History for Zachariah Milam (ca 1755 - ca 1825)

The Life of Zachariah Milam in Historical and Cultural Context

Zachariah Milam was the fifth son of Thomas Milam and was born in Culpeper County in the Dominion and Colony of Virginia around 1755. The date of his marriage is not known but we learn from a Chancery Court case in 1797 that his wife's first name was Mary.

26 JUL 1773 BEDFORD COUNTY, ORDER BOOK 5A, Page 148.  W Donald & Co vs Zachariah Milam.  Judgment  according to Specialty (link) . Attached (link) effects. Continued.

Bedford County Court: William Donald & Co versus Zachariah Milam 20 DEC 1773:

Zachariah Milam owed a balance of £ 28 and 19 Shillings and 5 pence to William Donald & Co. who owned a general store. Donald demanded payment and the court required Zachariah to sign a bond with a Security (link) who further guaranteed payment.

"Know all men by these presence that we Zachariah Millam and William Millam are held and firmly bound unto William Donald Junr & Co in the Just & full sum of Twenty Eight pounds Nineteen Shillings and five pence to which payment we do bind our selves and each of our heirs jointly and severally. Wittness our hand and Seals this 20 day of December 1773.

"The Condition of the above is such that whereas the Sheriff of Bedford has this day attachment on the goods and Chattles of Zachariah Millam for to satisfy Donald Junr & Co the sum of Fourteen Pounds and Nine Shilling and Eight Pence 1/2 now. in case the above party or either of them do well and truly pay the said sum in three months from this date with interest according to an Act of the Assembly maid and recorded for ____ then the above be Void Else to be in force.

Test: Wright "

William Millam signed as Zachariah' Security (link) for this debt as you may read below. You may view a larger image and read a full transcription of this bond here (link).

Zachariah and William Millam signed a Security Bond to William Donald 20 DEC 1773
Zachariah Milam bond to William Donald Co.

27 AUG 1783 BEDFORD COUNTY, ORDER BOOK 7, Page 81. Hook assignee { W Donald & Co } vs Milams {Zachariah and William}. Allowed for Answer { William had joined the suit as Zachariah's Security on 20 DEC 1773. }

28 JUL 1784 BEDFORD COUNTY, ORDER BOOK 8, Page 61. In CHANCERY, John Hook, Assignee of William Donald Jr. & Co., vs Milams {Zachariah and William}. The Defendants having Stood out all processes of Contempt, It is decreed & Ordered that the defendants pay to Plaintiff £14, 19 Pence, 8 1/2 Pence with interest from the 20th day of December 1773 - all paid & Costs.

Note: Most law suits, including those for debt, were forbidden during the Revolutionary War largely because most suits were brought by British or Scottish merchants. The Milams had successfully stalled a verdict for eleven years i. e. "the Defendants having stood out all processes of Contempt". But the Court did order 11 years of back interest.

{ This was not the last time William and a brother brought a suit to the Chancery Court - see 4 MAY 1785, Trustees of Liberty versus Rush and William Milam here (link) . }

Zachariah named his first son John Kelly Milam (1778 - 1843) who in turn named a son, Charles Kelly Milam (1801 - ). Zachariah also named his second son Benjamin Kelly Milam (1782 - 1845).

So who was Kelly? In 2009 I speculated that Zachariah did so to honor his uncle, John Kelly, who had married Ann Margaret Rush - the sister of Zachariah's mother, Mary Rush. I provide the extensive evidence for these relationships here (link)

In Bedford County court records Zachariah is first mentioned on 25 MAY 1772. It is a "road order" in which a group of nearby residents are ordered to work on a road to Botetourt (“Body-tot”) County via Poteat's {Petite’s} Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains and keep it in good repair.

"The hands of Charles Lambert, John Allen, Zachariah Milam, John Kelly, Charles Barnett,  Samuel Hensley, Wm Lear, John Ross, John Dewit & William Willams with their male tithes { Tithables } are ordered to work on the old road from the fork in the road above Francis Holley’s leading through Poteat’s Gap and Keep the same in Repair, and that the said hands be exempted from working on the New Road, & that the Said Hands work on the Road from Thomas’ Ferry {on the James River} to the new Road." [496] You may view this order here (link) .

What is most interesting is that the order mentioned a John Kelly which meant that Kelly lived near Zachariah.

All the individuals named in the above order lived in northwestern Bedford County just south of the James River which after 1770 bordered upon Botetourt (“Body-tot”) County then after 1777 Rockbridge County when it was carved out. On 23 NOV 1778, the Bedford Court appointed Zachariah Milam "the Surveyor of the Road from Francis Holley's to the Rockbridge line and the Usual Hands are Ordered to assist the Surveyor in Keeping the same in good repair." [502] Seems it's the same road as above.

