Mills, Edward

from Yaphank As It Is and Was
Beecher Homan


The subject of this sketch was born in Middle Town, Orange Co., the 19th day of June, 1849. He is the son of Edmond Smith and Elmira Finn Mills.

Early in life young Wickham evinced an enterprising inclination, and combining an invincible will with honorable resolutions, he launched into the business world. His name was first brought before the commercial public in a manufacturing capacity. Like all successful merchants and tradesmen, he was first doomed to endure a failure, before he could appreciate a success. His factory speculation was not auspicious, and may be credited as one stumble in his financial career. But defeat is indispensable to lay a facile road to wealth. Thus, when but a youth, he became involved in a money difficulty that would have discouraged more mature minds.

But young Wickham was not disheartened. Though his initiation into a business sphere slightly wilted his enthusiasm, it never daunted his fixed determinations and aspirations.

He canceled all claims against him, left the ether so unhealthy, and came to congenial little Yaphank.

In 1859 he entered the store of his brother-in-law, as under clerk. His restless enterprise did not allow him to remain contended in that public position, and giving positive evidence of greater efficiency, was deservedly promoted to the head of Mr. Mills' mercantile affairs in Yaphank.

His increasing business increases his friends and popularity. Such laudable motives in a young man are sure prognostics of brilliant future.

In 1872 we see him again settled upon a mercantile foundation, as the dashing young success for to J.P. Mills. No more a slave of the dry-goods counter, he is responsible for the success or failure of his own establishment. When the shingle of "John P. Mills, Merchant," was taken down, and the glaring appellation of "E. Wickham Mills," looked out over the dormant village, a ring of joy echoed from every home.


Mr. Mills enjoys a reasonable view of this subject. He believes that what nature kindly bestowed upon us we lack in ambition and enterprise; that if we can capitalists' attention to our wasting virtues, a multiplication of population will inevitably follow, and opposition spring up. Opposition being the vital of trade, good effects will consequently ensue; thus benefiting merchants, tradesman and citizens alike. He believes there are stumbling stones in every path to improvement, and that the path to Yaphank is no exception.


With his customers and friends he is popular for his facetiousness and gentlemanly bearing. Always characterized by his humor and jocularity, he wins a friend in every partron.
From the four points of the compass his customers flock. No house in Brookhaven Town has firmer corner store, or has stood more firmly through financial eruptions and panics, than his.

The extent of his trade is really astonishing. Far up among the hills of Coram he sends his wares. The people of Bellport, Brookhaven, Southhaven, Mastic, and Moriches, use his merchandise. From the Manor and Eastport, and other Eastern villages, the people come buy their goods, and drive hard bargains. In Middle Island, Sweezytown, and the Ridge he is known as the luminary of "Mills' store."

His books will favorably compare with any similar establishment in Suffolk Co.

The head light of his house is politeness. The tottering old lady, with a dozen eggs and a pound of butter, is granted an exchange as pleasantly and with the same air of politeness that is showered upon the "upper tens", who carry a rustle of nacarat and an odoriferous scent of band-boxes about them.


Mr. Mills is about 5 feet 8 inches in height, and more handsome and prepossessing than businessmen generally are. His cheerful, agreeable manners win him friends among the stern sex, while the Napoleonistic twists of is elegant moustache charm the gentle element to perfection.

He has mastered the "dips" that fascinate the tender ones, and while he possesses all the art requisite to win the good graces of both sexes, he is also as undeniably popular in the parlor and home circle as in the business sphere.

A polite "a good morning" and a graceful bow are the articles connected with his establishment that cost no outlay, but are priceless to him.

He is slight in build; compact and lithe; while a merry twinkle beams from his guileless orbs.

He never boasts, says but little regarding his private affairs, and carries concealed the tide that turns the wheels of his business.

He is very fond of music, and is quite an Arion in his way. For years he has song in the Presbyterian choir, and he moves conspicuously at their meetings.

His heart is centered in his increasing business, in the young ladies of his acquaintance, and in the friendship of all. In consummation he is a model merchant, a model Yaphanker, an ah! were it my privilege to declare him a model husband and papa! Well, he is a model beau, nevertheless, as many blushing damsels are willing to verify.

May his lines ever be cast in pleasant places; may his voice never lose its ring, or his smiles fail to plan roses in the hearts of the dear ones!

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