52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

52 Ancestors (2014) #35 Thomas Arthur Willis

This week I’ve decided to choose an ancestor on my children’s father’s side of the family, and have chosen his grandfather, Thomas Arthur Willis.

Thomas was born 24 January 1900 at Sydney Flat, Victoria, Australia.  He was the son of Thomas Willis, a farmer, and Elizabeth Hansen.  (Thomas Arthur Willis, birth certificate no. 2805 (1900), Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.)

Thomas grew up on the family farm, and around 1918 went to work on the farm owned by his uncle’s wife, Margaret B. Willis.  It would seem likely that he went to help out on the farm after his uncle, George William Willis’ death in 18 May 1918.  This property was later purchased by Thomas.

One blade
Newspaper article about Thomas Arthur Willis
Thomas was a successful farmer.  The article on the right demonstrates this.  The name and date of newspaper this clipping is from is not yet known.

Thomas married Dorothea Isabella Sinclair Smith on 3 Jun 1929 at the Eaglehawk East Methodist Church. The marriage certificate shows Thomas was a farmer, living at Mystic Park. Dorothea’s occupation was home duties. Her present residence was listed as Winlayton, and usual residence Mystic Park. (Victoria, Australia Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, marriage certificate 6139 (1929), Willis-Smith.)

Since both Thomas and Dorothea were living in the area between Kerang and Swan Hill in Northern Victoria, and Dorothea’s parents were also living in that area, it seems strange that they didn’t get married closer to home. Thomas’ parents were still living on the family farm in the Eaglehawk district, so they must have decided to be married near to his family.

Thomas and Dorothea only had one child, a son. After their son was married, Thomas and Dorothea retired from farming to live in Kerang, and let their son take over the farm. This was around 1955. Thomas died two years later, in 1957. The following is Thomas’ obituary.

From The Kerang New Times 31 May 1957
Mr. T. A. Willis

A resident of long standing of the Mystic Park district died in the Kerang and District Hospital on Monday.
He was Mr. Thomas Arthur Willis.
The late Mr. Willis had lived in Kerang for the past 15 months and had been in ill health for some time.
A resident of Mystic Park district since 1918, he was well known and respected around Swan Hill, Kerang and Lake Boga.
He leaves a son, Murray, who is continuing to run the property at Mystic Park, and is survived by his widow also.
The funeral from the Methodist Church to the Kerang Cemetery was on Tuesday afternoon, a very large number of friends and relatives being present to pay their last respects.
The late Mr. Willis was 57 years of age.

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