Peter and Della Wills

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.

1880 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

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.

Wills/Wills 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.

1900 census – Union Township, MO

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.

Oscar Wills confirmation record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

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.

1900 census – Union Township, MO

Meanwhile, Peter’s parents can be seen in the same census as living in Brazeau Township.

1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

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.

Wills land map – 1915

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.

Wills land map – 1915

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 Bingenheimer confirmation record – Zion, Longtown, MO

Della is found in the 1900 census living in the Cinque Hommes Township where her father was a farmer. Della was 8 years old.

1900 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

Next, we see Della in the 1910 census.

1910 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

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.

Peter Wills – Perry County Republican article 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.

Peter Wills confirmation record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

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.

Wills/Bingenheimer marriage record – Zion, Longtown, MO

We can also take a look at the marriage license for this couple.

Wills/Bingenheimer marriage record

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.

Peter Wills land purchase

Even though this purchase took place in 1914, the plat maps produced in 1915 show the land still being owned by Norman Rudisaile.

N.J. Rudisaile land map – 1915

In 1918, Peter had his World War I draft registration completed.

Peter Wills – WWI draft registration

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.

1920 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

In the 1930 census, we find the following entry for the Wills family. All 3 children were included.

1930 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

The last census we can view is the one taken in 1940. Peter was always called a farmer.

1940 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

In 1942, Peter had his World War II draft card completed. Peter was 50 years old.

Peter Wills – WWII draft card

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.

Peter and Della Wills gravestone – Zion, Longtown, MO

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.

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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.


One thought on “Peter and Della Wills

  1. These Wills families are all relatives of mine, and descend from several Wills settlers from what is today Lincoln County, NC. My ancestor was John Wills, who is documented to have been a maker of fine furniture, and lived near Daisy. All descend from Gerhardt/Garrett Wilz/Wills, who settled the Killians-Leepers Creeks area in eastern Lincoln Co., NC.

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