Albert Nelson Mills, 1822-1898; Attorney, Legislator and Military Veteran

Published in Texas State Historical Association, January 2013:

MILLS, ALBERT NELSON (1822-1898) Albert Nelson Mills, attorney, legislator, was the third of four sons born to Justice of the Peace William Nelson and Ann Leap Mills of Alexandria, VA.[1]  Albert’s ancestors were some of the earliest American colonists, wealthy tobacco planters in Charles County, Maryland and Fairfax County, Virginia.  Mills men were consistently outspoken on political issues and actively involved in community affairs.  Albert grew up near the plantations of George Washington and George Mason, contemporaries of his grandfather, William Mills.  William played a vital role as overseer of Fairfax County roads, and also contributed money and supplies in support of the Revolutionary War.[2]  Albert learned the intricacies of political office at his father’s side.  William Nelson Mills served as an elected Alexandria city council member and superintendent of police.[3]  Later, Presidents Van Buren and Polk appointed him to consecutive terms as Justice of the Peace of Alexandria,[4] a position he held until his death in 1852.

Albert’s three brothers were successful in vastly different professions.  William Robert Mills was a Methodist Minister who rode a circuit on horseback in Maryland and Pennsylvania;[5] Thomas M. Mills was a skilled carpenter and chair maker in Alexandria;[6] and John Richard Mills became a planter in Frederick County, Maryland.  He also served for many years as County Commissioner and a Judge on Orphan’s Court.[7]

Albert was educated at the College of William and Mary.  He passed the bar in Virginia in 1848.[8]   He joined the prestigious Mount Vernon Guards in 1842,[9] a unit that saw action in the Mexican and Civil Wars.  In 1846, Alexandrians heeded the call of President Polk to annex Texas and settle the West.  The Mount Vernon Guards escorted Company B, 1st Virginia Regiment, composed of Alexandrians, to the wharf for their departure to Mexico.[10] When Albert actually moved to Texas is unknown.  He advertised his law partnership with William Henry Stewart in Gonzales newspapers in 1854.[11]  Stewart was later appointed as district judge in Galveston, Texas.  Albert formed a partnership with Benjamin Franklin Batchelor in Gonzales, TX in 1861.[12]  Batchelor was a Confederate soldier who was killed in Georgia in 1864.

On January 6, 1857, Albert married Mrs. Rebecca Frances “Fannie” Wimbish Henderson in DeWitt, Gonzales County, Texas.[13] She was the daughter of Colonel John Hunt and Rebecca L. Williams Wimbish, an old and respected family in Halifax, Virginia.[14]  Fannie was a refined lady, educated at the Moravian Girls Boarding School in Winston-Salem, NC.  Fannie suffered from poor health for many years, and died on February 19, 1883 in Pickett, Adair County, KY.[15]  She and Albert had no children.

In 1857, Albert Nelson Mills represented Gonzales County in the Seventh Texas Legislature as a member of the House of Representatives.[16]  Through his law profession and service in the House, Albert became friends with Louis Trezevant Wigfall, the notorious political activist and leader of the extremist pro-slavery movement known as “Southern Fire-eaters.” Albert shared the same views on states’ rights, the institution of slavery and a separate nation which would ultimately become the Confederate States of America.  On behalf of Gonzales County, Albert voted to secede from the Union and signed the Ordinance of Secession on 1 February 1861 in Austin, TX.[17]  In May 1862, he was appointed Provost Martial when martial law was proclaimed in the counties of Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr. [18]  He joined the Confederate Army on Nov 10, 1862, and was assigned as Assistant Adjutant General to Brigadier General William Read Scurry at Fort Brown, TX.  General Scurry was killed at the Battle of Jenkins Ferry in Grant County, Arkansas on April 30, 1864. [19] Albert Nelson Mills was appointed to the rank of Captain in 1863,[20] and achieved the rank of Major before the end of the War.

