Biographical Sketches


Isaac Mills came to this town from Saratoga County, N. Y.,. where a part at least of his children were born. He was a soldier in the War of 1812.

Timothy Mills, (son of Isaac and Polly (Berry) Mills), born in Saratoga County, N. Y., died in Marcellus, December 4, 1888, married Polly Wiltsie, she died February, 1892.

Their son, George C. Mills, born at Marcellus, April 9, 1843, married Eliza J. Finch, who were father and mother of Frank B. Mills, the noted seed man at Rose Hill, in the town of Marcellus, N. Y., and also of William E. Mills, Postmaster at the same place.

Frank B. Mills, born at Thorn Hill, in the town of Marcellus, August 3, 1866, is one of the most remarkable as well as one of the most successful business men in the County of Onondaga; he married June 16, 1892, Grace Ackles, daughter of Samuel and Mary (Harvey) Ackles, of the town of Spafford, N. 'X. For a more extended account of Mr. Frank B. Mills' business career, see Bruce's Centennial History of Onondaga County, Vol. 2, page 31.) [5]


George C. Mills, of Marcellus is a son of Timothy and Polly (Wilsie) Mills and was born in Marcellus, where he has always lived, April 51, 1843. Timothy, son of Isaac Mills, was a native of Saratoga Co., N. Y., and came to Marcellus with his parents when a mere child. He died here Dec. 4, 1888; his wife's death occurred in Feb. 1892.

Isaac Mills was a soldier in the War of 1812. All were farmers and representative men of their time. George C. Mills married Eliza J. Finch and had born to him three children: Frank 13., whose portrait and biography appears elsewhere in this volume; William E., who is now postmaster at Rose Hill; and George, who died  infancy.  Mr. Mills is a substantial farmer at Rose Hill in the southern part of the town of Marcellus.

Excerpted from Onondaga’s Centennial, Gleanings of a Century, edited by Dwight H. Bruce (Volume II). The Boston History Company, Publishers, 1896, p 206. [11]


Frank B. Mills, was born in the town of Marcellus, Onondaga county, August 3, 1866, and is a son of George C. (see sketch on subsequent pages) and Eliza Mills, who reside on a fine farm at Rose Hill, in the southern part of the town.

His early life was passed on the homestead, where he developed a decided inclination for producing and classifying the seeds of various plants and vegetables, at which he became an expert while yet a mere lad. His spare time from work and school was spent in the garden, where he thoroughly familiarized himself with every plant that chanced to meet his notice.

By the time he had finished his education he had acquired a wide and practical knowledge of almost every seed grown, not only in this country, but in the world, and he at once determined to apply that knowledge to production and distribution. This proved to be the beginning of a business scarcely equaled elsewhere in the State, a business, in fact, that ranks high among the largest concerns of the kind in the country.

He had become the possessor of a small hand printing press capable of printing an ordinary page at each impression, and with this, at the age of less than twenty-one, he began, in 1887, to print his first catalogue. He did all the work alone, from setting the type to mailing the modest book, of which about 3,000 copies were issued and sent out. During that year he secured 118 customers.

From this small commencement the business has steadily and rapidly increased in volume and extent until it now forms one of the largest and most complete establishments of its character in the United States. He has now (1896) over 400,000 customers, whose orders come from every habitable part of the globe - from Canada, South America, and Europe, from Asia, Africa, New Zealand, and Australia - requiring about half a million catalogues annually for distribution.

Mr. Mills has a number of large and convenient buildings and several greenhouses devoted exclusively to the business, and all have been erected within the last four or five years. To these and especially to the greenhouses he is constantly adding; each year is increasing the extent and magnitude of an already mammoth concern.

He has a large seed farm, of which several acres are devoted entirely to testing every variety of seed he sells, and nothing is shipped away until it is thoroughly tried and fully equals every requirement. In this way Mr. Mills has established a name and business which ranks him among the few great seedsmen of the United States. It is doubtful if a concern of equal magnitude has ever sprung into existence in the short time in which his has been prosecuted, and all this is due to the indomitable energy, the systematic methods, and the close personal supervision of the proprietor.

He is the founder of a business of which not only Onondaga county but the State of New York may be well proud. As an auxiliary to his adopted calling, and as a means of disseminating valuable and practical knowledge among the thousands of gardeners and horticulturists throughout the country, Mr. Mills established in December, 1894, and illustrated monthly entitled "Success with the Garden," which has begun what promises to be an auspicious career.

His is strictly mail-order business, and its requirements were such that the government, on November 5, 1890, established Rose Hill post-office with F. B. Mills as postmaster. He resigned this position in 1892, and was succeeded by his brother William E. Mills. [10,11]

His residence, the finest in the town and one of the handsomest in the county, was completed in 1893, and with all his other buildings is pleasantly located on Fairview Farm at Rose Hill in the south part of Marcellus.

Mr. Mills was married, June 16, 1892, to Miss Grace Ackles, daughter of Samuel Ackles, of Spafford.

[Source: Bruce, Dwight H. (Ed.), Onondaga's Centennial. Boston History Co., 1896, Vol. II, Biographical, pp. 31-32.[11]]

American Florist - August 10, 1901


Frank B. Mills, Sr. was one of the pioneer business men of this locality, one of those fine and true citizens who had worked from the bottom, up, and who achieved success only because he loved his work. It was through dint of hard labor and long hours that Frank B. Mills finally saw his work crowned as something that would live long after he was gone.

One can imagine a slim young lad growing plants, experimenting with seed and slowly laying the groundwork for his future. It wasn't easy, but Mr. Mills quietly and with silent determination, brought about the realization of his dream. One can see him laboriously setting the type for his first seed catalogue and can imagine his pride at the finished product. It must have been good, for Frank Mills would not have had it otherwise.

At 79 Mr. Mills has finished his job. He didn't retire as other men would have done, and as he easily could have done. It wasn't so long ago that this editor met him in his office, at the top of the winding stairs in the seedhouse, busy at work. We liked his quiet dignity, his few words, the atmosphere of integrity.

Mr. Mills will be remembered for what he has done. He has brought business to the community of his birth. He has mad many friends and he has departed with the fame dignity in which he lived. One of our leading men has died. [8]


  1. Peg Nolan, president of the Marcellus Historical Society

  2. https://kihm5.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/rose-hill-ny/

  3. https://kihm6.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/the-seedman-of-rose-hill/

  4. http://www.skaneateleshistoricalsociety.org/skan-hist-archives/lakeview1.html

  5. http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/george-knapp-collins/spafford-onondaga-county-new-york-llo/page-24-spafford-onondaga-county-new-york-llo.shtml

  6. Around Marcellus by Leslie Church Kraus

  7. http://merryatsyracuse.blogspot.com/2012/06/marietta-home-of-founder-of-rosehill.html

  8. MARCELLUS OBSERVER - December 28, 1945

  9. American Florist - August 10, 1901

  10. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nyononda/MARCELLU/HISTORYB.HTM

  11. Bruce, Dwight H. (Ed.), Onondaga's Centennial. Boston History Co., 1896, Vol. II, Biographical, pp. 31-32.

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