MILLS FAMILY GENEALOGY
Robert Mills 1695-1770 of Fairfax County, VA
Addendum No. 2
Anna Rosina Mills Duckworth
Ocober 1, 2012
New information found since publication of Addendum No. 1, dated November 1, 2008:
Mary Beck Nelson, b.1672 – d. aft. 1710; William Mills, 1738 – 1815; John Richard Mills, 1824 – 1901; Albert Nelson Mills 1822 – 1898; Thomas M. Mills, 1820 – 1883.
Addendum Two, 1 July 2012
Page New Information
38 Colonial Dames CDVII – correction from Colonial Dames of America.
Mary Beck – correction from Mary Brett.
Note: The surnames of Beck and Brett have been interchanged in histories of early Maryland settlers. The confusion apparently stems from misspellings, similarity in naming of children in colonial families, and the fact that George Brett lived on the tract of land owned by Elizabeth Beck, widow of Richard Beck. George Brett also married a woman named Elizabeth (last name unknown, but not Elizabeth Beck), which further added to the confusion.
Following is new information found for Mary Beck:
Richard Beck, father of Mary Beck, was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. He came to the colonies in the mid-1600s with Thomas Masterson, a merchant of Charles County, MD. Richard Beck was a land speculator who bought and sold properties in Maryland and Virginia for profit. Mary Beck’s mother’s given name was Elizabeth, but we did not discover her maiden name. Elizabeth _?_ Beck was most likely born in the colonies.
Richard and Elizabeth _?_ Beck had five known children:
Richard Beck, Jr., b. 1654c.; d. before 1678 ;
John Beck, b. 1660c.; died before 1678 ;
Elizabeth Beck, b. 2 Oct 1669 in Charles Co. ;
Mary Beck, b. 15 Oct 1672 in Charles Co. ;
Margaret Beck, b. 1 May 1674 in Charles Co. ;
After Richard Beck died (about 1674/5), Elizabeth _?_ Beck married (2) Nicholas Emerson. In 1670, Nicholas Emerson purchased from Thomas Allenson a parcel of land called Howland containing 200 acres. After he married Elizabeth _?_ Beck, Nicholas Emerson settled this land on Stephen Montague by deed, but in trust for Elizabeth, to support her and her children. The trust was necessary because Elizabeth (and most women at that time) was not allowed to own property in her own right. Howland was situated in Charles County, MD on the north side of the Piscataway River and south side of Mattawoman Creek, a 94-square mile tidal estuary on the Potomac River. Lawyer, Stephen Montague was retained to administer the trust in Elizabeth _?_ Beck’s behalf.
Both Nicholas Emerson and Stephen Montague died a few years after the trust was established. George Godfrey, Montague’s heir then took possession of Nicholas Emerson’s papers and Howland, claiming there was no trust. In 1677, Richard Beck, Jr. (who had reached the age of majority) filed suit on behalf of his mother, himself and his siblings to regain rightful possession of Howland. Unfortunately, Richard Beck, Jr., his mother Elizabeth and his brother, John died before the suit was settled. On May 16, 1678, suit was filed again against George Godfrey to restore rightful ownership of Howland to the three surviving Beck children, Elizabeth, Mary and Margaret. The suit was settled in 1679 in favor of the heirs of Richard Beck. As a result, Elizabeth, Margaret and Mary Beck became joint owners of Howland.
Note: George Brett most likely lived on and farmed Howland during this time, as Elizabeth, Margaret and Mary were young children.
In 1704, Elizabeth Beck (now married to Thomas Wharton) sold her share of Howland to her sister, Mary Beck and her husband, Richard Nelson. On 4 Apr 1704, Richard and Mary Beck Nelson bought the remaining 1/3 share of Howland from Mary’s younger sister, Margaret and her husband, Francis Dunnington for 1,400 pounds of tobacco. Francis Dunnington was a wealthy landowner in Charles County. With this purchase, Richard and Mary Beck Nelson became sole owners of Howland. In 1704, Richard and Mary Beck Nelson patented 334 acres named Howland.
Mary Beck married (1) Richard Nelson, probable son of John and Mary Davis Nelson of Charles County, MD about 1690. Eight children were mentioned in Richard Nelson’s will probated 18 Feb 1708: Barbary Nelson, eldest daughter; Elinor Nelson; Margaret Nelson (married William Warden) Alice Nelson (married David Parsons); Richard Nelson, William Nelson, John Nelson, and Ann Nelson.
Richard Nelson inherited 112 acres of the tract of land named Howland; his brother, John Nelson inherited the other half, after the death of his mother, Mary Beck Nelson. Margaret Nelson was bequeathed 117 acres (one-half) of the parcel of land named Coall/Cole; her sister, Alice Nelson inherited the remaining half of Coall/Cole.
Mary Beck Nelson married (2) John Gray not long after Richard Nelson died. She was the administrator of Richard Nelson’s estate, listed as “Mary Gray, wife of John Gray” in Will Administration records dated 4 Oct 1710.
Disposition of the property named Coall/Cole: This tract of land stayed in the Beck-Nelson family for 110 years. Their descendants continued growing tobacco as their cash crop, the same as the first settlers to Mattawoman Creek had done. Coall/Cole was sold in two parcels to General William Bayne Smallwood and his niece, Priscilla Herbert Counts. General Smallwood was a decorated Revolutionary War General who was also elected twice Governor of Maryland. He already owned a tract of 1,000 acres (Christian Temple Manor) adjacent to Coall/Cole. Sale of the tract was as follows:
Thomas Parsons, grandson of Alice Nelson Parsons, sold 117 acres of Coall/Cole to General Smallwood on 3 Sep 1790.
