Lucille “Dixie” Willson

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Lucille “Dixie” Willson's Geni Profile

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Lucille Reiniger Hayden (Willson)

Also Known As: "Dixie"
Birthdate: (84)
Birthplace: Estherville, Emmet, Iowa, USA
Death: 1974 (83)
Fair Haven, Monmouth, New Jersey, USA
Place of Burial: Mason City, Cerro Gordo, Iowa, USA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John David R Willson and Rosalie Eliza "Rose" Reiniger
Wife of Benjamin Harrison Lampert and Charles E.H Hayden
Sister of John Cedrick “Ced” Willson; Meredith Willson "The Music Man" and Maurine Willson
Half sister of Diana

Managed by: Eldon Clark (C)
Last Updated:

About Lucille “Dixie” Willson

[ Find a Grave

Death: 1974

Dixie was the eldest of three children born to John David Willson and Rosalie Eliza "Rose" Reiniger. She was a famous writer. Her brother Meredith was famous for "The Music Man."

Dixie Willson never wanted a permanent address.

She grew up in Mason City, but "I had to be where the world was moving," she said.

Dixie Lucile Reiniger Willson was the daughter of John and Rosalie Willson. Her younger brothers were Cedric and Meredith, who became "The Music Man."

At one time Dixie and Meredith were equally famous.

Willson turned out her first short story in her early teens as a birthday present for her mother, then submitted it to a Chicago newspaper, which published it. Later she entered an advertising contest sponsored by an underwear company and won $25.

After high school graduation, Willson took a pioneering kindergarten course at Iowa State Teachers College, graduating in 1910, and taught at Independence as well as in Montana.

After a short-lived first marriage in 1915 and a move to Wisconsin, she landed in Chicago.

By 1918, she was in New York, working in vaudeville and as a Ziegfeld Follies chorus girl.

She launched her writing career, worked for Fox films and dreamed of becoming a theatrical producer.

From 1920 to 1922, Willson performed as an elephant rider in the Ringling Bros. circus. She turned her experiences into two books, "Clown Town" and "The Circus ABC."

Famous Players-Lasky movie studios hired Willson and flew her to Los Angeles to adapt a story for the screen. Three of her own stories were turned into movies.

But magazine articles were the continuing thread in her life. She wrote extensively for the major publications of the day.

In 1945, Willson married Charles E.H. Hayden, a producer and theatrical manager. They adopted a daughter, then separated in the 1960s.

Willson lived the last 15 years of her life in Fair Haven, N.J. Her ashes are buried in the Willson family plot at Mason City's Elmwood Cemetery. FAMOUSIOWANS/41230008/Willson-Dixie ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "Iowa, County Births, 1880-1935," John David R Willson in entry for Lucile R Willson, 1890

name: Lucile R Willson event: Birth event date: 06 Aug 1890 event place: Estherville, Emmet, Iowa, United States gender: Female father: John David R Willson mother: Rosa Reiniger certificate number: 382 film number: 1255706 digital folder number: 004265572 image number: 00085

Source Citation: "Iowa, County Births, 1880-1935," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 13 June 2012), John David R Willson in entry for Lucile R Willson, 1890. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "Iowa, Marriages, 1809-1992," John David Willson in entry for Benjamin Harrison Lampert and Lucille Reiniger Willson, 1915

groom's name: Benjamin Harrison Lampert groom's birth date: 1889 groom's birthplace: Oshkosh, Wis. groom's age: 26 bride's name: Lucille Reiniger Willson bride's birth date: 1890 bride's birthplace: Estherville, Iowa bride's age: 25 marriage date: 12 Oct 1915 marriage place: Mason City, Cerro Gordo, Iowa groom's father's name: Florian Lampart groom's mother's name: Mary Vetter bride's father's name: John David Willson bride's mother's name: Rosa Lee Reiniger groom's race: White groom's marital status: groom's previous wife's name: bride's race: White bride's marital status: bride's previous husband's name: indexing project (batch) number: M02667-7 system origin: Iowa-EASy source film number: 1481039 reference number:

Source Citation: "Iowa, Marriages, 1809-1992," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 13 June 2012), John David Willson in entry for Benjamin Harrison Lampert and Lucille Reiniger Willson, 1915.

Family links:

  • John David R. Willson (1866 - 1931)
  • Rosalie Eliza Reiniger Willson (1860 - 1931)

Burial: Elmwood Saint Joseph Cemetery Mason City Cerro Gordo County Iowa, USA Plot: Willson family plot

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Lucille “Dixie” Willson's Timeline

August 6, 1890
Estherville, Emmet, Iowa, USA
Age 83
Fair Haven, Monmouth, New Jersey, USA
Mason City, Cerro Gordo, Iowa, USA