William W. Mills, who has successfully followed general contracting in Topeka, Kan., for the past fifteen years, is a native of Jefferson county, Pennsylvania, where he was born on a farm four and one-half miles from Brookville, March 14, 1859. He is the son of John and Maria Jane (Hughes) Mills, the former of whom was brought to Jefferson county, Pennsylvania, when an infant by his parents and died there in the fall of 1908, at the age of seventy-eight years. In 1854 John Mills married Maria Jane Hughes, a native of Jefferson county, Pennsylvania, and of the twelve children born to that union six grew to maturity, namely: Mary; William W. of this review; Laura, Nora, Stella, and Clyde, all of whom reside in Pennsylvania, except William W. Mills, of this sketch. In 1903 these children, with their families, numbering sixteen persons, all gathered at the old home to celebrate the golden wedding anniversary of their parents. The mother, now seventy-four years of age, is still living at the old home at Brookville, Pa., and visited her son, William W. Mills, in Topeka, in 1910. John Mills followed lumbering all of his life and rafted many a load of lumber on the Allegheny, Red Bank and Clarion rivers. He was the largest lumberman on the Allegheny in his day and owned several large milling plants, in connection with which he also owned and conducted several large general stores. He was a Republican in politics and took a prominent part in the public as well as the business life of his community, having served as treasurer of Jefferson county two terms and having been appointed by the governor of Pennsylvania to fill out an unexpired term as judge of the district court.
William W. Mills, the third of twelve children born to these parents, was reared near Brookville and received a good common and high school education, which was supplemented by a complete course at Duff's Commercial College in Pittsburgh, Pa. He began his independent career when twenty-one years of age and visited nearly all of the Western and Rocky Mountain states. The year of 1881 found him in Topeka, Kan., where he learned the brick layer's trade, and after having mastered it, he followed his trade in different cities until 1885, when he returned to Topeka, which city has since remained his home. He was foreman for George Evans & Company during their five years' work on the north and south wings of the state capitol building, and following that period he was employed at El Paso, Tex., where Evans & Company had taken a contract to erect twenty-two buildings at Fort Bliss for the United States government. He was next employed on the Shawnee county court-house at Topeka. In 1895 Mr. Mills began general contracting for himself and has continued it to the present time, during which he has enjoyed a representative and lucrative business. For the last seven years Mr. Mills has been in partnership with John W. Barber, under the firm name of Barber & Mills.
Mr. Mills was united in marriage May 15, 1889, to Miss Carrie B. McGiffin of Topeka, the daughter of John A. and Amelia W. (Wallace) McGiffin, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania, the former born in Jefferson county, in 1839, and the latter in Venango county. John A. McGiffin was the son of Hugh McGiffin, a native of Ireland, who came to Pennsylvania when but a boy; the former was reared to agricultural pursuits, but in 1884 came to Topeka, Kan., where he resided until his death, in 1911. Mrs. McGiffin is the daughter of Robert Wallace, a native of the North of Ireland but of Scotch descent, who emigrated to America and was the first potter to work on the banks of the Allegheny. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and the family has in its possession a British cannon ball which Robert Wallace found embedded in a tree at Bridgeport, Conn. (*See note at end of sketch.) John A. and Amelia W. (Wallace) McGiffin became the parents of three sons and three daughters, namely: Frank W., Carrie, Harry A., Margaret, Mary, and Alice, of whom Harry and Alice are deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Mills have two children: Mildred M., born June 23, 1891, now a student at the State Agricultural College at Manhattan, and Frank Clyde, born Aug. 19, 1893, who is in the sophomore class of the Topeka High School. Mr. Mills is a Republican in his political views and takes an active interest in political affairs. He is a charter member of Lodge No. 244, Ancient Order of United Workmen, and is also a member of the Knights and Ladies of Security. Mrs. Mills is a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Topeka.
*This branch of the Wallace family is descended from Sir William Wallace, a noted figure in Scotch history.Pages 1406-1407 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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