Descendants of Willis Henry and Odelia Willoughby are delighted to share with our fellow citizens, neighbors and friends some of their early history.
Willis H. Willoughby was born in 1848 in the community of Lum, part of Loundes County just south of Haynesville, Alabama and southwest of Montgomery. He migrated to the Florida Wilderness in the early 1870’s leading family members and a small congregation. They traveled more than 500 miles through the Florida panhandle with oxcart and pack animals into the area of Little Lake Weir presently known as Summerfield. Willis, a farmer and preacher, and Odelia, his Native American wife, homesteaded 150 acres at Little Lake Weir. They established a home and family of ten and provided land for the Galilee Christian Church, which survives today as an active country church.
The patent granting Willis Henry Willoughby this land was signed by President Chester A. Arthur on the tenth of February 1885, pursuant to the Homestead Act of 1862. It is on file at the Marion County Courthouse.
The Willoughby descendants are proud of their heritage and pleased to provide this park in partnership with Marion County for all to share and enjoy.