Ada Mills Dewell

Honored by:Barbara Dewell Wood
Brick location:PAVER:3  map

Ada Mills Dewell, left, is shown with her friend Maria M. Roberts.

Ada Mills, on the left in this photo, was born on September 6, 1867, in Jefferson, Iowa and was the second child in a family of nine daughters. Through her father, Azor Ruggles Mills, she traced descent from the first Mills who came from England in 1630. Her father arrived in Jefferson, Iowa, in 1855 from Wadsworth, Ohio. Jefferson was at that time a settlement of only a few houses. He lived in Jefferson all his life except for the four years he was in the Civil War, so he saw the town grow to a charming Iowa town. He was a member at one time of the Iowa legislature and at one of the sessions of the legislature cast his vote for the first appropriation ever made for the building of Old Main on the new virgin campus at Ames. He vowed then that his daughters would attend that school.

He was an educator and assisted his children at home, explaining problems in arithmetic and algebra. He was strict in the use of the English language and drilled them in grammar. Ada taught country school after high school and entered Iowa State in February 1887. Her chief interests were in music and literature.

At Iowa State, she joined the Cliolian Literary society and Pi Beta Phi Fraternity. She was a member of a quartet and the choir, and took the part of Portia in the first presentation at Iowa State of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. After graduation from Iowa State, she taught school in Des Moines and Jefferson. In 1893, Ada married her college classmate, William Creswell Dewell.

They lived first in Logan, Iowa, then in Magnolia before moving to a farm where she took on the duties of a farm wife, a job completely unknown to her. She organized a choir of young men and women who sang every Sunday morning at the Sunday School she and her husband organized to meet each week in the one-room schoolhouse. She organized a study group for the farm women and planned and provided entertainment for the Old Settlers Day gathering held in Magnolia every August.

Four children grew up in this Mills-Dewell family and all attended Iowa State College. Ada's greatest joy was in having time to sit with paper and pencil, writing letters or composing a poem. She was secretary of the class of 1890 all of her life and secured the biographies of every member of that class. These biographies were compiled by Ada and through the generosity of her classmate Tenny Smith were published. Ada loved poetry, especially sonnets, but also wrote rondeaus and just plain jingles. She loved music and was soloist in choirs and later organist for church choirs and musical groups. She was an ideal mother and grandmother and a superb storyteller.

She was an influence for good on all who ever knew her.


Paver Inscription:

"Ada Mills Dewell
B 1867 D 1953
BA 1890 - Mother,
Poet, Teacher, Artist,