The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976 Page: 132
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
urge for adventure and self-sufficiency in Roger. In 1849, at the age of
seventeen and with no strong ties to his family's new home in Livingston
County, he boarded a steamer on the Cumberland River and started west
to join his sister. The riverboat took him down the Ohio and Mississippi
rivers, then up the Red River in Louisiana. While on board he helped
nurse and bury several victims of cholera, but luckily avoided the dread
disease. Finally in the fall he stepped ashore at Jefferson, Texas.8
As a descendant of Virginians, a Kentuckian by birth, and the son of a
slaveholder, Roger Mills clearly matured within a predominantly southern
culture. Yet his move to Texas not only marked an important step toward
maturity but also carried him from the broader spectrum of border state
political and social attitudes, including even those of outspoken abolitionist
Cassius Clay, to the lively but more narrowly defined political and social
atmosphere of a frontier state in the Deep South.
Mills supported himself through the winter of 1849-1850 by clerking in
the store of August May at Jefferson, the small river port for Northeast
Texas on Cypress Bayou, a tributary of the Red River. The job also allowed
him to save enough money for the purchase of a horse, which he rode
southwest through rolling, wooded East Texas for over a hundred miles to
Palestine in the spring. There he joined his sister Sarah and her husband
Reuben A. Reeves, a promising young attorney from Kentucky, who had
come to Texas just after its annexation to the United States in 1845.
Reeves's successful law career eventually would make him a district judge
before the Civil War, a two-term justice of the state supreme court during
and after the war, and a justice on the supreme court of New Mexico
territory in the i88os. Palestine, a frontier town of about 2,000 in 1850,
lay within the timbered region of East Texas in recently organized Ander-
Soon after his arrival at the Reeves' home, Mills faced the minor
problem of answering a census taker's question concerning his occupation.
With a combination of youthful humor and a clear understanding of the
risk he had accepted by coming a thousand miles from home to Texas at
the age of seventeen, he announced himself a "Gambler." In reality, how-
ever, Mills found employment at eight dollars a month as a clerk in the
sUnited States Congress, Congressional Record, 52nd Cong., 2nd Sess., XXIV, Pt. I,
p. 370; "Hon. Roger Q. Mills," newspaper clipping from Paducah News, Roger Q. Mills
Scrapbook, Mills Papers (Austin), [Io]; Myrtle Roberts, "Roger Quarles Mills" (M.A.
thesis, University of Texas, I929), 3-4; Walter Prescott Webb and H. Bailey Carroll
(eds.), The Handbook of Texas (2 vols., Austin, 1952), II, 455.
9Roberts, "Mills," 4; Webb and Carroll (eds.), Handbook of Texas, II, 455.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976, periodical, 1975/1976; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/m1/164/: accessed December 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.