On 27 Nov 1805, Robert Alexander Mills, great-grandson of Margaret Nelson, sold the remaining 117 acres to General Smallwood’s niece.
The Beck-Nelson property named Coall/Cole was passed down to Robert Alexander Mills (1775/6-1831) as follows:
• 10 Nov 1695 – Richard Nelson received a patent for a 330 acre tract of land called Coall which adjoined the east side of Christian Temple Manor.
• 4 Apr 1704 – Richard and Mary Beck Nelson patented 234 acres, a tract named Coall/Cole.
• 9 Feb 1708 – Margaret Nelson, daughter of Richard and Mary Beck Nelson, inherited 117 acres, one-half of the tract named Coall/Cole; her sister, Alice Nelson inherited the remaining 117 acres.
• 5 Nov 1735 – William Warden’s Inventory was filed. His son, Richard Warden (father of Charity Warden) inherited his mother’s 117 acres of Coall/Cole.
• 1755c. – Margaret Nelson Warden Lloyd died. On 28 June 1755, Margaret Nelson Warden Lloyd’s inventory was filed; her son, Richard Warden was Administrator. Richard Warden came in possession of 117 acres of Coall/Cole.
• 12 Mar 1773 – Richard Warden bequeathed his 117 acres of Coall/Cole to Elijah Warden, his eldest son.
• 21 Sep 1794 – Elijah Warden bequeathed all of his property, including 117 acres of Coall/Cole, to his brother, Asa Warden. (Elijah Warden died unmarried without issue.)
• 10 May 1799 – Asa Warden bequeathed the land to Robert Alexander Mills, son of his sister, Charity Warden who married William Mills (1738-1815) of Fairfax Co., VA. Ownership of the land was to take place after the death of Asa Warden’s wife, Ann.
• 27 Nov 1805, Robert Alexander Mills sold his 117 acres of Coall/Cole to Priscilla Herbert Counts, niece of General Smallwood.
Today, the Beck-Nelson land named Coall/Cole is included in Smallwood State Park in Marbury, Charles County, MD, which consists of 629 pristine acres of recreational camping, boating & fishing. Built in 1760, General Smallwood’s manor house, “Retreat” still stands on the park grounds. The Smallwood Family Foundation restored it to its original Colonial splendor, complete with outbuildings and a tobacco barn built in the rough-hewn log fashion of early Maryland tobacco plantations. In 1958, the Smallwood Foundation donated the property to Maryland Parks and Recreation Department.
48 William Mills (1738c. – 23 Jan 1815) of Fairfax County, VA,
Revolutionary War Patriot No. 902801.
He was officially recognized as a Patriot for supporting the Revolutionary War by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution on 21 Apr 2012. As a result, his female descendants are eligible to join the prestigious Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR); male descendants may join Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).
The following records were used to support the application for William Mills:
• 2 Feb 1765 – Chain Carrier, Truro Parish.
• 9 Oct 1776 – Witnessed the Will of Elizabeth Cornish.
• 1774 – 1783 Fairfax County Court Minutes no longer exist for the period 1774 – 1783.
• 6 May 1776 – 21 Jun 1782 – Petitions by Virginians presented in VA Legislature; Note: All petition signers qualify as ‘patriots’.
• 24 Nov 1785 – as a Freeholder, he signed a petition to the House of Delegates which refers to services and taxes provided in support of the War. (Petition undated; filed on 24 Nov 1785). The petition states the residents “suffered most severely…In the latter end of the year 1780, not withstanding the services and heavy taxes and burdens occasioned by the war, the Courts of this County …levied …thirty-odd thousand pounds of tobacco….” The petition was officially recorded on 24 Nov 1785. Reference is also made to another petition made in 1783 that addressed the same grievances (this document is missing).
• 1787 Fairfax Co, VA Tax List. William Mills was listed as “tithable,” indicating he owned his land.
• 31 May 1778 – William Mills named as a purchaser of ‘six earthen Plates at the estate sale of Catherine Monroe.
• 3 Nov 1789 signed petition to relocate Fairfax County Courthouse.
• 22 Jul 1789 appointed surveyor of roads.
• 22 Sep 1789 appointed overseer of roads.
• 18 Jul 1791 appointed overseer of roads.
• 16 Oct 1797 allotted money to oversee work on Ox Road.
Narrative in support of the application for recognition as a patriot:
William Mills was born 1738c. in Truro Parish, Fairfax County, VA. He was a freeholder who lived his entire adult life on 200 acres leased-for-life by his father, Robert Mills in 1753. This property was situated between the plantations of George Washington (Mount Vernon) and George Mason (Hollin’ Hall to the south and Mason’s Island to the north) of Mills Plantation. It is reasonable to conclude that William Mills would have held the same patriotic views as his contemporaries who were also his neighbors. For example, George Mason also signed the above-referenced 24 Nov 1785 petition to the House of Delegates. No indication has been found that William Mills may have been a loyalist (Tory), or that he was a Quaker or other pacifist. On the contrary, he was a respected citizen who maintained an active role in affairs of his community.
