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The Will Family Pages: What's Here

Thanks to the Internet, we're developing new information all the time – and discovering that some of the things we took for granted are probably not true. We're presenting what we know, what we believe, and what we suspect, and we're trying to stay organized about it.

• The ship Emma

For starters, until recently we believed that 14 members of the Will Family had made the journey from Krugshof, in Bavaria, landing in Baltimore on October 12, 1839. Thanks to cousin Kris Osvold, we know that's not true. There were 32 people named Will on the Emma, which landed at Ellis Island. Here's a link to the names on the manifest.

Pack Rat 150• The Pack Rat and the Queen's Jewels

We wondered why so many of the family had immigrated at once, and how they paid for it. Trans-Atlantic passage for 14 people would have been a big deal in 1839 – let alone the fare for 32! We had a hint, in the form of a story about The Pack Rat and the Queen's Jewels, handed down from Great-Uncle Clark Moor Wier Will, but it was in old German, beyond our ability to translate. Patrick Harris, curator at the Aurora Colony Historical Society, found a translator for us, and here's a link to the story. This is all we know: if this story shows up in somebody else's family tradition, we'd love to hear about it. The picture at right is the link to the story.

• Bayreuth, Bethel & Aurora – what we know so far

We are in the process of sorting out the duplicated baptismal documents that Uncle Clark secured in pre-Internet days. With so many of our ancestors named Johann, Leonhardt and Heinrich, it's easy to see how errors could creep in. The information as we understand it so far is here.

John William & Family• John William, May, and their six children

The two second-cousins (Robin Will and Charlyn Hall Mueller) who are doing most of the research at present are descendants of John William Will, who walked the Oregon Trail as a teenager, alongside the family's wagon, arriving in Aurora in 1862. John William and his wife, May L. Wier Will, died young in 1893, leaving six children behind. The picture at right is the link to an article about this "lost generation" of Wills which – in shorter form – originally appeared in the newsletter of the Aurora Colony Historical Society.

Mary Adeline Moor• Mary Adeline Moor Wier Moore – the grandmother

Mary Adeline Moore attended to the birth of her twin grandsons to her daughter, May L. Will, on May 19, 1898. May died only a few hours later. Mary Adeline fostered some of her grandchildren, and her brother, Charles Moor of Corvallis, was named as executor of John William Will's estate, and guardian of the children. By the time Mary Adeline died in 1907, just short of her 88th birthday, she had outlived two husbands, and buried her daughter and granddaughter. The other grandchildren were scattered, and it's not clear who was left to bury Mary Adeline. The picture at right links to more information about Mary Adeline.

• All roads lead to Gaston

It is folly to think that personal histories ever wrap up neatly, but the story of John William and May and their children – not to mention grandmother Mary Adeline – leaves intriguing loose ends. One of them involves the number of times that the town of Gaston, Oregon, shows up in the family narrative. The name Moore appears slightly more often than coincidence might explain. Click here to read more.


Copyright © 2013, Robin P. Will,, Rev. September 2013,