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Male, born 1838-05-12, died 1906-11-29

Associated with the firms network

Polk and Polk, Architects; Polk, W.W. and Sons, Architects

Professional History


Carpenter, Platte County, (Census District #1), MO, c. 1860. W.W. Polk lived near Green Township, MO, near New Market, northwest of Kansas City.

Soldier, Confederate States of America, c. 1862-1865. Willis Webb Polk served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. A 1911 article in the Lexington Herald-Leaderon Willis Jefferson Polk said of his father W.W. Polk: "His father, Willis Polk Sr., [sic] a son of Daniel Polk of Frankfort, served in the Civil War as a member of a Missouri Confederate regiment, under General Sterling Price. Broken in fortune at the close of the war, he settled in Lexington and carried on the business of an architect for several years, going hence to the Pacific Coast. He is the first cousin of W.H. Polk, the well-known Lexington journalist.” (See “Son of Lexington,” Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/13/1911, p. 14.)

Principal, Willis W. Polk, Architect, Lexington, KY, 1870.

Partner, Polk and Polk, Architects, San Francisco, CA, c. 1892-1899. According to architectural historian Richard Longstreth, "Apparently, W.W. Polk retired due to illness; see [San Francisco] Call, February 13, 1896. (See Richard Longstreth, On the Edge of the World, [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998}, Footnote #14, p. 372.)



Born in 1838, Willis Webb Polk descended from a prolific and influential family in Kentucky, a relative having been the eleventh US President James Knox Polk (1795-1849).

In 1850, Willis Webb Polk's large family lived near Scott, KY, Census District #1. Willis was the fifth oldest of ten children listed on the US census form of 1850. The family likely farmed at least part-time, as his brother Thomas was listed in that profession. His father and brother were also listed as a carpenters. Willis became independent at age 18, when he took part in a cattle drive in Sangamon County, IL, and later resettled near to his older brother David T. Polk, Sr., in Platte County, MO.

In 1858, Willis Polk, then a carpenter, wed Parthenia Dye in Platte County, KY. According to the US Census of 1860, they had a 9-month-old daughter, Sarah Ann. and lived in Green Township, MO. The family had $150 worth of savings, a modest amount.(See Source Citation: Year: 1860; Census Place: Green, Platte, Missouri; Roll: M653_640; Page: 0; Image: 284. Source: 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.) Parthenia died in 1866, and Willis W. Polk remarried a year later to a widow, Endemial J. Burch (née Drane).

in 1870, W.W. Polk, his wife, Endemial, lived in Ward #2 of Lexington, KY with their sons, Willis J. and Daniel Polk. In addition, three children from Enda's first marriage to Ferdinand Burch, Eugene B. Burch, Benjamin F. Burch, and Susan Burch, lived with the family. The Polk-Burch household had a domestic servant living in house, Mary Sheehan, (born c. 1849), and two seamstresses that may have been renters, Nora McQuinn (born c. 1849) and Joanna Welsh (born c. 1850); the value of Willis Webb Polk's house was $1,800 in 1870; his wife, too, had real estate worth $3,000, and each of the three Birch children also owned real estate worth $2,000 apiece. (See Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Lexington Ward 2, Fayette, Kentucky; Roll: M593_460; Page: 205; Image: 415. Source: 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2003.)

Willis Webb Polk resided with his wife and family at 1005 Vallejo Street, nearby to his two sons Willis J. and Daniel Polk, who occupied a dwelling at 1015 Vallejo. (See, Source Citation California State Library; Sacramento, California; Great Registers, 1866-1898; Collection Number: 4-2A; CSL Roll Number: 90; FHL Roll Number: 977609, accessed 04/01/2021.)

In 1900, Willis, Enda, Daniel and Daisy Polk lived at 2121 Buchanan Street in San Francisco, CA.

By about 1905, Willis and Endemial moved to a residence in Berkeley, CA, at 2905 Dwight Way. Their daughter Daisy Polk had a place at 2907 Dwight Way. (See Oakland, California, City Directory, 1906, p. 733.)

Willis Webb Polk died in San Mateo, CA, at the residence of his son Willis J. Polk in San Mateo, CA, on 11/29/1906. He was buried at the Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland.


