Dr. Thomas Willits
November 28, 1884 ALEDO DEMOCRAT
Dr. Thos. WILLITS
Dr. Thos. Willits - Dead
A postal card from New Boston announced the death of Dr. Thomas Willits, at his home near that city, on Monday, the 24th, at 12, m. The following facts in regard to his life are taken from the Mercer County Atlas, published in 1875.
Dr. Willits was born in Pickaway county, Ohio, December 6, 1805. When five or six years old the family moved to the vicinity of Cincinnati, where he was raised and where he read medicine under Dr. William Thomas, a noted physician and surgeon from England. After completing a course of reading in company with another young physician, Dr. Halstead, he started to St. Louis and on reaching the town of Montezuma, park county, Indiana, his traveling companion was taken sick, and daring the sonsequent detention and while Dr.Willits was engaged with his friend in the double capacity of nurse and physician, he received a number of professional calls from the inhabitants of this place, and such was his success that the people persuaded him to remain for a time at least, in their midst, and he immediately entered into a large practice. Here he became acquainted with his wife, formerly Miss Catherine Ainsworth, daughter of Andrew and Margaret Ainsworth, relict of William Libby, whom he married April 30, 1830. After the lapse of about three years he was called to the care of his father and family who had moved in the mean time to Wayne county, Indiana. Here he lived till 1837 when he came west and made a location in Warren Co., Illinois, where he entered land and improved a farm, on which he lived three years, and then came to New Boston, Mercer Col, where he has resided ever since, engaged in the practice of medicine, and was the oldest physician of his county, and has had a practice of nearly 50 years. Immediately after coming t New Boston he entered into partnership with Dr Edmond Harrell, a graduate of the Louisville medical college, a partnership which lasted over fifteen years. Dr Harrell was an able physician and a gentleman of great personal merit.
Professionally, Dr. Willits has had to do with about all the diseases peculiar to this section of the State, and has noted the changes which have occurred in their history, which have kept pace with the physical changes of the country and mode of life. In the first part of his practice in Mercer county the ailments were principally of that class arising from malaria, such as bilous and remittent fevers, ague, etc., and which have been succeeded by those more of a nervous character, such as neuralgia in its various forms, spinal meningitis, etc.
A large amount o his practice has been given to the poor and distributed among people in cramped circumstances, and as a consequence, thousands of dollars of his dues have never been collected. In fact he has only realized in money what the people have voluntarily paid him, and one of the proudest monuments in his career as a physician, aside from his professional skill, is that he has ever given his best attention to the indigent, and has always lent a helping hand to the poor.
He raised four children – three living: Leroy, Mrs. Celeste (Wm.) Anderson, and Mrs. Kate (Thomas) McCurdy, Mrs. Viola (Russell) Scudder died in New Boston, and Almira, an infant daughter, in Morton, Wayne, county, Indiana, which makes the family list.
James Willits, Dr. Willits’ father, was born in Pennsylvania and died in Wayne, county, Indiana. From the best of recollection, the Willits are of Welch nationality, though they came to this country from England. Four brothers arrived, according to the family tradition, on Long Island when the States were colonies, subject to the English crown. One remained on the Island, one went to Canada, one to Pennsylvania, and another to North Carolina. Their descendants were among the patriots and soldiers of “76” and I is supposed that the Dr’s grandfather was a continental soldier. His father was in the war of 1812, and served under General Scott part of the time.
The Doctor’s ancestry have generally been tillers of the soil, honest, moral and useful citizens, though none have ever risen to political distinction. The Doctor, who has twice been elected to the legislature of Illinois – is the only one of the family that is known to have accepted of legislative honors.”
Dr. Willits was buried from his late home on Wednesday, Rev. Sarches conducting the services. And after a life full of deeds of benevolence to his fellow men, he will sleep well.