught 12 'possum, 2 civet cats and one dog since the beginning of the season. Rev. Willard has spent some 70 years of his life as a Methodist minister in this section.
Their last few years together they lived in West Plains, in a little
house on Missouri Ave. that Albert bought for them. Then later with Joe’s
J.D.S “Johnny” Willard.
1959: Couple to Celebrate 70th Anniversary —
The West Plains Daily Quill, March 1959:
The Rev. & Mrs. Joseph M. Willard will observe their 70th wedding anniversary with open house from 2 until 4 o'clock Sunday afternoon at their home at 718 Missouri Ave. The Rev. Mr. Willard, born 7 miles south of Thomasville, will be 94 July 14. Mrs. Willard, born at Sharp County, Ark., was 91 Dec. 11. They were married in a 6 o'clock ceremony by the Rev. John McKelvey at Sharp County, Ark., 6 miles east of Ash Flat. At that time the post office was located at Kings Mill on Big Creek. Mrs. Willard, the former Susan Rhoda Spurlock, is the youngest daughter of Dave and Mary Spurlock. The Rev. Mr. Willard spent a greater part of his life as a circuit rider preaching at Cabool, Hickory Valley and Arkansas for the Methodist Church. He served as county judge for 2 years in the southern district. He served with Judge J.L. House and the late Jim Spence who built the present courthouse. They have eight children, including five sons, A.A. Willard, city collector at Willow Springs, Arthur Willard, caretaker of the deep well here, Walter A. Willard, who operates a sewing machine shop on Monks Street, Wayne Willard, a carpenter here, and Cecil Ben Willard, Beatrice, Neb., and three daughters who are deceased, Belva Ann, Gertrude Spann, and Luna Druscilla; 13 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.
1961: Couple Celebrates 73rd Anniversary —
Rev. and Mrs. Joseph Martin Willard, of West Plains, Mo. celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary. He will be 97 July 14 and she was 94 in December....
Joe & Rhoda lived together 73 years, 7 months & 27 days.
Rhoda died Nov. 18, 1962, a month before her 95th birthday at nephew Johnny
Willard’s home. She was sick for a long time and seemed to barely
hang onto life. But the day before she died she sat up on the side of her
bed and sang her favorite hymn: “Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole.
I want Thee forever to live in my soul. Break down every idol; cast out
every foe. Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Whiter than snow,
yes, whiter than snow. Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”
[Whiter Than Snow, by James Nicholson]
Joseph died 10 months later on Sept 5, 1963. He was 98. Both were buried in the West Plains Cemetery.
The following poem was found in the scrapbook that
Rhoda kept of various articles that interested her
or newspaper clippings about her family:
Ain’t Dead Yet -- written by a 94-year-old woman
My hair is white and I'm almost blind / The
days of my youth are far behind
My neck's so stiff, can't turn my head / Can't hear half what's being said.
My legs are wobbly, can hardly walk, / But glory be, I can surely talk!
And this is the message I want you to get: / I'm still a-kickin' — and I ain't dead yet!
My joints are stiff — won't move in their sockets,
/ And nary a dime is left in my pockets.
So maybe you think I'm a total wreck / (To tell the truth, I look like heck!)
But, still I have just loads of fun / And my heart with joy is overrun.
I've lots of friends, so kind & sweet, / And many more I never meet.
O, this is a wonderful world of ours: / Shade and sunshine and beautiful flowers.
So you just take it from me, you bet, / I'm glad I'm livin' — and I ain't dead yet!
I've got corns on my feet and ingrown nails, / And
do they hurt?—here language fails.
To tell you my troubles would take too long; / If I tried, you would give me the gong.
I go to Church & Sunday School too, / For I love the Story that is ever new;
And when I reach the end of my row, / I know to my Heavenly Home I'll go.
Then, when I leave my house of clay, / If you listen closely, I'm apt to say,
"Well, folks, I've left you, but don't forget, / I've just passed on — but I ain't dead yet!"
Joe died 10 months later while he was in the hospital on Thursday, Sept. 5, 1963. He was 97 years old. They were both buried at Oak Lawn Cemetery in West Plains, Howell County, Missouri.
