William Milligan Sloane was born 15 August 1906, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This was the year that Charles Fort started collecting reports of anomalous events, and so he was born into a Fortean universe. His mother was the former Julia L. Moss; his father Joseph C. Sloane. (In some documents, the surname was also spelled Sloan, with the E.) In 1910, according to the census, the family lived in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, where Joseph taught at The Hill School, a boarding school. Julia had only recently given birth to a second son, Joseph Jr. They rented their house, living with two servants as well as Joseph Senior’s sister, Hannah Spare.
The family continued peripatetic. At some point they moved to Illinois—Julia had family in the state; it was there, in 19115, that Julia drew up a will. They then continued westward, landing in the Los Angeles area toward the end of the decade. There were six of them, Julia in a book about their California life, “The Smiling Hill-Top”: Joseph and her, the two boys (Billie and Joe), and their twin Yorkshire terriers, Rags and Tags. The plan was to tay only a year, in a remote house overlooking the ocean once owned by own of Julia’s aunts, but they settled, and eventually found their way into Pasadena. That first part, when they lived on the hilltop, Joseph worked in town, apparently still teaching, and, because of the commute, only returning home on the weekends.