SO WHO IS BILL???
THAT'S MISTER BILL, THAT'S WHO!
Frederick Bill was born in 1833 in the town of Ledyard, although at that time Ledyard was still a part of Groton. As a young boy Mr. Bill lived and went to school in our area and he grew up to become a schoolteacher, a bookseller, a publisher, and eventually a businessman in New York City, where he worked hard and earned a good living. He retired at the age of 40 and returned to his hometown of Groton, where he bought a farm near the Thames River.
Mr. Bill had two lovely
sisters, Eliza and Harriet. Because of illness, both girls died when
they were teenagers. Because Mr. Bill loved his sisters and because books
were important to him, he decided in 1888 to build a library in their memory. He
provided 1700 books and the bookcases to hold them, which were put in a room in
the old Groton Heights schoolhouse. Soon this space became too small, so he built a
new library at its current site.
When the Bill Memorial Library was dedicated on June 18, 1890, it became the very first library in Groton. A plaque dedicating the library to Eliza and Harriet can be found near the front entrance.
But the original library building still wasn't big enough! So, in 1907, Mr. Bill added on to the library and made more room for books, paintings, and a museum.
You can still visit the
original museum upstairs, which includes butterflies from around the world,
ancient artifacts, and....
THE MYSTERIOUS MUMMY'S HAND!!!
Mr. Bill was married and his first wife, Lucy F. Denison Bill, died in 1894. Mr. Bill eventually remarried and his second wife was Julia O. Avery, the very first librarian of the Bill Memorial Library. You can fall in love at the library with more than just books!
Mr. Bill was a very generous man who loved doing good things for his community. Besides the library, Mr. Bill gave money to help build the Groton Congregational Church, which is just down the street from the library, and in 1912 he paid for the new Groton Heights Elementary School, which is right next door.
Mr. Bill lived a long life, doing many different jobs, traveling around the country, and using his fortune to make his town a better place for everyone. Frederick Bill died in 1920 at the ripe old age of 86 but he left behind our beautiful library that people continue to use and enjoy to this day!
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