RICHARD WATSON MILLS, one of the leading attorneys of Cass county, Illinois, was born in Jacksonville, Morgan county, this State, August 3, 1844.
His father, Chesley Mills, was born hear Lebanon, Tennessee, son of James Mills, a native of the eastern shores of Maryland. James Mills was born during Revolutionary times, a son of John Mills, who lost his life in the Revolutionary war, and in Maryland he was reared. When a young man he went to Tennessee, married the daughter of Isaac Lindsey, located a few miles from the Hermitage, and resided there until 1808. That year he removed to the Territory of Missouri and located three miles from Hannibal, being one of the earliest settlers there. He improved a large farm and resided on it till the time of his death. Isaac Lindsey, his father-in-law, was a resident of Eastern Maryland at the breaking out of the Revolutionary war. He was loyal to the crown, but preferred not to fight on either side; so he sought the furtherest bounds of civilization, taking up his abode in the wilderness eight miles from the Hermitage. At that time the Indians were numerous and often there was trouble with them. For a long time the settlers all lived in block houses. He improved a farm in the locality which is still known as Lindsey's Bluff, and resided there till his death.
Chesley Mills learned the trade of plasterer and bricklayer, which he followed till his death, in 1844. He married Harriet Cadwell, a native of Edwardsville, Madison county, Illinois, born on January 10, 1814, daughter of Dr. George Cadwell. Dr. Cadwell was born and reared in Vermont, and in 1799 went to Kentucky with his father-in-law, Matthew Lyon. He objected strenuously to the institution of slavery, and in 1804 came to the Territory of Illinois, becoming one of the original settlers of Madison county. He resided there till 1820, when he went to Morgan county with his wife and children, making the journey with flatboats via the Mississippi and Illinois rivers to Naples. He located near Lynnville, being the first physician to settle in Morgan county, and continued practice there till the time of his death. The maiden name of his wife, grandmother of the subject of our sketch. was Parmelia Lyon. She was born in Vermont. Her father, Matthew Lyon, was born in Ireland, of Scotch ancestry, and when a young man came to America and located in Vermont, where he married the daughter of Governor Chittenden, the first governor of Vermont. He took part in the Revolutionary war and attained the rank of General. After the war, he represented Vermont two terms in Congress. He was the first victim under the Sedition Act, the charge being that of speaking disrespectfully of John Adams, the President of the United States. He was sentenced to six months' imprisonment and fined $1,000; served his time in jail and paid his fine. In 1799, he emigrated to Kentucky and located in Lyon county, which is named in honor of him. He founded the town of Eddyville, the county seat of Lyon county, and became a prominent and wealthy man. He was a slave owner and trader. While residing there he was sent as a representative to Congress. He removed from Kentucky to the Territory of Arkansas, was among the pioneers of Helena, and soon after his arrival there was sent as delegate to Congress. He died in Arkansas about 1825.
The mother of our subject now resides in Jacksonville. She reared five children: Thomas, spent his last years in Dakota; Emily, married Thomas W. Jones, of Ritchie, Will county, Illinois; Martha, married Henry Demarest; George, resides in San Francisco, California, and is a member of the Judson Manufacturing Company of Oakland.
Richard W. Mills received his early education in the district schools. He was in his seventeenth year when the war broke out, and he enlisted in Company B, Tenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and went with the company to Cairo. He was there rejected on account of his age, and returned home. He had been at home, however, only a few days when he again enlisted, this time in Company F, Nineteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and was accepted. He went South with his regiment and remained with it till after his term of service had expired. He participated in the battles of Stone River and Mission Ridge, and was in the reserve at Chickamauga. After his return home he received an academic education at Jacksonville, after which he taught school four years. During that time he commenced the study of law with Judge Cyrus Epler, in May, 1870, was admitted to the bar. He practiced with Judge Epler till 1871, and January 6 of that year he came to Virginia, where he has since been engaged in a successful law practice.
February 4, 1873, he married Matilda A. Tate, a native of Cass county, Illinois, and a daughter of Dr. Harvey Tate. She died March 26, 1884. His second marriage was consummated November 29, 1889, with Nellie W. Epler, a native of Cass county, her parents being William and Jennie Epler.
Mr. Mills is a member of Virginia Lodge, No. 544, A. F. & A. M.; Clark Chapter, No. 29, R. A. M.; Hospitaller Commandery, No. 31, K. T. Politically, he has always affiliated with and been an ardent and efficient worker in the Republican party. He has served as Master in Chancery.
Mrs. Mills' father, William Epler, a resident of the city of Virginia, was born in what is now Princeton precinct, Cass county, Illinois, April 15, 1835. His father, John Epler, was born in that part of Lancaster now included in Dauphin county, Pennsylvania, April 15, 1795. His father, the great-grandfather of Mrs. Mills, Abram Epler, was born in the same locality. His father, great-great-grandfather of Mrs. Mills, John Epler, was born in Germany, and was reared there to young manhood, and in 1734, with his brother Peter, came to America. They located near Reading, Berks county, Pennsylvania. They were Lutherans and established a church of that denomination there. Peter's descendants removed to Northumberland county; John's removed to that part of Lancaster now included in Dauphin county in 1768. He purchased a tract of land there, which he occupied till his death in 1782. A natural boulder marks his resting place, upon which is inscribed a shield, his name and the date of his death. The farm which he owned is now in possession of his great-great-grandson. He reared three sons and one daughter.