After the War, Albert and Fannie moved to Galveston, TX where he entered into partnership with a lawyer named Tevis. The two gentlemen remained together until Mr. Tevis died.  Albert continued practicing law alone until he became deaf.  He retired in 1891.[21]  His grand home at Eighteenth and Winnie Streets was burned to the ground in the great fire that swept through Galveston in November 1885.  He then constructed a separate wing onto the house of Julia Wood, one of his former slaves and servant to his late wife. [22]  Julia cared for him for the remainder of his life, for which he generously compensated her in his Will.[23]  Albert Nelson Mills died April 14, 1898 of a stroke.[24] He was buried under Masonic auspices on April 15, 1898 in Trinity Episcopal Cemetery at 40th & Ave L, Galveston, TX.[25]

[1] 1850 US Census of Virginia, AlexandriaCounty, AlexandriaCity, M432, Roll 56: 37.

[2] Legislative Petitions, Fairfax County 1776-1819; Microfilm #49, Frames 0094-0099, Record Group 98, Box 69, Folder 19; Library of VA Archives, Richmond, VA.

[3] T. M. Miller, Alexandria, VA City Officialdom 1742-1992; Bowie, MD; Heritage Books, Inc, (1992):20-27.

[4] Alexandria City Deed Book A, No. 3:137, Alexandria Library Special Collections Div., Alexandria, VA.

[5] Central PA Conference Minutes of 1870:54; Baltimore Conference of the United Methodist Historical Society, Baltimore, MD.

[6] Alexandria, VA City Directory 1834; MLK Public Library Genealogy Div., Washington, DC:90.

[7] The News, Frederick, MD, May 20, 1901, M1, col 4.

[8] The Texas Handbook Online ( Search: MILLS, ALBERT N.  [Note:  Records of this event could not be verified; Virginia records before 1850 are not extant.

[9] Minute Books of the Mount Vernon Guards, Alexandria Public Library, Alexandria, VA.; and Mary G. Powell, The History of Old Alexandria, VA; Westminster, MD, Family Line Publications, 1995:365.

[10] William Francis Smith, A Seaport Saga, A Portrait of Old Alexandria, Virginia; 1994.

[11] Gonzales Inquirer, V1 #36, 4 Feb 1854, p.2.

[12] Advertisement, Gonzales Inquirer,  Feb 9, 1861, p.1.

[13]GonzalesCounty Record Book A, p. 209; Gonzales County, TX Records Center & Archives, P.O. Box77, Gonzales, TX  78629-0114.

[14] Willis, Betsy Lawson; Sketches and Genealogy of Bailey-Craddock-Lawson Families of Virginia & N. Carolina; with Notes on families of Coleman, DuVal, Scott, Easley, Madison, Lanier, Allen, Hunt, Wimbish, Traynham, Ragland, and Barksdale self published; Fairfax County Public Library, Fairfax, VA.

[15] The Galveston Daily News, 21 Feb 1883.

[16] The Texas Handbook Online ( Search: MILLS, ALBERT N.

[17] Confederate States of America War Dept (

[18] Semi-Weekly News, San Antonio TX, Military Matters, May 22, 1862, p. 2. col. 1.

[19] Military Records, Capt. A.N. Mills, Compiled Service Records of Confederate General and Staff Officers, and Non-Regimental Enlisted Men, M331, National Archives.

[20] Journal of the Confederate Congress, Mar 25, 1863 & Apr 23, 1863, p. 206 & 334; Library of Congress.

[21] Galveston City Directories; Rosenberg Library, Genealogical Collection, 2310 Sealy Rd., Galveston, TX, 77550.

[22] A.N.Mills Obituary, Galveston Daily News, Friday, April 15, 1898, p. 8, col 5.

[23] Albert N. Mills, Will Book PM 33, p. 407-411; Galveston County Clerk of the Court, P.O. Box 17253, Glaveston, TX 77552.

[24] Albert N. Mills death certificate, unnumbered, Galveston, TX, April 14, 1898.

[25] Albert N. Mills Certificate of Burial, unnumbered, Galveston, TX.

By Anna Rosina Mills Duckworth