Putnam County


This well-known citizen of Magnolia township, who is now serving as supervisor, was born on the farm where he now lives, November 15, 1852, and is a son of Pusey Mills, whose birth occurred in Washington county, Pennsylvania, on the 17th of February, 1824. The father was about sixteen years of age when in 1840 he came with his parents to this state and settled on a farm near the village of Magnolia, in Putnam county.' Here he grew to manhood and was married and later purchased a farm of one hundred and twenty acres, for which he paid seven dollars per acre. At that time it was all wild prairie, but year after year he made many improvements thereon and converted the tract into a well cultivated and attractive farm. Upon that place he died April 18, 1882. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Lydia Hartley, was born in Pennsylvania, December 2, 1827, and died in this county on the 5th of October, 1894. In the family of this worthy couple were the following children: Joshua, who is now' a resident of Springfield, Illinois ; Rebecca, who is living with the family of Dr. Barber, in Peoria, Illinois; Willis B., of this review; Jonathan, a resident of California; one who died in infancy; and Oliver M., a resident of McNabb.

The boyhood and youth of Willis B. Mills was spent upon his father's farm in Magnolia township and his early education was obtained in the public schools of the neighborhood. Later he entered the State University at Champaign and had just completed his third year in the agricultural course when called home on account of his father's sickness. He remained upon the farm for some time and was there engaged in the manufacture of tile for about ten years. On the expiration of that period he entered the employ of the Churchill & White Grain Company, having charge of their business at McNabb for one year, and later had charge of the lumber business of the Toluca Lumber Company at that place for a time. After the death of his father he came into possession of the old homestead, purchasing the interest of the other heirs, and has since added to the place another tract of one hundred and twenty acres, so that he now has a fine farm of two hundred and forty acres well improved and highly cultivated. He is an enterprising and progressive agriculturist, thoroughly up to date in his methods of carrying on his work, and he is meeting with well-deserved success.

In 1879 Mr. Mills was united in marriage to Miss Mattie E. Benjamin, whose birth occurred in McLean county, Illinois, August 8, 1854, and they have become the parents of four sons, all of whom are still living. Ernest, born in 1880, attended school at Champaign, but did not complete the regular course and is now operating a part of his father's farm. He married Miss Lulu Koehler. Floyd, born in 1883, graduated in the civil engineering course at the State University and now holds an important position with a railroad company on the Pacific coast. Clifford, born in 1889, is pursuing the agricultural course at the university at Champaign. John Turner, born in 1893, is at home and is attending the district school.

Upon our subject's farm stands the Friends or Quakers church, to which he and his family belong. They are people of the highest respectability and have a host of friends throughout the county. As a republican Mr. Mills takes quite an active and prominent part in local politics and is serving his third term as supervisor of Magnolia township. He has also filled the offices of assessor, collector and school director and his official duties have always been most promptly and faithfully performed. He was one of the promoters of the consolidation of schools, which is being watched with great interest throughout the country. He is a practical farmer, making a thorough study of improved methods, and has been called upon to lecture before farmers' institutes. Fraternally he is a member of the Masonic order, Modern Woodmen of America, the Yeomen and the Grange.

Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois authored by John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne in 1907, page 450.

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