{ Now would be a good moment to look at Virginia county maps to see the changing relationships to the West of where the Milams lived in Northwest Bedford county here (link) . Pay particular attention to the periods 1761 - 1770 when Bedford County was bordered by Botetourt County and then 1771 - 1780 when it was bordered by Rockbridge County. }

The Bedford road order which preceeds the one above pertains to the new road to Poteat's Gap and mentions John Milam and William Milam as well as members of the Jackson and Fowler families into which the Milam brothers married. John married Ann Jackson; Benjamin married Elizabeth Jackson - the daughters of Jarvis and Helena Jackson. And Rush Milam married Ann Elizabeth Fowler. Thus they all lived near each other.

That earlier road order reads:

"Report of the review of a Road from above....Francis Holley's to Poteat's Gap returned and established, and that the new road therein mentioned be also established and the former road be kept open. The hands of Richard Callaway, Charles Gwatkins, Chesley Woodward, Nathaniel Nance, John Milam, William Wilson, Garret Jackson, James Wilson, William Milam, Martin King, William Fowler, John Hardwick, John Hampton, James Taylor and Joseph Jackson are to attend the service of the said new Road and assist in the clearing and keeping the same in good repair." [498] You may view this order here (link).

Please note that most of these men were in Captain Charles Gwatkins Militia Company for which John Milam was Lieutenant. In 1777 the Company traveled to Boonesborough, Kentuckey to defend it from Shawnee warriors led by Blackfish. For the fascinatinig details read my history for John Milam here (link) .

Zachariah Milam and his Uncle John Kelly in Bedford County

The Milams and Kellys went back a long way. In Orange County, their land was near each other as you may see here (link) . On 12 MAR 1747 Thomas Milam and John Kelley were Chain Carriers together for Alexander Campbell's Survey. View the survey here (link) .

With help from Kelly family researchers, I learned that John Kelly's family followed Thomas Milam's family from Culpeper County to Bedford County. By May 1768 John Kelly was leasing land along Battery Creek near the Milams. The evidence for this is found in Culpeper County Deed Book E, pages 569 & 570 :

" Know all men by these Presents that I, John Kelly, for and on Consideration of John McKenzie being my Security to Lenox Scott & Company for a large Debt.....I do hereby acknowledge and by these Presents, do bargain and sell unto the said John McKenzie a Straw Berry roane horse...., Two feather Beds, nine head of Hoggs, a man’s hatt and a Lease of land I hold from under Nicholas Davis in Bedford County on the mouth of Battery Creek, with every other thing I now Possess or may hereafter Possess and all Crops that I make till the Debt is discharged….In Witness Whereof, I have Hereunto set my hand  and seal this 23rd day of May 1768.  Signed: John Kelley

In the presence of Edward Stevens, James Wilson" [495] You may read it here (link).

In Bedford County on 30 Oct 1768 Kelly signed a bond to James Montgomery promising to pay him “the Sum of Three Pounds and 15 Shilling current Money of Virginia on or Before the Last day of May Next for Value Received of him.” He signed his name John Kelley. On the 5th day of May 1769 he wittnessed the assignment of a bond by William Thomson to John Thomson Junior and again signed John Kelley. You may view these beautiful documents here (link) and here (link). There are other court documents for John Kelly in Bedford County through the late 1770s.

Signatures of John Kelley from 1768 (left) and 1769 (right)
John Kelley Signature 1768 John Kelley Signature 1769

Thus the John Kelly formerly of Culpeper County removed to Bedford County and lived along Battery Creek which was near the "the old road from....above Francis Holley’s leading through Poteat’s Gap" as did Zachariah. Nearby lived John and William Milam who worked on the new road to the Poteat's Gap.

On 1 MAY 1777, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Act of Oath of Affirmation which may be viewed here (link). The following is the Oath of Affirmation, sometimes referred to as the Oath of Alligence, that the men affirmed with their signatures:

"I do swear or affirm, that I renounce and refuse all allegiance to George the third, king of Great Britain, his heirs and successours, and that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the commonwealth of Virginia, as free and independent state, and that I will not, at any time, do, or cause to be done, any matter or thing that will be prejudicial or injurious to the freedom and independence thereof, as declared by Congress; and also, that I will discover and make known to some one Justice of the Peace (link) for the said state, all treasons or traiterous conspiracies which I now or hereafter shall know to be formed against this or any of the United States of America."

The Bedford County Court on 28 JUL 1777 proscribed the manner in which the Oath would be administered in the county:

"Agreeable to an Act of the General Assembly of this State, this Court doth appoint the following Gentlemen to administer the Oath of Alligence to the Inhabitants of this County (viz.) John Ward Gent. in the bounds of his Company, ....William Callaway Gent. in his own Company, ....Charles Gwatkins Gent in Capt. Gwatkins' Company,....Isham Talbot Gent. in Capt. Henry Buford's Company....etc." [492]

You may read the entire court order here (link).

20 SEP 1777: Benjamin Milam, Rush Milam, William Milam and Zachariah Milam signed the Oath of Affirmation administered by Justice William Callaway to his Company. [480] You may view a typed copy here (link).

23 NOV 1778 BEDFORD COUNTY ORDER BOOK 6, 214. Zachariah Milam appointed Surveyor of the Road from Francis Holley's to the Rockbridge line and the Usual Hands are Ordered to assist the Surveyor in Keeping the same in good repair.

Zachariah Milam appointed Surveyor of the Road from Francis Holley's to the Rockbridge line, 23 NOV 1778
Zachariah Milam appointed Surveyor

26 AUG 1782 BEDFORD COUNTY, ORDER BOOK 6, 366. Zachariah Milam proved that he furnished the said Comissary {Capt Christopher Irvine} 375 pounds of beef for which he is allowed £ 10. 8 Shillings and Cost, Two Diets at 8 Shillings each & 1 peck of corn at 6 Shillings.

On 27 JAN 1783 Zachariah Milam was again appointed the "overseer of the road from Francis Holleys to the County line Crossing the Blue Ridge". [549]

There is more evidence of the Milams living close to the Kellys over an extended period of time. A July 1783 road petition was signed by William Millam, Zachariah Millam, James Kelly and Benjamin Kelly, the sons of John Kelley. It deals with the best way to Poteat's Gap.

"To the Worshipful Court of Bedford County

The petition of sundry of the Inhabitants of Bedford County Humbly Beseacheth That your Petitioners Labour under Great Inconveniences for the want of a Road from Holley's Gap to Poteat's Gap along a Road opened by Francis Holley which is Far the Nearest and Best Way. The way that Now is, is a Difficult Hilly way and by some Distance the Fartherest, And Likewise runs through the Plantation and Orchard of Peter Wilkerson and Is a Great Detriment to him. And ever hope your worships will consider These Inconveniences As we are convinced that a much Difficulter Way could not be Got Than For it to Run through the Orchard and Plantation of the said Peter Wilkerson. We shall cease to Trouble You any Futher, But rest Satisfyed that Your Homorable Court will Not neglect to promote every useful Purpose that shall come before You and your petitioners as In Duty Bound shall Pray. " [497]

Below are images of their names from a copy of the petition prepared by the Clerk of Court:

1783 Bedford Road Petition with William and Zachariah Milam & Benjamin and James Kelly
William Milam Zachariah Milam

Do you notice that these names seems to be written by the same hand? Indeed, the Clerk of Court made a copy of the poorly ledgible original. You may view the copy here (link).

Below are images of the signatures of the Milams and Kellys from the original petition. Note that William and Zachariah spelled their last name "Millam" and that Benjamin and James spelled their last name "Kelley", unlike the learned Clerk who spelled them Milam and Kelly.

1783 Petition with William and Zachariah Millam & Benjamin and James Kelley Signatures
Zachariah Milam & Benjamin signatures

Perhaps now we understand why Zachariah Milam used Kelly for the middle name of his sons. The original petition may be viewed by clicking here (link).

In June 1785 some of the same neighbors again petitioned for a change of a road to Poteat's Gap which was signed by Rush Milam and Zachariah Milam but not by the Kelly brothers. Recall that Benjamin Kelly was still a prisoner of the Shawnee Indians as I discuss in the chapter on Lt John Milam here (link).

"To the Gentlemen appointed by the Worshipful Court of Bedford to view the road from Holley's Gap to Poteeth's Gap ~

We Your Petitioners beg leave to inform that we labour under great Inconveniences by the Old Roads as they Now run, and beg You will view the way from Major Gwatkins along a Rolling Road Cleared by Francis Holley and by the Fork Field belonging to Charles Rice into the other Road and keeping the same to Poteeth's Gap ~" { Signed by sixteen men. } You may view a lager image and read transcription of this petition here (link).

Zachariah and Rush Millam signed a Road Petition in JUN 1785
Zachariah Milam Road Petition 1785

The Kellys and Other Milams

A military expedition in October 1777 to protect Boonesborough in present day Kentucky binds these families together even more. It was lead by Major Charles Gwatkins and Leutenant John Milam. Several of the fifty men in their company were neighbors mentioned in the road orders and petitions discussed above: Charles Gwatkins, John Milam, Chesley Woodward, Martin King, Benjamin Kelly, Joseph Jackson and John Williams. Most notably Benjamin Kelly and Joseph Jackson, both kin of John Milam, were among the 25 plus soldiers and settlers captured by Shawnee Indians at the Lower Blue Licks on 8 FEB 1778. You may read the story of their Boonesborough campaign in my chapter about John Milam here (link).

Later Joseph Jackson recounted how he, Daniel Boone, Benjamin Kelly and six others were "adopted" by the Shawnee at Little Chillicothe on the Miami River in Ohio. Most of the other captives were taken to Detroit and sold to the British army for a bounty of $100 per prisoner. Jackson remained with the Indians for more than two decades until 1799. You may read Joseph Jackson's fascinating 1844 interview with historian Lyman C. Draper by clicking here (link). [501]

By 1787 Benjamin Kelly had returned from captivity with the Shawnee Indians and was working with William Milam. This is known from the Bedford County Census which shows that William was "charged with" Benjamin's Property Tax. On the 1787 Census Benjamin's name is listed just after William Milam on page 196 followed by Rush and Moses Milam. On page 197 Zachariah and Anne Milam (John Milam's widdow) are found. You may view those pages here (link to .pdf file).

Chancery Causes (link) are cases that are decided on the basis of equity and fairness as opposed to the formulated rules of English Common Law. Some of the more common types of chancery causes involve divisions of the estate of a person who died intestate; divorces; settlements of dissolved business partnerships; and resolutions of land disputes.

Bedford County Chancery Court: Mary Milam versus Zachariah Milam

1797 - 009 CHANCERY CAUSES: Mary Milam vs Zachariah Milam

"Milam vs Ye Said Milam: For Separate Maintainance.

A Writ: “The Commonwealth of Virginia to the sheriff of Bedford County. Greeting. We command you Summon Zachariah Milam to appear before the Justices of our County Court at the Courthouse of our County on the 4th Monday in August next to answer a Bill in Chancery exhibited against {him} by Mary Milam. This he shall in no wise omit under penalty of £100 .

Witness: James Steptoe, Clerk of our Courts

The 23rd day of May 1797 in the XXV th year of our foundation."

On the back of the writ, the Sheriff wrote:

To be Dismissed by order the Plaintiff. Plaintiff not further proceding { not prosecuting }.

D Saunders {Sheriff} August 1797"

Mary vs Zachariah Milam Chancery Case 23 MAY 1797
Mary vs Zachariah Milam Chancery Case 1797

You may view and read the front and back of this Chancery Court writ here (link). There were no further details in the Chancery record. What we learn from this case is that the first name of Zachariah Milam's wife in 1797 was Mary .

The 1820 Virginia census lists a Zachariah Milam, Sr., in Bedford County, Northern Division, sheet 44 A. In his household were 1 male over 45 and 1 female over 45.

28 JAN 1822 BEDFORD COUNTY, DEED BOOK 17, 167. Zachariah Milam made a deed of gift "of a certain tract of land lying and being in Bedford County on the Waters of Reed Creek containing 175 acres and bounded by Micajah Davis, Edmund Jennings and John Milam" to his son, Charles Kelly Milam. [499]

Zachariah and his wife probably died between 1820 and 1830 in Bedford County, Virginia.

Issue of Zachariah and Mary Milam ( Robert Wilbanks IV ):

I. John  Kelly Milam Born circa 1778, Bedford County, Virginia

II. Benjamin Kelly Milam Born between 1780 and 1784, Bedford County, Virginia

III. Charles  Milam Born between 1784 and 1794, Bedford County, Virginia

IV. Zachariah Milam, Jr. Born circa 1788, Bedford County, Virginia

V. Solomon Milam Born between 1784 and 1794, Bedford County, Virginia

VI. Nancy Milam Born before 1793, Bedford County, Virginia. Married John Reynolds on March 14, 180_ in Bedford County.

VII. Henry Milam Born between 1794 and 1800, Bedford County, Virginia

In 1838 Benjamin Kelly Milam sold by deed of trust 260 acres along Battery Creek to Edmund G. Damron. [500]


~~~~~~~~~~~ Please see Zacharia's Chronology of records here (link) . ~~~~~~~~~~~~

NOTE TO READERS: Most all the words in bold type face are links to images, maps or word definitions in the Glossary. The Citations and Glossary are available under the Resources tab or here (link) .


To Top