COLUMBUS C. MILLS. A man of excellent business qualifications, sound in judgment, and a good manager, Columbus C. Mills holds an assured position among the prosperous farmers and stock raisers of Hamilton County, his well improved ranch lying not far from Syracuse and being finely equipped with substantial buildings. A native of Tennessee, he was born in Hancock County November 22, 1852, and there grew to man's estate.
Joel Mills, father of Columbus C., was a life-long resident of Tennessee, where in addition to carrying on farming successfully he operated a saw mill and a grist mill. He was an active member of the Baptist Church, and served his fellow townsmen as justice of the peace, being elected to the office on the democratic ticket. He married for his first wife a Miss Cloud, who bore him seven children, as follows: William; Mary, who married Ed Wolf, and died in Stone County, Missouri; Maria, who died in Jackson County, Missouri, married first Thomas Winkler, and married second Wesley Collins; Orville, of Iowa Park, Texas; Marvel died in Stone County, Missouri; Sarah married James Epperson, and when last heard from was living in Stone County, Missouri; and Joseph, who died in Corinth, Mississippi. Joel Miles[sic] married for his second wife Elizabeth Wolf, and to them seven children were born, namely: Harriet, who died in childhood; Tennessee, who married Alfred Laycock, and died in Cass County, Missouri; Columbus C., of this sketch; Noah, of Barber County, Kansas; Landon, of the same county; Victoria, wife of Presley Parr, of Barber County, Kansas; and Jefferson D., also of that county. All of the sons of the first marriage served in the Civil war, William, Orville and Joseph having been in the Confederate army and Marvel in the Union ranks. Joel Mills was born in North Carolina, but was brought up and married in Tennessee, where in November, 1862, he was killed by bushwhackers.
Columbus C. Mills had but limited opportunities for acquiring an education when young, the Civil war being then in progress, and when that closed the family was left almost without funds, and he was forced to earn his own living. Securing a position on a Tennessee farm, he worked there for $8 a month until attaining his majority. Going from there to Cass County, Missouri, he worked for wages for three years, and then sent for his mother, who remained there with him until 1880. Mr. Mills subsequently bought a bunch of cattle in Texas, and drove them up the Chisholm trail to Barber County, this state, where he and his mother lived for a time. He afterward lived in Indian Territory, on the Salt Fork, for about 2 1/2 years, when he sold out his possessions there.
About that time Mr. Mills was stricken with typhoid fever, and came very near losing his life. Searching for a favorable climate in which to recuperate, he came to Hamilton County, being then almost a physical wreck, weighing but 115 pounds and feeling in a manner as though he were in reality dead. One day, in passing through the valley with two companions, he shot two antelope, and from the time that he killed them his appetite, which had entirely deserted him, revived, and he ate heartily of the antelope meat. Alhough[sic] he had not previously tasted of solid food for two months, no bad results followed, and he continued to eat meat and game at every meal, eating almost ravenously, and from day to day his health improved, and his weight increased until he tipped the scales at 208 pounds.
The climate, air and general conditions proved so beneficial to him that Mr. Mills decided to locate here permanently, and in August of that year he went to Medicine Lodge for cattle. and the bunch that he drove back to the school claim that he had entered in section 36, township 26, range 41, did so well under his care that he has continued in the stock business until the present time, finding it both pleasant and profitable. For a year or two after settling in Hamilton County, Mr. Mills did no farming, neither he or any of the ranchmen in the vicinity considering it necessary to make any preparation for feeding cattle. The great blizzard of January, 1886, in which Mr. Mills lost three-fourths of his stock, changed their opinion in that regard. Continuing his operations, he has met with genuine success as a cattleman, and has added by purchase to his original ranch and now owns the whole of section 36 and the north half of section 7, township 27, range 40, all of which is fenced, while 180 acres of it is under cultivation. His farm is well improved, and to its attractiveness and value he is constantly adding. His first house, a stone one, was unroofed by a bad storm, and he then erected his present large, concrete house.
On December 23, 1888, in Stanton County, Kansas, Mr. Mills married Mrs. Clara Whitney, a daughter of Harrison H. Spease. She was born in Shelby County, Missouri, and came to Elk County, Kansas, with her parents in 1870.
Harrison H. Spease was born in Pennsylvania, of a German father and English mother. His father was John Spease, whose sons were John, Charles, William, Harrison and there were sisters, Elizabeth, Lena and Marv Ann. Harrison Spease enlisted just before the Civil war closed and served a few months as a soldier.
Mr. Spease married Diana Shelton, and they reared eight children, of whom the following named survive: Mrs. Mills, Mrs. Lidell Bracken, of Thomas, Oklahoma. Mrs. Ella Hoppe, of Kendall, Kansas; Oscar, of Moline, Kansas; Lawrence, of Howard, Kansas; and Myrtle, wife of Wallace Denton, of Blackwell, Oklahoma. Mr. and Mrs. Mills have had three children, namely: Govan C., living on the home ranch, married Ruby Bray, and has one child, Myrtle Evelyn; Joel Wayne, also on the home ranch; and George W. Glenn, who died as a result of an accidental gun shot when nine years old. Joel Wayne Mills began training in Camp Funston July 22, 1918, for the World war.
Mr. Mills cast his first presidential vote for Grover Cleveland, and has since been a faithful adherent of the democratic party. In November, 1887, when Kendall was the county seat, he was elected sheriff of Hamilton County, being the first man to be elected to that office, and served a year. He has also served as treasurer of his school district.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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