Santa Cruz County History - People

Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson


Watsonville Pajaronian (November 13, 1916)

Willits Vault
Willits Vault
Pioneer Cemetery, Watsonville

Two Popular Pioneers Have Crossed the Divide
L.V. Willits Was Called Yesterday

Leonidas Volney Willits, a pioneer of the valley and one of its best known citizens, died yesterday in this city after a lingering illness. The funeral will be held tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock from the late residence of the deceased at 711 Rodriguez street with interment in the I.O.O.F. cemetery.

The deceased was born near Richmond, Wayne county, Virginia, and was aged 85 years, 9 months and 27 days. Early in life he moved with his parents to Illinois where he received his education. On April 30, 1857, he married Miss Livonia A. Davis and four children blessed the union, two of which died in infancy. Mr. Willits answered the call of his country by serving in the 102d Illinois Infantry throughout the Civil War, returning to Illinois after the war to engage in farming and stock raising with great success. Mr. Willits was always an enthusiastic stock raiser and his horses were among the most beautiful and best trained in the county. Some of the finest draft horses in this part of the state were raised on his ranch on the Beach road and many of the best horses in the community came from his sires.

Mr. Willits was one of the leading members of the Presbyterian church in this city and was regarded as one of the most honest and straight forward men in the community. He was a man of the highest type of character and all that knew him held him in high esteem. His death will be mourned by hundreds in the valley because of his kindness, charity and general commendable acts. He served two terms as city trustee of Watsonville and was a faithful and honest servant of the people at all times.

Two sons survive him, Ralph W. Willits of this city and Charles D. Willits of San Francisco. A grandson, Richard B. Willits of San Francisco also survives him.

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