Saturday, March 23, 2013

Surname Saturday ~ BILL of Boston, Connecticut, Nova Scotia and Salem, Massachusetts

The Billtown Baptist Church, 2007
We drove the little red convertible all the way to Nova Scota
to see if there really was a place called "Billtown" and we found it! 

This is sometimes a difficult line to research.  Whenever I Google “BILL” I usually get hits on first names, not surnames, and newspaper searches pull up legislation instead of people.  But I was lucky, several very good books have been compiled on the Bill family, and they helped me to form the skeleton of my research.  Using vital records, newspapers, and in the case of one minister in this line some college archives, filled in and confirmed my lineage.

The first Bill in America was John Bill (1598 – 1638), who lived in what is now Winthrop, Massachusetts.  It was across the harbor from Boston, and at that time was known as Pulling or Pulllen Point, and then known as Bills Farms.  The earliest Bills are buried in Boston at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground next to the Old North Church.  From Copp’s Hill you can look across the harbor and see Winthrop and to where the Bill family had settled.

Son John Bill, aged 13, arrived on the ship Hopewell , and his sister, Mary, age 11 with the Tuttle family, arrived on the ship Planter, both in 1635 as part of the Winthrop Fleet.   The earliest record of the father John Bill is in the records “Town of Boston”  where it reads “John Bill died 10 mo. 1638”   Another record on 21 January 1638/9 made Richard Tuttell responsible for “one Dorthie Bill, Widdowe, a sojourner in his house…for any thing about her”  [see Drake’s History of Boston, p. 245]   Richard Tuttle was her brother.

Phillip Bill (1629 – 1689), son of John Bill, left Pulling Point, Massachusetts, where his children were born,  and removed to a part of New London, Connecticut that is now the town of Groton.  He died the same day as his daughter, Margaret, of throat distemper (diphtheria) on 8 July 1689.  His widow married again to Samuel Bucknall or Buckland.

Phillip’s grandson, Ebenezer Bill (1695 – 1788), lived in Lebanon, Connecticut and eventually sold his home to his brother James.  He removed to Nova Scotia as a planter upon the removal of the “French Neutrals” ( The Acadian Huguenot Protestants).   He settled in Kings county, Nova Scotia.  His children came with him, and Asahel Bill (1748 – 1814), my 4th great grandfather, settled on a large tract of land  which became known as “Billtown”.   

Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill  (1805 – 1891), my 3rd great grandfather, was the youngest of eleven children.  He was moved to become a Baptist at a very young age, and was called to the ministry.  He was one of the founders of Acadia College in Wolfeville, Nova Scotia, which was founded by several Baptist ministers.  He was the pastor of the Billtown Baptist Church for over twenty-three years, and then pastor of the Germain Street Baptist Church in St.  John, New Brunswick.  He preached in Prince Edward Island, Maine, England and all the states as far south as Alabama.   He was the editor of “The Christian Visitor” Baptist newspaper and wrote the book Fifty Years with the Baptist Ministers and Churches of the Maritime Provinces of Canada in 1880. 

Rev. Bill’s son, the music professor Caleb Rand Bill (1833 – 1902), removed with his family back to New England.  He lived and taught music in Houlton, Maine,  and in the towns of Watertown, Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts. 

Some sources for researching the Bill family:

History of the Bill Family, edited by Ledyard Bill, 1867

A supplement to the Bill Family book was privately published by Harry Bill of Billtown in the 1990s for members of his immediate family.  I don’t have a copy of this book, but I do have copies of pages pertinent to my lineage which Harry sent me before he passed away in 2010.  If you can find a copy of this book you will find all the family lines updated.  

There is much about the Billtown Bills in local history books of Kings County, Nova Scotia, and the archives at Wolfeville’s Acadia College have copies of the biographies and sermons of the many Bill Baptist ministers, including Reverend I. E. Bill, my 3rd great grandfather.  

There was a senator Caleb Rand Bill, appointed to the Canadian Senate 23 October 1867 by Royal Proclamation from Queen Victoria. He represented Kings County from 1855 to 1859, and the northern region of Kings County from 1863 to 1867 in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.  He was a brother of my ancestor Rev. I. E. Bill, and is buried at the Billtown Baptist Cemetery.  You can find his biography in any good Canadian encyclopedia or list of famous Canadians.

My Bill genealogy:

Generation 1:  John Bill, born about 1598, died 21 January 1638; married about 1612 in England to Dorothy Tuttle, daughter of Symon Tuttle and Isabel Wells.  She was born about 1592, and died about December 1638 in Boston, Massachusetts.  Five known children.

Generation 2: Phillip Bill, born April 1629 in England, died 8 July 1689 in New London, Connecticut; married about 8 July 1689 in Groton, Connecticut to Hannah Waite.  She was the daughter of Samuel Waite and Mary Ward, born about 1625, died 1709 in Groton.  Eight children.

Generation 3:  Samuel Bill, born about 1665 near Boston, died 27 January 1730 in Groton, Connecticut; married about 1685 in Groton to Mercy Houghton, daughter of Richard Haughton and Catherine Unknown.  Eleven children.

Generation 4:  Ebenezer Bill, born 14 December 1695 in Groton, died 23 May 1788 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia; married first about 1719 to Elizabeth Unkown;  married second on 8 September 1726 in Lebanon, Connecticut to Patience Ingraham, daughter of William Ingraham and Elizabeth Chesebrough.  She was born 2 April 1706 in Stonington, Connecticut, and died October 177 in Groton.  Ten children. 

Generation 5: Asahel Bill, born 7 April 1748 in Lebanon, died 10 November 1814 in Billtown, Nova Scotia; married on 18 June 1778 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia to Mary Rand, daughter of Caleb Rand and Mary Mayhew.  She was born about 1758 and died 19 February 1845 in Billtown.  Eleven children.

Generation 6:  Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, born 19 February 1805 in Billtown, died 4 August 1891 in St. Martin’s, New Brunswick; married first to Isabella Lyons, daughter of Thomas Ratchford Lyons and Ann Skinner.  She was born 28 January 1806 in Cornwallis, died April 1872 in Carleton, New Brunswick.  Rev. Bill married second on 14 May 1873 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Susan L. Nichols, widow of George Dove.

Generation 7:  Professor Caleb Rand Bill, born 30 May 1833 in Nictaux, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, died 30 December 1902 in Salem, Massachusetts; married on 7 June 1858 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to Ann Margaret Bollman, daughter of Bremner Frederick Bollman and Sarah Elizabeth Lennox.  She was born on 11 September 1835 in Lunenburg, and died 1923 in Salem, Massachusetts. Nine children.

Generation 8: Isabella Lyons Bill, born January 1863 in Machias, Maine, died 19 January 1935 in Beverly, Massachusetts; married on 18 October 1894 in Salem, Massachusetts to Albert Munroe Wilkinson, son of Robert Wilson Wilkinson and Phebe Cross Munroe.  He was born 7 November 1860 in Danvers, Massachusetts, died 12 May 1908 at the Corey Hill Hospital, Brookline, Massachusetts. Two children.

Generation 9: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. "He removed to Nova Scotia as a planter upon the removal of the “French Neutrals” ( The Acadian Huguenot Protestants)."

    The vast majority of Acadians were Catholic. This was one of the reasons for the forced expulsion by the British authorities. They were replaced with Protestant subjects.

  2. Billtown. You have such interesting bits of information. I have never met or even heard of anyone with the surname Bill. Now I won't be surprised.