Willis, Henry

Willis, Henry one of the early Methodist preachers in America, was a native of Virginia. He entered the ministry in 1779, and was one of the most dominant spirits of the times, energizing, by his irrepressible ardor, the work of the Church throughout two thirds of its territory. He labored mightily for the West, as if conscious of its prospective importance in the State and the Church. He filled the following stations Roanoke, 1779; Mecklenburg, 1780; Talbot, 1781; Dorchester, 1782; New Hope, 1783; Holston, 1784. In 1785 he was in charge as presiding elder of a district, comprehending most of North Carolina; 1786, Charleston, S.C.; 1787, New York city; 1788, presiding elder of New York District; 1789, of a district which extended from Philadelphia to Redstone and Pittsburgh; 1790, located; 1791-95, supernumerary in Philadelphia; 1796, he reappears in Baltimore with John Haggerty, Nelson Reed and other worthies. Here he seems to have remained till 1800, when he became a supernumerary, doing what service he could-mostly on the Frederick Circuit, near his home-till his death, in .1808, near Strawbridge's old church on Pipe Creek. Mr. Willis was naturally of a strong mind, and this he had diligently improved. Quin, who knew him in the Redstone country, describes him as about six feet in stature, slender, a good English scholar, well read, an eloquent man, mighty in the Scriptures, and a most profound and powerful reasoner. He became feeble in the prime of life, retired from the itinerant field, married, and settled on a farm near Frederick County, Md. The Baltimore Conference sat in his parlor in April, 1801. He was the most endeared to Asbury of all the itinerants of that day. See Minutes of Conferences, 1808, p. 157; Stevens, Hist. of the M.E.F. Church, 2, 51-53, 134, 298, 347; 3, 17, 287; 4:240; Bangs, Hist. of the M.E. Church, 1, 225; 2, 254. (J. L. S.)

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