Major Reuben Webster Millsaps
American layman and philanthropist, was born May 30, 1833,
in Copiah County, Miss., a son of Reuben and Lavinia Clowers Millsaps. Young
Reuben left his home at the age of seventeen, walked to Natchez, a distance of
about sixty miles, where he took passage on a steamboat for Madison, Ind., to
enter Hanover College. After two years at Hanover he transferred to DePauw
University, from which he graduated in 1854.
He went back to Mississippi and taught school for two
years, saving every penny he made so he could go to Harvard Law School. After
receiving his law degree at Harvard, he practiced law in Pine Bluff, Ark., from
1858 to the beginning of the Civil War. He saw extensive service in the
Confederate Army and came out at the close of the conflict with the rank of
major. After his discharge, he returned to south Mississippi and entered the
business of cotton buying and transporting.
From that he entered merchandising at Brookhaven. In 1880
he sold his business and went to St. Louis, Mo., where he established a
wholesale grocery and cotton commission business. In 1885, he returned to
Hazlehurst, Miss., and established the Merchants and Planters Bank, then moved
to Jackson, Miss., in 1887 and became president of the Capitol State Bank.
In 1869 he married Mrs. Mary F. Younkin, daughter of Horace
Bean, a wealthy banker of New Orleans. They had no children, but reared a niece
whom they adopted.
Major Millsaps was a stalwart Methodist and a loyal
churchman. He was a constant attendant at the business meetings of the church
from the local Church Conference to the General Conference. No
layman in Mississippi was more frequently elected a delegate to the General
Conference than he.
His great work was in laying the foundation for Millsaps
College with an initial gift of $50,000, in 1889. All told, he gave more than
ten times that amount to the college which bears his name and took a prominent
part in its first Board of Trustees. In addition, he gave the property on which
the Mississippi Methodist Children's Home was located, and gave financial help
to other educational and religious institutions.
He died on June 28, 1916, and was buried in a mausoleum on
the campus of Millsaps College.
Lindsey, J.A. "Millsaps, Reuben
Webster." Encyclopedia of World Methodism. Ed. Nolan B.
Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1974.