Albert Nelson Mills, attorney, legislator, and military veteran, was the third of four sons born to William Nelson and Ann (Leap) Mills of Alexandria, Virginia. Albert Mills’s ancestors were some of the earliest American colonists—wealthy tobacco planters in Charles County, Maryland, and Fairfax County, Virginia. He grew up near the plantations of George Washington and George Mason, contemporaries of his grandfather, William Mills, who had contributed money and supplies to the Revolutionary War effort and served as overseer of Fairfax County roads. Albert’s father, William Nelson Mills, was active in the local government in Alexandria and served as a justice of the peace there.
Albert Mills was educated at the College of William and Mary and passed the bar in Virginia in 1848. He had joined the prestigious Mount Vernon Guards in 1842, a unit that saw action in both the Mexican War and Civil War. In 1846 the Mount Vernon Guards escorted Company B, First Virginia Regiment, composed of Alexandrians, to the wharf for their departure to Mexico. When Mills actually moved to Texas is unknown. He advertised his law partnership with William Henry Stewart in newspapers in Gonzales, Texas, in 1854. Stewart was later appointed as district judge in Galveston. Mills formed a partnership with Benjamin Franklin Batchelor in Gonzales in 1861. Batchelor became a Confederate soldier and was killed in Georgia in 1864.
On January 6, 1857, Mills married Mrs. Rebecca Frances “Fannie” Wimbish Henderson in DeWitt, Texas. She was the daughter of Col. John Hunt Wimbish and Rebecca L. (Williams) Wimbish, an old and respected family in Halifax, Virginia. Fannie was educated at the Moravian Girls Boarding School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She suffered from poor health for many years and died on February 19, 1883, in Pickett, Kentucky. She and Albert had no children.
From November 2, 1857, to November 7, 1859, Albert Nelson Mills represented Gonzales County as a Democrat in the House of Representatives in the Seventh Texas Legislature. Through his law profession and service in the House, he became friends with Louis Trezevant Wigfall, the political activist and leader of the extremist proslavery movement known as the “Southern Fire-eaters.” Mills shared the same views on states’ rights, the institution of slavery, and the Confederate States of America. On behalf of Gonzales County, Mills voted to secede from the Union and signed the Ordinance of Secession on February 1, 1861, at the Secession Convention in Austin. In May 1862 he was appointed provost martial when martial law was proclaimed in the counties of Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr. He joined the Confederate Army on November 10, 1862, and was assigned as assistant adjutant general to Brig. Gen. William Read Scurry at Fort Brown, Texas. General Scurry was killed at the battle of Jenkins Ferry in Grant County, Arkansas, on April 30, 1864. Mills was appointed to the rank of captain in 1863 and achieved the rank of major before the end of the war.
After the war Albert and Fannie moved to Galveston, where he entered into partnership with a lawyer named Robert Tevis. The two remained together until Tevis died. Mills continued practicing law alone until he became deaf. He retired in 1891. His grand home at Eighteenth and Winnie streets burned to the ground in the great fire that swept through Galveston in November 1885. He then constructed a separate wing onto the house of Julia Wood, one of his former slaves and servant to his late wife. Julia cared for him for the remainder of his life, for which he generously compensated her in his will. Albert Nelson Mills died of a stroke on April 14, 1898. He was buried under Masonic auspices on April 15, 1898, in Trinity Episcopal Cemetery in Galveston.