AS RECORDED IN:
COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF
TOLLAND AND WINDHAM COUNTIES CONNECTICUT.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF PROMINENT AND
REPRESENTATIVE CITIZENS AND OF MANY OF THE EARLY SETTLED FAMILIES
PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903 P. 979
ALPHEUS BILLINGS (deceased) was a worthy representative of one of the leading families of Somers, Tolland Co., Conn., the part of the town in which his home was situated being now known as Somerville, but then as Billings mills, named from the fact that nearly all the land in that section at one time belonged to various families of that name. At the present time there are few there who bear this old and honored name.
The Billings family descends from Nathaniel Billings, who was born at Taunton, England, and came to America some time before 1640, as his name appears on the Concord records of that year. In 1641 he became a freeman of that colony, and died there in 1673. He left two sons, Nathaniel and John, who became freemen of the town in 1643.
John Billings married Ann Reed, and last among their children was Samuel Billings, who was the sire of the following family: Samuel; Thaddeus; John; Elijah; Ezekiel; Mary; Beulah.
John Billings, the third child of the above family, was born in 1737, combined farming and cloth dressing, and lived in Somers, where he was a large land owner and owned a saw mill. Eunice Cooley, his wife, was a daughter of Capt. Luke Cooley, and became the mother of the following children: John, born in 1765, was a farmer, and after his marriage removed to Chenango county, N.Y., where he died; Solomon, born in 1767, who was a peddler and a manufacturer of wooden goods, owning and operating a mill at Somerville in company with his cousin, Rufus Billings; Eunice, born in 1769, who married a Mr. Wakefield, and lived and died at Somerville; Flavia, born in 1775, who married a Mr. Collins, and went to Chenango county, N.Y., where she died; Luke, born Oct. 15, 1777, who married Lucy McClure, and afterward Mrs. Hannah Demmon, was a farmer and miller, and died in Somerville, Jan. 19, 1852; Alpheus, born Feb. 19, 1780.
Alpheus Billings was born in Somerville, in what is now the “old hotel” which is still standing. There was much to do on his father’s farm and in the saw mill and young Alpheus devoted his youth and early manhood to toil, having the privilege of but little education. When a young man he lost, by accident in the mill, all the toes on his right foot, and on another occasion the middle finger on his right hand. He followed farming and milling until after his second marriage, when he opened the hotel at Somerville, and ran it for many years, accumulating a handsome competence, on which he retired from the hotel. The home of Hon. George E. Keeney was built by him, and there he died Aug. 11, 1867, his death resulting from quick consumption. Mr. Billings was a tall, slender man, with light complexion, blue eyes, and a full beard. He had a remarkable memory. In the later years of his life he was accustomed to read the Bible through yearly, and could quote Scripture freely. In his politics he was an Andrew Jackson Democrat, and a strong advocate of the Union during the Civil war. In his religious convictions he was a Universalist and his character was formed on the best lines of that faith, broad and tolerant, sympathetic and tender hearted, and personally up to a very high standard.
Mr. Billings was married to Abigal (**see footnote) Meacham for his first wife, who died March 16, 1816, at the age of thirty-six years. By this marriage he had four children: (1) Theodore, who had three wives, Turza Hatch, a Miss Whitney, and a Miss Todd, was a merchant at Deerfield, Mass., moving from there to Buffalo, New York, and later to Lansing, Mich., where he died, leaving four children; (2) Ann married Major John Weston, and died in Somers. (3) Dorathy (**see footnote) married Timothy Rogers, a wagonmaker, living for a time in Somerville, and then removing to Quincy, Ill., where he died a wealthy man. (4) Harriet married James Chaffe, a commission merchant in Philadelphia, and later a hotel man at Saratoga, N.Y., where he died.
Mr. Billings married for his second wife Mrs. Mary (Kingsbury) Benton, of Tolland, Conn., a daughter of Samuel R. and Ruth (Steele) Kingsbury, who died Sept. 1, 1852, at the age of sixty-six years. Of their children, Mary A., Mary E., and Frances died young. George S., James N., and Jane F. reached maturity. Alpheus Billings married for his third wife, Mrs. Mary (Cleveland) Taylor, who is now deceased.
George S. Billings married Amelia Fields, was a farmer, and later had a hotel, and died in Somerville. Of his children, Randolph married Lomira Davis, and died in Somers, leaving two children: Josephine, who died young; and Alice, now the wife of Maro Keeney. John E. married Ella May, and had: George, now of Rockville; and John, of Springfield, Mass. Mary E. married Elwood White, a publisher of Philadelphia, by whom she has one child, Frank.
James M. Billings, son of Alpheus Billings, married Julia Root, and was a school teacher in early life, but became a traveling salesman, and later was in the commission business in Philadelphia and New York. His death occurred in New York, at the age of forty-four, and he had in that short life accumulated over a million dollars. He had the following family: (1) Julia S., who married Albert Gilespie, and died at Philadelphia, leaving one child, Julia, now Mrs. William D.B. Haven, of New York; (2) Archibald, who married Emma Hathaway, and has one child, May; (3) Minnie, the wife of Irving Brown, of Plainfield, N.J., and the mother of Helen, Harold, Percy, and Marion; (4) Charles K., who married Mary Alden, lives in New Haven, and has the following family: Charles Kingsbury, Margaret, Mabel, Julia, Elizabeth and John C.; (5) Jane F., the wife of Julius H. Seymour, an attorney and assemblyman in New York, who has one child, Susan H.; (6) William E., who married Florence Bloomfield, and lives in New York; (7) Harry M., married Emmie Black, by whom he has one daughter, Fanny J.
Jane F. Billings, daughter of Alpheus Billings, by his second marriage, was born Aug. 14, 1831, is the widow of Theodore M. Gowdy, of whom a sketch appears elsewhere, and resides in Somerville.
**footnote: the published spelling is Abigal. **footnote: the published spelling is Dorathy.
Linda D. Pingel
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