About Rev. Cyrus Mills
Co-founder of Mills College, Oakland, California.
Presbyterian missionary and educator, educated at Williams College and Union Theological Seminary. Upon his marriage to Susan L Tolman in 1848, the couple moved to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) where Cyrus Mills became principal of Batticotta College, a seminary for boys. The climate caused health problems for both of them, and they returned to Boston in 1854. In 1860, the couple relocated to Honolulu where they took over the Punahou School (known as Oahu College).
In 1864, the Mills resettled in California and bought the Ladies Seminary in Benicia from Miss Mary Atkins the following year for $5,000. The school included three lots of land, a residence, and a cottage, and enrolled ninety students. They improved the school by increasing the number of course offerings and recruiting new qualified teachers, several of which were from Mount Holyoke. They sold the property in 1871 for $10,000 and relocated to the Oakland foothills, where Mills Hall was built. Cyrus Mills served as head of Mills Seminary and Susan Mills was lady principal until Cyrus's death in 1884. The school was incorporated in 1877 and became Mills College in 1885, the first women's college on the Pacific Coast.