Sunday, February 13, 2011

Elizabeth Frances Wills 1913-1937

Postcard to Elizabeth from a suitor

John Wills and Libby Bissonnette had nine children: three boys and six girls. The oldest three children were girls- Celena, Julia and Anna.  Then there was Johnny and three more girls - Elizabeth, Dorothy and Etta. The youngest two were boys- Earl and Bobby. The oldest group of girls were close in age and identity as was the younger group of girls. Elizabeth Frances born 1913, Dorothy in 1916 and Muriel Etta in 1917 were often together. Dorothy and Etta often described Elizabeth as stunningly beautiful, intelligent and angel like. She was sanctified in the many stories they told of her.  It is not surprising they elevated her because Elizabeth died a few days before her 24th birthday in the midst of the Great Depression. Cause of death was pneumonia.  She was called "Betty" when she was alive but after her death, she was always referred to as Elizabeth.

In our house while I was growing up was a very small cedar box, about the size of a jewelry case.  It contained a few items that belonged to Elizabeth when she died in January 1937. The contents contained two diaries, one from 1931 and the other 1935, a few postcards, a valentine card, two address books, a small hand fan that was stamped "Capitol Albany, N.Y." and a few photos of Elizabeth with boyfriends.
Her diary secures her place as a popular young lady of Cohoes and it seems young men were eager to give her rides to the theatre picking her up and bringing her here and there.  She loved to write to pen pals and the two little address books are full of friends in Scotland, Nova Scotia, Ohio, Hamilton Ontario, New Brunswick.  She kept diaries. She was beautiful and full of life. Her untimely death was another event in the downward slide of the family.  Her mother, Elizabeth "Libby" Bissonnette Wills, died eleven months before.  Her father, John Wills, would die less than two months after her. For her sisters and brothers, it was a most difficult period emotionally and financially.

Young Elizabeth

Elizabeth Wills
Elizabeth Wills

Contents of Betty's Box:
1931 Diary

January 12th, 1931 - Entry on her 19th Birthday

Elizabeth's two "miniature" address books

Inside Elizabeth's Address Book

Hand Fan with "Capitol Albany, N.Y."
with the Lucky 13 Club when they visited Albany.
Oct 4, 1932 is handwritten on the fan

 Her diary entry for January 12th 1935 tells us the girls in the Lucky 13 Club gave her a black silk umbrella and pocketbook. 

And finally the Valentine Card for Elizabeth who would be 98 years old this year (2011):

No comments:

Post a Comment