Not long ago, a story was written that included a woman by the name of Dixie Wills titled, Art and Dixie. Dixie had siblings with the names of Grover Cleveland, Oscar, Pearl, Golda, and Homer. Today, you get the story of another brother in that family who had a rather boring name in comparison with those of his siblings, Peter Wills. It is Peter who is today’s birthday boy.
Let me set the scene for Peter’s birth by looking at his parents’ story. First of all, Peter’s father, William Marion Wills (who I suppose could have been called Will Wills) can be found in the 1880 census for Apple Creek Township. We see that William’s father was named Peter, and William had a younger brother named Peter. That means today’s Peter Wills had an Uncle Peter and a Grandpa Peter.
William Marion Wills married Mary Catherine Wills on March 8, 1883 in Cape Girardeau County. That’s right, Peter Wills and the rest of his siblings came from a Wills/Wills marriage. Here is that couple’s marriage license.
There is some indication in Ancestry family trees that many of the children in this family were born in or around the small village of Daisy. Then, Peter Wills was born on August 25, 1891, making today his 130th birthday. We don’t have a record for Peter’s baptism, but we find Peter in his first census in 1900 at the age of 8. His family must have moved to Perry County because he is found living in the Union Township in this entry. His father was a farmer.
We start finding records for this Wills family in the books of Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. The first record I found there was Oscar’s confirmation record for 1908. The confirmation records for some in the Wills family are quite unusual. It doesn’t appear that they were part of a regular confirmation class. In Oscar’s case, he was about 23 years old when he was confirmed.
Next, we find Peter in the 1910 census. He was living with two older brothers and working as a farm laborer in the Union Township.
Meanwhile, Peter’s parents can be seen in the same census as living in Brazeau Township.
This is more understandable when you see some parcels of land owned by different members of the Wills family in the 1915 plat maps. First, we can see some Wills land near the Indian Creek area west of Frohna.
More Wills land can be seen farther to the east on this next map. All these parcels of land are quite near one another. Some land would have been in Union Township and others in Brazeau Township.
Now, we must turn our attention to Peter’s future wife. Her name was Anna Louise Adele Bingenheimer who was born on June 26, 1891. She would go on to be called Della. She was the daughter of George and Mathilda (Elbrecht) Bingenheimer. Della was baptized at Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg, but she was confirmed in 1904 at Zion Lutheran Church in Longtown. Her confirmation record from that congregation’s books is pictured here.
Della is found in the 1900 census living in the Cinque Hommes Township where her father was a farmer. Della was 8 years old.
Next, we see Della in the 1910 census.
Prior to his marriage, Peter Wills made the newspaper by producing a record crop of wheat. This article was published in the Perry County Republican in 1913.
Just one week before his marriage, on October 18, 1914, Peter Wills was confirmed at Concordia, Frohna at the age of 23. His confirmation record is pictured here.
That leads us up to the marriage of Peter Wills and Della Bingenheimer that took place on October 25, 1914. The marriage record for this wedding is found in the books of Zion Lutheran Church in Longtown.
We can also take a look at the marriage license for this couple.
I found an article that was written about Peter and Della’s marriage that was published in the Perry County Sun. You can click on these images to enlarge them.
In the same year as this marriage, Peter purchased a farm near Longtown. Another Perry County Sun article describes this transaction.
Even though this purchase took place in 1914, the plat maps produced in 1915 show the land still being owned by Norman Rudisaile.
In 1918, Peter had his World War I draft registration completed.
Our German Family Tree lists 3 children born to this couple, and all of them were baptized at Zion, Longtown. The 1920 census shows this family with their first child, Lillian.
In the 1930 census, we find the following entry for the Wills family. All 3 children were included.
The last census we can view is the one taken in 1940. Peter was always called a farmer.
In 1942, Peter had his World War II draft card completed. Peter was 50 years old.
Della Wills died in 1973 at the age of 82; Peter Wills died a year later in 1974 at the age of 83. These two are buried together in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Longtown.
My past experience as an elementary teacher is probably responsible for noticing that Della Bingenheimer must have had occasion as a young girl to regret having to write her surname on her school papers. She would have welcomed having her surname changed from 4 syllables down to just one after she married Peter.
In case you’re wondering, I did take a quick look to see if I could find out if there was a Will Wills will. I did not find one, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one.
After somewhat of a delay in getting the tile for our new addition, the floor in the new gallery is now being installed. I’d say we’re nearing the finish line on the building.