Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bill Family Reunion

The Bill Sisters
Belle, Grace and Jennie
(restored with PhotoShop by Catalina Rojo,
great great grand daughter of Belle)

Caleb Bill's Descendants celebrating in Peabody
representing Alaska, California, Massachusetts,
Maine and New Hampshire
Descendants of Music Professor Caleb Rand Bill

Sometimes people can find lost ancestors and distant cousins in some very strange ways. When my Dad passed away, my mom found some obituaries and newspaper clippings in his dresser drawer. She gave them to me, since I’ve been designated as the official family historian. One clipping was from the 1970’s and it listed a relative I knew, but all the sons and cousins under the name were unknown to me. I figured that some of them might still be alive, so I asked some older relatives and used Google to track them all down…

The names listed were Nichols, Brewster and Bill. I had heard of these cousins, and I knew they had once lived in Essex County, probably in the Salem area. They had some sort of relationship to the Wilkinson family, but I wasn’t sure where they fit in. On line I found a story about a long lost ski area in Danvers, called Locust Hill, formerly owned by the Nichols family. Some of the names in the story seemed to fit, so I emailed the author.

Before I knew it, the author of the story had emailed several of her cousins and they all contacted me. Of course we were related, and they remembered my Dad, and his father, and my grandfather… We were all related four or five generations back by a common ancestor named Caleb Rand Bill and his wife Ann Margaret Bollman, both born in Nova Scotia. Professor C. R. Bill was a music teacher in Salem, Massachusetts, with six daughters, who all lived in the Salem area, and three sons who never lived to adulthood.

A few months later, one newly found cousin arrived back in Massachusetts from Palo Alto, California. His brother lived in Salem, and we all met for dinner. We passed around some old photos, drew up a family tree to see how we were related, and got to know each other all over again. We reminisced about my Dad and his parents, and generally had a wonderful time getting to know each other. And we all had a good laugh knowing that it took a news clipping and the internet to find each other.

This past weekend, the cousins from Palo Alto was out for his Salem brother’s 90th birthday, and we all wanted to meet up for a meal together again. We met in Peabody, and brought more cousins, an aunt and even a distant cousin from Alaska together. This time everyone brought folders of lovingly preserved old photos of Bills, Nichols, Brewsters and Wilkinsons. For nearly three hours we passed around the pictures and again drew up family trees on the backs of paper placemats to sketch out our relationships. The people around the table (ages 22 to 90 years old) represented living descendants from the fourth, fifth and sixth generations descended from Professor Caleb Rand Bill (1833-1902).
Family Tree Information:
Caleb Rand Bill, born 20 May 1833 in Billtown, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, died 30 Dec 1902 in Salem, Massachusetts; married on 7 June 1858 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to Ann Margaret Bollman, born 11 September 1835 in Lunenburg, died 1923 in Salem, Massachusetts. They had 9 Children (born in the different places Prof. Bill taught music):
  • 1. Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, born 14 April 1859 in St. John's New Brunswick, died 9 October 1876 in Beverly, Massachusetts from "Pott's disease of the spine" (a form of tuberculosis)
  • 2. Mary Ann Bill, b. about 1861 in New Brunswick, died 1910 in Massachusetts; married in 1886 in Danvers, Massachusetts to Andrew Nichols, son of Andrew Ward Nichols and Elizabeth Perkins Stanley.
  • 3. Isabella Lyons Bill, born January 1863 in Machias, Maine, died 19 January 1935 in Beverly, Massachusetts; married 18 October 1894 in Salem to Albert Munroe Wilkinson, born 7 November 1860 in Danvers, died 12 May 1908 in Brookline, Massachusetts, son of Robert Wilson Wilkinson and Phebe Cross Munroe.
  • 4. Elizabeth T. Bill, born September 1866 in Houlton, Maine; married 26 December 1892 in Salem to Charles Foster Perkins, born 15 July 1869 in Manchester, Massachusetts, died in 1934
  • 5. Jane B. Bill, born Jan 1868 in Nova Scotia, died 1946 in Beverly, Massachusetts. Unmarried.
  • 6. Charlotte Grace Bill, born 30 Jan 1870 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; married 30 April 1898 in Danvers to Walter Frances Barton, born 3 May 1874 in Salem, died December 1964 in Massachusetts, son of Ernest Barton and M. Nellie Cross.
  • 7. Frederick Bremner Bollman Bill, born 27 Jan 1872 in Watertown, Massachusetts, died sometime after 1910, an inmate at Danvers State Asylum.
  • 8. Georgia Buffington Bill, born 4 Oct 1875 in Beverly, Massachusetts; married on 25 June 1901 in Salem to Charles Herbert Marshall, born 6 March 1876 in Beverly, Massachusetts, son of Francis Marshall and Madeline Woodbury.
  • 9. Edward Manning Bill, born 28 August 1880 in Beverly, Massachusetts, died 14 July 1881 in Salem, Massachusetts.
The link to Sandy Nichols Ward's Lost Ski Areas story
Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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