Note: Many Fairfax County records created during the War (1774-1784) are missing. These missing court records, minute books and deed records would have contained his signed Oath of Allegiance and proof of his civil service. Extensive research into the few existing records was done over many years to confirm the family legend that he supported the cause of freedom. Records reviewed were in the archives in Fairfax, Alexandria, and Prince William Counties; State Archives in Richmond, VA; the Draper Collection, published books on VA soldiers and sailors, Public Claims, Land Office Grants, Preemption Certificates, Legislative Petitions, Loose Papers, Bond Records, Register of Bills Withdrawn from Circulation (Short Census of 1779), Deed Records and other pertinent data.
Statement from Katrina R. Krempasky, Fairfax County, VA Archivist:
In an e-mail message of 16 March, 2011, the Fairfax County archivist sent the following message detailing which county records [by time period] were destroyed:
William Mills also qualified as a Patriot for his Civil Service. Specifically, he held the court-appointed positions of Surveyor and Overseer of Roads from 1765 to 1789. In this capacity, he was responsible for opening new roads and maintaining existing roadways in his precinct, as directed by Fairfax County Court orders. His service is documented in official records in 1765 as a chain carrier, as a Surveyor of Roads [July] and an Overseer of Roads [September] in 1789, after the Revolutionary War. The fact that William Mills was working in the same related occupation of surveying both before and after the revolutionary period supports the assertion that he continued this service uninterrupted during the Revolutionary War period.
Further proof of William Mills’s allegiance is witnessed in his son’s illustrative political career. William Nelson Mills (1783-1852), youngest son of William Mills was elected to the Alexandria City Council for three consecutive one-year terms from 1821-1824, only six years after William Mills died. William Nelson Mills was then appointed to the highly respected positions of Superintendent of Police of Alexandria from 1836 until his death 4 Oct 1852, and Presidential appointments to the position of Justice of the Peace of Alexandria, VA .
These Presidential appointments were conferred as follows: 15 March 1839 by President Martin Van Buren, 15 March 1840 by President Martin Van Buren, and 15 March 1845 by President James K. Polk. It is reasonable to conclude that William Nelson Mills would not have been considered for these prestigious appointments if his father had been a loyalist.
DAR Certificate: 902801 issued to Anna Rosina Mills Duckworth, April 1, 2012
John Richard Mills, 13 Mar 1824 – 19 May 1901
John’s full name was cited in his brother, Albert Nelson Mills’s will. This was the only document we found that contained his middle name.
John Richard Mills’s home in Frederick County was still standing when this photo was taken in 1967. Frederick County Historical Society described the structure as “an old stone house with brick wings. The stone house was situated on Oak Orchard Road and dates back to about 1850, per records located in Frederick County, MD Historical Society. It is uncertain whether the house is still standing. According to John Richard Mills’s will, the house was in the “Linganore district of Libertytown,” Frederick County, MD.
There is a stone house on Oak Orchard Road, built in 1771 and currently standing on 182 acres west of Sam’s Creek. Although the house fits the location and overall description of the John Richard Mills house, it is at least 70 years older, and does not have any brick on the structure. Also, the house was originally built by the Naill family, early Frederick County settlers and neighbors of John Richard Mills. Additional research into land records is required to determine the fate of the John Richard Mills house.
More about John Richard Mills: The youngest child of well-to-do parents, John was born into privilege and comfort. He was afforded the best opportunities for education available at the time, including grammar school and the university. His mother died when he was seven years old. He was fortunate to have his maternal grandmother, Ann Leap living only a few houses away. She, along with female slaves in his father’s household most likely helped with his rearing.
According to his obituary, John spent a few years at sea before he married. He made a number of trips to Europe and could have been a merchant seaman. We could not determine why he chose to live a gentleman farmer’s life in Frederick County, MD. Our family could be related to another Mills family in Frederick County (John Mills, farmer in Frederick County who died in 1799) but we have not found a definite link.
Additional information found for John Richard and Rachel Baker Pearre Mills and their children:
The couple obtained a marriage license in Frederick County, MD on 2 May 1850.
Rachel Baker Pearre was the daughter of Joshua and Mary Baker Pearre, both of Frederick County, MD. The surname is spelled Pearrey, Perrie, Perry or Perrea in some documents. The Pearres were landowners and farmers.
The earliest ancestor can be traced to James Pearre who was born 10 Mar 1761 in Maryland and died 19 Sep 1825 in Frederick County, MD. On 10 May 1792, he married Sarah Warfield, born about 1768 and died 3 Feb 1857 in Frederick County, MD. Sarah was the daughter of Charles and Elizabeth Warfield. James and Sarah Warfield Pearre are buried in Linganore Cemetery, Unionville, MD, moved there from a family cemetery.
James acquired much land in the Linganore area of Frederick County. In his 1825 will, he divided what he then owned into four parcels, one for each of his children. Each lot contained between 140 and 230 acres and included contiguous parts of more than one named tract. He took care to include timber land in each of the four bequests.
The will of Rachel’s maternal grandfather, Adam Baker, written 26 Mar 1834 and proved 15 Jan 1838 instructed his executor (his brother, William) to purchase a farm for Rachel and to pay $18,000 for it, or pay that sum to her or her guardian for her when she was 18 years old. In 1848, Mary Baker, Rachel’s maternal grandmother willed her $2,000 when she turned 18, plus part of her personal property. Rachel and her two siblings would also be residual legatees.
In 1850 when Rachel Baker Pearre was 18 years of age, she and John Richard Mills recorded a prenuptial agreement reserving to her all rights to her inheritance from her grandparents, with Greenberry R. Sappington, her guardian and brother-in-law as trustee to manage it for her. A deed made 21 May 1851 conveyed the real estate and property mentioned in the agreement to her trustee.
