Showing posts with label Acadia College. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Acadia College. Show all posts

Monday, November 15, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- Reverend Bill's Marriage

Reverend I. E. Bill and his wife, Isabella Lyons
For most of the ancestors in my family tree I only have dates and places for their births, marriages and deaths.  For a few more, I have occupations gleaned from censuses, or their status in society from tax records, or other minute details of their lives.  For only a handful do I have diaries, letters or memoirs.  It was fascinating to read and transcribe my 3x great grandfather's memoirs over the last month for Amanuensis Mondays.

This is the last part of Reverend Bill's memoir I will be transcribing and posting on my blog.  In the previous posts, he describes his genealogy and early family life. He also wrote about his religious conversion and baptism into the Baptist faith and his desire to become a pastor.  Here he describes his wife, Isabella Lyons, born 28 January 1806 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, died April 1872 in Carleton, New Brunswick, daughter of Thomas Ratchford Lyons and Ann Skinner.

"...My father died when I was nine years of age but I was early sent to school and although my father was called away my mother continued to give me the best opportunity of mental training which the schools of the country afforded. When I had passed successfully through these she would gladly have sent me to King’s College Windsor the only college at that time in the Maritime Provinces, but unfortunately it was encompassed with ecclesiastical tests which barred the door against me as the son of a Baptist parentage. When I thought of entering the ministry this want of a collegiate training was a great obstacle in my way.

Under all the circumstances I resolved to continue my worldly occupation and do what I could in connection with that for the interests of Zion.

Having entered upon my 21st year I married the young lady of my choice, Isabella Lyons, and took her to the pleasant home which a kind providence through the thoughtfulness of my loved parents had provided for me. There with one heart and soul we began the duties of a married life by erecting the family altar and calling upon the goodness of the Lord for guidance in all that pertained to the present and to the future. Home was happy, prospects for the future pleasing. As time went on some thirteen months after our marriage we were blessed with our first born, a son, to which we gave the name of his grandfather, Asahel...."

Isabella Lyons Bill (1806-1872)
Ingraham Ebenezer Bill married Isabella Lyons on 20 April 1826.  In the last passage above, Reverend Bill mentions the birth of his first son, Asahel, 14 May 1827 in  Billtown.  This young man died on 20 July 1848 at Acadia College.  The reverend and his wife had a total of five children, four boys and one girl, including Caleb Rand Bill, my 2x great grand father.

This next part of the memoir is filled with many, many pages of Reverend Bills's education, ordination and first years in the Baptist ministry.  If anyone is interested in the early days of the Baptist Church in Nova Scotia or the Maritime provinces, it would be an interesting read. Please contact me if you are interested in a transcription of his entire memoir.   It also describes many of the early Baptist families, pastors and preachers in Nova Scotia.  In this part of his memoir he also describes how Acadia College was founded as an alternative to King's College, which would not accept students outside of the Church of England.  He was one of the first supporters of Acadia College, and was granted an honorary degree.  It is now Acadia University.
Part one of Reverend Bill's memoir

Part two of Reverend Bill's memoir

Part three of Reverend Bill's memoir
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, October 18, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- Reverend I. E. Bill’s Memoirs

Ten years ago a distant cousin sent me a photo copy of Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill’s memoirs. He was my 3x great grandfather, who had a grade school education, never attended Divinity School, yet became a Baptist preacher who spoke all over Canada, the Eastern United States and England. The original journal is in the archives at Acadia University in Wolfeville, Nova Scotia. He was part of the original committee of Baptist ministers who founded Acadia College in 1839, and they later granted Rev. Bill an honorary doctorate. I’ve transcribed his memoirs, and will post in several parts over the next few Amanuensis Mondays.

a photograph of Reverend I. E. Bill
from the Bill Genealogy by Harry Bill

 Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, son of Asahel Bill and Mary Rand, born 19 February 1805 at Billtown, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, died on 4 August 1891 at St. Martin’s, New Brunswick; married on 20 April 1826 to Isabella Lyons, daughter of Thomas Ratchford Lyons and Ann Skinner. Five children born in Billtown.

