Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Road and the End, not by Carl Sandburg

It's a rather gloomy Sunday morning here in the otherwise Sunshine State, and I'm also in a rather gloomy mood. The school year is wrapping up and soon I'll have plenty of time to work on researching George Mills and family, but the trail is growing cold.

* This arrived yesterday from the Oxford University Press, publishers of several editions of Mills's books:

Elkins, Charlotte [charlotte.elkins [at]]
Sent: Thursday, June 03, 2010 3:41 AM

Dear Sam Williams

Thank you for your email.

I'm sorry to say that we don't have files going back that far, and have no information at all about this author or his books.

I found this entry on Wikipedia - -but there is nothing more I can tell you, I'm afraid.

Sorry we can't be more help.

With best wishes

Charlotte Elkins Administrator
Children's Books
Oxford University Press

I appreciate Charlotte taking the time to research Mills. I had to chuckle, though, that I'd actually written that page she found on-line!

* This arrived last week from the Poughill Parish Church, seeking records about former vicar, Rev. Barton R. V. Mills:

Poughill Parish Church [poughillparishchurch [at]]
Sent: Saturday, May 29, 2010 6:55 AM

I'm afraid the church would not have any records that would be of help to you, but you may like to try the Truro records office. The Telephone number in UK is 01872 323127.


Paul Whybrow (Vicar)

I've already tried the archdiocese, and they did a marvelous job of coming up with information regarding the stained glass window dedicated to Barton Mills in Bude.

* This is in from the Fairlynch Museum in Devon:

From: M Brett [mbrett [at]]

Sent: Thursday, May 13, 2010 3:42 AM

Hi Sam,

Thank you for your email requesting information on George Mills which has been passed to our Local History section.
As a small volunteer run Museum we make a charge of £10. to cover our researchers initial time. Upon receipt of payment we will be pleased to start investigations. Should, however, we find that this research involves a great deal of time we would contact you again before proceeding further.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Margaret (Brett)

Fairlynch Museum

My request had been for local information about George Mills in Budleigh Salterton, particularly "Greyfriars," and anything that might have been known about Agnes and/or Violet Mills through their collective time in Devon.

My problem here is that I really don't want to spend £10 to possibly have someone send me back a link to my own Wikipedia page!

* Another dead end has been Switzerland, where I tried the local Anglican Church in Glion, which might have had some ties to the boys who attended the English Preparatory School there, at which George Mills taught:

Geoffrey Jones [gj [at]]
Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 4:35 AM

No one in the church can recall anything about the school in Glion. However we did forward your request to the Hill House school which does use Glion for some of its activities in Switzerland.
I do hope you are able to trace the history of the preparatory school.
Kind regards,
Geoffrey Jones

Unfortunately, here's been no word from Hill House School. From my location, far distanced from the Alps, it seems that the English Prep School—except for having hosted Wells, the son of American author Sinclair Lewis, beginning in November, 1924. Lewis mentions the school in his collected letters.

* Another mysterious school has been Eaton Gate Preparatory School in London where Mills likely worked in the mid- to late-1930s. There is a school there now, and I had written wondering if the present "pre prep" institution had any connection with Eaton Gate Prep:

admin [at]
Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 4:47 AM

Dear Mr Williams
Thank you for your email and enquiry into Eaton Gate Prep as you call it.
The school is actually called Eaton House Belgravia now and is a independent boys pre prep school for boys aged 4 - 8 years old.
Sadly we have few records going back to the period you are interested in but we have forwarded your request to our Headteacher at Eaton House Belgravia, Miss Lucy Watts, to see whether she has come across anything of relevance to you.
We wish you the best with your project.
Kind regards

Eaton House Group of Schools

Who knows what might become of this? I'd love confirmation that the school did, indeed, actually exist. That's something I haven't been able to find anywhere else!

* There has been some movement in another area, but I don't know what will come of it. Here's word from the Middlesborough Diocese about Barton Mills's conversion to Catholicism:

archives [at]
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 7:53 AM

Dear Mr Williams,
Caroline has passed on to me your enquiry about Barton Mills.
If you know where he was living at the time of his possible conversion, then the RC baptismal register from that place can be checked to see if there is an entry there in his name for a “conditional baptism”. Of course, even if there is no such entry it will not prove he was not baptised into the Catholic church somewhere else - it is always very difficult to prove a negative.
Yours sincerely,
David Smallwood (Middlesbrough Diocesan Archivist)

I've replied with the requested location, and all I can do now is wait.

I do appreciate the kindness of all who have taken the time to help me in my research. I fear, though, I am beginning to see the end of the road in this venture, and that I may be nearing the end of either the end of the information available about George Mills, et al, and/or the end of information that its caretakers are willing or able to share.

Still, I'll be poking around for at least a while longer!

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