By Kris Leonhardt
Hans Hansen Bille came to Marshfield in 1882. A native of Denmark and educated in architecture and civil engineering, he worked odd jobs in the Upham Manufacturing Company before taking a position with a Minneapolis architectural firm.
Following the Marshfield fire in 1887, Bille returned to the city to work with a contractor in rebuilding. Having mastered the English language, Bille soon found work as a contractor himself and began his own business.
In making frequent trips back to his native country, Bille met and courted a young girl named Anna Larsen Brylle. The couple became engaged, and in 1887 she joined him in Marshfield, where they were married.
Over the next years, Hans and Anna welcomed four children: Rosamond, Alma, Flora, and Harold.
While raising their family, the Billes opened a cabinet shop on South Central Avenue in Marshfield, adding a variety of interior trims and finishes to the production line. Within six years, production outgrew the shop, and the Billes built a factory near one of the city’s railroad lines to produce and ship wood finishes.
While the manufacturing business grew, Hans continued to contract the building of homes and businesses in the area, including his own residence at 111 S. Cherry Ave. in the chic Pleasant Hill district of the city.
The Bille children were raised in a life of privilege and received a solid education. The Bille’s oldest daughter, Rosa, would become an accomplished pianist and singer. These talents would later put her to work in the Adler entertainment venue, where she met and fell in love with young entrepreneur J.P. Adler.
Anna and Hans Bille were prominent Marshfield residents, and Anna was well-known for her generous devotion to family and friends. Hard-working and well-respected, they enjoyed life in the growing city.
While in her late 40s, Anna would fall ill and struggle daily through the next years just to lead a normal existence.
On a Thursday afternoon in late March 1911, authorities were called to the Billes’ home. Anna Brylle Bille had succumbed to her illness at the age of 50. She was laid to rest in Hillside Cemetery in Marshfield.