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Ralph J. Mills, Jr.

Ralph J. Mills, Jr. was an American poet and professor. A well-respected and admired poet, his voice was uniquely Chicago, his poetry was in the objectivist style, dependent on evocative natural imagery, presented in terse but beautifully layered poems. Ralph Joseph Mills, Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 16, 1931. His father was Ralph J. Mills, President of the Mills Novelty Company in Chicago and his mother was Eileen McGuire, whose family owned Beloit Dairy in Chicago, he and his sister Anne Mills Canter grew up in Illinois. His first job was with his family’s Mills Novelty Company in Chicago, in the summer 1950, working the lowest position at the factory, hauling compressors and returned machinery, he graduated from Lake Forest College, Northwestern University, with a master's degree and PhD. He attended Oxford University, taught at the University of Chicago, from 1959 to 1965, he taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1965 until his retirement in 1997. In 1959 he married the former Helen Harvey, a descendant of Fred Harvey, the owner of the Harvey House chain of restaurants and other hospitality industry businesses alongside railroads in the western and southwestern United States.

They had two daughters, Natalie Mills Bontumasi and Brett Mills, a son, Julian Mills. He was the grandfather to Lucian Bontumasi and Eliot Bontumasi, he died in Chicago on August 18, 2007. His papers are held at the University of Chicago Library. Ralph J. Mills, Jr. graduated from Lake Forest Academy in 1950, Lake Forest College in 1954, Northwestern University in 1956 with an MA in English. He attended Oxford University from August 1956 - May 1957. Mills received a PhD from Northwestern in 1965 and an Honorary Degree in Letters from Lake Forest College, 2004. Ralph Mills Jr. was an acclaimed poet and professor. A teacher and critic known for the precision of his observations and the generosity of his praise, Mills first taught at University of Chicago, 1959–1965, was Associate Chairman of the Committee on Social Thought, he taught modern literature and creative writing in the English Department at University of Illinois at Chicago for thirty-two years, 1965–1997, where he was the first director of graduate studies in English.

At UIC, he taught a range of classes, but in years focused on poetry. He had the ability to break down complex poems and "didn't demand his students be carbon copies of who he was," said Michael Anania, a poet and colleague of Mr. Mills' at UIC. "He was an dedicated intellectual, but you'd never hear any statement that seemed intellectually immodest or off-putting." His literary ambitions dated to his college years at Lake Forest College. After graduation, Mills earned an MA and PhD in English from Northwestern University and studied at Oxford, he led a distinguished academic career, teaching first at the University of Chicago and becoming the first director of graduate studies in English at the University of Illinois–Chicago, where he taught modern literature and creative writing for more than 30 years. Mills committed himself to poetry scholarship early in his career, his interests were diverse — including poets such as Wallace Stevens and William Butler Yeats, experimental writers such as Samuel Beckett, French men of letters such as René Char and André Michaux.

Mills’s scholarly essays and reviews have appeared in the most distinguished literary and academic journals, but he has written with great verve and clarity for a popular audience in the Chicago Sun-Times. He edited the famous anthology Contemporary American Poetry, which introduced a generation of American college students to the best contemporary poetry. Between 1963 and 1975, he published numerous critical articles, eight books of criticism and two volumes of essays on contemporary American poets, as well as edited Theodore Roethke’s letters and selected prose, David Ignatow’s Notebooks, his essays and criticism concentrated on 20th Century poets such as Roethke, Edith Sitwell and Wallace Stevens. His critical work was used in numerous classrooms and workshops over the years and reprinted in textbooks and a compilation of his well-received criticism, Essays on Poetry, was published in 2003. Within the world of Chicago writers and academics, he was respected for his piercing intellect and the breadth of his knowledge.

He never wrote a negative review. "He enjoyed more poets, more poems, more criticism of poetry than anyone I know," said novelist and former University of Chicago professor Richard Stern. "Mills was a rare beacon of benevolence in a field where most participants love to try to spike each others' eyes out," Stern said. He was poetry reviewer for the Chicago Daily News, Chicago Sun Times, Christian Century and American Poetry Review in the late 1960s. A respected and published critic, Mills was a distinguished poet in his own right, his focus turned more to his own poetry when he was in his early thirties, prompted by the death of his father. Much of his poetry was in the objectivist style, "dependent on images, tersely presented," said fellow poet Michael Anania, his command of the written word was always paramount. "His poems were not always easy to

