September 9, 1998
New Information on W. G. Mills, including the Louisa
I just found and corrected this copy of the three page
history and proofread it with the original for accuracy:
From Utah State Historical Society: Three page biography by
Elwood I. Barker, March 31, 1977
(All spelling and punctuation are the author's and have been
faithfully reproduced in this rewriting by Roger Porter)
When I read the article in J. Spencer Cornwall's "Story
of LDS Hymns" that nothing was known of William Gill Mills, the author
of two beautiful L.D.S. Hymns, (WE'LL SING THE SONGS OF ZION and ARISE OH
GLORIOUS ZION), I decided to prepare an article concerning him that a
pioneer of l855 may not be entirely forgotten. He and his wife Louisa
Avelina Sleater left no descendants to preserve memories and mementoes of a
lovely home of long duration. Nieces and nephews have left to their
children many beautiful and interesting articles of pioneer vintage; such
as a rocking chair, dining room chairs, hat and coat, lamps, a cornet and a
violin which belonged to his father, and which William played and prized
highly. But best of all is a box containing letters, pictures and
many poems and articles which give an insight into the life and character
of this delightful couple.
Out of church and civil records I have gleaned the following
William Gill Mills, pioneer to Utah 1855, was born 18
December 1822 at Ardglas Co. Down, Ireland, to Thomas Mills and Jane Gill.
There were several brothers and sisters born at Belfast, Ireland;
Castletown, Isle of Man, and the brother Anthony said he was a native of
Egremont, Co. Cumberland, England. (Civil Reg. IV Qtr 1839, Whitehaven)
These are William's words written on a request blank sent
out by the AMERICAN PUBLISHER'S ASSOCIATION, 269 Dearborn St. Chicago, Ill.
Dated 6 November 1894. "I came to America in 1855, and visited
England twice since. Have edited several papers and one magazine, was
a preacher and lecturer for years. Was the first mayor of Gilroy,
California; Justice of the Peace several terms in Utah; was merchandizing
in Illinois, California and Utah; never conceited enough to publish a
volume of my poems, of which I've written some hundreds, and translations
from Greek and Latin Poets (my versification). Some of my writing
have appeared in the Manx Sun; Manx Liberal; Millenial Star, Liverpool;
Family Herald, London; Salt Lake Tribune; Salt Lake Herald;
Deseret News, Salt Lake; Godey's Lady's Book; Tullidges Magazine.
From the "Weekley Budget" London I received two prizes for
the best poems open to competitors in Great Britain and Ireland. My
effusions have appeared in Manx and English newspapers since my fourteenth
year. Occupation: Attorney, Solicitor and Literatus. My hair is
grey (was brown) my eyes are dark grey, Height 5 ft. 8 in. and weight 170
W. G. Mills received some of his training at King William's
College, Castletown I.O.M. He was a Custom House Officer, Ramsey;
then Chief Clerk (p.2) for the Steam Packet Company at the time of his
conversion to Mormonism. He was baptized 18 July 1841 at Ramsey by
John Mills (half brother).
The 25 of December 1840 the Isle of Man branch was formally
organized with John Barnes as presiding Elder and John Mills, a Teacher, as
branch clerk. Two months later there were 70 members on the Isle of
Man. In July 1850 John Kelly was the President and William Gill Mills
was secretary, and his brother-in-law Thomas B. Bourne was secretary June
Between 1841 and 1853 William Gill Mills wrote many poems
and songs which were published in the Millenial Star, "ARISE OH
GLORIOUS ZION" in December 1849, and "WE'LL SING THE SONGS OF
ZION" in June 1850; each has been continued to the present day in the
L.D.S. Hymn books.
He served two missions. He was called to his first
mission to the South Conference by Franklin D. Richards 22 November 1850 to
labor under the Presidency of Elder George Halliday. He was in
Devonport 1 January 1852 and president of the Lands End Conference in June
1852 with Samuel Frances as secretary. On the 11 December 1852, he
was appointed as President of the Reading Conference 1 January 1853 from
which he was released with permission to emigrate on the 2 December 1854.
Elder Mills and his wife, Louisa Avelina Sleater, left Liverpool 17
April 1855 on the ship "CHIMBORAZO", with 421 Saints, including
70 from the Channel Islands, under the direction of Edward Stevensen.
They arrived at Philadelphia 21 May 1855; Mormon Grove for the
24 July Celebration, and Great Salt Lake City the 24 October 1855 in the
Milo Andrus Co. (the Third Perpetual Emigration Company of the year).
