6. William Harris WILLOWS was born on 20 Aug 1893 in Kirksville, Adair, Missouri according to records found at the Adair County Public Library, Library Lane, Kirksville, MO.

     Nicknames "Puss", "Pussy"-Willows.
William Harris Willows
His mother called him 'My Boy'.

Lived in Hannibal MO about 30 Nov, 1941 and Hutchinson KS about Jul 1938.

Painted the Hamilton High School when it was built in the 1930's. He was listed as an interior decorator in the 1930 census and although divorced in 1929, he was listed at married to Bessie on that same census.

Stationary Letterhead: "W. H. Willows, Decorating, Paper Hanging, Painting, Keokuk Iowa. Representative Buildings Decorated: Graham Hospital, J. C. Penny Store, Metropolitan Chain Stores, Denmark Iowa School, Hamilton Illinois School, Stronghurst Illinois School, Bloomfield Iowa School, S. S. Kresge Store, Kenney Shoe Store, St. Mary's Sisters Home and St. Mary's School. Public Buildings a specialty. Phone 1604-W, 217 South 10th Street. (At bottom of page:) Willows first in Spring--Willows first in Decorating

     He was married to Bessie Mabel Jane ALVIS in 1914. They were renting at 210 N 6th Street in Keokuk, IA in a row-type house.  His occupation was listed as a painter of houses and autos.  He was divorced from Bessie Mabel Jane ALVIS on 19 Nov 1929. He married again to Edith GERDES in Hutchinson, Kansas on 18 Sep 1935.  They moved to New Douglas, Illinois, and raised their family of nine children.  He died on 14 Mar 1958 in New Douglas, Madison, Illinois.

7. Bessie Mabel Jane ALVIS was born on 9 Dec 1896 in Stone County, Missouri.

Bessie Alvis 



   When her mother left, she was sent to a Catholic finishing school in Saint Louis, Missouri with her sister, Lillie. When their mother came to visit, Mother Constantine was in charge and wouldn't let her see either daughter...because father had legal custody. (according to Mary Curran)



Bessie and Dorris   Resident of Keokuk since 1914. Lived at 217 S. 10th Street during the '40s. Remembrances of that house include: A very smelly old gas stove, large open register over the furnace, gold coin kept in the desk, an unseen roomer upstairs, ice sign in front window, ancient bathroom with metal tub, original water closet, one Edison light bulb that never burned out, and a door under the stairs (leading to where she told her grandson the alligator was kept!). She worked many years at the Dryden Rubber Plant, which made gas masks during the war years.

    Bessie remarried on 2 Oct 1954 to Ralph Mc Mains, a long time friend.

     She died on 17 Aug 1965 in Keokuk, Lee, Iowa. She was buried on 20 Aug 1965 in Keokuk, Lee, Iowa. Casket bearers included Robert and Peter Wells and David Nichols.

     Deed to Lot in Oakland Cemetery No. 2601, City of Keokuk issued July 21, 1960 to Bessie McMains to wit: The Isle adjoining the East end of lot No. 121 in Block K. For the consideration of Thirty Five and 00/100 Dollars plus perpetual care of $15.00. This is with the Mc Mains lots. Social Security number was 481-22-0192.  Inscription on stone:  BESSIE MC MAINS  -  DEC 9, 1896  -   AUG 18, 1965.

Children were:

child3 i. Dorris Esther WILLOWS

Dorris and her Mom, Bessie










Dorris and dog at Ambrosia Lane, 1917.Dorris Willows spent many enjoyable summer hours at her Uncle Willie's farm on Ambrosia Lane.  the Willows family used to go out to the farm on the weekends, sometimes getting stuck in the mud when it had been raining on the "highway".   Perhaps they were out, not only for the company, but also for some good food.   On the farm there were chickens and fresh vegetables, something rare for a poor family in town. (Esther's memory)






'The Toe' - Keokuk - 1920