County Seat: Goldthwaite * County Population: 5,130
The Mills County Courthouse, fashioned of brick, stone and concrete, was erected in 1913 in the Classical Revival style as designed by Henry Phelps.
Mills County was created and organized in 1887 from parts of Brown, Comanche, Hamilton and Lampasas counties and named in honor of John T. Mills, a district judge during the days of the Republic of Texas. The county seat of Goldthwaite refers to an official of the railroad that was built through the area in 1885.
The county has been home to two temples of justice. Thanks to a tie-breaking vote cast by the judge, Mills County moved forward with plans for its first courthouse to be built on the square in 1889. A committee seeking just the right model went visiting, took a liking to the Concho County Courthouse, and hired Concho’s designer, Oscar Ruffini of San Angelo.
Contractor John Carmack finished the two-story, stone building with a mansard roof in June 1890 for some $27,000. The courthouse burned on May 5, 1912. Fortunately, no county records were lost in the blaze.
Officials used the Brown building, the Masonic Lodge, and the opera house to conduct county business while making plans for the second courthouse, which still stands today.
The area’s early settlers included feuding Apaches and Comanches; Anglo-Americans and Germans settled the land in the 1850s.
Some have claimed that Mills County is the geographical center of the Lone Star State.
Mills County’s primary claim to fame is the Regency Suspension Bridge, one of the few suspension bridges still in service in Texas. The bridge is located about halfway between Brownwood and San Saba in western Mills County near the San Saba County line. The bridge was built following a flood along the river in 1938 that washed away the existing bridge.
Spanning the Regency Bridge is a cable suspension bridge supported by permanent abutment towers set upon concrete foundations in the banks of the river.
The construction of the bridge in 1939 was financed by Mills and San Saba counties, with Mills paying $5,000 and San Saba $10,000. The National Register description includes the following: “It became the pride of the locality, and youths gathered there in the 1940s to picnic, dance and sing.”
Each year the county attracts a large number of resident and non-resident Texas hunters in search of deer, quail, dove and turkey. The hunters are welcomed with a special day of recognition, including a Wildgame Supper organized by the Goldthwaite Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber also sponsors an annual Barbecue and Goat Cook-off the third week of April.
Finally, the Mills County Courthouse is located on the Christmas Tour of Lights and is the focal point for the Annual Parade of Lights the first Saturday of December.
(Texas Almanac 2006-2007)