Joseph Willis was born about 1725 in East Bradford, Chester County, Pennsylvania. His father moved to Newberry, York County, Pennsylvania about 1746. There is no marriage record for Joseph. Joseph's first son, also named Joseph, was born about 1751, probably in Newberry, York County, Pennsylvania, therefore Joseph was probably married sometime between 1745 and 1750, probably in York County, Pennsylvania. His wife's name was Hannah (last name unknown). Hannah was a first name commonly used by Quakers or those who were first generation removed from Quakerism (as was Joseph Sr.). Joseph is mentioned in a couple of early York County records (ca 1751). In a Kentucky pension application on February 1, 1780, Joseph stated that he was a Private in Captain Dickenson's company of VA rangers in 1758. Joseph was a Private in Captain Dickenson's company according to Crozier's "Virginia Colonial Militia, " pp. 9-57. He may have enlisted before April 1757, because he is not listed on the guest list of the Quaker marriage of his brother John to Phebe Bennett in April 1757.
Joseph settled at Bent Mountain, Montgomery County, Virginia, perhaps after his military service. He settled there before 1761, because when his father died in 1761 two of his younger brothers (John and Henry) were named administrators of the intestate estate. Also, Joseph was not listed in the 1762 York County tax list.
According to ... Joseph Sr.'s will, written February 19, 1789 and probated July 1809, Olive was the youngest of his children, who included Joseph Jr., Mary, Ann, Edward, John, Hannah, and Olive....
About 1779 Joseph and most of his children moved from Bent Mountain, Montgomery County, Virginia to Mercer County, Kentucky. ...
The father of Joseph Willis was Henry Willis, a farmer who was born in Thornbury, Chester County, Pennsylvania roughly about 1698 and died, as mentioned above, in Newberry, York County, Pennsylvania in 1761. His wife was Mary (last name unknown). Henry's children were Joseph, John, Henry, Isaiah, Elizabeth, Mary, Martha, and Ann.
The father of Henry Willis was John Willis, who was born March 6, 1668/69 in Shoreditch, Middlesex, England and died about August 1745 in Thornbury, Chester County, Pennsylvania. John married Esther Brinton, daughter of William Brinton and Ann Bagley, about 1692 in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Esther was born October 9, 1675 in Nether Gournell, Sedgley, Stafford, England.
The father of John Willis was Henry Willis, who immigrated to America in 1674. Information about Henry Willis can be found in George Ingraham Willis, "The English Origins of Henry Willis of Westbury, Long Island" The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, v. 118, No. 2, April 1987, pages 65-74.
The paper records that show Joseph is the brother of John, Henry, and Isaiah Willis are not perfect, but DNA testing has confirmed the link. The strongest paper evidence is that the mark made by Joseph Willis when he signed a land sale document in Pennsylvania (his deceased father's land; Joseph is stated to be the oldest brother) along with his younger brothers John, Henry, Isaiah, is identical to the mark Joseph made on his will. There is also some other paper evidence and a consistency of names and timelines. However, the proof that Joseph Willis of Mercer County, Kentucky is the same Joseph Willis is the brother of John, Henry, and Isaiah has been obtained through male (Y-chromosome) DNA testing of descendants of each of the four brothers, including one Willis-surname descendant of Joseph. The male DNA of the Willis-surname descendants of these four brothers, which is a rare DNA pattern, is an almost exact match.