PROBABLY the best representative of the stock raisers and stock dealers of Iowa is Oliver Mills, of Cass county. He is a native of Trumbull county, Ohio, and was born in the town of Gustavus, on the 2d of February, 1819. His father, Harlow Mills, was an extensive farmer and stock dealer, educating his son in all the minutiae of the dairy and every branch of farm work. The great-grandfather of Oliver, Gardner Mills, was in the revolutionary army. The Millses were originally from England. The maiden name of Oliver's mother was Faith Ann Spencer, of German pedigree.
The subject of this notice was educated at the Farmington Academy, in his native county, where he spent two years, giving his attention mainly to such studies as would be of most use to him. The practical and best part of his education has since been obtained on the farm, in the dairy, and in other departments of agriculture. He spent the first thirty years or more of his life in Trumbull county, carrying on a large dairy for fifteen years, and raising and buying stock for the eastern market.
In 1850 Mr. Mills settled in Denmark, Lee county, Iowa, there establishing the first large dairy in the state, and managing it for seven years, buying and selling hogs and cattle at the same time.
In 1857 he removed to Lewis, Cass county, where he is still found. Here, for six or seven years, he was the largest cattle and swine feeder in the state, buying all the stock raised in the Nishnabotna valley for twenty or thirty miles in either direction, and all the corn in ten or fifteen miles, his business in some years amounting to two hundred thousand dollars. He was the only stock and grain dealer to any extent in this county until the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad passed through nine years ago. His name, for twenty years, has been known, throughout the state and in Chicago, as a synonyme for enterprise, public spirit and fair dealing.
In 1875 Mr. Mills retired from business. He was long and largely identified with the agricultural interests of Iowa, and no man is more serviceable at state fairs than he. He has been a director of the State Agricultural for twenty consecutive years; was its efficient president in 1874, 1875 and 1876, and has attended every fair since the society was organized.
Mr. Mills was a member of the fourteenth general assembly of Iowa, and did good service to the state in that body. He was a trustee and the treasurer of the Agricultural College two terms.
He was originally a whig, and has been a republican since there existed such a party, he contributing his assistance in organizing the same.
Mr. Mills has been a member of either a Presbyterian or Congregational church since he was fourteen years old, and as far as we can ascertain he has lived strictly in accordance with the gospel of peace.
Mr. Mills has a second wife. His first was Miss Sophia Arnold, of Ashtabula county, Ohio; married on the 17th of April, 1839. She died in December, 1876, leaving five children. One son, John A. Mills, a soldier four years in the Union army, had preceded her to the world of spirits. His resent wife was Miss Julia Forgy, of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, formerly of Dayton, Ohio.
Nature, in her distribution of noblemen, has been generous toward Iowa, and in the front rank is Oliver Mills.
From "The United States Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self-Made Men. Iowa Volume." Chicago and New York: American Biographical Publishing Company, 1878, pg. 760-761.