A refined southern gentleman’s way -ruthless, evil, deadly. That was the way sources described Mr. C.B. Mills. Mills lived and died playing a game for money. He cared not whom he hurt; that dollar bill was number one.
Mill’s saga began when he took a job working for his brother, Fred Mills. Fred was in business with Jeffrey Baker and a disagreement incurred. The details are unknown but Fred Mills shot Jeffrey Baker and after a $50,000 settlement the ongoing battle began between these two families. After that, C.B. had a grudge against Jeffrey’s son, Billy Baker, accosting him in passing whenever he could.
Fred began to work at the First National Bank as a teller and soon C.B. followed. C.B. began as an assistant teller. Before long, Mr. Al Jackson, the banks manager, passed away and C.B. worked his way up the ranks to president. At this time, C.B. Mills joined with Mr. Cincade, another business partner, and Mrs. Jackson, the widow of Al Jackson, to create the Milsonade Mills. Interestingly enough, the papers were all signed in Mr. Jacksons’ name instead of Mrs. Jackson – Chauvinism at its finest. Shares of the mill were sold door to door for $100 par for the mill. Things seemed to be looking up for Mr. Mills.
The depression began to hit and hit hard it did. Production was at a standstill at the mill; after-all, no one could afford fabric and the mill was going under. It was at this time; sources say C.B. came up with a plan. Mr. C.H. Cincade would be his way out. C.B. went and had a life insurance policy for $1 million dollars put out on Mr. Cincade. Then one night two men knocked on Mr. Cincade’s door while he was sitting at his dinner table and when Mr. Cincade answered the door, he was shot dead.
As a side note, at some point in time, C.B. moved with wife Lilly and children from his home across from the United Methodist Church (which is now owned by the church) and into his new home on E Wilmington Avenue. He actually paid very little for it, somewhere in the $20K range, but he was one of the only ones in town that could put even that much into a home in the 1930’s, which of course made some suspicious he was stealing from the bank.
On the day of Mr. Mills’s death, there are two stories. The first story is that Mr. Billy Baker asked for a loan from C.B. and C.B. refused him. Billy believed the rumors C.B. was stealing money from the bank to build his house and gave him thirty minutes to change his mind before he came back and killed him. The second story, is that there was an argument between Billy and C.B. Eyewitness accounts stated you could not hear what was said in the argument, but that C.B. was doing most of the yelling. Billy stormed out and later that afternoon, behind the bank, C.B. saw Billy on the street and began his usual prodding of Billy. C.B. reached for something in his pocket, Billy thought it was a gun, and shot C.B. three times “right in the tie” and C.B. died from his injuries.
Billy Baker turned himself into the Sheriff’s office and was first charged with Capital Murder. After, Lilly, C.B.’s wife took over the bank, Fred Mills ran for sheriff in an undisclosed county and won, and turmoil began in the trial of Billy Baker.
The Mills, being powerful in the community, were known to have many political and law enforcing citizens, “close to their pockets”. When it came time for jury selection, they even went so far as to put a Mills on the jury. For unknown reasons, a jury would not convict him, and the first set of Jurors was released. A Judge Robert Ransom then denied Baker bail; all the while presiding Judge Charles Bridle in essence said there was no reason to deny bail.
In the second trial of Baker, it was rumored as well that any juror who would convict Baker would be paid one thousand dollars each. Supposedly an unknown potential juror was asked to meet the briber, (whom it was assumed was the D.A.) in a restroom to discuss the proposition. When he walked into the bathroom, the juror’s brother was waiting in a stall. The Propositioner was then either threatened physically by placing the man’s head in a toilet to drown or politically threatened to unleash the truth if the charges were not plead down. The next trial, Dee was tried under Manslaughter and convicted, being sentenced to nine years.
Some sources seem to tell Billy went to a mental institution between trials and, according to local papers, Baker was found hung in a tool shed in prison and “his death was listed as a suicide.”
This story is all but still alive in the sleepy town of Podunk, Alabama. Both families still live in or around the small town and the names have been changed to protect the living. It is a story told under breath. The story of the ruthless man who “got his” and the victims he left in his wake.