Willie Jordan Batts was born on 28 February 1819 in Edgecombe (now Wilson) County, North Carolina to Bailey and Esther (Jordan) Batts. In 1839 he married his first wife, Elizabeth Williford and they had William Calvin, David Lawrence, Martha Ann Mehala (Dixon), John Louis, and Mary Ann. He then married Ann Eliza Poland in 1851 and had Elizabeth Jane (Williams), Thomas Ruffin Carnes, Anna Eliza (Gardner), Rebecca Ann Nancy (Winstead), Washington Davis, Wiley Jordan Jr., Leonidas, Lucinda Frances (Bissette), and James Benjamin.
Batts began his practice of botanic medicine as early as 1853 and practiced for around 48 years. He was one of the earliest landowners in the town of Wilson, living there from 1848 until his death on 29 October 1902. On September 18, 1852 he became a member of Upper Town Creek Primitive Baptist Church but was excluded from fellowship in March 1869 because of his free-will views. His membership was ultimately restored in July 1899.