|About Robert Charters Christopher Mills 1856-1946
When I started the first Family Tree in 2001, my goal was to learn something about my grandfather James Edward MILLER and my grandmother Mary Eliza MILLS. I found little pockets of information, but, oh, how I wish somebody back then had taken the time to write more down about their lives.
For eight years I labored on the original family tree and finally, due to a lack of interest on almost everybody in the family's part, I closed it down. A year later one of my cousins called and asked what happened. When I explained, she asked me to start again and this time she would encourage others in the family to help fill in the data for their own branches.
Its been eleven years since that time and I have added more information, but mainly things I found on other websites. I suspect in the nineteen years this tree has existed fewer then ten people felt it was their responsibility to add or correct anything. How disappointing. I obviously have not done a good enough job in communicating the intent of this site.
Our Family Tree is not like Facebook or other social media sites where people drop in on a regular basis to share what they're doing and to see what is happening with their friends and family. The goal of this site covers a much longer term, because this is where we get to tell our future generations who we were, what we did and what we believed in. I have built this site for you, the member reading this passage, to have a place to add what is important to you so that 200 years from now, one of your great-great-great-great grandchildren will find joy in learning something about you and your branch of the tree.
This can only be accomplished if every member sees that they have a responsibility to fill in their own information. I don't expect anyone to log in all the time, but I do hope you see that unless you report the changes (births, deaths, weddings, baptisms, graduations, etc) and unless you tell the stories and upload the photos... your descendants will probably not know these things about you.
If you are a first-time or infrequent visitor, I encourage you to find your own branch of the tree and fill in the blanks. Also, please provide details about the families of your spouse (parents, siblings, nieces and nephews). A new feature called STORIES can be found in the People/Stories drop down. Scroll to the bottom and click '+New Story' to add your own. Photos are always welcome and on each one there is a field for telling the story behind the photo.
The naming convention is to use ALL CAPS for the last name and normal capitalization for all other names. The birth name is used in all cases (never the married last name for women), so a woman born Jane Bertha SMITH will be identified in the tree that way, even after she marries and takes the last name of her husband and becomes Jane Bertha JONES.
Each family member can add/correct information, photos and stories about their own branch. The editing icons disappear when you are outside your permissions. Click the "admin" button at Sign In or the link in the second paragraph of this introduction to the tree if you have difficulty making an entry or you have information about members of the tree that are outside your immediate family and I will make the entries for you. The more people who participate in getting the information right, the better the website will represent the family (in all its branches and connectors).
Now for a little background about the nuclear family.
I wanted to pick a known couple as the starting place when I began the tree almost twenty years ago, so I selected my great grandfather Robert Charters Christopher MILLS II (1856-1948) and my great grandmother Esther HUNTER (1855-1943). I have located and added other parents, siblings, spouses and spouse's families from before and after them, but this couple is at the epicenter of my efforts.
Many of the early families had roots in Ireland, England, and Scotland. They left various countries in Europe and sailed to Canada and the United States. When the US Government created the Homestead Act of 1862 (signed by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War), it opened a way for young men and women with guts and determination to participate in the American Dream. The Act said that any adult citizen, including former slaves, women and immigrants—could become land owners provided they had never borne arms against the U.S. government. Each person could claim up to 160 acres of surveyed government land.
To make a claim, homesteaders paid a filing fee of $18—$10 to make a temporary claim on the land, $2 for a commission for the land agent and an additional $6 final payment to receive an official patent on the land. Land titles could also be purchased from the government for $1.25 per acre following six months of proven residency.
Additional requirements included five years of continuous residence on the land, building a home on it, farming it and making improvements. Homesteaders had to be the head of a household or 21 years of age and had to certify they had never borne arms against the U.S. They also needed two neighbors or friends to attest to the government that they had fulfilled the requirements. Union soldiers could shave off time served in the Civil War from the five-year residency requirement.
By working from sun-up until last light, these pioneers tended the farm animals, tilled the soil, sowed the seeds, reaped the harvest and created a life for their families. Everybody worked, both young and old. There was so much to do that each child had daily tasks that not only serviced the family, it helped mold them into people who understood the value of work and giving it everything they had. Robert CC MILLS and Esther HUNTER were part of the westward expansion of America as a result of that Act and you can read about that in his STORY.
For the most part, we are and have always been a hard-working lot and many in the family are the pioneer spirit, salt-of-the-earth kind of individuals who make good neighbors. You will see repeatedly a willingness on their part to take risk, to leave the comfort of the nest and strike out for new opportunities and a new life. Many of our ancestors endured extremely difficult and lonely times while starting their families and proving their land. We were poor, but we never viewed ourselves as poor. We had the land and the crops and the animals and we made do. We didn't expect a handout from anybody and when the hard times came, we endured.
With no irrigation systems, when the rains came the crops were plentiful. When they didn't, the crops often failed. We were tied to the land and the seasons. There was a rhythm in farming that demanded our full attention and commitment.
Esther HUNTER said, “If I didn’t have hymns to sing, I’d go crazy listening to the wind.” When she became a mother herself, her daughter, Mary Eliza MILLS (1890-1986) was crocheting one night on the farm in North Dakota and the hook flipped up into her eye. Her husband James Edward MILLER (1879-1947) had to take the hook out and hold her eye for a day because there was no doctor within fifty miles. When the pain subsided, they tied a cloth around her head to hold a damp rag and Mary went back to work baking, cooking and caring for her family. She never saw from that eye again.
As a member of this site, you have the option to receive a monthly newsletter that lists every birthday and anniversary in the family. A new feature under People/Stories is the ability to add snippets of life about anybody and link it to their name. This gives us the ability to share the lives of every member of the family with fun, easy to create and great to read stories that are completely free-form. Give it a try and I hope you enjoy poking around and getting to know your history. Let me know what you think.
Richard Small - Webmaster
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There are several ways to browse the family tree. The Tree View graphically shows the relationship of selected person to their kin. The Family View shows the person you have selected in the center, with his/her photo on the left and notes on the right. Above are the father and mother and below are the children. The Ancestor Chart shows the person you have selected in the left, with the photograph above and children below. On the right are the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. The Descendant Chart shows the person you have selected in the left, with the photograph and parents below. On the right are the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Do you know who your second cousins are? Try the Kinship Relationships Tool. Your site can generate various Reports for each name in your family tree. You can select a name from the list on the top-right menu bar.
In addition to the charts and reports you have Photo Albums, the Events list and the Relationships tool. Family photographs are organized in the Photo Index. Each Album's photographs are accompanied by a caption. To enlarge a photograph just click on it. Keep up with the family birthdays and anniversaries in the Events list. Birthdays and Anniversaries of living persons are listed by month. Want to know how you are related to anybody ? Check out the Relationships tool.