Introduction: Isaac Mills is known as a gunsmith from local knowledge that is captured in an 1888 Jefferson County, Pennsylvania history book, and from surviving examples of his work. It is assumed that he learned gunsmithing in Bedford County, Pennsylvania from his elder brother Joseph Mills.
1798: Isaac Mills descendant Twila Cowan reports that Isaac Mills was born on June 10, 1798 and was a brother of the gunsmith Joseph Mills, Jr. and son of Joseph Mills, Sr. This is substantiated by the will of Joseph Mills, Sr., which lists sons named Joseph and Isaac.
1801: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" indicates that Isaac Mills was born in Providence Township of Bedford County in 1801. I suspect that this 1801 date is from Kate M. Scott's 1888 book "History of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania", which is quoted in an extract below. Russell Harringer's 1984 book "Longrifles of Pennsylvania" indicates that (based on deed and will analysis) Isaac Mills was the youngest child of Joseph Mills and Margaret Mills, and was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania circa 1801.
1819: The Margaret Mills who is buried at the Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery is believed to be the mother of the gunsmiths Joseph and Isaac Mills. Her tombstone states, "Margret Mills was born in the year of our Lord June 12, 1757 died in the year 1819 aged 62 years". Joseph Mills, Sr. is buried in the same cemetery.
Circa 1821: Isaac Mills descendant Twila Cowan reports that Issac Mills married Mary Authurs circa 1821 while still living in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.
1822: An arrest warrant for Isaac Mills was issued on the charge of fornication and bastardy in 1822. More than one typed transcript of the warrant exists, so I am including the transcript version that appears to be the most complete and accurate: "The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Sherriff of Bedford County Greetings ... We command you that you take Isaac Mills, late of your county yeoman if he be found in your bailiwick and him safely keep so that you have his body before our Justices at Bedford, at our court of quarter session of the Peace, there to be held the first Monday of August next ... to answer up of a certain Bill of Indictment for fornication and bastardy there depending against him ... and have you there there this writ ... witness Charles Huston Esquire at Bedford the fourth day April, Anno Domini 1822. Jonas Epsy Clerk." The Whiskers' 1983 booklet indicates that Isaac Mills was tried in the Bedford County Court on the charge of fornication and bastardy in 1822.
1822: According to Harringer's book "Longrifles of Pennsylvania", a list of trials from the Bedford County Court session of April 1822 lists the case of "the commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Isaac Mills", and has annotations indicating that Isaac Mills was found to be liable and was required to make a payment of four dollars to the jury fund.
1822: Josiah Mills is buried in the New Rehoboth cemetery (41.18277779, -79.32979552) in Clarion County, Pennsylvania, where his tombstone is inscribed, "Josiah Mills Mar. 10 1822 Jan. 31, 1885". A website reports that this individual is the son of Isaac and Mary Mills.
1822-1824: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, & Somerset Counties" by Whisker & Yantz reports that although Isaac Mills does not appear in the Bedford County tax records, he does appear in the 1822 to 1824 court records, accused of being the father of Elizabeth Grey's child.
1824: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet reports that Isaac Mills serves as a juror for the Court of Oyer and Terminer (criminal court) in 1824. According to Harringer's 1984 book, this jury service occurred in April of 1824.
1824: Michael Mills is buried in the Pisgah Cemetery in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania where his tombstone indicates he was born in 1824 and died in 1891. His obituary in the January 1, 1892 issue of the Kansas newspaper the "Osawatomie Graphic" includes the statement, "Mr. Mills was born in Westmoreland county, Jan. 18, 1824..." A website reports that this individual is the son of Isaac and Mary Mills.
1826: Pauline Cummings is buried at the Pisgah Cemetery in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, where her tombstone inscription includes the words, "Pauline Cummings died Nov. 2_, 1868, aged 62y...", and the tombstone is eroded enough that I am kind of guessing at the given age. A website indicates that this individual was a daughter of Issac and Mary Mills, and was born January 15, 1826 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.
1828: According to her death certificate, Isaac Mills' daughter Sarah Ann (Mills) Reed was born on April 6, 1828. Sarah A. Reed is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Cass County, Iowa where her tombstone indicates she was born in 1828 and died in 1922.
Circa 1828: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet reports that a son was born to Isaac Mills in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania circa 1828. I suspect this may be a reference to Isaac's son John Mills.
1830: According to Harringer's book "Longrifles of Pennsylvania", the September 24, 1908 Brookville newspaper the "American" indicates that John Mills "...was born in Westmoreland County 78 years ago." This makes his birth date circa 1830 and (if accurate) puts at least his mother in Westmoreland County at the time of his birth. The 1830 birth year agrees with the tombstone of the John Mills who is buried in the Brookville Cemetery (Jefferson County) which states "John Mills 1830--1908". Here is an obituary that was published in the September 24, 1908 issue of the "Jeffersonian Democrat". In the obituary, the term "huckster" refers to someone who went door to door offering things (such as produce) for sale. Huckstering was one of the ways that farmers earned spending money.