This poem written in memory of Rev. Joseph M. Willard (1865-1963)
"Circuit Rider" -- by Ida E. Garner
He wasn’t born to purple robes or to a laurel
crown; / He spent his life just serving
men with no thought of renown,
As shepherd of the Master’s flock, a circuit riding preacher, / Who sought to emulate his Lord, the Galilean Teacher.
For he had heard his Lord’s command, “Go preach, baptize and teach,” / And gladly answered, “Here am I, Lord, send me, I beseech.”
So he, as shepherd of the flock, the straying sheep must lead / Safely into the Master’s fold; the trusting lambs must feed.
From place to place he gladly went in every kind
of weather / To represent the Christ he served, wherever men might gather;
Whether in meeting house or tent, in school house or brush arbor, / It mattered not — he loved his cause and naught could quench his ardor.
But as he traveled dusty roads or forded swollen streams, / He saw great spires that rose above the churches of his dreams.
Although within their stately walls he knew he’d never stand, / He was content to work and dream and for the future plan.
No title such as P.H.D. or D.D. graced his name;
/ Such titles were not offered by the school from which he came.
Degrees this college offered to its students, it is true; / Degrees of love and service, of friendship and of truth.
His alma mater was the school through which the great for ages / Have slowly passed: the School of Life, the college of the sages.
And there, a humble student, at the feet of the Great Teacher, / He learned the lessons Life requires of all who would be leaders.
No smooth-voiced orator was he; his sermons knew
no frills. / He spoke the tongue his people knew, the language of the
We thrilled when he portrayed the joys of a blessed home on high, / And trembled when he told the fate of sinners by and by.
And as he stood in pulpit crude or by an open
grave, / And pointed to the Lamb of God whose blood alone can save;
As God’s own oracle he spake, in homely phrase, ‘tis true; / But if his words lacked eloquence, we neither cared, nor knew.
He’s passing from our presence now; his place is being filled / By men well trained in colleges, just as he would have willed.
In learning and in eloquence perhaps they may excel; / But in the hearts of those he served, he will forever dwell.
He wasn’t born to purple robes or fading laurel
crown / Of earth’s acclaim. The crown of life shall one day grace
His robe shall be of spotless white that dazzles like the sun; / His greatest recompense shall be his Master’s phrase, “Well, done!”
Children: all born Oregon Co., Mo.
John David Willard
Arthur was born Dec. 4, 1896; married Bessie Mabel Cunningham, Aug. 24, 1918. They first lived in Douglas Co. on hwy. 181 between Richville & Junction of 181 & 14 (near Albert & Maymie); later they moved to Rover (Oregon Co.), then to West Plains (Howell Co.). Bessie died in 1985; Arthur in 1989. Children:
a) WILMA LOZENE WILLARD, b March 30, 1923; m William Hollis “Bill” Hale
b) ELSIE CLEORA WILLARD, b Aug 8, 1925; m James Robert Oliver
c) GLENN EUGENE WILLARD, b Apr 11, 1929; m Shirley Downing
Walter was born Mar. 23, 1901; married Jessie Beulah Cunningham of Douglas Co., Mo (sister of Bessie), Dec. 25, 1919; died Nov. 16, 1965; no children. After Walter died Jessie married Otis Sparks (he died 1981)
6. Luna Drucilla Willard
was born Dec (or Oct) 7, 1903; died July 26, 1905 (1 1/2 years old), buried Jolliff Cemetery with her sister.
Wayne was born Mar 10, 1908; married Elfa Dills, Oct. 2, 1926 (they divorced and he remarried; Elfie d 1987); Wayne died 1987. Children:
a) ROSALIE SUSAN WILLARD, b Apr. 16, 1928; m 1st Apr 9, 1947 Virgil Gilliam & m 2nd June 10, 1967 G. H. Switzer, June 10, 1967; they live in Beaverton, Oregon
b) GLENDA LOU WILLARD, b Sept. 18, 1929; m by her grandfather, Joe Willard on Apr 23, 1949 to Robert C. Stokes
c) NINA FAY WILLARD, b Dec, 31, 1936; Oct 8, 1955 m Robert L. Griffith
Cecil was born Sept 17, 1910 near Rover, Mo. He married 1st Ruth Unruh, June 12, 1938 (1 child); m 2nd Mary Etta Walla;
a) LETETIA ANN WILLARD, b Nov. 4, 1945; m James Owen Davis