I have just received a book, entitled, “Bill Wills and Company,” written by his wife, Hazel McLeod Wills. Bill was governor of Vermont from 1941 to 1945.
Mrs. Wills wrote that Bill wanted to have an autobiography, but he never got around to it. He wanted the young men of America to know that the “American Dream” is still obtainable. He gave encouragement to the young men explaining that they just have to take chances and work hard. He thought his story from rags to riches would benefit the youth.
Obviously, his wife really loved him, for this valuable, little book has 95 pages of all the people in my gedcom that are just raw data. This kind and intelligent lady has brought that line of my family alive. I hope that Bill is smiling as I am enjoying his biography! I also am so thrilled to see what kind of personality the Wills/Willes/Willis side of the family had!
On page 95 of Wills’ book, she compiled Bill’s linage:
• Oct. 26, 1882~~ Bill was born in Chicago
Jacob Wills (Willes)
Ebenezer Wills (not proven)
Harry A. Wills
James A. Wills
William H Wills (Bill)
James A. Wills married Alzina Foster. Alzina’s father was Patrick J Foster.
James and Alzina’s children were:
• William H. who married Hazel McLeod
• Harry A. who married Winifred Adams
The book is hard cover, small, and has wax paper over the cover for protection. It is also in mint condition. The cost was $4.00, and postage ordered from a small bookstore in Vermont. Including postage, the total sum was $7.00. To me, it is worth a million dollars.
The Bill Wills’ story starts out when Bill was a child who boarded a train in Chicago with his mother, sister, and brother. The family was going back to Vermont to the old homestead, after the death of his Grandfather and father. The grandfather had an illness, and the father caught the illness from his father. The grandfather died first, and 14 days later, the father died.
Bill’s mother Alzina, buried both men and went to work on her own. While Alzina washed clothes and scrubbed floors, Bill helped his mother and family by going to work. After losing his first job as a department store salesman, he went out on his own and sold insurance, building the most successful insurance agency in Vermont. Bill then decided to go into politics. He ran for governor of Vermont and won the position. After his term was over, Bill served with the FCC by an appointment from President Truman.
During Bill’s governorship, Hazel describes the visiting politicians and ambassadors during WWII and the activities of fundraising they organized for the war effort. Hazel and Bill adopted a child and named her Anne Kimball Wills. What a surprise! There was no mention of the Kimball surname in the book. Kimball is an old family name and Bill must have known about Orinda Kimball Willes and maybe even Wilder Willes, who are my 3rd Great Grandparents. With this book, I am able to add new names to my family genealogy!