12/14/2011: Please see the update to this post.
In a previous post, I’d mentioned that George Wills was left a widower in 1839 when his wife Mary Capon passed away. At the time, their children were aged 24 (Ann), 21 (Phoebe), 17 (Jabez), 14 (Martha), and 10 (Mary).
At some point, George took in an orphan boy named William Slaymaker who at the time was uneducated and unrefined. The identity of William’s birth parents was not known. George raised William up in the family home (Old Stone House, Blisworth, Northampton–the house George built for Mary, his bride), sent him to school, and treated him like one of his own.
From what notes my grandmother left us, we know that George tried to interest the boy in spiritual things, but William was headstrong and not interested.
Some years later, unbeknownst to George, a romance blossomed between William and George’s youngest daughter, Mary. When Mary was 21, she ran away with William (also 21) and the two married. George was very upset about the marriage when he learned about it but took the couple in and made William a co-partner in his business. John Simpson, husband of George’s daughter Phoebe, was also a co-partner. When George died, he left his business to the two men. The business had been built up by George and was very successful. It was responsible for the construction of many chapels, buildings, and bridges in their locality.
(To be continued)