Biography of Lonzo McWillis

The reservation portion of Nez Perces County is the newest portion in the northern part of the state, its settlement dating from 1896. Among the later ones to settle on this desirable section of land is the subject of this sketch, who bought his present estate, about five miles northwest from Culdesac.

Mr. McWillis is a substantial man of ability and is improving his place in fine shape and is counted one of the progressive and enterprising men of the County.

Lonzo McWillis was born in Port Oxford, Oregon, in 1869, being the son of William and Mary E. (Dougherty) McWillis. The father was born on the ocean while his parents were coming from Scotland, in 1836. He was raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and was a professional cook on the Ohio River steamboats. He died in 1887. The mother was born in Iowa in 1847 and in 1849 her father crossed the plains to Oregon, bringing the family in 1852, with ox teams. His name was Nathan Dougherty, he was born in Indiana and he married Lydia Rickard, a native of New York.

Our subject remained at home with his parents until he had reached his majority, and then he migrated to eastern Oregon, taking up the sheep business in Grant, Cook, and Gilham counties. In 1899 he sold his possessions there and came to Nez Perces County, Idaho. As mentioned above, he bought his land instead of taking it as a homestead. Immediately Mr. McWillis went to work in improving the estate. He built a beautiful modern house and soon after moving in it burned to the ground. At the present lime he is engaged in erecting a commodious barn and his estate is being improved accordingly in other lines.

Mr. McWillis is the originator of a new kind of flax which is lighter colored, earlier, produces more seed to the acre, and yields more oil to the pound than the ordinary flax. On five square rods of ground seventy-five pounds were raised and the test shows the white flax to yield at least sixteen one-hundredths of a pound more oil per bushel than the average variety.

On November 19, 1894, at The Dalles, Oregon, Mr. McWillis married Isabella, daughter of Jason R. and Mary C. Butler. Mrs. McWillis was born in Lynn County, Oregon, in June. 1871. She has three brothers and five sisters, while Mr. McWillis has two sisters and six brothers. Two children have been born to this happy marriage, Leonard M. and Mabel E.

Politically Mr. McWillis is a Republican and takes the part of the interested and intelligent citizen. It is of interest that the father of our subject was in the Indian war of 1855-6, having enlisted at The Dalles.

Back to: Nez Perce Biographies

Source: An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903

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