Z.C. MILLS. – Z.C. Mills of Seattle, Washington is a native of the Empire state, and was born in 1834. While yet in his boyhood, his parents moved to Illinois, where he grew to manhood and received his education. After he had reached his majority, he engaged in business with his father. He was successful; but, when an American has once felt the excitement of moving, it is almost impossible for him to be contented, so long as there are new countries to be found beyond the Western horizon.
Accordingly, in 1859, when the Pike’s Peak gold excitement reached his home, young Mills started for the new El Dorado, and settled in the new town of Denver, where he opened a tin store. That country, not proving as productive as expected, Mr. Mills, with others, pulled up stakes in 1862, and started for the Salmon river diggings, which were then just reaching their fame as the richest strike yet. The party crossed the Rocky Mountains, the Bitter Creek Desert, Green River, the Wasatch Range, went down the Bear River past the famed soda springs, and had reached a point above Fort Hall, when news reached that the Salmon river gold bubble has burst reached them. They retraced their steps to Fort Hall, and there joined a train bound for Oregon. In the eastern part of that state they stopped, and went to mining in the diggings on the headwaters of Powder and Burnt Rivers.
In three months time the Boise gold excitement swept them back to Idaho. They located in the beautiful Payette valley, and built the “Pickett Corrall,” a formidable inclosure of logs, which was the first structure in that valley, except, possibly, the old fur trading station in the Hudson’s Bay Company times. There Mr. Mills did a general ranch business the year round, and freighted to the mines in the summer months with ox-teams. He continued in that business for three years, after which he went to Pendleton, Oregon, and built, by contract, the first hotel of that place. Upon its completion, he was given its management. Two years later he removed to Umatilla and engaged in the hardware business.
In 1870 Mr. Mills removed to Seattle and formed the hardware firm of Waddell & Mills. They built up a large and paying business. After sixteen years, Mr. Mills bought out his partner; and he is now the sole proprietor. When he started in business in Seattle, it was a place of two thousand inhabitants. Its growth to twenty-five thousand has more than justified his foresight, and his faith in its future. Mr. Mills is an illustration of that class of Americans who have ever been ready to brave any dangers and endure any hardships in search of the precious metals. But these men have been more than gold hunters; they have been the advance guards of civilization for all the country west of the Missouri. Wherever the told and silver prospectors have gone, the grazier or plowman has followed. Mr. Mills, after his many hardships and exposures, is still in the vigor of manhood, and will live to see the city of his choice the entrepót for commerce, the trade of the Northern Pacific coast and Asia.