1. Asahel Bill, born 14 May 1827 and died 20 July 1848 shortly after graduating from Acadia College.
2. Mary Anne Bill, born 27 April 1829, died 17 November 1865; married on 14 September 1851 to Thomas McHenry
3. Edward Manning Bill, born 27 March 1831, died on 18 December 1904 in Boston, Massachusetts; married on 6 June 1857 to Charlotte Grace in Australia. Please see my blog post for more information on E. M. Bill, who lived for a while in Australia.
4. Caleb Rand Bill, born 30 May 1833, died on 30 December 1902 in Salem, Massachusetts; married on 7 June 1858 to Ann Margaret Bollman in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Please see my blog post for more information on Caleb R. Bill, my 2x great grandfather, the music professor at Salem, Massachusetts.
5. Rev. Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, Jr., born 8 April 1836, died after 1887; married on 23 November 1871 to Eleanor Pike in Maidstone, Kent, England.

See my blog post for more information on the Bill family lineage.


"A Personal Sketch
By the Reverend I. E. Bill

Having been mercifully preserved amid manifold dangers and temptations by sea by land, at home and abroad, for more than half a century in the ministry of the gospel of the blessed Lord, it is deeply pressed upon my soul as a solemn duty which I owe to my covenant God and Father to record his wondrous goodness and rich grace as made manifest in what I have seen, heard and experienced during these years of protracted ministerial service. Not indeed that self may be exalted but that Christ the Saviour may be glorified and his church benefit. A few paragraphs regarding my ancestry will not be inappropriate.

In a history of the Bill Family edited by Mr. Ledyard Bill of Connecticut and published in 1869, I find the Bill ancestry traced back to 1490. The first name in the list is Dr. Thomas Bill, a physician of great eminence, and an attendant of the Princess Elisabeth in 1549. He took the degree of M. D. at the celebrated university founded by the Emperor Charlemagne at Paria in Italy. He was one of the physicians to Henry VIII and Edward the VI and from these sovereigns received distinguished honors.

William Bill L.L.D was another distinguished name in the annals of Britain. He was born in Hartfordshire England about 1505. Subsequently as a literary man he was elevated to very high positions one of which was master of St. John’s College and soon after he became vice chancellor of the university. In 1551 he was appointed Master of Trinity College, and became one of the Kings Sir Chaplains. He had with many others high in office to suffer bitter persecution under the cruel reign of Mary and was compelled to go into retirement for safety, but on the secession of Queen Elisabeth he was restored to his former honors and became Fellow to the famed Eton College. He was also appointed a member of the Royal Ecclesiastical Commission, consisting of the distinguished Bishop Cramer and others, to revise the calendar of sermons and homilies to be used in the church service throughout the year. On the 15th of June 1560 he was installed Dean of West Minster being the first incumbent of that office.

He died on the 15 of July 1561, and was interred on the 20th of that month in the Chapel of St. Benedict in Westminster Abbey where there is an altar tomb having thereon a brass with an outline portrait of the deceased with an inscription round the verge noting the honors conferred upon this eminent man. It seems that no other person ever held at the same time the three important positions of Master of Trinity, Provost of Eaton and Dean of Westminster.

Having thus briefly noted two prominent members of English ancestry we ?? on to say that the first mention of any of the Bill family in America is found in the ancient records of the town of Boston, where says Ledyard Bill in his history, we read John Bill died Nov 10 1638. The writer of the history assumes for good reasons that John Bill and his wife arrived in the New World prior to 1635. They had sons and daughters, who in their turn married, multiplied and passed into other generations. These are very sketched by the author of the history giving names, dates, marriages, births, callings, positions, professions, offices, residences, purchases, sales, deeds, and deaths ?? of our relatives in America for eight generations.

