Monday, July 25, 2011

Dustin Bellfield Willard’s Mississippi Years

Purportedly Nancy Rachael Curry
1826 – 1851

The first indication of Dustin living in Mississippi was his marriage to Nancy Rachael Curry on August 3, 1826 in Amite County.  His name however was spelled Justin on the marriage certificate. Nancy came from a large family in Amite County that traced their roots back to South Carolina.  Her last name has also been spelled Currey.  The picture shown here is purportedly that of Nancy.  Together they raised 3 boys and 3 girls listed below.
  1. Roswell Bellfield Willard (1827-1904) my direct ancestor.  Married to Anne Elizabeth Anderson.
  2. Mary Ella Willard (1829-1893).  Married to Moses E. Bush .
  3. Jacob Willard (1832-1914).  Married to Laura Ann Yarborough.
  4. Thetis Francis Willard (1835-1906).  Married to WSC Gardner.
  5. Angelina Willard (1838-).  Married to William B. High.
  6. Dustin Bellfield Willard Jr. (1848-1871).
In their son Jacob’s bio published by Goodspeed, he states that there was a seventh child, a girl that did not live to maturity.  

On October 21, 1829 the Amite and Florida Auxiliary Bible Society at its meeting in Liberty, submitted a report containing the names of heads of families in the two counties who were destitute of a full copy of the Holy Scriptures.  Included in the report was the name Justin B. Willard.

On November 10, 1840 land grants were issued to Dustin for the purchase of two parcels of land totaling 159.75 acres.  This property was located four miles west by northwest (31°11’09.68”N 90°52’12.30”W) of Liberty, the county seat for Amite County.  The actual purchase agreement however was dated and signed February 6, 1841 and shows the spelling of the family name as Williard.  This agreement discloses that the purchase price was $25 and that the cash came from Nancy.  It also includes an additional agreement between Nancy and Martha, the wife of the land seller, whereby Martha transfers her dower rights to Nancy for $1.  Back in the 1800’s property was always recorded in a man’s name.  To protect women, a legal provision called a dower was used to prevent her from losing the property if she were to become a widow.  It is likely that the family farmed the land however, the only family member that listed his trade as a farmer on census records was Jacob.  Dustin by trade was a carpenter.

The November 1850 Census shows us that the family was still in Mississippi.  And on December 3, 1850, Dustin sold the 159.75 acres for $270.  As part of the agreement Nancy relinquished her dower rights.  

Shortly after selling their property, most of the family moved to Bossier County, Louisiana.  The only family member who didn’t move was Roswell.  He had already married and elected to stay in Mississippi to be near his widowed mother-in-law.  Many of their friends and relatives from the Liberty area also relocated to Bossier County.

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