1808 - 1895
Tahly (Tapley) Tullos and John Tellis received land grants in the Burke County, Georgia area in the 1790's. John Tullos later settled in Effingham County and is shown there in the early 1800's with his children Temple, Stephen and Willoughby Tullis.
Tapley A. Tullis was in Tattnall County in 1805 with his son, Richard Teillos. Tapley died in Camden County, Georgia in 1818 and his heirs were named in a land transaction after his death: Tapley A. Tullis, Jr., Richard Tullis, Joseph Tullis, Leonard G. Jackson and Israel Barber (the last two being sons-in-law).
Willoughby Tillis/Tullis was born in Camden County, Georgia on December 10, 1808. This family used "Tullis" until about 1850 when the census listed them as "Tillis". It is believed that Willoughby was the son of one of the three sons of Tapley A. Tullis since that group was residing in Camden County at the time of his birth.
Tapley, Jr. had a son named Wiloby born 1839. Joseph had no sons born prior to 1815. Therefore it is very possible that Richard Tullis born about 1785 is the father of Willoughby Tillis/Tullis. Willoughby had one known brother, Richard Tillis/Tullis, born in Camden County on January 5, 1818.
Willoughby served several enlistments during the Indian wars in the early 1800's in Florida. He was a private in Captain McLemare's Company of Florida Volunteers from December 4, 1835 to March 26, 1836. He served as sergeant in Captain Robert Brown's Company of Florida Volunteers from May 22 to September 22, 1836. He enrolled September 23, 1836 at Fort Reed as a private in Captain William M. Reed's Company, 1st Regiment (Warren's) Florida Mounted Volunteers and served until January 27, 1837, when he was discharged at Fort Gilliland. He was 1st Lieutenant in Captain James Edward's Company, 1st Regiment (Warren's), Florida Militia. He enrolled January 27, 1837 at Fort Reed and was mustered in at Fort Beckham on March 27, 1837. He was mustered out with the company at Fort Beckham on June 5, 1837.
Willoughby Tillis married Mary Hinson about 1832. They had two children:
1. Lafayette Tillis, born c1833; died in Confederate service.
2. Dempsey Tillis, born c1835; mustered in to Company F, 2nd Florida Infantry in Jackson County, Florida; wounded at Gettysburg July 3, 1863 and later died.
Mary (Hinson) Tillis left Willoughby and returned to Telfair County, Georgia apparently to her father's home. On May 2, 1838 Willioughby Tillis filed the following Bill of Complaint:
To His Honour Robert Raymond Reid, Judge of the Superior Court for the Eastern District of Florida. In chancery.The following legal add appeared in The Florida Herald which was published in St. Augustine, Florida
SUPERIOR COURT——EAST FLORIDA IN CHANCERY.
PETITION FOR DIVORCE
On motion of the complainants, and it having been made to appear by affidavit that the defendant, Mary Tillis, formerly Mary Hinson, is out of this Territory, and in the United States, IT IS ORDERED, That the said Mary Tillis shall appear and answer the said Complainants bill of complaint, on or before the third of August next, otherwise a hearing will be had whether the facts charged in said bill, and a decree passed in the same manner as if the defendant had appeared and was present in Court.
And it is further ordered, That this order be published once a week, until the said third day of August next, in the Florida Herald. Dated at St. Augustine, this 2nd day of May, 1838.
ROBT RAYMOND REID
Judge Supr. Court, Dist. E. F.
The court received the following reply from Mary Tillis:
State of Georgia
November 8, 1839
To the Honourable Judge Reed
of the District of East Florida.
Whereas my husband Willaby Tillis has sued for a divorce and has asserted a many false assertions. Sir I deny and do declare them to be false. The intreatment that I received from his hand and on account of Mrs. Smily that I was forbiden to leave him. He has also repeatedly offered me certain sums to leave him, but I never would consent to it after finding that he could not prevail on me to do so.
He at last sent me away and he now has accused me of leaving him. I hope, therefore, that the laws of our land would abhor such an act. I am willing to come and live with him if I knew that he would foresake this his Mrs. Smily and have been willing all the time to do so. He further sent me away without the first cent, where with to support me and two little children and he is now living with the said Mrs. "S" as I have been very creditably informed and which can very easily be proven in an open _______.
Sir, I hope that you will see me right and as I believe you to be a gentleman who would see all disrespected castoff foresaken wives and children for such a detested harlot.
So therefore, as I am not able to take charge of the suit, I hope you will conform and detect all such. He was also, when I was living with him, constantly after the said Mrs. "S", when at home misused me so that my life was almost a misery to me.
I am here, a matter of two hundred miles distant and am not able to come to court for it is all that I can do by my own labor to procure food for myself and my two little children. I will also cite to you some honourable ladies as the county of Columbia affords who can tell the entreatments that I have undergone. I would name Mrs. Caraway, Mrs. McClellan, Mrs. Roper and a number of others.
Therefore, I hope you will see a poor unfortunate woman righted in this all important matter.
I am Sir respectfully yours,
Seaborn J. Ross testified that "the conduct of said Willoughby Tillis towards his wife, was kind and affectionate, that she was plentifully provided for as much so as folks are in the county and that she had a comfortable home, that Willoughby was a man of as much peacableness as the common run of men and that he is industrious and thrifty." Other citizens of Columbia County concurred with Mr. Ross's opinion of Willoughby Tillis.