Before proceeding with our own parentage justice demands that we should make a panning reference to our cousins, whose ancestors adopted the teachings of the American revolution and who pledged their fortunes and their lives to the cause of freedom from what they regarded as British tyranny of the darkest shade, many of these were men of high ???, of bold adventure and of brave instincts they believed they were right and rushed with others to the mighty conflict determined to conquer or to die. We have the result; a nation was born that is now mighty in its numerical strength, boundless in its resources of material wealth. Rich in its political institutions, enriched in its agencies for mental and religious cultures, and filled with the treasures of learning and of a God given Christianity. A nation whose ships traverse very sea, and whose commerce extends to all the towns and cities of the world. A nation that has given birth to intellectual giants in all realms of thought, invention and progress, and whose statesmen, generals, poets, orators, theologians, ministers and missionaries take rank with the greatest and the best of nations.

We have seen that the Bill family was of British origin, and that English blood courses in the veins of its numerous generations, but what is America to day in all its high and noble instincts, but the expansion and growth of British blood, language, energy, ???, education, intelligence, freedom, and Christianity on this broad American continent. It is the daughter of the grand old mother struggling by her side for the diffusion of light, liberty and salvation among all nations, peoples, and ?? for the ushering in of that age of gold when the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth. We have therefore no political quarrels with our cousins across the lines, but heartily offer the prayer God bless them and their nation and prosper them in every good word and work!..."

This is part one of his memoir
For part two, posted on 25 October 2010, click this link:

For part three, posted on 1 November 2010, click this link:

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tracing your Minister Ancestors

A photo of the Rev. I. E. Bill
from page 45 of the "The Bills of Billtown" Genealogy
by Harry Bill, of Billtown, Nova Scotia

I’ve found quite a few ministers in my family tree. I can only come to the conclusion that ministers’ children marry ministers’ children, because this pattern repeated itself from the 1600s on down to the 19th century. Perhaps it was a class distinction. Ministers were educated, yet poor, so their children tended to marry teachers and other ministers instead of lawyers and businessmen? Perhaps it was due to the fact that they led a stricter upbringing than the other young adults in their communities? This is just my theory, but it held true for at least two centuries for several branches of my family tree.

Finding a minister in the family tree can open up lots of information to the family genealogist. Just Googling all the variations of your ancestor’s name can bring up many results. Try “Rev. John * Smith” or “Reverend * Smith” or “Rev. * Smith DD”, etc. in regular Google or in Google Books. I’ve found sermons, weddings, funerals, news clippings, and obituaries this way. Contact the historical society of your ancestor’s hometown to find out church denomination, and then contact the main headquarters of that church for more information. A search of local newspapers of the era can also lead to lots of stories and clues.

Most ministers, but not all, tended to go to institutions of higher education. Some of the Puritan ministers who came over with John Winthrop’s fleet in the 1630’s went to Cambridge and Oxford, and that is a great place to look for personal family information. Harvard was founded as a place to instruct these ministers in the New World. You can contact the colleges and universities in your ancestors’ area to find out if they attended, and what record might be available.

Sometimes someone in your family tree will just “see the light” and become a minister out of the blue. This is what happened to my ancestor Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, who was the son of Asahel Bill, a Connecticut farmer who relocated to Nova Scotia during the planter movement of the 1760s. Ingraham Ebenezer Bill was the youngest of eleven children, born in 1805 in “Billtown”, Nova Scotia. During his youth he experienced a religious conversion to the Baptist faith. He was uneducated beyond grade school, yet went on to be one of the founders of Acadia College in 1831, and was later granted an honorary Doctorate of Theology.

Whilst researching Rev. I. E. Bill, I knew only that he was a Baptist minister from the Maritime Provinces. I used some compiled genealogies on the Bill family to fill out some of the details on his life, and then I contacted the Canadian Baptist Society. They gave me copies of some of his sermons, and I found out that he had traveled all over the East Coast of Canada and the United States, and had written for a Baptist newspaper.