Under the trust, Sappington sold the land and reinvested in other properties, with the consent of Rachel and John. In September 1860, Sappington petitioned the Circuit Court sitting as a court of equity to have a new trustee appointed. Rachel became the substitute trustee.
On 18 Apr 1863, Sappington transferred to Rachel Baker Mills, now the trustee, 101 acres, 39 perches; part of Pearre’s Retreat and Level Farm (except for a graveyard and access to it). This land was purchased under the trust from James and Eliza Pearre for $10, 125. Rachel and John sold it back to James Pearre on 4 Nov 1872 for $11,000.
Extracts from the Will of John Richard Mills:
1. To Daughter, Pauline Baker Mills Norwood 7 large silver spoons and small tea castor.
2. To son, Howard D. Mills ½ dozen silver tea spoons, 8 day clock, side board, full set of china tea set, one feather bedstead, bed clothing, silver watch, salt spoons, and silver knives and forks.
3. To son, Clifton M. Mills, balance of spoons of every description or kind, one silver table castor, marble chamber set, one feather bed & bed clothing, watch chain and charm, entire wardrobe and clothing of every description, his graveyard lot in Linganore Cemetery without charge to him.
4. Furniture to be divided among his three living children: Pauline B. Norwood, Howard D. Mills and Clifton M. Mills.
5. To friend, Isabella Carr $25 as a token for her care and attention to his daughter, Pauline in the bereavement of her child, Walter Norwood.
6. Dispose of entire estate remaining, both real and personal, to be divided in equal fourths and given to children, Pauline, Howard and Clifton; and to granddaughter, Nellie B. Dorsey, daughter of his late daughter Margaret Alberta Mills Dorsey.
7. Dr. Charles A. Norwood appointed guardian of Nellie B. Dorsey until she is 18 years of age.
8. Sons Howard and Clifton appointed executors.
More information was found for the children of John Richard and Rachel Baker Pearre Mills:
i. Pauline Baker Mills, b. 20 Mar 1851 in Alexandria, VA; died 13 Oct 1919. She married Charles Augustus Norwood, b. 22 Feb 1843, d. 3 Aug 1934, on 22 Feb 1871. Dr. Norwood was a prominent dentist in Liberty, Frederick County, MD. He and Pauline are buried in Fairmount Cemetery in Liberty, MD. They had one son, Walter Norwood, b. 1875c.; d. 1880c. in Liberty, Frederick County, MD.
ii. Margaret Alberta Mills, b. 1854 c. and d. 10 Dec 1890 in Mt. Airy, Frederick County, MD. She married Frank Dorsey, Esq. They had one child, Nellie B. Dorsey, born in Mt Airy, MD.
iii. Howard D. Mills, b. Oct 1858 c. in MD. In 1880, he was at home, 23 years of age; single, a dentist. In 1900, he was living in the 1st Ward of Baltimore, MD; a drugist [sic].
iv. Clifton M. Mills, b. Jan 1862 in MD, d. 16 Oct 1926 in Frederick Co., MD. He married Sally Naill, b. 20 Nov 1867, d. 25 Jun 1951 on 3 Apr 1884. He and Sally are buried in Linganore Cemetery, Unionville, MD.
Censuses name the 3 children of Clifton M and Sally Naill Mills, all born in MD: Ethel B. Mills, b. Oct 1884; Birdie G. (Bertha Golden) Mills, b. 1886; and William Pearre Mills b. 1889 c. Additional data on Clifton M. Mills was taken from census records: On the 1900 US Census of the Linganore district, Clifton was a farmer and head of household in the Liberty district, living with his father John R. Mills, age 76 who was listed as Landlord. On the 1910 US Census, Clifton was living in the 3rd Ward of Waynesboro, PA with Sally and William Pearre Mills living at home.
Also on the 1910 US Census, Ethel had been married for a year to Henry M. Riddlesberger and lived in the 1st Ward.
Birdie, a nurse at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore married 5 Aug 1910 Lieutenant W. H. Thearle, U.S. Medical Corps. The marriage ended in divorce.
On the 1920 US Census, Clifton was still living in Waynesboro, PA. He was a foreman in a machine works.
Albert Nelson Mills, 1822 c. – 14 Apr 1898; Esquire; Texas State Legislator; Captain, Assistant Adjutant General, Confederate States of America.
Albert’s middle name, Nelson, was inscribed on his tombstone. His full name was a mystery until this piece of information was found. We are grateful to Mr. James Hayes of Haymarket, VA for finding Albert’s burial place and other historical data on his service in the state legislature and as an officer in the Confederacy. Mr. Hayes also descends from William and Margaret Nelson Warden of Charles County, MD through their son, James Warden of Charles County, MD and Prince William County, VA.
Albert Nelson Mills’s Marker, Episcopal Cemetery, Galveston, TX.
Photo by Bill McDowell, 2011.
Albert Nelson Mills was the son of Justice of the Peace William Nelson and Ann Leap Mills. In 1850, he was living in his father’s household; born in Alexandria, VA in 1822; occupation, Lawyer. His exact date of birth has not been found.
Albert passed the bar in Virginia in 1848, according to information posted on early Texas historical figures. During the period Sep 1848 to Oct 1852, he acted as Power of Attorney to sell family-owned property in Alexandria, VA for his brother, Rev. William Robert Mills. Rev. Mills was a Methodist minister who traveled a circuit in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Albert Nelson Mills was administrator of his father’s estate. On 10 Nov 1852, Albert N. Mills and his brother John R. Mills sold Charles Seals, slave, to William C. Yeaton for $525. This sale was made upon settlement of their father, William Nelson Mills’s estate. Seals had been the property of Albert Nelson Mills’s grandmother, Ann Leap, as conveyed to her by a deed of gift 4 Apr 1831.