Willoughby was granted a divorce from Mary Tillis on November 23, 1840. He later married Penny Smiley and it is believed that they had one child:
3. Matilda Tillis, born c1841; married Green Taylor February 15, 1858.
Penny Smiley Tillis died in 1841/1842 in Columbia County, Florida. Willoughby Tillis married Celia Elizabeth Durrance on October 16, 1843 near Suwannee Springs in Columbia County, Florida. She was born April 24, 1813 (pension papers give April 24, 1814), in Tatnall County, Georgia daughter of Joseph and Cecelia (Tippins) Durrance. Their children:
4. Mary Ann Tillis, born April 22, 1845; died October 14, 1861.
5. Twin who died at birth.
6. Twin who died at birth.
7. Richard Calhoun Tillis, born January 29, 1848; married Martha Ann Hawthorn October 25, 1874.
8. James Dallas Tillis, born August 22, 1849; married on December 31, 1884 Hattie Viola Powell, daughter of John Wesley and Sarah Elizabeth (Derr) Powell.
9. Caroline Augusta Tillis, born October 6, 1850; died September 3, 1931; married John Calhoun Jordan, son of William and Jane A. Jordan on June 28, 1882.
10. Candacy M. Tillis, born May 18, 1852; died at age 12.
11. William Washington Tillis, born November 30, 1854; died March 8, 1935; married on February 9, 1881 Martha Ann Crum, daughter of James Burnett & Ann Caroine (Phelps) Crum.
12. Francis Marion Tillis, born July 7, 1857; died July 14, 1930; married on December 14, 1884 Sarah Jennie Durrance, daughter of Jesse Harris & Priscilla (Altman) Durrance.
Willoughby Tillis lived in Columbia County, Florida until about 1850 when the family moved to Hillsborough County to Ozona (now Clearwater). They later lived in Tampa about 1/2 mile north of the Hillsborough River where the old fair grounds were. Between the 20th and the last of December 1855 they moved to within three and a half miles south of Fort Meade. They had left Tampa to seek fertile grazing lands for the cattle and horses. After repeated warnings from travelers that the Seminole Indians were ravaging nearby homes, Willoughbly Tillis moved his family closer to Fort Meade and shared a house with an Underhill family. Fort Meade was not a regular fort but consisted of a strong log block-house built by the soldiers of the garrison, providing quarters for them and a commissary of provisions for them and the settlers, and around this building were grouped the various families in their rough built houses where they had gathered for temporary protection.
The sound of the firing was heard at Fort Meade. Lieutenant Alderman Carlton hurriedly mounted six men: Daniel Carlton, John C. Oates, William Parker, William McCullough, Henry Hollingsworth & Lot Whidden. James D. Tillis continues:
"The galloping hoofbeats of their approaching horses warned our enemies, who crawled from their position behind our cattlepen and fortified themselves in the south end of a ten acre field to the south end of our house. Lt. Carlton was the first to round our house in a cloud of dust. He called out 'Where are the Indians?' My father indicated their direction, but shouted, 'How many men have you, Lieutenant?' 'Only seven', was the reply. Father cried out warningly, 'You are outnumbered more than two to one!'
Daniel Carlton rode to Fort Fraser to contact Captain F. M. Durrance (brother of Celia (Durrance) Tillis). He later returned with a company of 50 men and tracked down the Seminoles.
The Tillis family later moved back to their old homeplace south of Fort Meade. They were listed there in the 1860 Hillsborough County census with neighbors Thomas Sumerall, Stephen Hollingsworth, William McCullou, T. J. Curry, Margaret Brooker, William Allen, Robert Cascott, John Powell, and J. M. Pierce. They later lived in Bartow but eventually moved back to Fort Meade. Their home was burned during the Civil War. James D. Tillis states:
"Our old home place south of Fort Meade was burned by a band of deserters scattered all over the southern counties on way to Fort Myers, where they joined the Federal army. Some of them came back once or twice. On the first raid they came to our house and to Thomas Underhill's——took Thomas Underhill a prisoner and killed him. Came on to our place and my father was away. They took all his horses and wagons&mdash?—loaded up with provisions, corn, fodder and meat——took the Negro men and all firearms and went back to Fort Myers. Some months after that they came up and had a sham battle on Bow Legs Creek on the east side of the river, and the old man Jim Lanier was killed there. They then crossed the river and back to the west side and burned our home and all that we had."Willoughby Tillis applied for a pension on August 11, 1892. He gave his age as 84 years and his residence as Fort Meade, Florida. He stated that his Discharge Certificate from his Seminole Indian war service was burned during the War of the Rebellion when the U. S. Army burned his home. He said that the time of his enlistment in 1835 he was 27 years old, 5' 8" tall with dark complexion, gray eyes and black hair. His occupation was farming and that he was born in Camden County, Georgia. His pension was approved and he received $8 per month until his death on January 1, 1895. The following obituary appeared:
WILLOUGHBY TILLIS DEADMrs. Celia E. Tillis, aged 80 years and a resident of Fort Meade applied for a widow's pension on March 14, 1895. She received it until her death on July 14, 1899. The following appeared in the local newspaper:
GRANDMA TILLIS DEAD
SOURCES: Camden County, Georgia deeds; Census: 1820 Tattnall County, Georgia, 1820 Camden County, Georgia, 1850 Columbia County, 1860 Hillsborough County, Florida; bounty land applications of Joseph Tullis & Tapley A. Tullis; New Hope Cemetery, Polk County, Florida; Soldiers of Florida; pension of Willoughby Tillis & widow's pension of Celia E. Tillis, National Archives; Tillis family file, Polk County History Library, Bartow, Florida; affidavit of Mr. & Mrs. James D. .Tillis, May 5, 1938; "Thrilling Story of Battle with Indians near Fort Meade found among papers of pioneer family", Tampa Sunday Tribune, April 4, 1954; info from Mrs. Leslie Davis Watson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Tillis family Bible; Index to the Headright & Bounty Grants of Georgia 1756 - 1909; Polk County & Hillsborough County marriage records.
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