Abram Epler was reared and married in Pennsylvania, and resided there till 1798. Then, with his wife and three children, he removed to Kentucky, making the journey across the mountains with teams, down the Ohio river on flatboats to the Falls of the Ohio, landing at the site of the present city of Louisville. He remained there two years; then crossed the river into Northwest Territory, and located in what is now included in Clark county, Indiana. There he erected a log cabin in the wilderness. In l807 he built a stone house there, which is still standing, it being the oldest stone house, in a good state of preservation, in the State of Indiana. He resided there until 1832, when he came to Illinois. He died in Cass county in 1837. The maiden name of his wife was Anna Oldweiler. She was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, October 26, 1768, and died at the home of her son George, May 3, 1847. There were eleven children born to them, all of whom reached adult years: Elizabeth Norris, John, Nancy Austin, Abram, Catherine Blizard, Jacob, David, Sarah Weir, Isaac, George, Mary Short.
John Epler, grandfather of Mrs. Mills, was but three years old when his parents moved to Kentucky, and five years old when they moved to the Northwest Territory. There he was reared and married. He resided in Clark county till 1831, when with his wife and six children, he came to Illinois; made the journey with teams, and after three weeks' travel landed in Cass county. He bought a tract of land on which he engaged in farming and was very successful in his operations. From time to time he purchased other lands until he became the owner of 1,200 acres in Cass and Morgan counties. He spent the last years of his life in Virginia and died May 25, 1876. The maiden name of his wife was Sarah Beggs. She was born in what is now Clark county, Indiana, April 28, 1800. Her father, Charles Beggs, was born in Rockingham county, Virginia, October 30, 1775, and his father, Thomas Beggs, was born in the same county. He took part in the Revolutionary war and died in the service. Charles Beggs was reared and married in Virginia, and resided there till 1798, when he moved to Kentucky. In 1799 he removed to the Northwest Territory and settled in that part now included in Clark county, Indiana. He served in the war of 1812, and fought with Harrison at the battle of Tippecanoe; was an old Whig, and personal friend of General Harrison; served in both the Indiana Territorial and State Legislatures; resided in Clark county till 1829. In 1829 he came to Illinois and was one of the pioneers of Morgan county. He bought a tract of land and resided on it till his death, October 21, 1869. The maiden name of his wife was Martha Trumbo. She was born in Rockingham county, Virginia, March 16, 1778, and died May 12, 1811. Four of her children grew to maturity: Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary and George. The grandmother of Mrs. Mills died January 11, 1882. Twelve of her children were reared: Charles, Abram, Cyrus, Mary A. Barrett, Sarah Fairbank, Elizabeth Hall, John M., William, David, Myron L., Ellen Prince, and Albert G.
William Epler, father of Mrs. Mills, was reared in his native county, and received his early education in the pioneer schools here, and subsequently attended Illinois College, Jacksonville. He has been prominently identified with the business interests of Virginia many years. The maiden name of Mrs. Epler, wife of William Epler, was Jane Abigail Woodman. She was born at Paw Paw, Michigan, March 6, 1838. From a genealogical record of the Woodman family, compiled by Jabez H. Woodman, we learn that there were two brothers, Edward and Archalaus Woodman, natives of Christian Malford, a parish in Wiltshire, England, came to America in 1635, and settled in Newbury, Massachusetts. There descendants are numerous and are scattered in various parts of the United States. It seems from this that Mrs. Mills is a descendant of Edward. The second in line was his son Edward, the third in line his son Archalaus, the next in line Archalaus' son Joseph, born May 4, 1714. He married Bridget Wiley in 1762. He died in Wheelock, Vermont, November, 1807. His son John, great grandfather of Mrs. Mills, married Sarah Foy. He died at Lyndon, Vermont, December 6, 1853, aged ninety years. His son, David Woodman, grandfather of Mrs. Mills, was born in New England, July 27, 1793. He removed from New England to New York State, thence to Michigan, and from there to Oketo, Kansas, where his death occurred August 28, 1892, aged ninety-nine years and one month. His wife, grandmother of Mrs. Mills, was Abigail Gray. The mother of Mrs. Mills died in the State of Nebraska, October 2, 1863, in the twenty-sixth year of her age. Mr. Epler, father of Mrs. Mills, now has a piece copied from an English history, that was published in 1615, that gave an account of the trial and burning at the stake at Lewis, in Sussex, England, of Richard Woodman, June 22, 1557, on account of his religious convictions. He was tried before the Bishops of Chichester and Winchester. He was very tenacious of his opinions, as are said to be some of the Woodmans of the present day. The parents of Mrs. Mills were married at the home of the bride's brother-in-law, Colonel John B. Culver, at Duluth, Minnesota, April 12, 1859. At that time Duluth was an Indian trading post, and they were the first white settlers ever married there. Mr. Epler was there in the employ of the United States Government as a civil engineer.
Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, Biographical Review Publishing Co., Chicago, 1892, pages 253-256.
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