ROBERT L. WITT
(1797-1834) First husband of Dorcas Willis, widowed she married Elisha Averett
Written by Charles R. Averett, Jr., g gs of Elisha Averett
Very little information has been found on Robert L. Witt, the first husband of Dorcas Willis. It is believed that he was born in 1797, in Bedford County, Virginia. He was the son of Kizzie Ann and John Witt. We don't know much about his childhood. The next time his name is mentioned is in the book on Hamilton County, Illinois, in the section entitled "Names of early settlers of Hamilton County."
Robert Witt is listed alone. By that we must surmise that he was not married and came there without any family members. He is listed as coming to Hamilton County, Illinois around 1816. If he was born in 1797, then he would have been about 19 years of age when he settled in that county. Further on, this book states that the town of McLeansboro, Hamilton, Illinois was "laid off" in 1821. Robert was about 24 years of age. This book continues by saying, "The first blacksmith in McLeansboro was either Solomon Collins or Robert Witt." From this bit of information we know that Robert was a blacksmith.
There is nothing more mentioned of Robert Witt in that book, but in the Hamilton County, Illinois Marriages of 1821-1870, there is listed the marriage date of Robert L. Witt and Dorcas Willis on page 3 - 28 Feb 1825. Benjamin Hood married them.
Their first child, Kizzie Ann was born in 1827, in McLeansboro, Hamilton, Illinois. This is where Robert and Dorcas must have made their home. Since Dorcas was only 15 when she was married, her family must have moved from Sumner County, Tennessee, to McLeansboro. Dorcas was 13 years junior to Robert. He was 28 years old when he married Dorcas.
Their second child, John Wesley was born on 10 Feb 1829; Sarah Jane on 1 Feb 1831; William in 1833; Mills or Miles in 1834. Both William and Mills were dead before 1838, when Dorcas married Elisha Averett.
The next we hear of Robert Witt is in 1832, when he was mustered out of the army on 13 Aug 1832. He had served in the Black Hawk Campaign, from Hamilton County, Illinois, as a 2nd Sergeant. He was inducted on 12 May 1832. He served in the campaign in the same county company as Elijah and Elisha Averett. At this time the Averetts were living in Mayberry Settlement, just nine miles south of McLeansboro.
The Witts became identified with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints soon after it was organized. The Averetts joined that church in 1835. Since the Averett twins, Elijah and Elisha served with Robert L. Witt in the same company during the Black Hawk Campaign, both families showed interest in the LDS Church at about the same time, and lived close to each other, we must surmise the two families knew each other.
Tradition says that Robert L. Witt was killed in 1834. He was evidently having difficulties with another man, probably a neighbor. The two were in the woods when a quarrel probably ensued and the man struck Robert L. in the back with a broad-ax, killing him.
His wife, Dorcas remained a widow until she re-married in 1838. She left Hamilton County, Illinois with a group of "Mormons. They traveled to Missouri to be with the "Saints." It was here in Caldwell County, Missouri that Dorcas and Elisha Averett were married. They had left Illinois for Missouri in the same group. Elijah and Dorcas were the same age.
(Written by Charles R. Averett, Jr., from material found in the books - Hamilton County, Illinois; Hamilton County,
Illinois Marriages l82l-l870; "History of Sarah Jane Witt Averett" written for the Daughters of the Utah
Pioneers; information given by Marvin Milton Witt, Provo, Utah)