logo John & A. Mills


See Introduction for some general background - the name Mills occurs several times in the early history of Mormonism on the Island though I have not found any obvious linkages between them:

A John Mills, was installed in December 1840 as teacher and presiding clerk however he is recorded as emigrating on the Rochester in April 1841. According to Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 16, p.522 John Mills had married Elizabeth Hall, he was a skilled tin and copper craftsman who helped to build the Nauvoo Temple - their two sons died on the trek to Salt Lake City, John Mills went to California in 1854/5 and supposedly died there in an explosion.

Two entries for J. Mills under tinsmiths are in Cannel's guide of 1843(directory probably belongs from 1841), one in Duke Street, the other in Barrack street - the trade of tinsmith ties in with Alexander Mills who is also listed as tinsmith, who could possibly be related though no mention was made of this in the newspaper reports (there is also a Thomas Mills tinsmith in Castletown in 1837 - this is possibly the father of John and William Gill Mills).

William Gill Mills was was secretary to the IoM branch under John Kelly in 1850 - James Quayle reports him baptising him in 1849 . He was born 18 December 1822 at Ardglas Co. Down, Ireland, to Thomas Mills and Jane Gill - although he left the Mormons (excommunicated for adultery [Millenial Star 16 May 1863] ) whilst a missionary in Birmingham, he is remembered as having written two important hymns - "Arise oh glorious Zion" and "We'll sing the songs of Zion" . His poetical ability manifested early in life with some pieces published in the Manx press from the age of 14 onwards. He was a clerk to the IoMSPCo before going on mission in the South of England from 1850 to 1853. He emigrated to Salt Lake City in 1855 with his young wife, Louisa Avelina Sleater, but returned to mission Birmingham in 1860. They had no children though William via a polygamous marriage to Emily Hill (which he later denounced) fathered Avelina Mills in 1859. In 1876 he again fathered a child on a young woman, Mannie Pickett, born 1876 to 19 year old Maria Louisa Pickett to whom he gave accomodation after the murder of her mother. By 1879 he had become a Methodist minister in Tuscon and died in Salt Lake City 24 May 1895 aged 72 [see <http://marialouisapickett.homestead.com/WilliamGillMills.html> for more family history] - the family state that he was half brother to John Mills - he had several siblings or half-siblings born in Belfast, Castletown and Cumberland.

The next Mills mentioned is Irish born Alexander Mills (reported in 1848 directory under Tinsmiths Mills A, 40 Barrack st) - subject of a newspaper attack:

A certain tinman of this town, who a few weeks ago was regularly initiated into the mysteries of the Mormon faith by baptism and the imposition of hands, and who fancies he has received the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost; after being constituted an apostle of Mormonism by obtaining sight of the wonderful plates in a vision - the only way in which they ever were, or ever can be seen by mortals - has been put in possession of miraculous powers - he can speak with tongues, and can even interpret the hitherto unintelligible sounds produced by his hammer on the plates of tin.

To which he replied:

In the first place, I was not mending an old tea-pot, but lying on my bed, whether sleeping or waking I know not, pondering on the Book of Mormon, and debating whether it was true or not. While thus musing I was carried by angels to the top of an exceeding high mountain, not Snafield or Slieu Donard, as stated in your paper, but to the best of my belief to the "utmost bound of the everlasting hills." The mountain opened, and one of the the angels brought me into the inside of it, and showed me the plates which were of gold,…

John Mills - extract

Extract from Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 16, p.522/4

John and Elizabeth Hall Mills first heard the gospel through Elder John Taylor. They had seen the sick healed by faith. Their daughter Elizabeth was left almost blind from a bad case of measles. Her sight was restored through the faith of her parents and the elders. The family made their home at Douglas, on the Isle of Man, which sits like a jewel in the Irish Sea-picturesque with its rolling mossy hills and beautiful flowers. After their baptism in the year 1851[sic ?1841], the family left their native land and came to America on the ship Rochester, as they were some of the first Latter-day Saint converts. The sea voyage was very rough and severe, causing them to drift off their right course, which hindered their progress. They were on this sailing vessel about twelve weeks. Accompanying John and Elizabeth were five children, two boys and three girls. Their first home in America was in Nauvoo, Illinois. John Mills was a skilled tin and copper craftsman who helped to build the Nauvoo Temple. One day the Prophet Joseph Smith and John Taylor came to the Mills home to discuss the design of the temple font, at which time Mr. Mills was told the purpose of the oxen, representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Mr. Mills molded the horns and the ears of the oxen and worked on the font until its completion. In 1844, after the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum had been assassinated, the Mills family left the ill-fated city and journeyed to Fort Madison. After a short stay at this city, they moved to Drakesville where John was engaged in making telegraph wires. The next move took the family to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where they lived and worked for two years. The John Mills family sold their home at Council Bluffs, bought two wagons, two yoke of oxen, and two yoke of cows, loaded the wagons with provisions, bedding and such furniture as they could and started their journey westward. Daughter Elizabeth, two sons, Thomas and John, and daughter Martha left in one company, while the parents and daughter Alice left in another. Thomas and John died en route. One was bitten by a rattlesnake and the other died of mountain fever.