1830: The following article in the August 11, 1904 issue of the "Jeffersonian Democrat" newspaper also points to an 1830 birth year for Isaac Mills' son John. The reference to a half-brother is probably a reference to one of the children Isaac's widow had after remarrying.
1831: Isaac Mills' descendant Twila Cowan reports that Isaac Mills was a gunsmith in Brookville, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania in 1831. Brookville is 85 miles north-northwest of Bedford in a straight line (103 miles over the shortest modern route).
1832: A page from an unknown book states that Isaac Mills was on the Rose Township, Jefferson County tax roll in 1832.
1832: A tombstone in the Pisgah Cemetery is inscribed, Mary A. wife of John McCauley died Feb. 16, 1899 aged 66 ys. 5 ms. 8 ds." By my calculations, based on the stated age at death, Mary was born on September 8, 1832. A website indicates that Mary is a daughter of Issac and Mary Mills.
Circa 1831-1836: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet puts Isaac Mills in Brookville, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania from about 1831 to 1836.
1833: According to Harringer's book "Longrifles of Pennsylvania", Isaac Mills was enumerated in the Roseville area (between Brookville and Corsica) with a house on a 128 acre property.
1833: Joseph Mills, Sr., the father of the gunsmiths Joseph Mills, Jr. and Isaac Mills, reportedly died in 1833.
1834: According to the death certificate of Isaac Mills' son Levi Charles Mills, Levi was born on July 17, 1834 in Brookville. Levi C. Mills is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Cass County, Iowa where his tombstone indicates he was born July 17, 1834 and died March 14, 1911.
1835: The following excerpt is from from Volume I of W. J. McKnight's 1917 book "Jefferson County Pennsylvania Her Pioneers and People 1800--1915" :
1836: Isaac Mills descendant Twila Cowan reports that Isaac Mills died on May 23, 1836 as the result of a fall that happened while he was building a barn. This agrees with the year of death that is given in Harringer's book "Longrifles of Pennsylvania". Issac Mills is buried in the Roseville Bethel Cemetery (41.17527334, -79.13174415) in Roseville, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania. The broken and heavily weathered tombstone gives his middle initial as "D".
1837: According to Harringer's book "Longrifles of Pennsylvania", Isaac Mills was listed in the 1837 township records as being deceased.
1837: The following excerpt from Volume I of W. J. McKnight's 1917 book "Jefferson County Pennsylvania Her Pioneers and People 1800--1915" shows that Isaac's widow ran the tavern for at least a little while after Isaac's death:
1838: According to Harringer's book "Longrifles of Pennsylvania", Harvey Miller had taken over the Mills tavern by 1838, and appeared as an innkeeper on the township records.
1838: According to Harringer's book "Longrifles of Pennsylvania", in February of 1838 Daniel Snyder purchased Isaac Mills' property in the boro (presumably the boro of Brookville) for $336.00 from estate administrators Israel Gray and John Hughes.
1840: A web page indicates that Isaac's widow Mary married the widower David Orcutt in 1840, and had three more children with him.
1842: According to Harringer's book "Longrifles of Pennsylvania", in 1842 David Orcut was appointed to be the guardian of the minor children of Isaac Mills.
1854: The 1854 marriage record of John Mills and Mary Ann Hughes at the Jefferson County, Pennsylvania courthouse indicates that John Mills' parents were Isaac Mills and Mary Arthurs. The marriage record also indicates that John Mills was born at Youngstown, Pennsylvania, which is in Westmoreland County.
From the 1888 history book: The following excerpts are from Kate M. Scott's 1888 book "History of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania".
From the 1898 history book: The following excerpts are from W. J. McKnight's 1898 book "A Pioneer History of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania...":
The Thomas L. Templeton residence that W. J. McKnight references is 113 Main Street in Brookville, according to Harringer's book "Longrifles of Pennsylvania" (41.159991, -79.077807).
Orientation: The following excerpt from the 1857 Gillespie map of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania shows the relative locations of Brookville, Roseville, and Corsica.
A 1932 newspaper clipping: The following item is from the March 24, 1932 issue of the "Jeffersonian Democrat" newspaper:
Work & work product:
The circumstances of the life of Isaac Mills raise the question: Was Isaac Mills a gunsmith in Bedford County before moving to Brookville? Isaac was the younger brother of the gunsmith Joseph Mills, Jr., so it seems reasonable to suspect that he learned gunsmithing from Joseph before leaving Bedford County.
The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book reports that Colonel Russell Harringer knew of an Isaac Mills rifle that had Bedford County styling. This is harmonious with the theory that Isaac Mills learned gunsmithing in Bedford County. Russell Harringer's 1984 book indicates that Russell's friend Earl Parker had owned a rifle by Issac Mills, but sold it believing it was a Bedford County rifle, which was outside the intended focus of his collection.
In its entry on Isaac Mills, Sellers' 2008 book "American Gunsmiths" mentions a full stock percussion firearm.
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