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D. Ogden Mills


Centurion, 1887–1910

Full Name Darius Ogden Mills

Born 25 September 1825 in North Salem, New York

Died 3 January 1910 in Millbrae, California

Buried Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow, New York

Proposed by Heber R. Bishop, Daniel Huntington, and Fessenden Nott Otis

Elected 5 November 1887 at age sixty-two

Archivist’s Note: Father-in-law of Whitelaw Reid; grandfather of Ogden Reid; great-grandfather of Whitelaw Reid

Proposer of:

Century Memorial

Darius Ogden Mills was eighty-four years of age and had belonged to this society for twenty-two. His birthplace was in this state, and he had his school education at Ossining. His family was of early American origin, and he possessed the qualities of his race. He entered young on business life in this city and, after a thorough training, removed to Buffalo, where he was in the service of a bank as cashier. Thus far his life was perhaps commonplace, though the thoughts he entertained were not. The discovery of gold in California gave him his opportunity, and thenceforward as trader, as banker, as traveller, as prospector and promoter he lived on the grand scale, a man to be ranked among the builders of the nation on the Pacific coast. Though he retained all his important business interests in the West, and lived for portions of the year on the other slope of the continent, yet affairs of the first magnitude demand residence at the financial center, and he became a New Yorker in home and in spirit. To California he has given liberally in time as trustee of important interests and in money as a benefactor of education. He was here a director of twenty-three corporations, of four social clubs and of four learned societies, being a trustee of our two great museums and of the Carnegie Institution, president of the Botanical Garden, and a liberal supporter of two hospitals. The burden of all these responsibilities he bore conscientiously yet with ease, so fine was the system of his life, so smooth the working of his powers.

He is well known among us not only as a financial giant, and not alone as a patron of the fine arts, nor alone as a generous benefactor of approved charities. The most original of his philanthropic devices, as it has been one of the most successful, was the establishment successively of three great hostelries for those not able to secure even a middle standard of living. These great institutions are the result of careful study, extensive travel, business shrewdness and the firm conviction that every man has good in him, any bad propensity being minimized by wholesome environment. The result justified the outlay of money, time and devotion. The money paid by guests affords a return on the investment, there is no relation of patron to client, the world is better for the existence of his hostelries.

The personality of Mr. Mills was familiar to all New Yorkers as he walked the streets, or stood at his window interested in the panorama of life as it rolled by. He was genial, affable, and refused himself to no respectable caller. In the circles of this association, and indeed in the best society of every sort, he was ever welcome for he combined sympathy and tact with force and insight. Through much and interesting experience of life he long since became a commanding figure in the best work of the country.

William Milligan Sloane
1910 Century Association Yearbook