Deer Lodge, September 5, (1904)--Honorable James Hamilton Mills died at six o'clock Monday morning, at the age of sixty-seven years...The Funeral will take place from the Presbyterian Church, Tuesday afternoon September 6, at 3:30 o'clock. The Republican County Convention which meets here at noon on Tuesday, will adjourn and attend the service in a body. Lifelong friends from over the entire state are arriving this evening to attend the funeral.
Captain Mills was born in New Lisbon, Ohio December 21, 1837. Seven generations preceding him have lived in America. James received his education in Ohio and Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and then worked in mercantile and mechanical pursuits until the Civil War. He enlisted on April 27, 1861 at the age of 24 years in Company G, the eleventh Pennsylvania Reserves (Fortieth Pennsylvania Infantry) as a private soldier.
With his regiment he participated in twenty seven general engagements of the Army of the Potomac, and for "gallant conduct on the field" he was promoted to corporal, first sergeant, first lieutenant and captain and for "heroic conduct in the Battle of the Wilderness and Bethesda Church" he was commissioned brevet-major and brevet-lieutenant colonel. He was mustered out of service at Pittsburg on June 13, 1864.
For a time after his service James engaged in a leather business at Pittsburg and then came west in the spring of 1866. He began mining in Yellowstone where he belonged to a group that opened a hydraulic claim at Emigrant Gulch. After the group gave all of their money to a packer to obtain provisions in Bozeman, and he swindled them out of their wealth, they had to give up the claim. When James arrived in Virginia City he possessed ten cents in postal currency. He was able to immediately obtain an accounting job and when an article he published in an eastern journal came to the attention of D.W. Tilton, James was hired as editor of the Montana Post. Thus he became the third editor of the Post (Professor Dimsdale and Judge Blake preceding him.) Staying in this position until July 1869, the Captain then founded the New Northwest at Deer Lodge, which he was editor and publisher for, until November 1891. James was the first President of the Montana Press Association. He married Miss Ella M. Hammond in 1875 and to this union was born three children: Mary E., Nellie G. and James H. Jr.
Captain Mills was a lifelong Republican who attended the constitutional convention of Montana in 1884 and was appointed by President Hayes as Secretary of the Territory. He served one term and declined reappointment. In 1889 James was nominated by the convention to formulate a state constitution but declined, to accept the appointment of collector of internal revenue for the district that included Montana, Idaho and Utah. In this office James served until February 28, 1893 at which time he was appointed commissioner of the state bureau of agriculture, labor and industry. That position he filled until January 1897. In 1895, James had accepted an appointment as receiver of the Northern Pacific Railroad and in 1897 was appointed receiver for The Helena Consolidated Water Company. There James served until February 1 1901. At that time the Captain became Clerk and Recorder for the newly formed Powell County.
Fraternal Organizations the Captain was a member of included The Loyal Legion, Grand Army of the Republic (Past Senior Vice-commander), United Workmen (Past Grand Master Workman), and Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of Montana (Past Grand Master) (excerpt from The Butte Miner Tuesday September 6, 1904).
The above information was published in the Montana Historical Society Contributions Volume V, 1904, pages 264-272.From the Philipsburg Mail: ...No man could be truer to the higher purposes of statehood than Capt. Mills, in whose heart lay the most loyal sentiments of the commonwealth. He was a tireless worker for the public good, a man of great abilities properly directed to the better ends of life, and he never forgot the exactions of duty in carrying out the responsibilities of public trust...