I was told, again by my mother, that Annie worked in the mills in Massachusetts. However, whether that was in Lowell or elsewhere we never knew for sure. Again, with the help of Ancestry.com, I found that Daniel, who was born in Maine (as was I), married both his wives in Lowell, returning to Maine after each marriage to be a farmer. This lends credence to the family story that Annie worked in the mills, probably in Lowell. I never knew what Daniel was doing in Lowell (other than getting married!) until recently. I discovered that when Daniel married Charlotte in 1853 and when he married Annie in 1873, his occupation was listed in marriage records both times as “Operative”, which is what the mill workers were often called. I even found out recently that Daniel Augustus Wills’ uncle, Daniel Marten Wills, was an overseer for the Lawrence Corporation, which was one of the mills in Lowell. This information was found in old City Directories for the city of Lowell, again on Ancestry.com. I imagine that Daniel Augustus Wills may have come down from Maine to work in the mills (and maybe to find wives!) because his uncle Daniel Marten Wills was there.
While searching through some of the online records of The Center for Lowell History at U. Mass Lowell, I found that one of the holdings contains bank records for the period of 1829-1992. www.library.uml.edu/clh/LIS.htm I searched through the records and found that Daniel Wills, listed as a weaver, opened an account in 1871. Edward Wills (who was born in 1853), also listed as a weaver, opened an account in 1872 and Fred, who is listed as a Minor (consistent with the date of birth that I have found for him of 1857), also opened an account in 1872. And where did they open these bank accounts? In the Lowell Institute for Savings- the very building where the Quilt Museum is now!
My ancestors walked some of the same streets that I do when I come to Lowell, and they did business in the very building in which I am now a volunteer. When I discovered this, I found another piece to the puzzle that has been “Ed and Fred”, and now I feel more than ever that I was meant to volunteer at the Quilt Museum!
Written by Dottie Macomber, Museum Library Volunteer