Ownership of Charles Seals was most likely transferred to Ann Leap shortly after her daughter, Ann Leap Mills (wife of William Nelson Mills) died suddenly on 6 Feb 1831. The deed of gift was not found.
Relocation to Gonzales, Texas:
Albert’s obituary states: “he came to Texas in 1853.” In 1854, he established a law partnership with William H. Stewart in Gonzales County, TX. Stewart later became a district Judge in Galveston, TX. Albert formed a partnership with Benjamin Franklin Batchelor in Gonzales, TX in 1861. Batchelor was a Confederate soldier who was killed in Georgia in 1864.
Little is known about Albert’s early days in Texas, or what persuaded him to relocate from Alexandria, VA. He could have seen action with the Mount Vernon Guard in the Mexican-American War and decided to seek his fortune in Texas. He owned property before the Civil War, and perhaps established a cattle ranch or cotton farm, products that formed the basis of the local economy. In his will of 1895, Albert stated: “the real estate in western Texas has [already] been disposed of….” Gonzales would have been considered “western” at the time.
Gonzales already had a colorful history prior to Albert’s arrival. It was founded in 1825 by Green DeWitt as an Anglo-American colony, the first such establishment west of the Colorado River. Cattle and cotton proved to be profitable for pioneers hardy enough to brave Texas weather, sporadic American Indian raids and the fickle Mexican government. The city of Gonzales was named in honor of Rafael Gonzales, then governor of Coahuila y Tejas, and was set up as the capital of DeWitt Colony. Settlers abandoned the original site after two Indian attacks in 1826. They reestablished themselves in 1827 at a location near the original site.
After the raids, the Mexican government gave the settlers a small cannon for protection. It was this cannon that sparked the first skirmish of the Texas Revolution when the Mexican Government demanded the settlers return it and they refused. On 2 Oct 1835 the “Battle of Gonzales” ensued when a contingent of Mexican troops tried to take the cannon by force. The settlers fashioned a flag with the words, “Come and take it” with which they taunted the Mexican troops. The settlers were victorious in their stand against the Mexican troops. The “Come and Take It” slogan still appears today on all historical sites in Gonzales.
“Gonzales contributed thirty-two men from the Gonzales Ranging Company to the ill-fated defense of the Alamo. It was to Gonzales that Susanna Dickinson, widow of one of the Alamo defenders, and Joe, the slave of William B. Travis, fled with news of the Alamo massacre. General Sam Houston was in Gonzales organizing the Texas army and anticipated the town would be the next target of General Antonio López de Santa Anna and the Mexican army. He had the town burned and ordered a retreat, thus precipitating the ‘Runaway Scrape.’ The town was derelict immediately after the Texas Revolution, but was eventually rebuilt on the original site throughout the early 1840s. Other important events in Gonzales history:
• 29 Dec 1845- Texas was annexed by the United States.
• 13 May 1846 – US Congress officially declared war on Mexico.
• 2 Feb 1848 – Mexican-American War ended; Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed.
• 1850 – Gonzales College was founded by slave-owning planters, the first institution in Texas to confer A.B. degrees on women.
• 1850 US Census – the city of Gonzales had a population of 300; Gonzales County had a population of 8,059, of which 3,168 were slaves.
• 1860 US Census – City of Gonzales had a population of 1,703.”
Albert and Fannie Mills were enumerated in the city of Gonzales, Gonzales County on the 1860 US Census (entered as “A.N. Mills). He is also listed on the Slave Schedule (six slaves) for 1860. According to his obituary, he was wealthy before the War, owning about fifty slaves. Fannie, his future wife, was living on the Guadalupe River in Cuero, Dewitt County, TX when she and Albert married. We are uncertain as to how she came to be in Texas. She may have had family there. We know from local histories that she came from a wealthy Virginia family. The marriage bond between Fannie and her first husband showed she had inherited property from both of her parents.
From the Gonzales Inquirer newspaper (established in 1853), we found the following entries. These give an insight to Albert Nelson Mills’s life there:
June 4, 1853, p. 3 – He placed an advertisement, “Albert N. Mills, Attorney.
Feb 4, 1854, p. 2 – formed a law partnership with William H. Stewart.
July 2, 1853, p. 2 – Reading for [July] 4th Celebration.
Feb 9, 1861, p. 1 – Advertisement: “Mills & Batchelor, Lawyer;”
Dec 14, 1861, p. 1 – “A. N. Mills, Defense of the Confederate State to Gonzales Co.”
Albert Nelson Mills and Rebecca Frances “Fannie” Wimbish Henderson:
On January 5, 1857, Albert Nelson Mills and Mrs. Rebecca Frances “Fannie” Wimbish Henderson obtained a marriage license in Gonzales County, Texas. F. Chenault, Clerk of the Court issued the license. Rev I. Wood Dunn, Rector of Emmanuel Ch. Sockhart & O. (?) performed the ceremony before several witnesses [not listed] on January 6, 1857 in Dewitt County, Texas; the license is filed in Gonzales County.
