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Cissy Cornelia Mills (1886-1961)

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Cissy Cornelia Mills
Cissy cornelia mills
Sex: Female
Birth: 18/8/1886 Sydney, New South Wales
Death: 3/2/1961 Fullarton, South Australia
Father: Arthur Frederick Mills (1863-1908)
Mother: Emily Morris
Spouse/Partner: Frank Roland Mills (1885-1940)
Marriage: 20/09/1906, Norwood, South Australia


Cissy Cornelia Mills was born in Sydney, New South Wales in 1886, the daughter of Arthur Frederick and Emily Mills (formerly Hawken, nee Morris). Cissy, who became known as Connie, was their only child. The name Cissy was inherited from one of her aunts on her father’s side of the family (Cicey Mary Ansel Mills).

Early YearsEdit

It appears that Cissy spent the early years of her life in the town of Port Pirie, where her father was employed as a clerk. On 22nd September 1892, when Cissy was six years of age, her mother appeared before the court of insolvency in the town. Her mother was an alcoholic for most of her life, and this may have impacted on her spending habits.

AdelaideEdit

Her father had also been in trouble with the law in years previous, and became a well known ‘quack’ in the city of Adelaide, where the family went to live in 1894. Her father moved to many different residences with his quackery profession, including the following:-

1894 – 16 Sturt Street 1895 – 21 Carrington Street 1896 – 1 Grote Street 1897 – 1899 – 23 Flinders Street 1900 – 1903 – 1 Grote Street 1904 – 1905 – 19 Flinders Street 1906 – 1908 – 27 Carrington Street

As a result of the home environment, it is said that Cissy spent a large amount of time in her childhood with her grandmother on her mother’s side of the family, Mary Ann Wishart (formerly Morris, nee Rundle). Mrs Wishart lived in the Southwark / Thebarton area on the western suburbs of Adelaide.

Out of WedlockEdit

In 1903, at aged 17, Cissy had a daughter out-of-wedlock at her father's home in Carrington Street. The daughter was named Mahala after a great-grandmother on Cissy’s side of the family (Mahala Mills (nee Kent)) or Cissy’s aunt (Mahala Annie Mills). Her middle name of Mary Ann is likely to be named after Mrs Wishart.

Mahala's birth certificate records her father as Thomas Mills, a commercial traveller. No record of this Thomas Mills has every been found, and his name never appears again on official documents relating to her life. The certificate also incorrectly records Cissy as married to this Thomas, when no record of marriage has ever been found (in South Australia or interstate).

Every document that relates to Mahala after her birth records her father as Frank Roland Mills, a man Cissy would marry several years after the birth. Whether Cissy actually knew Frank at this time is unknown. Considering the attitudes to birth of children out-of-wedlock at the time, it is likely that having Mahala at such a young age was too scandalous to admit to, so Cissy invented some falsehoods on the certificate to make the birth look respectable (she was the informant of the birth).

Because of this, we can never be certain that Frank Roland Mills is Mahala's real father. His family line has been traced in this family tree due to his offical presence in later documents relating to Mahala's life and Mahala growing up referring to him as father.

Death of MotherEdit

Cissy’s mother Emily died on 24th August 1904, as a result of the effects of alcoholism. Cissy was aged 18 at the time. Her father placed the article about her death in the newspaper. The headstone for Emily was erected by her mother (Mrs Wishart), a sister and a brother.

Cissy’s father married for a second time approximately two months after Emily’s death, on 4th November 1904. Cissy may have lived permanently with Mrs Wishart after this time.

MarriageEdit

Cissy and Frank Roland Mills married on September 20th 1906. Frank was the son of George and Caroline Mills (nee De Laine). The marriage occured at Frank's father's house at Clark Street in Norwood, and Frank gave his residence as Clark Street, Norwood. His trade was a grocer. Witnesses to the marriage were A.H. Stone, a labourer from Hindmarsh, and Frank's brother Milton, a civil servant of Norwood. Cissy was four months pregnant at the time of the marriage and recorded her condition as spinster (which contradicts the married reference on Mahala's birth certificate). Her residence at the time was Cawthorne Street, Southwark, which was Mrs Wishart's residence.

