Willis George Dollaway Ancestor Biography

Author: Brenda Leyndyke / Labels: ,

Willis George Dollaway, date unknown

The United States was in the throes of the Civil War when Willis George Dollaway was born on 29 October 1863 in Schuyler County, New York, possibly Havana.  He spent the first few years of his life living in this area.  It is here, at the age of three, Willis lost his mother, Arvella Mathews Dollaway, who died in 1866.

Arvella Mathews Dollaway left behind her husband, Andrew Dollaway, to raise their two young sons; Frank, age five and Willis, age three.  It is during this time that I lose Andrew Dollaway in my research.  It is believed that he moved to Michigan and died there, but no proof has been found.

Sometime between 1866 and 1870 Willis moved to Michigan with his Aunt Carrie (Dollaway) and Uncle Isaac Quick, settling in Grand Rapids, Michigan according to the United States 1870 Federal Census for Ward 3, Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan. (Click on image for better view.)

Willis lived with his Aunt and Uncle throughout his teen years.  He attended Grand Rapids Public Schools through the eighth grade.  One account says that Willis started his working life early, working in the mercantile business owned by Jacob Barth.  Further research is needed to confirm the accuracy of this statement.

Willis George Dollaway and Frances A. Denny, the daughter of Joseph and Adelia (DeGan) Denny, were married 3 October 1885 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  (Source:  "Michigan, Marriages, 1868-1925," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NQ75-N32 : accessed 11 Mar 2013), Willis G. Dollaway and Frances A Denny, 03 Oct 1885.)  Willis was working as a clerk at this time. 

The Willis G. Dollaway Family
Front Row (L-R):  Frances (Denny), Cecil, Willis
Back Row (L-R):  Leona, Floyd, Roy, Glen

It wasn't long until Willis and Frances moved to Lowell Township, along the banks of the Grand River in a two story home, west of Lowell, Michigan.  Willis and Frances raised their family here in the Catholic faith.  They were the parents of nine children; five of whom lived to adulthood.  (Note:  Willis' obituary states ten children, but I haven't found evidence of a tenth one.)

  1. Roy Dollaway (1886-1966)
  2. Clarence Dollaway (1889-1889)
  3. Harold Dollaway (1892-1898)
  4. Lulah Dollaway (1892-1893)
  5. Floyd Dollaway (1894-1984)
  6. Edward Dollaway (1896-1896)
  7. Cecil Dollaway (1899-1982)
  8. Leona Dollaway (1905-2005)
  9. Glenn Dollaway (1907-1978)
Willis worked hard as a farmer, owning 140 acres at one time.  Willis, Frances and family lived in Lowell Township most of their married life.  They did move in with their daughter, Leona, who married Bert Corcorcan, for a couple of years.  They can be found in the 1930 Census living with Bert and Leona in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  By 1935, Willis and Frances, were back living at their home in Lowell.  My husband remembers visiting his Great Grandma Dollaway, at her home in Lowell, as a child.  He never met his Grandpa Dollaway.  He remembers a glass jar of lemon drops, which would fascinate a young one.  Unfortunately, the home is longer there.

Willis Dollaway lived to the age of 76, dying on 28 June 1940 at his home in Lowell Township after being ill for several months.

Willis George Dollaway is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Lowell, Michigan.



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