Fannie was the daughter of Colonel John Hunt and Rebecca L. Williams Wimbish of Halifax, VA. She was educated at the Moravian Girls Boarding School in Winston-Salem, NC from 13 Apr 1835 to 27 May 1836. She was named after her mother’s cousin, Rebecca F. Wimbish of Halifax, VA who claimed, Fannie was “the prettiest child of her age she ever saw.” Fannie inherited “much property which descended from her father…also from her mother in Halifax County, VA….” Fannie placed this property in trust so that her husband-to-be could have the use of it during his lifetime.”
Fannie was first married 26 Dec 1844 to Dr. Alex “Pleasant” Henderson of Salisbury, NC, widower, who was the most popular physician in western North Carolina. “Handsome, genial, polite, skillful in his profession, a jovial companion, and generous to a fault, the people loved him dearly. He lived for a long time unmarried, but at last married a lady as genial and accomplished as himself – Rebecca Wimbish of VA…sister of his brother’s wife.” They had no children. Dr. Henderson died on October 21, 1851 and is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Salisbury, NC.
Apparently, Fannie had health issues, as she was noted as being severely ill in 1875 when Albert suddenly “left Texas for Quebec owing to the severe illness of his wife who was summering in that city.”
Fannie died in Pickett, Kentucky on 19 Feb 1883. Pickett is a small town in Adair County. It is a mystery why Fannie was there. Albert may have taken her for medical treatment. He may have been with her when she died, as her obituary is quite eloquent, probably written by Albert himself. He wrote his father’s memorial in Latin, and also quoted poetry when signing Sarah Stewart Oaks Mills’s autograph book.
Her obituary reads:
“DIED. IN MEMORIAM. MILLS – Departed this life at Pickett, Ky.; February 19th, 1883, Mrs. Rebecca Francis Mills, daughter of the late Colonel John Wimbish of Halifax, Va., and wife of Albert N. Mills of Galveston, Texas. Through long years of deep affliction the deceased bore her suffering with Christian patience and resignation, in the happy hope of a blessed immortality beyond the grave.
“How loved, how honored once, avails thee not.” Richmond (VA) papers please copy.”
Note: This is a quote from Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady, by Alexander Pope (1688-1744). Following lines of the stanza are:
• “To whom related, or by whom begot;
• A heap of dust alone remains of thee;
• ‘Tis all thou are, and all the proud shall be.”
Note: Kentucky did not start recording births and deaths until 1 Jan 1911; we did not discover where Fannie was buried. There are no records of her burial in Galveston Cemeteries.
Texas State Legislator:
In 1857, Albert Nelson Mills represented Gonzales County in the Seventh Texas Legislature as a member of the House of Representatives. During that time, He was a Principal Correspondent in “Letters Received by the Attorney General” (of the United States) 20 Mar 1858 to 18 Dec 1870.” We found records of his papers filed in the National Archives. Major topics of his correspondence were:
– Post Office Department embezzlement cases; U.S. attorneys’ employment of assistant counsel; Civil War era confiscations; ships and shipping; Reconstruction; loyalty oaths; voter registration; U.S. Supreme Court cases; grand jury proceedings; alleged wrongdoing by U.S. attorneys; elections; conflict between military and state authorities; violence and intimidation in Jefferson County, Texas; race relations; state legislation; judicial arrangement of state; military personnel matters; internal revenue tax on cotton assessed on Choctaw Indians; bankruptcy proceedings; political matters; Spanish land claims; appointments of U.S. attorneys and marshals.
Albert Nelson Mills represented Gonzales County at the Texas State Secession Convention in 1861 in Austin, TX. The County voted 802-80 in favor of secession from the Union. He cast his vote for Gonzales County to leave the Union and signed the Ordinance of Secession on 1 Feb 1, 1861. On 2 Mar 1861, Texas joined the Confederate States of America.
Civil War Years:
Albert served with the Confederacy from Nov 10, 1861 through Mar 7, 1864. His military folder contains thirty-seven pages of official correspondence of a military nature, such as pay records, receipts of general orders, special requisitions, vouchers, and file covers. There was no personal information such as date of birth, marital status, etc., in his file. On April 23, 1863, He was appointed to the rank of Captain in Executive Session of the Confederate Congress. He served as Assistant Adjutant-General, a staff officer position, assigned to Gen. Scurry at Fort Brown, TX. Other items of note in his folder were: He requested permission to raise a company of infantry for the Coast Guard; was appointed to the rank of Major in 1864; requested and was recommended for a Judgeship on a military court on March 7, 1864. (This may explain why he was referred to as “Judge” in his later years.) Date of pardon was 1865; however, there was no specific date or location of pardon documented in his file.
On 29 December 1864, Albert Nelson Mills requested a recommendation for “Judgeship” which was endorsed by the Honorable Louis Trezevant Wigfall, a politician who served as a member of the Texas Legislature, US Senate and Confederate Senate. Wigfall was in the forefront of the “southern fire-eaters” movement, a group of extremist pro-slavery politicians who promoted separation of southern states into a new nation which ultimately became the Confederate States of America. He was expelled from the US Senate in 1861. He earned the reputation as a “southern fire-eater” for his acerbic debate and radical views.
Transcription of Albert Nelson Mills’s letter to the Honorable Louis T. Wigfall is included here:
Dec 29, 1864
The kindness of Gen’l Smith Commanding the Department, has recommended me for a Judgeship on one of the Military Courts of this Department. Will you have the kindness to give your aid and assistance with a recommendation. You know me well enough without my going into particulars as to my qualifications & capacity.
