Willis - Abner Denman - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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Willis - Abner Denman

Source: History of Montgomery County, Indiana. Indianapolis: A. W.  Bowen, 1913, P 1242

Abner Denman Willis came of a line of pioneer stock whose  Indiana history began with the very early settlement of the  state.  He was born January 14, 1834, near Alamo, in Montgomery  county, Indiana, on the farm which his father secured by  parchment deed from the national government.  He was a son of  Benjamin Will and Susanna (Butts) Willis, to whose lot fell the  task of rescuing a fertile farm from the primeval wilderness.   The settlement of his father on government land, however, was  not the beginning of the family history in Indiana.  The first  Benjamin Willis, grandfather of the subject, came to Indiana in  the early twenties from near Dayton, Ohio, where he had married  Nancy Allison and raised a large family.  He was buried near a  favorite tree on his farm.  Glowing reports of the fertility of  the soil near Alamo brought the younger Benjamin to Montgomery  County just after his marriage. There were born to them nine  children, of whom eight grew to manhood and womanhood.  There were Steven Decature, Abner Denman, Julia Ann, Amanda Jane,  John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, Sarah Elizabeth, Joseph Martin.   Abner Denman was apprenticed to a Tinner in Crawfordsville until  he was old enough to attend a school of higher learning, when he  entered Barnabas Hobbs Quaker Academy at Bloomingdale, Indiana.   After graduation there, he taught a district school for several  years and while teaching in Vermillion County in the winter of  1863-1864 he met Frances Ellen Comegys, a pupil, to whom he was  married on September 29, 1864 near Danville Illiinois.  He  operated a traveling Photograph Gallery having become especially  proficient in the making of daguerreotypes.  In 1866 he moved to  Crawfordsville where he bought a Photograph Gallery, which he  operated for twelve consecutive years.  In 1878 he moved to  Harrisonville, Missouri, where he operated a Photograph Gallery  for three years, after which he returned to Crawfordsville, where  he remained in the Photograph business until 1898, when he died of pneumonia while on a  business trip  to Harrisonville, Missouri.  He was the father of six children,  of whom three died in infancy.  Those who lived were Nathaniel  Parker, Lucius Comegys and Anibel Ellen.  For thirty years A. D.  Willis was one of the most widely know citizens of Montgomery  County.  He took an active part in politics both national and  local and was a stanch Democrat although he never held any  political office.  He was a student of more than ordinary  diligence and depth.  His affiliations were with the Christian  church and the Masonic order, but he delved into many  philosophies and became an especial admirer of the philosophy of  Swedenbourg.  He spent a great deal of his leisure time reading  and discussing these philosophies and became known all over the  country side for his erudition and his love for literature of the  better class. One of the tenets of his faith was a scrupulous  honesty and forehandedness, which led to the accumulation of a  comfortable competence, although he never had a large  income.  As a schoolteacher he was a strict disciplinarian and  was known as one of the most successful in the county.  As a  photographer, in which profession he became best known, he earned  a reputation for a conscientious work and the scrupulous care  with which he kept faith with his clients.  He was buried on  December 9, 1898, in Oak Hill Cemetery, the funeral being  conducted by the Masonic order. - transcribed by kbz
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