Darius Ogden Mills, son of a prominent New England family, once said: "I was taught very early that I would have to depend entirely upon myself; that my future lay in my own hands." He created that future adroitly, ethically, and with remarkable acumen. No one questioned his character -- he had a spotless reputation. Mills was born September 5, 1825 in North Salem, New York, the son of James and Hannah Mills. He attended North Salem Academy and subsequently the Mount Pleasant Academy at Sing Sing, New York. In 1847, 22-year-old Mills went to Copleyalo to serve as cashier in The Merchants' Bank of Erie County. When his brothers James and Edgar decided to pursue dreams of gold in California in 1849, Darius followed, only to find himself stranded with several thousand anxious Argonauts on the beach of Panama City.