Your Obd Svt,
Albert N. Mills
Gonzales Co. Texas
The Hon. L. T. Wigfall
M C – Richmond, La”
An undated, unsigned annotation at the bottom of the letter reads:
“Louis T. Wigfall (encircled)
Buried Trinity Episcopal Cem. Galveston, TX
Attended Univ of Virginia “Southern Fire Eater”*
See TX Handbook
Admitted to Bar (where?) 1839 One Source: Univ. of Virginia Law”
Note: This annotation apparently refers to Louis T. Wigfall who appears in the Texas State Historical Society’s Handbook of notable persons in Texas history. He attended the University of Virginia about 1836. Wigfall was commissioned brigadier general and commanded the Texas Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia (Hood’s Texas Brigade) until February 1862 when he resigned to take a seat in the Confederate Congress. In 1874, he moved to Galveston, TX where he died 18 Feb 1874 and was buried in Episcopal Cemetery, Galveston, TX. It is likely he and Albert Nelson Mills were acquainted through their law profession, service in the Texas Legislation, and in the Confederate Army.
Provost Marshal. May 1862. Albert Nelson Mills received accolades in carrying out his position as provost marshal. Following is the article that appeared in the San Antonio Semi-Weekly News on 22 May 1862:
“Martial law was proclaimed in the counties of Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr, on Monday, and Mr. Albert N. Mills was appointed Provost Marshal under the order. The new system works well, and will no doubt be productive of much good in preventing the conspirators against the government from their open and bare-faced expression of disloyalty, and also from their flagitious speculations upon the credit and currency of the government. Several interesting spirits have been arrested by the energetic and inflexible Provost Marshal, and have paid the penalty of their negligence or cupidity. Mr. Mills has the advantage of a professional knowledge of the law, and moreover, he is universally esteemed as being as just as he is incorruptible. We congratulate the community on the new order of affairs. A proper system of passports has been adopted, and we are in a fair way to get rid of the reprobates who have lived under a government they secretly detested. – Fort Brown Flag.”
Attorney in Galveston, TX:
After the War, Albert and Fannie moved to Galveston where he set up his law practice in 1868. It is easy to understand why Albert and Fannie were drawn to Galveston. With the abolition of slavery and poor economic conditions, it would have been most difficult to resume an agricultural way of life. Galveston promised a more cosmopolitan life, more suitable to a former State Representative and his lady. Additionally, Judge Stewart, Albert’s former law partner in Gonzales was already well-established in Galveston.
General information on Galveston:
“At the end of the 19th century, the city of Galveston was a booming metropolis with a population of 37,000. Its position on the natural harbor of Galveston Bay along the Gulf of Mexico made it the center of trade in Texas, and one of the largest cotton ports in the nation, in competition with New Orleans. Between 1838 and 1842, 18 newspapers were started to serve the island’s rapidly growing population. A causeway linking the island with the mainland was finished in 1860, which paved the way for railroad expansion.
During this golden era of Galveston’s history, the city was home to a number of state firsts that include the first post office (1836), the first naval base (1836), the first Texas chapter of a Masonic order (1840; the first cotton compress (1842), the first parochial school (Ursuline Academy) (1847), the first insurance company (1854), the first gas lights (1856), first Roman Catholic hospital (St. Mary’s, 1866), first Jewish Reform Congregation (Congregation B’nai Israel) (1868), the first opera house (1870), the first orphanage (1876), the first telephone (1878), the first electric lights (1883), the first medical college, now the University of Texas Medical Branch (1891), and the first school for nurses (1890).”
From 1868 through 1896, Albert N. Mills, Lawyer, was listed in the City Directory of Galveston, TX. Directories for the years 1868 to 1890 listed his occupation as “Lawyer.” For the years 1891 to 1896, his occupation was, “Retired Lawyer. “ Albert was a respected member of the Galveston community. The Galveston Daily News had entries for him on a professional level as well as of a social nature. For example, one article identified him as a “court recorder/reporter.” Another edition told of his departing for Quebec owing to the severe illness of his wife.
Other entries found for him are listed by newspaper date:
• 10 Jul 1886 – Mills went to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
• 18 Jun 1893 – Col. Albert N. Mills left last night via the Santa Fe and South Pacific for Shawsville, Virginia.
• 24 Sep 1893 – Mr. Albert N. Mills has returned from Allegheny Springs much improved in health by his three month visit to the springs.
• 15 Jun 1894 – Mills a witness and executor of John L. Daraugh. Daraugh was rich and controversial. Mills served as a pallbearer for Daraugh. Daraugh named one of his sons Albert Mills Daraugh.
Albert’s home at Eighteenth and Winnie Streets was destroyed in a fire that burned a large portion of the city in November 1885. He then moved Twenty-eighth and Q-and ½ Streets where he lived the rest of his life. He died on April 14, 1898 of apoplexy (stroke).” He was buried under Masonic auspices on April 15, 1898 in Trinity Episcopal Cemetery at 40th & Ave L, Galveston, TX.
Two obituaries were found for Albert Nelson Mills:
1. Houston Daily Post, Apr 15, 1898
“JUDGE MILLS DEAD
• Venerable Jurist of Galveston Has Passed Away. Galveston, Texas, April 14. – [A.]N. Mills, an old and prominent lawyer of this city, died of paralysis at his home in this city today, aged 76 years. He was born in the town of Liberty, Md.; he located in Galveston in 1856 and being a lawyer of ripe attainments and marked ability he soon became prominent at the bar. During the civil war he was active in aid of the Confederacy and rendered the cause of the South zealous and faithful service. Soon after the war he formed a law partnership with Hon. William H. Stewart, the present venerable judge of the district court. This continued until the election of Stewart to the district judgeship, when the late Robt. Tevis succeeded Judge Stewart and the firm became known as Mills & Tevis. Upon the death of Judge Tevis, Mr. Mills continued in the practice alone until his health became enfeebled to such an extent he was compelled to relinquish it. In all the relations of life he was sans peur et sans reproche and his death excites deep regret. His interment takes place tomorrow under Masonic auspices. ”
2. Galveston Daily News, April 15, 1898:
“JUDGE MILLS’ DEATH
• Was for many years a Prominent Attorney in Galveston.
