Putnam County

JOSHUA L. MILLS

one of the most highly respected and prosperous farmers of Magnolia township, Putnam county, residing on section 11, comes of a good old Pennsylvania family. His grandparents, Henry and Elizabeth (John) Mills, were natives of that state, the latter the daughter of Abel John, who was of Welsh extract. They made their home in Washington county, Pennsylvania, where the grandfather died about 1829 and his wife two years later. They reared five children to maturity, all of whom are now deceased, namely : Rachel, who married Jehu Lewis and had three children, Samuel, Joseph, deceased, and Elizabeth; Alartha, who became the wife of Nathan Pusey, and had six children, Mary Ann, Joseph and Parker C, all deceased, William M, Elizabeth and Joshua; Elizabeth married Nathaniel Gregg and had three children, all deceased, Martin, Nathan and Ruth Ann; Joseph was the father of our subject, and Abel married Catharine Ulery, by whom he had three children, Emeline, deceased, who married Robert Morris ; Matilda, widow of William McVey, and Joseph, who married, but had no children.

Joseph Mills, the father of our subject, was born in Pennsylvania, October 29, 1792; was there reared and received a fairly good education. In that state June 3, 1813, he married Miss Sarah Raley, who was born in Virginia December 11, 1792, of Irish descent, and a daughter of Eli and Mary (Lupton) Raley, who removed from Virginia to Washington county, Pennsylvania, where her mother died in 1837. In 1840 her father came to Putnam county, Illinois, settling in Magnolia township, where his death occurred three years later. In their family were six children — Sarah, Joseph, Nancy, Robert, Eli and Elizabeth, all now deceased.

After their marriage the parents of our subject located in Washington county, Pennsylvania, and later removed to Fayette county, where the father conducted a general store in connection with farming. At one time he also operated a glass factory. Later he returned to Washingfton county, but in 1840, with his wife and younger children, he emigrated to Putnam county, Illinois, locating upon a roughly broken tract of land a half mile north of the village of Magnolia, where his death occurred August 24, 1847. His wife survived him some years, dying March 4, 1864. They were by birthright members of the Friends church, and the father frequently addressed the meetings. He was an influential and popular man, who was often called upon to settle difficulties between his neighbors, and was a thorough business man, taking hold of any work that fell to his lot. In Pennsylvania he served as justice of the peace, and in Magnolia township served as school treasurer.

The parental household included six children who grew to maturity, as follows: Eli R., married Elizabeth H. Kimber, both now deceased, and they had seven children, Susan, Joseph and Thomas, deceased, Sarah, Henry C, Andrew H. and Isaac R.; Henry, deceased, married Esther R. Rhodes, and they had seven children, Parker P., John H. and Sarah Elizabeth, all deceased, David R., Elmira, William H. and Esther. Mary Ann is the deceased wife of John Taylor, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work. Joshua L., of this sketch, is next in order of birth. Pusey married Lydia Hartley, both now deceased, and they had five children, Joshua, Rebecca, Willis, Jonathan and Oliver. Abel lives in Magnolia township, Putnam county.

The birth of our subject occurred November 25, 1821, in Washington county, Pennsylvania, and in that state he grew to manhood and received most of his common school education, only attending school for one month in Magnolia township, at which time his teacher was George W. Minear. He remained upon the home farm until seventeen years of age, when he learned the carpenter's trade, which he followed for two years after coming to this state. On his arrival in Putnam county April 2, 1842, he made his home with his father for two years, and the following six years were passed at his brother Eli's.

On the 14th of March, 1850, Mr. Mills led to the marriage altar Miss Hannah S. Hoyle, who was born in Ohio, September 14, 1831, and was only an infant when brought to Putnam county by her parents, Joseph and Ruth (Newport) Hoyle. Her father had purchased land in Magnolia township in 1832, and the following year moved his family to that farm, where the parents spent their remaining days. They had three daughters, the sisters of Mrs. Mills — Sabina and Hannah S. being now deceased.

Mr. Mills began his domestic life in a log cabin on his father-in-law's place, where he remained for five years, and then removed to his present location, the farm at that time being all wild prairie. He has since engaged in its cultivation and improvement, erecting a good residence, barns and other outbuildings, and has set out all the trees upon the place. He has engaged in mixed farming, raising some cattle, horses, hogs and sheep, as well as the cereals adapted to this clime. He is numbered among the self-made men of the county, his accumulations being the result of his own industry, obtained by self-denial and economy, and the exercise of a naturally good judgment, both in regard to agricultural pursuits and business matters. On coming to the county his property consisted of but five dollars, but he now owns seven hundred and fifty acres of valuable farming land, about three hundred acres of which was received through his wife.

Mr. Mills has been called upon to mourn the loss of his excellent wife, who died Alay 28, 1895. She was a member of the Society of Friends and served as elder in her church. In their family were the following children: Mary Louisa is the wife of Oscar Bumgardner of Magnolia township, and they have nine children, William Leslie and L. Raymond, twins, Joseph, Joshua, Jonathan, Isabel, Ethel, Irmy and Ruth; Sabina is the wife of Elmer C. Dickey of California, and they have one child, Ziska; Edith Ann is now deceased, and Ruth Eva is the wife of John C. Sutherland of Magnolia township, by whom she has two sons, Leon Eugene and Wilbor Mills.

Mr. Mills is also an elder in the Eriends church and takes an active part in the meetings here. Fonnerly, in politics, he was a republican, but now votes the prohibition ticket and attends the state conventions of his party. A warm friend of the cause of education, for years he served as school director, and has also been assessor of Magnolia township. He was paymaster for the proposed Plymouth & Kankakee railroad, during which time he paid out $90,000. He has also been president of the Putnam County Farmers' Insurance Company and the Putnam County Agricultural Society. He has been called upon to fill other positions of responsibility and trust, and it is needless to say that he always discharged his duties with the utmost fidelity. He settled up the estate of his brother Eli, which was one of the heaviest in the county, and was guardian for one of the children for nineteen years and three days. They presented him on Christmas, 1874, with an elegant gold watch, upon the inner case of which was inscribed, "A token of respect to the faithful guardian from those faithfully served." He also closed up the estate of James E. Blake, after which the widow left her share of the property in his hands for twenty years.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois  published in 1896, page 234.


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