From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Willis, "Aunt" Lucy

(born: 1830  -  died: 1914) 

In 1987, Aunt Lucy Willis's cabin was restored to 1/3 its original size and exhibited at the Kansas City Museum. The cabin had been built in Trenton, MO, where Aunt Lucy Willis had resided.

Aunt Lucy had first been a slave in Kentucky, owned by a couple named Willis who gave Aunt Lucy to their daughter, Amelia. According to the research of family member Scott Helmandollar, Aunt Lucy had a daughter named Rosa (1842?-1894) who was listed as white; John Willis may have been the girl's father.

Aunt Lucy was brought west when Amelia Willis's second husband, William Neil Perry, moved his family from Kentucky to Missouri. According to Scott Helmandollar, Aunt Lucy was purchased by his family and given her freedom; she chose to remain with the Perry family. At her request, Aunt Lucy was buried in the family cemetery. The cemetery contains the graves of the Perry and Helmandollar families.

Family memorabilia were used by the Black Archives of Mid-America to reconstruct Aunt Lucy Willis's life.

For more see "Slave's rude cabin brings life to Missouri's history," The Wichita Eagle (Missouri), 6/21/1987, Lively Arts section, p. 8F. For more about the Helmandollar family, Aunt Lucy, her daughter Rosa, and their descendants, contact Scott Helmandollar.

*Aunt Lucy Willis's descendants: Rosa Willis Clayton (Lewis), William Harley Clayton and James Arthur Clayton [twins], Ernest Clayton, Nellie Goldia Clayton Woodson (Carter) [1881-198?], Erma Woodson Smith, Bernice Woodson, Dale Byron Woodson, Theodore Woodson.*

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NKAA Source: The Wichita eagle (newspaper)

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“Willis, "Aunt" Lucy,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 24, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-07-16 16:41:52