“He had a brother, Bill.” And with that comment began one of the biggest searches in my family history journey. I alluded to the fruitless hunt for my great grandfather’s brother when I wrote of their mother in Our Annie. Since then, I may have hit the jackpot. A relative gave me scanned copies of several letters exchanged between two of Anne Willis’s grandsons in the 1970s and ’80s. They discussed the origins of their grandmother, Ann Willis.
One letter mentioned a grandson – Bill Willis, and also his wife Rube. And granddaughters! This was a whole new family I knew nothing about.
I traced this couple to William Joseph Willis and Ruby Polgreen. William was the son of William Joseph Willis and Eliza Spain. Was this William (the father) the long-searched-for brother of my great grandfather? I sent away to Victoria for the marriage certificate to establish William’s parents.
Another interesting part of this story is that the letter confirms that Ann had at least six children.
Hmm, not what I was hoping.
But according to the birth indexes, the parents of the only William Willis born in South Australia around that time were Ann Willis and Richard Morrison. Could this be him? The marriage certificate for John Willis, my great grandfather, identified his father as John Willis, when in fact it was George Gubbins. It is likely Ann Willis told a number of untruths.
Although the marriage certificate didn’t reveal what I wanted, I’m still convinced that this William Willis is John’s brother. Proof? Eventually I hope to show it by DNA. Any descendants out there?