In the spring of 1852, the Saint Louis Freight Company of Fort Laramie and the Independent Company joined them, where they were organized into companies of fifty wagons with a captain in charge of each. Captain Wilkie was in charge of the company in which the Mills family traveled. They reached Great Salt Lake Valley in late summer of 1852, settling in what was known as the Seventh Ward, living in a log cabin rented from Thomas Quayle. Times were difficult for the family, and Mr. Mills in the company of several other men made plans to go to California where he thought to better their conditions, have his family follow him later or return to them after he had acquired [p.523] means to make their condition more prosperous. Fate was against him when he died from an explosion of a powder magazine, which he was soldering, in about the year 1855 or 1856.

After a year had passed, Mrs. Mills became the wife of George W. Rowley, one of Johnston's Army men. After their marriage they moved to Wasatch, where her new husband made a comfortable home for her and her unmarried children. Two sons were born of this union, George and Daniel Rowley. Elizabeth Hall Mills Rowley died at age 96 years.


Elizabeth Mills Oakden Whitaker was born March 7, 1839, at Douglas on the Isle of Man. Her parents, John and Elizabeth Hall Mills, were converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and set sail for America in the year 1841. The family, after having lived first in Nauvoo, then Fort Madison, Drakesville and Council Bluffs, made their way to Utah, arriving in the spring of 1852. Elizabeth, the eldest of the Mills children, was fourteen years of age when they reached the valley.

Soon after, Charles Oakden, a tall, dark, handsome, young man began to pay attention to her. They had been going to parties, church and dances for about six months when he proposed marriage. Elizabeth rather reluctantly promised to become his wife, at the same time wondering if she could live happily with him. While she was making up her mind, William, Charles' brother, came to visit them. Their natures being more in tune with each other and he being more congenial than Charles, they soon became devoted lovers. On October 10, 1854, they were married by Bishop Hoagland. They started housekeeping, renting three rooms from William's people. Charles, the rejected suitor, boarded with them.

In March Charles and William went out on an Indian farm to work until the last of June. When they came back home, after they had been there a few days, they decided to go over to the west mountain for a load of wood. After they had their wood loaded, Charles suggested that they go swimming in the Jordan River. At this time, William was drowned. Elizabeth could not believe that such a terrible calamity could befall her. She was a wife, widow and mother before she had reached her sixteenth birthday.

The first winter after William's death, Charles stayed and boarded with her, asking for her hand in marriage. She refused and went to Provo to live in the home of an uncle, her father's brother. While there she met Thomas William Whitaker, whom she married on September 4, 1858. The ceremony was performed by Brigham Young. Thomas Whitaker had purchased some land in the Centerville area, and it was here he and his wife began to make their first home, which was a log cabin purchased from Thomas Ricks, containing furniture made by Thomas from timber [p.524] taken from the mountains above the Centerville area. Here the family farmed and helped in the establishment of a thriving community.

Again Elizabeth was widowed and once more gathered up the broken threads of her life under its changed conditions by studying and preparing herself to be a nurse. She had a natural ability for caring for the sick and her services were rendered in Salt Lake City, Ogden, and surrounding towns. She was the mother of six sons and six daughters and lived a full and eventful life. Many lives were enriched through the service she rendered and her unselfish consideration of others.

Elizabeth died at Centerville, Davis County, Utah, on June 7, 1937.

 From Mormon Immigration Index - on James Pennell Liverpool to New Orleans Sep 1849
Alexander Mills b. 1814
Elisa Mills b.1815
Children: James b. 1836; Alexander b. 1842 ; John b.1848

(In the 1841 Census Alexander age 25, & Jane Elizabeth (age 26) are found with three children Jane 5, Elizabeth 3 and Matilda 1 with father-in-law John Duff.)

Manx Note Book      [Genealogy Index]

see Mormon Converts

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor r
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 1999