Nicholas Mills

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Nicholas Mills Sr. (23 November 1781 – 13 September 1862) was a prominent businessman in Richmond, Virginia. He built a 13 mile tramway known as the Chesterfield Railroad Company to connect the coal pits of Chesterfield County to the James River. He was at one time the owner of the Chesterfield Coal Pits and president of the Tredegar Iron Works. When he died in 1862 he is reported to have had $800,000 in gold.

He was married to Sarah Payne Ronald (1788–1857) for 51 years. She was the daughter of attorney Andrew Ronald and first cousin of Dolley Madison.

A staunch Unionist, over his house flew the last Union flag in Richmond, April 1861.

His gravestone in Shockoe Hill Cemetery in Richmond reads thus "Paterfamilias - Nicholas Mills - Born in Hanover County Nov. 23rd 1781 - Died in the City of Richmond Sept. 13th 1862. Surrounded by a large family of children, grandchildren and faithful servants who would say much and yet lack words to express their irreplaceable loss. A sincere friend and neighbor and most useful citizen. The righteous man is taken from before the face of evil. God's will be done."


  • "Nicholas Mills", The Quarterly of the Virginia Genealogical Society, 1965.
  • "Forerunner of Virginia's First Railway", Virginia Cavalcade Winter 1954.
  • Richmond Portraits in the Collection of the Valentine Museum pp. 132–3.
  • Houses of Richmond, pp. 43–5.