Yesterday morning at 9 o’clock Judge Albert N. Mills died at his residence in this city. He will be buried to-day in the Episcopal cemetery, in accordance with his instructions.
Albert N. Mills was born in Maryland about 76 years ago. He had been a resident of Galveston since 1866. In 1853 he came to Texas and entered into partnership with William H. Stewart (now district judge of Galveston) and practiced law in Gonzales. During the war, he was adjutant general and served with an Arkansas command. In 1865 he entered into partnership with a lawyer named Tevis in this city, and the two gentlemen remained together until Mr. Tevis died. Mr. Mills continued practicing law until about ten years ago, when he became deaf and retired from business.
He was married before the war to a lady whose maiden name was Winbush [Wimbish] who lived on the Guadalupe river near Cuero. She died eighteen or twenty years ago. They had no issue.
Mr. Mills lived for many years at Eighteenth and Winnie streets. His home was burned in the great fire that swept through the city in November 1885, and he then moved to Twenty-eighth and Q-1/2, where an old negro servant kept house for him.
Mr. Mills was a lawyer of marked ability. Before the war he was quite wealthy, owning about fifty slaves. The aged negress who kept house for him was at one time his slave. He was in comfortable circumstances. Mr. Mills enjoyed fairly good health until quite recently, when he was stricken with paralysis. It had been his custom for many years to visit his brother at his old home near Fredericksburg, Md.”
MORTUARY REPORT – Galveston Daily News, Sunday, April 17, 1898, p. 24.
“Albert N. Mills, 76 years, apoplexy. “
Analysis of Obituaries:
• There are no records to prove he served as a judge in federal or district courts; however, he was recommended for a Judgeship on a military court during the Civil War. He also served as Provost Marshal, an officer in charge of military police, in 1862. The title of “Judge” may have been used informally to show respect.
• He was born in Alexandria, VA, not in Liberty, MD. His brother, John Richard Mills lived in Liberty, MD from 1852 until his death in 1901. Albert traveled to Liberty, MD to visit John and his family. The submitter of the obituary apparently assumed Albert was born in MD due to his frequent trips there.
• He located in Galveston about 1866, not in 1856. This may be a typo. Albert came to Gonzales County, TX about 1853. He married Rebecca Frances “Fanny” Wimbish (vs. Winbush) Henderson in 1857 in Gonzales County, TX. He was a member of the Texas House of Representatives in 1857. His Confederate military service folder contains several pieces of correspondence he signed from Gonzales County, TX during the period 1861-1864.
• This is the first reference that indicates he was a Mason.
Albert Nelson Mills’s Will was dated 19 Mar 1895 with one codicil dated 18 Jun 1896. The Will was filed 5 May 1898. Following is an extract of his Will:
• His Western interests and real estate elsewhere had been disposed of before he wrote his will. Bonds, stocks, last will & testament, bank book and other valuable papers were kept in lock-box No. 4 in Rosenberg’s Bank, Galveston.
• Funeral private; Episcopal Rector to do graveside service. Inscription for his tombstone was written out. Stone was to be inexpensive.
• To Julia Woods, cook [servant to his late wife] five coupon bonds in Galveston Wharf Co. – one thousand dollars each; 20 shares stock in Galveston Wharf Co.; 20 shares stock in Citizens Loan Co. in two certificates; 2 bonds of $1,000 each in Galveston Gas Co.; $1,000 in cash to be paid at probate; all monies owed to him by Julia Woods or her grandchildren, Charlie and Eugene to be forgiven; improvements made to her premises in 1895 were for his own comfort, not property of his estate; household furnishings belonged to Julia Woods from whom he leased his quarters.
• To Brother, Judge John Richard Mills, 21 shares of stock in First National Bank of Galveston; six coupon bonds of the County of Brazoria, Texas – $500 each at 8% interest payable March 1st each year; bond numbers 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, dated March 1st 1878; bank account at First National Bank of Galveston; any remaining money left after Julia Woods fully paid; personal clothing, gold spectacles, walking cane and trunk.
• Debts, expenses for funeral, last sickness, probate, court and other fees to be paid out of brother John R. Mills’s bequest and not from Julia Woods’s bequest.
• To Niece, Mrs. Norwood [Pauline Baker Mills], daughter of John, his finger ring; portraits of himself and of his late wife; remnants of table silverware that survived the fire of 1885.
Note: We attempted to learn whether the items willed to his brother, John and niece, Pauline were still in the family, presuming these items would have been passed down through the generations; especially, the portraits, finger ring and silver pieces. None of the family knew whether Pauline actually received the items or their disposition.
Page 208: Thomas M. Mills, 1820 – 14 Nov 1883
His obituary was published in the Washington Post newspaper:
”ALEXANDRIA. Mr. Thomas M. Mills, a carpenter, for many years employed at the Midland railroad shops, died suddenly of dropsy of the heart Wednesday night, at his residence on Columbus street, between Duke and Wolfe, in the sixty-third year of his age.”