Black Moshannon State Park

Black Moshannon State Park is a 3,481-acre Pennsylvania state park in Rush Township, Centre County, United States. It surrounds Black Moshannon Lake, formed by a dam on Black Moshannon Creek, which has given its name to the lake and park; the park is just west of the Allegheny Front, 9 miles east of Philipsburg on Pennsylvania Route 504, is surrounded by Moshannon State Forest. A bog in the park provides a habitat for diverse wildlife not common in other areas of the state, such as carnivorous plants and species found farther north; as home to the "argest reconstituted bog/wetland complex in Pennsylvania". Humans have long used the Black Moshannon area for recreational and subsistence purposes; the Seneca tribe used it as fishing grounds. European settlers cleared some land for farming clear-cut the vast stands of old-growth White Pine and Eastern Hemlock to meet the needs of a growing nation during the late 19th century. Black Moshannon State Park rose from the ashes of a depleted forest, destroyed by wildfire in the years following the lumber era.

The forests were rehabilitated by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Many of the buildings built by the Civilian Conservation Corps stand in the park today and are protected on the list of National Register of Historic Places in three historic districts. Black Moshannon State Park is open year-round for recreation and has an extensive network of trails which allow hiking and viewing the bog habitat at the Black Moshannon State Natural Area; the park is in Pennsylvania Important Bird Area #33, where bird watchers have recorded 175 different species. It is home to many rare and unusual plants and animals, due to its location atop the Allegheny Plateau. Much of the park is open for hunting and the lake and creek are open for fishing and swimming. In winter it is a popular destination for cross-country skiing, was home to a small downhill skiing area from 1965 to 1982. Picnics and camping are popular, the "Friends of Black Moshannon State Park" group promotes the park and all the recreational activities associated with it.

Humans have lived in what is now Pennsylvania since at least 10,000 BC. The first settlers were Paleo-Indian nomadic hunters known from their stone tools; the hunter-gatherers of the Archaic period, which lasted locally from 7000 to 1000 BC, used a greater variety of more sophisticated stone artefacts. The Woodland period marked the gradual transition to semi-permanent villages and horticulture, between 1000 BC and 1500 AD. Archeological evidence found in the state from this time includes a range of pottery types and styles, burial mounds, pipes and arrow, ornaments. Black Moshannon Creek is in the West Branch Susquehanna River drainage basin, whose earliest recorded inhabitants were the Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannocks, they were a matriarchial society. Decimated by disease and warfare with the Five Nations of the Iroquois, by 1675 they had died out, moved away, or been assimilated into other tribes. After this, the lands of the West Branch Susquehanna River valley were under the nominal control of the Iroquois.

The Iroquois lived in long houses in what is now New York, had a strong confederacy which gave them power beyond their numbers. To fill the void left by the demise of the Susquehannocks, the Iroquois encouraged displaced tribes from the east to settle in the West Branch watershed, including the Lenape; the Seneca, members of the Iroquois Confederacy, were inhabitants in the area of Black Moshannon Lake, a series of beaver ponds at the time. They and other Native Americans, including the Lenape, hunted and traded in the region; the Great Shamokin Path, the major native east–west path connecting the Susquehanna and Allegheny River basins, crossed Black Moshannon Creek at a ford a few miles downstream from the park. The park's 1-mile Indian Trail for hiking and cross-country skiing recalls such native paths as it runs through an open forest of oak and pine trees, with occasional clearings and a grove of hawthorns; the French and Indian War led to the migration of many Native Americans westward to the Ohio River basin.

On November 5, 1768, the British acquired the "New Purchase" from the Iroquois in the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, including what is now Black Moshannon State Park. After the American Revolutionary War, Native Americans entirely left Pennsylvania. While there are no known archeological sites within Black Moshannon State Park, the name Moshannon is derived from a Lenape term for Moshannon and Black Moshannon Creeks: Mos'hanna'unk, which means "elk river place." The name "Black Moshannon" refers to the dark color of the water, a result of plant tannins from the local vegetation and bog. Prior to the arrival of William Penn and his Quaker colonists in 1682, it has been estimated that up to 90 percent of what is now Pennsylvania was covered with woods: over 31,000 square miles of white pine, eastern hemlock, a mix of hardwoods; the forests near the three original counties, Philadelphia and Chester, were the first to be harvested, as the early settlers used the available timber to build homes and ships, cleared the land for agriculture.

The demand for lumber increased and by the time of the American Revolution the lumber industry had reached the interior and mountainous regions of Pennsylvania. Lumber became one of the leading industries in Pennsylvania. Trees were used to furn