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JUST LIKE OLD TIMES - Mills played important part in our history

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:54 PM

A number of people who were especially prominent in the development of our area are almost unknown in this distant time, and a search of the old conventional histories turns up little definitive date about them. One such person is Isaac Mills of New Haven, Conn.

We first find Isaac Mills as an original director and clerk of the Fire Sufferers Company in 1803. This board administered the affairs of those persons who claimed losses during the American Revolution in Connecticut. They owned in common a half million acres in Ohio which is now mainly Huron and Erie counties. I've written the Fire Lands story several times before.

Mr. Mills was the Committee's agent at the signing of the treaty of Fort Industry at Toledo, by which the federal government "bought" all of the Western Reserve west of the Cuyahoga River. This included the Fire Lands, with the treaty being signed on July 4, 1805. After the committee's work was done, Isaac Mills and his nephew Elisha T. Mills bought large tracts of land in what is now both Huron and Erie counties, and made them a new career as land speculators.

Isaac Mills was an attorney by profession, having graduated from Yale College in 1786. He held the office of Chief Justice of the County Court at New Haven, Conn., and is usually referred to as "Judge Mills." He had been born at Huntington, Conn. in 1767.

At least once per year Judge Mills would come to Ohio to collect his land payments and to visit his sons Isaac A. and William H. Mills at Sandusky. Some of his investments were in Sandusky, where he was one of the three original owners. He also owned a good deal of farm land on both New Haven and Greenfield townships in Huron County. It is said that when Judge Mills came to Ohio he would bring along seeds and fruit grafts for farmers, in order to improve their farms.

Usually Judge Mills contracted a bilious fever when he came to Ohio, and would be sick in bed for a period of time. In late March 1841 he was sick with malaria at a hotel in the village of New Haven in Huron County, when his trunk was stolen. He confided the theft to a few friends and no public news was given out.

A few days later the trunk was found in a field near the village. Almost $1,000 in cash was taken, but his land contracts, $30,000 in railroad scrip, and other evidence of property worth more than $200,000 was left unharmed. Suspicion soon settled on three men who were eventually arrested. One of them became a witness for the state of Ohio and was set free, while his partners Alexander Butler and Isaac Brewer were inducted by the grand jury.

At the trial, Brewer tried for clemency by telling the court where $750 was hidden, and then pled not guilty. He was found guilty and given a year in the penitentiary. Butler also pled not guilty, but was also found guilty and given a sentence of five years in the penitentiary. He tried to file exceptions, but he eventually served the sentence. It said that the three men were apprehended because they were quarreling over how to divide the money stolen from Judge Mills.

Isaac Mills died at New Haven, Conn., on Jan. 29, 1843, leaving a larger estate to be settled both in Connecticut and Ohio.

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