His father was Daniel Polk, (born c. 1805), his mother, S.A. Polk, (born c. 1811). In 1850, Daniel Polk worked as a carpenter, as did his elder brother, David. They probably influenced his career choice to go into carpentry and later architecture.

According to the 1850 US Census, Daniel Polk had 10 children, five girls and five boys: David Tanner Polk, Sr., (born 03/16/1832 in Georgetown, KY-d. 05/30/1904 in MO), Rhoda Ann Polk Rodgers (born c.12/1833 in KY), Thomas Polk (born c. 1834), Sarah J Polk (born c. 1835), Lardias Polk (born c. 1840), Mary Polk (born c. 1842), Margaret Polk (born c. 1844), Inez Polk (born c. 1846), James K. Polk (born 03/1850 in KY). In 1850, his brother, David, was also working as a carpenter. (See, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 1, Scott, Kentucky; Roll: M432_218; Page: 410; Image: 282; Source: 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA, accessed 03/30/2021.)


Willis Webb Polk married twice. The first marriage was to Parthenia Frances Dye (born 07/30/1840 in KY-d. 04/09/1866 in MO) with whom he had two children. They wed in Platte County, MO, on 10/14/1858. (See, Source Citation Missouri State Archives; Jefferson City, MO, USA; Missouri Marriage Records [Microfilm], accessed 07/05/2021.) Her parents were farmers, John K. Dye (born c. 1799 in KY) and Parthenia Gow (born c. 1800 in KY), who married on 09/13/1817 in Mason County, KY and lived in Census District #2 of Mason County in 1850. District #2 was located to the east of Maysville, located on the Ohio River in northeast KY. (See US, “Kentucky Eastern Part,” map, [Washington, DC: US Department of the Treasury, Bureau of the Census, c. 1950].) (See, Source Information Kentucky, U.S., Compiled Marriages, 1802-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1997 and, Source Citation Year: 1850; Census Place: District 2, Mason, Kentucky; Roll: 212; Page: 123b, accessed 07/05/2021.)

Willis Webb Polk then married Endemial Josephine Drane (born 04/1836 in KY-d. ) on 01/01/1867. Like W.W. Polk, she had been married previously to Ferdinand Burch, and they had had three children: Eugene B. Burch (born c. 1856 in IN), Benjamin F. Burch (born 11/04/1857 in KY-d. 05/11/1946 in Orange County, CA), and Susan Burch Merrell (born in IN-d.12/24/1884 in El Paso, TX). Some sources have indicated that Ferdinand died in 1864, although US Census records indicated that he survived in 1910 and had another family.

Endemial Drane was an independent and active woman, working as a hotel manager during at least periods of her life, once in Saint Louis, MO, at the Hotel Hunt, and the other in Hot Springs, AR, at the Hotel Josephine.

She was buried at Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, CA.


With his first wife, Parthenia Dye, he had two children: Sarah Ann Polk (born c. 1859 in MO-d. 1868) and William Chinn Polk (born 1860 in Platte County, MO-d. 1949 in MO). In 1907, William C. Polk lived in Western Missouri in 1907. (See, Source Citation Probate Files, 1880-1961; Author: California. Superior Court (Alameda County); Probate Place: Alameda, California, accessed 04/01/2021.)

Willis Webb and Endemial Drane had five children: Willis Jefferson, (born in 10/03/1867 in KY) who later became a noted architect in San Francisco, CA; Daniel, (born 05/1869 in KY) who also worked for a time as an architect; Endie J. Polk (born c. 1872 in KS); Daisy Polk (born 04/1874 in MO); and Trusten Polk (born c. 1876 in MO). Both daughter Endemial and son Trusten died early in life.

According to the 1900 US Census, Endemial Drane had had seven children, four of whom had died. This was not quite correct. She actually had had eight children, three with her first husband and five with her second. Willis Webb Polk had had seven children with his two wives.

Biographical Notes

San Francisco voter records indicated that Willis Webb Polk was Caucasian with a light complexion, stood 5-feet, 8-inches tall, and had blue eyes and gray hair. (See, Source Citation California State Library; Sacramento, California; Great Registers, 1866-1898; Collection Number: 4-2A; CSL Roll Number: 90; FHL Roll Number: 977609, accessed 03/30/2021.)

Associated Locations

PCAD id: 3759