Richard Willis – Tombstone Inscriptions

Willis, Richard
Section 28.8
ID # 281109

Richard Willis
Grainger Co.

Nineteen Penitentiary inmates died of Cholera during the June 1833 Epidemic in Nashville. They were buried at Nashville City Cemetery. In 2016 wooden markers were placed at the cemetery for these Cholera victims.

Fred Zahn of the Metropolitan Historical Commission was responsible for the carving of the inscriptions on the 19 wooden markers and locating where to place them at the Nashville City Cemetery. To read about his work on the project, click here.

To read the account of John Hill, a contemporary of these men and survivor of his time in the penitentiary, click here.

For more information, and to see a listing of the inmates’ names & counties of residence prior to incarceration, please see the following newspaper article in the Nashville Republican and State Gazette, Friday, July 5, 1833.

Charles A. Sherill has given permission to quote from Tennessee Convicts: Records of the State Penitentiary, Vol. I. 1831-1850, by Charles & Tomye M. Sherrill, published 1997:

Page 149
“Richard Willis was received in the Penitentiary 26 Oct. 1832. He is 5′ 7 1/2” in height, weighs 147 lbs. Blue hollow eyes, dark hair and skin, prominent nose. Born in Grainger Co., East Tenn., where his wife and three children now reside about three miles from Clinch River and Hynes’s Creek meeting house. His mother lives in the state of Missouri and two brothers in Morgan Co., Alabama, and two in Henderson County. He has a scar on the side of the left knee and several on the cap and shin. One on the right shin about the middle. Has generally followed farming. Was found guilty of stealing whiskey at the Circuit Court of Grainger County and sentenced to three years confinement in the Jail and Penitentiary House of the State of Tennessee. Richard Willis died of cholera on 17th day of June 1833. [Ledger 45, p. 217]”

Research Report August 2017

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