The passenger list said he was 32 and she was 23. He was
ordained a High Priest 30 January 1856 by David Pettigrew and G. B.
Wallace. They were endowed and sealed in the Endowment House 25 April
The second mission William G. Mills was called to serve a
mission to England and was set apart by Pres. John Taylor the 22 September
1860. He was president of the Birmingham District, Comprising
Birmingham conference, Co. Warwic, Stafford and Shropshire, during 1861,
1862, and part of 1863. The address was 86 Garbett St. Birmingham.
His release came 16 May 1863 as follows:
Notice: At a general conference of the priesthood of
the Birmingham Conference at which were present several Elders from Zion,
Elder William Gill Mills was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints for adultery. Millenial Star 16 May 1863.
(P. 3)William Gill Mills and his wife Louisa Avelina left
Liverpool on the ship Great Eastern the 15 May 1863. They spent some
time in Carthage, Illinois with her parents Robert and Mary Marchant
Sleater and family. According to dates on published poems they lived
in Austin and Havilah Nevada 1865, 1866, and 1867; Gilroy California 1868
to 1871; Then they returned to Utah and were at Alta till the big fire and
the rest of the time in Salt Lake City.
In 1893 he went to England to visit his loved ones who
received him very kindly as attested by the letters received following his
decease the 24 May 1895 at 88 "O" Street. He was buried in
Mount Olivet Cemetery on the 26 of May.
Elwood I. Barker
March 31, 1977
Louisa Jane Stocks Black:
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 10, p.320
[p.320] The family arrived in Utah October 24, 1855, and in
1856 they were sent to Sanpete County; then in 1861 they moved to Southern
Utah and located on the banks of the Rio Virgin River in Washington County.
At the age of fifteen years she returned to Salt Lake City to attend
school, where she studied a number of years and ultimately graduated from
the Deseret University. She followed school teaching as a profession, and
during this time was married to James F. Wilkin. Two children were born to
them, David Henry and Mary Halley. Because of misunderstandings and the
stress of the times, they separated and were divorced. Louie then moved to
Millard County where she taught school from 1869 to 1885. During this time
she met Bishop Joseph Black. Mr. Black records in his history:
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 10, p.320
I first became acquainted with her in 1869. She followed
school teaching and removed to Millard County and engaged in school
teaching in the year 1883. From our acquaintance, I had the impression that
she would become my wife. Her mother read her Patriarchal blessing to me
one day. It said that she would go through the house of the Lord with a man
of her own choice. The Spirit whispered to me, "You are that
man." She is small in stature, dark hair, blue eyes, light
complexioned with a gentle disposition and a loving heart. She has been an
affectionate and dutiful wife. We were married in 1885, on the 13th day of
February. We have had born to us six children. Sarah Eliza, Joseph
Valentine, Louie Valeria, Wallace S., Roland M. and Flossie B.
Written by W. G. Mills on the birth of Louisa, born on the
plains, blessed on top of Independence Rock, Sept. 28, 1855, by Milo
Andrus, W. G. Mills and Henry Stocks.
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 10, p.320
Hail thou tiny emigrant
Welcome heavenly visitant
Sent to soothe thy parents care
While to Zion they repair.
Not where ary mansions to the eye.
Not where commerce hand employs
Thousands to increase our joys.
Not with tapestry around,
Not with richest trappings bound
Did thy mother give thee birth
On thy visit here on earth.
But upon the desert plain
Traveling in a wagon train.
Mid the mountain scenery wild
Thou wast born a desert child.
Thou hast shunned thy parent's isle
To be born on Joseph's soil.
On the everlasting mountains
Near the Platte's meandering fountains.
At the voice of Utah Lion
Thy dear parents flee to Zion
And to show the prophet's worth
Zion's labors to bring forth.
With thy father and thy mother
Many a sister, many a brother
Thou in glorious state have lived
Till this priesthood earth received.
Innocent and noble spirit
Now a body to inherit.
Born in subjected condition
Free from Gentile's dark tradition
Ere the angels led the road
When thou left thine blest abode
Parting blessings then were said
By the Priesthood on thy head.
We the "spirit" too possessing
Greet thee with a holy blessing.
And would fain reiterate
What the holy ones did state
May thou grow in strength and form
Decked with beauty, grace and charm
And thine intellectual power
Prove thyself superior.
May thy gift of mind and beauty
Be consigned with Love and Duty.