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Old Pioneers of Van Zandt County

Van Zandt County Genealogical Society

This page will be devoted to the Old Pioneers of Van Zandt County. These stories have come from a variety of sources, some from old newspapers, some from descendants and some have been previously published in the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society's quarterly publication, "Our Heritage." Our thanks to Sue Wilkinson, quarterly editor, for permission to reprint these stories. All biographies are welcomed and if you have one that you would like to submit, just write it in your own words and send it to Sibyl and we will be very happy to post it on this website.

James Harvey Mills

James Harvey Mills, son of James Milton Mills (July 24 1814 - 26 March 1872) and Unity Hughes (August 21, 1521 - April 9, 1890) and grandson of James Mills (1769 - July 21. 1859) and Elizabeth Taylor (Ca. 1780 - 1853) was born March 12, 1844 in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama where he was raised to manhood, obtaining what education was available for the times. When the conflict between the North and the South began in 1861 James was among the first to volunteer from Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.

Since he could remember, all his friends and neighbors could talk about was cession and the inevitable war. The Mills' of Tuscaloosa County, Alabama knew nothing of slavery - they owned no slaves nor did they ever. James Milton's father, James Mills, had left him slaves in his will; however, it is believed that he either sold them or gave them their freedom for before they moved to Alabama as they paid no poll tax on slaves in Tuscaloosa County. (which was required as they were considered property) Regardless, as to their thoughts on slavery, they were head strong and beholding to no man and did not want any man or people telling them what they could or could not do. They believed in state rights and were suspicious of any central government that made laws controlling their lives and activities. However, they were feisty loyal to authority and would fight for what they believed in - even if it meant going to war.

War came on April 15, 1861 when the troops of South Carolina fired on Fort Sumter. When James became of age he wasted no time in enlisting. Records show that he enlisted on March 13, 1862 at the age of 17 years in Company A, 41st Alabama Infantry, C.S.A.where his father, James Milton Mills, was a Captain. Records also show that James Harvey was a private and then was promoted to corporal. He left the service on April 6, 1865.

James married Mary Missouri Samuel September 18.1849. Miss Samuel was the daughter of John Jacob Samuel of Carolina County, Virginia and Catherine Ann Lee of Tuscaloosa, County. Alabama. Becoming discontented with the crowded conditions of Tuscaloosa County and wanting in 'break away' and settle new land James and Mary and their small children set out for Texas the fall of 1876. Accompanying them to this new state was Samuel Thomas Jefferson Mills, who had been with James in Company A, 41st Alabama Infantry C.S.A., and Henrietta "Callie" Samuel and their children. James and Samuel were first cousins and Mary and Callie" were sisters.They arrived in Van Zandt county in December of 1876. James and Mary settled on land north of the town of Canton and Samuel and "Calle" settled near Myrtle Springs.

Quoting from an article written February 26 1914 at the time of the death of James Mills "Jim" Mills: "having had a residence of a little more than 30 years in the county realized some the experiences of pioneer day's deed. During his residence in the then wilderness county southeast of this town (Edgewood) from 4th July 1876 to the first of November, James Mills killed 56 deer in the big range.

In 1881 James Mills bought land in the Mill Creek community south of Canton end moved on same. There he was a successful farmer till 1906 when he moved to Knox County, residing there until the fall of 1913. Again quoting from the article from the Canton Herald at the death of James H. Mills: "then weary and worn, broken down in health and realizing that life's long weary journey must end this good man returned to his kindred, friends, and loved ones in this county where he, with his once large family circle, had spent so many happy days - no more. Jim Mills was devoted to his family and loved his friends and he had come home to die with them. James Mills was a quiet man, loved home, read much, was well posed and in the prime of his life was a very useful man in many spheres. He never attached himself to any church organization but those who knew him best doubted not that he was a true believer. When the end drew near he talked much of God, the home beyond, and a reunion with loved ones. He died at his home at 10 o'clock in the morning (February 12, 1914). He rests in Hillcrest Cemetery."

Submitted by Dr. B.G. Foster

Previously published in the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society's Our Heritage

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This page last updated 3 June 2007

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