Rev. Joseph Willis, the apostle of the Attakapas (Louisiana), was a mulatto. He first appears in Southwest Mississippi as a licensed preacher in 1798. He was born in 1762. Upon the acquisition of Louisiana he boldly crossed the Mississippi River, and in 1804 preached at Vermilion and at Plaquemine Brule. For eight years, amid trials and persecutions, he preached the gospel in the Opelousas country, alone and unremunerated, expending a little fortune in the effort, planting the seeds of many churches that afterwards sprang up. In 1812, with the assistance of visiting ministers from Mississippi, he organized a church at Bayou Chicot, the first west of the Mississippi. Father Willis, as he was affectionately called, extended his labors and constituted other churches. Being joined by [Ezekiel] O'Quin and Nettles in 1816, the churches increased, and in 1818 the Louisiana Association was organized, of which he was moderator many years. He lived to see abundant fruits of his labors. He died in 1854.
[From William Cathcart, editor, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881, p. 1256. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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