Friday, November 12, 2010
Talitha McKay, daughter of Samuel and Permelia, met William Orville Mills when the McKay family was in Posey County, Indiana. It is believed that Samuel moved his family from Itawamba County to the safety of Indiana during the Civil War. Posey County is located in the extreme southern tip of Indiana, just across the river from Kentucky, and it would have been one of the closest areas to travel to escape the Civil War in the South.
The 1870 census for the McKay household included a 24 year old Orville Mills, who was widowed, and his son William, age 3. Orville, who was born in Tennessee, had been married to Lydia A. Moit, a daughter of William Moit and Lucinda Armstrong. Lydia died in 1869, probably from childbirth with a second child, leaving Orville with a young son to raise. It is not known how Orville came to live with the McKay family, but it was providential for the hundreds of Mills descendants in northeastern Mississippi. Perhaps it was through church, or a community event.
Orville became smitten with the McKay's oldest daughter, Talitha. No marriage records exist for a marriage in Posey County, Indiana for Orville and Talitha, and it is likely that the couple married on the way back to Itawamba County, Mississippi. Some census records for their oldest son, Henry, indicate that he may have been born in Tennessee while the rest of their children were born in Mississippi.
Millard Mills, grandson of Orville and Talitha, told my husband that "Arvil" came from the "Wabash" area of Illinois and that he "rode a load of logs" to Mississippi. It is highly possible that Orville and the McKays could have traveled via a flatboat of logs. Posey County is bordered by the Wabash River to the west and the Ohio River to the south. Both of those rivers were highly navigated and used as a common source of transportation. If Orville and Talitha had gone back to Hancock County, Orville's birthplace in northeastern Tennessee, then they could have easily reached Mississippi by traveling down the Holston River to the Tennessee River at Knoxville, then south and westward along the Tennessee River to McNairy County just above the state line in Tennessee and not too far from Marietta, Mississippi.
Orville was described by his grandson Millard as being a "tall, black-haired, big man."
Family lore also includes a tale whereby Orville and Talitha married and apparently did not have his son William Samuel with them. Orville was unhappy so Talitha "rose one morning and dressed before Orville woke, saddled a horse, and sought out the child. She found him playing along a fence row and took the boy to his father." [Source: Bobbie Conner]
Talitha and Orville had eight children together, including my husband's great-grandfather Jesse Thomas Mills, born February 12, 1881. They settled on Donovan's Creek, a tributary and one of the headwaters of the Tombigbee River, in what is now Prentiss County but along the Itawamba County line. Deed records place Orville and Talitha owning land just south of Gilmore's Chapel Methodist Church.
When her parents and siblings moved to Texas, and later to Oklahoma, Talitha stayed behind in Mississippi. She was the only child to do so and likely never saw her parents again after their departure in 1889. Talitha died on January 4, 1911, apparently from a brain tumor at the age of 57. Her younger sister, Minerva, died of a similar tumor when she was the same age.
Talitha was buried in the Marietta Methodist Church Cemetery with a tombstone that reads "In life beloved, In death lamented." Orville died five years later and was buried next to her. In addition to their sons Henry and Jesse, mentioned above, they also had Manerva, Elias Madison or "Lish", James Orville, Katie B., Oscar Burdine, and Lester C. There were also three children who died and whose names are not known. For an earlier post about the family, including a family photograph, click here.
Posted by Mona Robinson Mills at 6:33 AM