Willis family information provided by Nola Conway conwayn@gohighspeed.com

James Willis, and his two sons who perished in the flood, was my great-uncle -- his wife was injured in the flood and died a few years later of the injuries. I've seen many reports of her in the newspapers. I think this is the most accurate one I found. I would like to have it passed on to whomever is doing research on books on the event.
An interview with her was in the Walla Walla Union, she wasn't an immediate victim -- but did die of injuries. Also, the baby mentioned here died too. Both are buried in Troy, Idaho. She went to live with her mother and father in Troy, after the flood. She died May 26, 1905. The baby is buried with her.

Her name was Minnie M. Leyde 

June 17, 1903, Walla Walla Union Newspaper interview:
Mrs. Willis' Awful Story
In a private interview tonight Mrs. Jim Willis related a horrible experience not yet chronicled and the most sensational account given yet of the flood.  As she lay fatally injured in the Palace Hotel she said: "My husband, myself and three children were eating supper when the rain fell so heavy that it seemed like a fog had began. Baby was in the high chair and he was sick. Jim decided we had better go over to mother's which was on high ground. We had not gotten through the garden fence when Jim called that the town was moving. I looked up and saw all the houses starting toward us. If my 8-year-old child had not pulled back on me we would have all been saved. But when he tried to get back to the house Jim rushed forward and threw the baby on a bank and came back to help me. He was swept away. I grabbed the second boy and clung to a railroad car. A big timber came down and struck him on the head as I held him and it killed him. It hit me on the leg and nearly killed me. The oldest boy got back into the garden which was dry. A wall of water swept round and took him after all. Alone, I was swept under the railroad cars. I had to tear off my shoes before I could rise. Getting to the warehouse platform I pried a door open. In my desperation and took off all my clothing, and wrapped myself in wool sacks. There I lay in the cold until morning."

Wonderful to say, Mrs. Willis' baby was found lying on the  bank covered with drift, but still alive.

"For it's sake now I'll try to live," says Mrs. Willis who is a handsome young woman with auburn hair.

James Willis 1878-1903
Frank Willis 1894-1903
Fred Willis 1896-1903

Eliza Willis 1844-1903

James F. Willis ca1842 - 1900

Frankie Willis 1900-1904

Willis family

Heppner flood related headstones.

Heppner Flood Page

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