“Major Reuben Webster Millsaps (1833-1916), 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. Harmon. Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1974.

College Archivist
Millsaps-Wilson Library
Millsaps College
P.O. Box 151066
Jackson, Mississippi 39210-1066