From the 1931-32 Illinois Blue Book.
The Illinois General Assembly has had its fair share of oddly named individuals serve amongst its ranks over the past two centuries, and following on the heels of the September 11th profile on DeGoy Bowman Ellis (a state representative from Kane County) another funny named Illinois legislator gets accorded his due: Mr. Epler Cadwell Mills of Cass County. A two-term member of the state senate, Mills had earlier distinguished himself during the First World War and was first elected to the Illinois senate at age 27.
Born in Virginia, Illinois on March 16, 1893, Epler C. Mills was the son of local attorney Richard Watson Mills and his second wife Nellie Epler, and was bestowed the odd first name "Epler" as it was his mother's maiden name. He attended schools in the Virginia, Illinois area and also studied at the Montclair Academy in Montclair, New Jersey. He continued his education at the University of Illinois Law School and later graduated from here with his bachelor of laws degree.
Following his graduation Mills began the study of law and continued his studies until the beginning of American involvement in WWI. In May 1917 he signed on for military service and in the following month married Helen Odiorne (1895-1984) and later had two daughters, Jane and Elizabeth (1922-2012). Mills began his military training at the Fort Sheridan Training Camp in Lake County, Illinois and after being commissioned was assigned to the Co. H., 19th U.S. Infantry. He served with this outfit for the duration of the war and eventually rose to the rank of Second Lieutenant, being stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He resigned from the Army in January 1919 and after returning home returned to studying law.
In 1920 the then 27-year-old Mills was nominated for a seat in the Illinois State Senate and in November of that year defeated Democratic incumbent Walter Manny by a vote of 22, 432 to 15, 718. Taking his seat in January of the new year, the freshman senator was named to seats on the committees on Agriculture and Live Stock, Appropriations, Civil Service and Dairying during his first term.
A youthful looking Epler C. Mills, from the 1921-22 Illinois State Blue Book.
Epler C. Mills represented Cass County in the senate for a four-year term (1921-1925) but wasn't a candidate for reelection in 1925. He was elected to a second term in the senate in November 1928 and served another four years in office. During this session of the senate Mills served on 22 different committees, which are listed as follows: Agriculture, Livestock and Dairying, Apportionment, Appropriations, Canals and Waterways, Civil Service, Community Welfare, Corporations and Industrial Affairs, Criminal Procedure, Efficiency and Economy, Elections, Fees and Salaries, Forestry, Fish and Game, Harbors, Insurance, Judiciary, License and Miscellany, Military Affairs, Municipalities, Parks, Boulevards and Playgrounds, Public Utilities, Railroads, and Roads and Highway Transportation.
After leaving the senate in January 1933, Mills returned to his hometown of Virginia to practice law with his brother Myron. In 1934 Mills mounted a candidacy for the Republican nomination for U.S. Representative from Illinois, and during the April primary placed a distant fifth behind winning nominee C. Wayland Brooks, who had garnered 479, 479 votes. Following his primary loss, Epler Mills continued practicing law for forty more years and was also affiliated with numerous fraternal clubs in Illinois, being a member of the Masonic Order, the Modern Woodmen, the Hamilton Club of Chicago, and the American Legion.
Epler C. Mills died in Illinois on June 5, 1984, at age 91 and was shortly thereafter interred at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. Helen Odiorne Mills survived her husband by only a few weeks, dying on July 3rd of 1984 at age 89, and was buried alongside her husband at the Oak Ridge Cemetery. One of the most prominent cemeteries in Illinois, Oak Ridge is also the burial location of former Illinois senator Shelby M. Cullom, Illinois Governor Ninian Edwards, American labor leader John Llewellyn Lewis, President Abraham Lincoln, and oddly named Springfield mayor Rheuna Drake Lawrence, profiled here back in March of 2012.
Epler C. Mills, from the 1922-1923 Illinois Blue Book.