William B. Leonard (1920-1949)

Updated: Feb 3, 2019


William B. Hollenbeck-Leonard was the illegitimate son of Rose Ellen Hollenbeck and Hugh Reagan. People in the family called him Billy. On his birth certificate, shown below, he was given his mother's last name.

In the New York State Birth Index, his name is listed as William B. Reagan, born May 1, 1920, in Willet. (#37384 or #37884?):

William's father, Hugh Morris Reagan was born in Willet on August 30, 1879. In 1902, he was Justice of the Peace of Marathon. He was a tall man with a medium build, light blue eyes, and brown hair. He attended the Smith-McGinnis family reunion with Rose in August of 1919. About seven months later, Billy was born. (Click here for more information about Hugh Reagan).


Two years after Billy was born, Rose married Albert J. Leonard, and together they had a son named Robert in 1924. Both sons went by the last name of Leonard. Billy believed he was a Leonard until World War II came and he was either drafted or enlisted and that was how he discovered his paternity, from what I've been told. According to the family, he became mentally unstable upon the discovery, and was admitted to the State Hospital at Binghamton for a short time. He was never the same again.

This newspaper article from the Cortland Standard, April 4, 1949, explains the end to William's tragic story.



Rose lost her firstborn son, her home, and just about everything she owned that night. This probably explains why her descendants have no known family photos. Being an only child, any items she had inherited from her parents, including family photos or heirlooms, were probably destroyed in the fire, too.


Billy rests in Marathon Village Cemetery in Marathon, New York. Rose joined him 25 years later. Rest in peace.

For more on this family, see the Hollenbeck page or the Leonard page.

#Hollenbeck #Leonard #leonard

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