Grandpa! When Willie Andrew Francis was born on October 11, 1881, in Vandalia, Lewis County, West Virginia when his father, John Andrew Francis, was 35 and his mother, Mary Jane Radabaugh, was 21.
On the 1900 census, Willie was 18 years and living on Skin Creek, Lewis County, West Virginia. The census did not give occupation but certainly they were farmers. I know very little about his youth.
He married Reka Brandt Lance on September 8, 1909, Upshur County, West Virgina. They had three children in 12 years: Garland, Juanita, and Dana.
I learned from a cousin that they had a store in the area of Abbott, Upshur County, West Virginia that sold Redwing shoes and other work clothing. Willie also had a mortician license. In those times, mortician’s went to the home and prepared the body and laid them out there. I imagine those traditions changed and he wasn’t in a position to own a funeral home or maybe wasn’t interested. Sometime in the 1940’s, my father went in half with him and brought the farm in Vandalia, Lewis County, West Virginia. That was where grandpa lived until he died after being taken to a hospital in Weston.
He died on June 11, 1968, in Weston, Lewis County, West Virginia, at the age of 86, and was buried in Heavner Cemetery, Buckhannon, Upshur County, West Virginia.