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A Narrative Timeline Of AA History

Public Version vApril 04'

1913 to 1917

A Narrative Timeline Of AA History – 1774 to 2003


Jan, Bill W failed nearly every mid-year exam and was forced to drop out of school. (BW-RT 58, BW-FH 19-20)

Apr, It was clear that Bill W could not graduate from Burr and Burton. He moved to Boston to live with his mother, Emily. (BW-RT 58)

Summer, Bill W’s grandfather took him to PA for the 50th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg. (PIO 38-39)

Summer, Bill W and Lois Burnham spent some time together while both their families vacationed at Emerald Lake near East Dorset, VT. Lois (4 ½ years older than Bill) was not especially interested in him at the time. (BW-RT 68, PIO 38-39, LR 13, 15) They met through Lois’ brother Rogers. (PIO 48, BW-FH 23-24, WPR 56)

Late summer, after an absence of several months, Bill W returned to Burr and Burton and took the senior exams. He failed his German class and could not receive his diploma. Bill’s mother argued with the principal (James Brooks) who would not budge. Bill then went to live with his mother and sister in Arlington, MA (a suburb of Boston) where he made up his German course. (BW-FH 20, BW-RT 65)

Fall, Bill W’s mother, Emily, decided that he should become an engineer and attend MIT. He attended Arlington High School to prepare for examinations for MIT. He was essentially repeating his senior year. (BW-FH 2-21)


Early, Dr Bob (previously hospitalized at least a dozen times for his drinking) was unable to get sober. His father sent a physician from St Johnsbury to bring him home to VT. Bob stayed in VT for about four months. He did not touch a drink again until five years later when “the country went dry” (1919). (AABB 174-175, DBGO 28-29, NG 30)

Summer, the relationship between Bill W (age 18) and Lois (age 22) changed into a romance. (PIO 39, GB 27)

Jul/Aug, World War I (the Great War) started in Europe and Russia. (www)

Aug, Bill W went to British Columbia to visit his father, Gilman (their first meeting in 9 years). Bill also met Christine Bock whom Gilman planned to marry. (PIO 42, BW-RT 65-66)

Fall, unable to pass the MIT entrance exams, Bill W enrolled at Norwich U military college in Northfield, VT. (BW-RT 65, BW-FH 20-21) Norwich was considered second only to West Point in the quality and discipline of its military training. Total enrollment was 145 students. Bill was miserable at Norwich (PIO 40-42, LR 16, BW-RT 61, BW-FH 21)


T Henry Williams went to Akron, OH to work as Chief Engineer for the National Rubber Machinery Co. (PIO 145)

Jan 25, after a 17-year courtship, Dr Bob and Anne Robinson Ripley married in Chicago, IL. They took up residence at 855 Ardmore Ave, Akron, OH. (CH 2, DBGO 29)

Early, at the start of his second semester at Norwich, Bill W hurt his elbow and insisted on being treated by his mother in Boston. She did not receive him well and immediately sent him back. Bill had panic attacks that he perceived as heart attacks. Every attempt to perform physical exercise caused him to be taken to the college infirmary. After several weeks of being unable to find anything wrong, the doctors sent him home. This time he went to his grandparents in East Dorset, VT. (BW-FH 21-22)

Spring, Bill W’s condition worsened in East Dorset but doctors could find nothing physically wrong. He spent much of the early spring in bed complaining of “sinking spells.” (BW-FH 22) Later, his grandfather, Fayette, motivated him with the prospect of opening an agency to sell automobiles. Bill’s depression lifted and he began trying to interest people in buying automobiles. He wrote to his mother that he nearly sold an automobile to the Bamfords (the parents of his lost love). (BW-FH 23)

Summer, Bill W sold kerosene burners and played fiddle at dances, weddings and other affairs. Romance blossomed between him and Lois. (PIO 48, BW-FH 23-24)

Sept 11, Bill W and Lois became secretly engaged. (PIO 49, LR 1, BW-RT 79, BW-40 35, GB 27)

Fall, Bill W re-entered Norwich in a different frame of mind. He discovered a talent for leading his fellow cadets but his poor academic performance continued. He was also noted as being much better at giving orders than obeying them. The Commandant wanted to expel Bill but the school’s musical director interceded. (BW-FH 24-25)


Feb, Bill W (an onlooker and still a freshman) and his sophomore classmates were suspended for a full term from Norwich U for a serious hazing incident which started a fight between the freshman and sophomore classes. (PIO 49, BW-RT 87)

June, the Norwich Cadets, as part of the VT National Guard, were called up to respond to the Mexican border troubles fomented by Pancho Villa. This caused Bill W and his classmates to be reinstated. The cadets were sent to Ft Ethan Allen for mobilization but returned to Norwich in a matter of weeks. (PIO 49, BW-RT 88-89)

Bill W’s half sister, Helen, was born to Bill’s father, Gilman, and his second wife Christine. (PIO 80)


Jan, Lois moved to Short Hills, NJ to teach at a small private school her Aunt Marian started in her home. (LR 12)

Apr 6, the US declared war on Germany and entered World War I. (RAA 145, www)

May, Bill W departed for officer’s training at Plattsburg, NY. After eight weeks of artillery training at Ft Monroe, VA, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 66th Artillery Corps and sent to Ft Rodman outside of New Bedford, MA. (BW-RT 92-95, BW-40 38, 41, WPR 57)

Summer, Bill W (age 22) took his first drink at Emmy and Catherine (Katy) Grinnell’s house in New Bedford, MA. It was a Bronx Cocktail (i.e. gin, dry and sweet vermouth and orange juice). He got thoroughly drunk, passed out, threw up and was miserably sick the next day. (AACOA 54, PIO 54-56, BW-RT 95-97, BW-40 42-43, NG 13-14, BW-FH 26)

Oct 12, Henrietta Buckler and J Frederick Sieberling were married in Akron, OH. (AGAA 83)

Dec, Congress approved the 18th amendment to the US Constitution for the prohibition of alcohol. (www, DBGO 30 says 1918)

A Narrative Timeline Of AA History – 1774 to 2003

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