Death of FatherEdit

Cissy’s father, Arthur, died on 20th May 1908 after committing suicide. His marriage to his second wife had been violent, he was also in financial difficulty at the time, and his mental health had been deteriorating. Cissy was aged 21 when the death occured.

Married LifeEdit

Frank and Cissy would go on to have 10 children altogether, all born in the Norwood or Adelaide area. Interestingly, they would give all but one of their children two middle names, many of them reflecting family names. Family surnames used as middle names include Munson, DeLaine, and Morris. Names obtained from other relatives include Mahala, Roland, Howard, Herbert, Charles, Frank and Caroline.

Two sons died under the age of two - Hedley of Tubercular Meningitis and Charles of acute gastoenteritis. The deaths were also recorded in The Advertiser and The Chronicle newspapers. Both boys were buried in the West Terrace Cemetery.

ResidenceEdit

The South Australian directories list Frank's residence at 19 Clark Street, Norwood between 1908 and 1913.

On the death certificate for Hedley in 1917, Frank's residence is recorded as Sydenham Road, Norwood.

On the death certificate for Charles in 1919, Frank's residence is recorded as Margaret Street, Norwood. Frank's occupation is also recorded as a purser. The residence at Margaret Street is supported by the South Australian directories, but it stills records his occuption as grocer.

Frank’s grocer’s store was on the Parade at Norwood. In 1923, he was working at Cairns St, Norwood, while he and Cissy's residence was at 19 Clark St Norwood (his mother lived at number 35 according to Hedley's funeral notice). He was still at Cairns Street until 1926, when he is recorded at the Parade.

In 1927, Frank and Cissy are back at Margaret Street in Norwood and his occupation is recorded as labourer.

In 1929, he is a labourer at Cowper Road, Black Forest Estate and in 1930, he is a civil servant at Hastings Road, Colonel Light Gardens. By 1933 he has returned to being a grocer's assistant, but still at the Hastings Road address.

By 1937, they had moved to 28 Kitchener Street, Victoria Park.

Husband's DeathEdit

Frank died on 20th October 1940 of cerebral softening and arterio-sclerosis. His residence at the time was 28 Kitchener Avenue, Dulwich. His death certificate incorrectly states that he had 4 male and 3 female children alive, when it was the opposite way around. He is buried in the West Terrace Cemetery.

Later YearsEdit

It has not been proven at this stage, but Cissy may have owned a hotel on King William Road in the late 1940s. One of her grandson’s remembers sleeping on the balcony of the hotel when he was late teens/ early 20s.

Cissy was admitted to the Home for Incurables in later years due to her deteriorating health as a result of diabetes and hypertension. She died at the home in February 1961, as a result of a coronary occlusion. Her residence at the time was recorded as 24 Coker Street, Ferrydyn Park.

ChildrenEdit

Name Birth Death
Children of Frank and Cissy Mills


Mahala Mary Ann 10/12/1903
Adelaide, South Australia
09/11/1979
South Australia


Arthur Roland George 21/02/1907
Norwood, South Australia
01/04/1979
South Australia


Lancelot Alfred Munson 01/06/1909
Norwood, South Australia
23/03/1967
Ascot Park, South Australia


Howard Herbert DeLaine 06/08/1911
Norwood, South Australia
23/10/1944
Melbourne, Victoria


Hedley Frank Elton 25/1/1915
Norwood, South Australia
25/10/1917
North Adelaide, South Australia


Charles Milton Morris 25/09/1918
Norwood, South Australia
11/01/1919
Woodville, South Australia


Ruth Caroline Marcia 06/05/1923
Adelaide, South Australia
02/05/1996
Streaky Bay, South Australia


Kevin Ronald Lester 28/11/1924
Adelaide, South Australia
29/09/2002
Elizabeth, South Australia


Shirley June Winifred 03/06/1926
Adelaide, South Australia
04/12/1998
Woodville, South Australia


Marjorie Millicent 04/05/1928
Adelaide, South Australia
09/10/1999
Victoria


ReferencesEdit

  • Information from Ken Mills
  • Information from Jane Harding
  • Births, Deaths and Marriages registrations for South Australia
  • The Advertiser newspaper
  • Cemetery records for South Australia
  • South Australian directories, 1908-1940

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