October 7: Samuel Cooper Mills (1911)

Samuel C. Mills was an American photographer, Civil War veteran, and a judge. Born in 1833 in Washington, D.C., Mills was the third of twelve children of John and Mary Ann Mills. As a young man, he worked in his father’s shoe factory. In 1856, Mills began working in the photography studio of Blanchard P. Paige on Pennsylvania Avenue. Two years later, Mills was hired as the photographer for a U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers survey of the Utah Territory. After a grueling three and half month journey across the country, Mills’ photographs were some of the first taken along the Utah and California Trails. Upon his return to D.C., Mills went back to work at Paige’s photography studio. In 1864, Mills enlisted in the Union Army as a hospital steward and after the war ended, he returned to photographic work. Meanwhile, he studied law, passed the bar in 1872, and was appointed a police judge in the district, a position he held for the remainder of his working life.

Quite a few members of the Mills family were associated with Epiphany. The first entry in the records of the family is the marriage of the oldest child, Mary Ann Susannah Mills to Joseph B. Tate in 1850. Tate was the founder of the Evening Star newspaper. Of the twelve Mills children, five were married at the church, including Samuel. In October 1860, after his western adventure, Samuel Mills and Mary Ann Knott were married at Epiphany by rector Charles H. Hall. The couple’s first child, Mary Anna, was baptized in April 1862, just before the church was converted to a military hospital during the war. The baptisms of several nieces and nephews of Samuel Mills also took place during this time period.

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