Upon finding out his connection with Acadia College, I contacted the college archives and received a large envelope with copies and news clippings about his activities, photographs, sermons and life. The college also had a copy of his personal journal, and a biography written by one of his sons! This was a gold mine for a genealogist! You can be sure that I wrote a nice donation check to the Acadia library in lieu of regular copy charges. The journal outlined how he made his conversion to being a Baptist, how he met and wooed his first wife, and his early preaching in Canada.

The lineage of Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill:

Gen. 1. John Bill, b. abt 1598, d. 21 Jan 1637/38 at Boston; married about 1612 in England to Dorothy Tuttle, daughter of Symon Tuttle an Isabel Wells, b. about 1592 in England, d. about Dec. 1638 in Boston. Many of the Bills in this family are buried at Copp’s Hill Burial Ground, near the Old North Church in Boston. They lived at “Bill’s Farms” which is now part of Winthrop and Chelsea, visible from across the harbor from the Copp’s Hill Burial Ground.

Gen. 2. Philip Bill, b. Apr. 1629 in Ringstead, Northamptonshire, England, d. 8 Jul. 1689 in New London, Connecticut; married on 8 Jul 1689 to Hannah Waite, daughter of Samuel Waite and Mary Ward, b. abt 1625 probably in Finchingfield, Essex, England, d. 1709 in Groton, Connecticut. Philip settled first in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and then at “Pulling Point” which is now Chelsea, and finally at New London Connecticut. He died of “throat distemper” on the same day as his daughter Margaret.

Gen. 3. Samuel Bill, b. about 1665 near Boston, Massachusetts, d. 27 Jan. 1729/30 in Groton, Connecticut; married to Mercy Houghton, daughter of Richard Houghton and Catherine (?), b. about 1669 in Groton, Connecticut.

Gen. 4. Ebenezer Bill, b. 14 Dec 1695 in Groton, Connecticut, d. 23 May 1788 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia; married on 8 Sep. 1726 in Lebanon, Connecticut to Patience Ingraham, daughter of William Ingraham and Elizabeth Chesebrough, b. 2 Apr. 1706 in Stonington, Connecticut, d. Oct. 1770 in Groton, Connecticut. Ebenezer Bill removed to Nova Scotia upon the removal of the “French Neutrals” after the French and Indian War.

Gen. 5. Asahel Bill, b. 7 Apr. 1748 in Lebanon, Connecticut, d. 10 Nov. 1814 in Billtown, Nova Scotia; married on 18 Jun 1778 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia to Mary Rand, daughter of Caleb Rand and Mary Mayhew, born 1758, d. 19 Feb. 1845 in Billtown. Asahel Bill’s large tract of land in Cornwallis was called “Billtown” in the fertile Annapolis Valley.

Gen. 6. Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, b. 19 Feb. 1805 in Billtown, Nova Scotia, d. 4 Aug. 1891 in St. Martin’s, New Brunswick; married 1st on 20 April 1826 in Nova Scotia to Isabella Lyons, daughter of Thomas Ratchford Lyons and Ann Skinner, b. 28 Jan 1806 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, d. Apr. 1872 in Carleton, New Brunswick; married 2nd on 14 May 1873 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Mrs. Susan L. (Nichols) Dove, daughter of John Nichols and Margaret (?), b. Dec. 1825 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, d. 25 May 1904 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Rev. I. E. Bill and Isabella had five children born in Billtown, and the eldest son died whilst a student at Acadia, and the youngest son went on to become a Baptist minister, too.

See my blog post on Sept. 1, 2009 for a continuation of this line through Rev. Bill’s son, the music Professor Caleb Rand Bill (not to be confused with his cousin, the Canadian Senator Caleb Rand Bill.)

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo