Thomas Milam of Colonial Virginia (ca 1716 - 1775)

The Life of my Earliest Ancestor in Historical and Cultural Context

We first meet Thomas Mylam on Friday, 24 March 1737/1738 (link), in the court of Orange County in the Colony and Dominion of Virginia [9]. It was the second day of the monthly court session which began on the 4th Thursday of each month. Thomas's was one of 82 cases that Friday, all but 14 of which were for debt (link) . Thursday had been no different; colonial times were very litigious. When the Orange County census was taken the previous October, the total number of tithables (link) was 1538 - so about 10% of the population were defendants in court that month.

An Introduction to Thomas Milam's World - Colonial Life

Why an Introduction? Because there are many colonial words with which you will not be familiar. They appear in BOLD print. When you click on the word, the link will take you to my Glossary page with its definition. Also, in order to understand Thomas' life and Milam Gap, you will need to learn about John Bramham, the "attorney" for former Virginia Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood's land sales. Continuing with Thomas' history.....

A petition (link) of David Williams, assignee of William Smith, was brought against "Thomas Mylam and Francis Williams for four hundred pounds of tobacco due by bill". You may read a transcription of this Court Order here (link) [9]

Orange County Court Order 24 MAR 1738
Thomas Milam Court Order 24 MAR 1738

The fact that the debt was due by bill indicates that William Smith was a merchant and in the course of his business dealings had assigned the bill to David Williams in lieu of cash. Since Milam and Francis Williams failed to appear, the Court ordered them to pay the 400 pounds of tobacco and costs. In the Colony of Virginia, hard currency was in such short supply that payment in tobacco and assignment of debt were common occurrences. After 1710 tobacco was indeed the "Currency of the Realm" in Virginia. This case demonstrates that by this date Milam and Williams were freemen - no longer indentured servants - and were capable of earning money, contracting bills and ultimately paying their debts.

{ Fifty pounds of tobacco were equal to 5 Shillings (link) . There were 20 Shillings to an English Pound ( £ ) - like our nickel to our dollar i.e. 1/20th . Thus their 400 pounds of tobacco was worth £ 2 . In 1740, a pair of shoes cost 50 pounds of tobacco, a bushel of corn 125, a pound of sugar 8, a cow 500 and a horse 1,500 pounds of tobacco. [384] }

One might imagine that the courthouse was in a quaint village like Williamsburg (link), the capital, for example. However, the only village in recently formed Orange County was the remnants of Germanna (link) where Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood (link) (1710 - 1722) had imported German indentured servants (link) to mine for iron ore in 1714. When Colonel William Byrd II (link) visited Germanna on horseback in September 1732, he noted in his diary that the village "consists of Colonel Spotswood’s enchanted castle on one side of the street and a baker’s dozen of ruinous tenements on the other, where so many German families had dwelt some years ago". [17]

Alexander Spotswood (1676 – 1740)                     Colonel William Byrd II (1674 – 1744)
You can understand why yeomen referred to their rank as Dandies.
Alexander Spotswood William Byrd II

In general, villages were few and far between on the frontier of colonial Virginia. The nearest village to Thomas Milam was Fredericksburg, 50 miles east in Spotsylvania County - named for Lt. Gov. Spotswood of course. Colonel Byrd visited Fredericksburg a few days later on his return to his home Westover (link) on the James River. Byrd noted "....the inhabitants are very few. Besides Colonel Willis.....there is only one merchant, a tailor, a smith, and an ordinary (link) keeper". Since the only evidence of the lives of the early Milams is in court records, it would be useful to discuss the importance of colonial courts and court days. Now would be an opportune time to read my discussion of colonial courts here (link) .

This map (image) shows the vast territory of the new Orange County extending west across the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley to the Appalachian Mountains and beyond - “...bounded....westerly by the utmost limits of Virginia”. [232]

County of Orange "bounded....westerly by the utmost limits of Virginia" January 1735
Map of Virginia 1730 - 1741

Mr. John Bramham

In 1735, John Branham removed to Orange County from Richmond County and made a "lease for life" of 104 acres on the south side of the Rapidan River, part of the 40,000 acres Spotsylvania tract belonging to Alexander Spotswood, the former Lieutenant Governor.

After the court for Orange County first met on 21 Jan 1734/1735, a debate ensued about where to locate the courthouse and where was the "center" of the county. [148] On 25 Nov 1736, the Court agreed with Mr. John Bramham that he should lease 11 acres of land "for the use of the county of Orange to hold Court on and build and erect courthouse, prison, pillory, stocks, whipping post and stable....for 120 pounds of tobacco per annum.....the plot should include a convenient spring to Cedar Island Ford..." [133, 134] Ten years later our Thomas Milam and this Mr. John Bramham would jointly hold a warrant (link) for 403 acres of land on the north side of Double Top Mountain.

At the same court session, it was ordered that "...the Court for the County to be held at Mr. John Bramham December next..." [135] and, since the Court Justices of the Peace (link) needed a place to spend the night, that "John Bramham is given permission for an Ordinary {tavern} at his own house...." [136] By 1741 his tavern was referred to as "Bramham's Great Ordinary". [296]

Mr John Bramham was an up and comer who earned his wealth by acting as the "attorney" for former Virginia Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood's land sales in the county. With this income Bramham invested in land not only in Orange County like the 403 acres with Thomas Milam but just across the Blue Ridge Mountains in Augusta County (1738). Bramham died in July 1767.

Orange County: 1738 - 1749

Topographic Map of Mylam Land SurveyMilam was associated with Francis Williams by the 1738 court case. Since roads were few, travel was difficult and therefore limited, one would expect that Milam lived near Williams and would appear on the same Tithable (link) Lists on which Williams appeared. Indeed, the others involved in the case - David Williams, William Smith and Francis Williams - all appeared on Constable Henry Downs 1736  Tithable list. [299] But Milam didn’t. Nor does he appear on 1739 Tithable Lists as Francis Williams or William Smith do. [300] Nor on any other list of Orange County tithables through 1749 - which are however incomplete. I did find his future brother-in-laws, John Kelly and Fenley McColester, and neighbors, Richard Mauldin and Maj. Philip Roote, near Double Top Mountain on some lists: – but never any variation of the spelling of Milam. [298]

It is curious that his name was absent since Tithable Lists included everyone except free white women i.e. free white men, servants, indentured servants and even slaves. However, my colleague, Dewey Lillard (link), suggests that during these years, Thomas Milam was working for John Bramham as the overseer of his property in Augusta County. Indeed Bramham leased his "Great Ordinary" and mortgaged his farm on the Rapidan River [313] to speculate on land in the rapidly developing Shenandoah Valley purchasing more than 1200 acres. Existing tithable records show that from 1735 through 1752 Bramham paid taxes for 7 to 9 tithables each year. [301] So Milam would have been included as a tithable for Bramham. { Dewey is very knowledgeable about the early settlers of Orange County and their land deeds. Dewey collaborated with me on research for Milam's Gap. }

Thomas Milam's need to travel to Augusta County would explain why he would discover a route - "a path called Milam’s Pass" [217] - across the Blue Ridge Mountains through Milam's Gap into Augusta County. And why the Gap was referred to as Milam Gap as late as 1926 in Claude L. Yowell's A History of Madison County Virginia. Further it would help explain why Milam does not appear in Orange County court records from 1738 until 1746. It's even possible that Milam lived in Augusta County for a period. See my article on Milam Gap here (link) .

By March, 1747, Milam and Bramham shared a warrant (link) for 403 acres of land on the north side of Double Top Mountain along the "south fork of the Robinson River". [226] The Double Top property that he and Milam shared was 25 miles from Bramham’s original farm where the Orange County courthouse was built. After John Bramham's survey (link) of the 403 acres dated 12 May 1748, he sold his half to George Lucas. [304, 305] However, the division of their 403 acres between them was not without controversy as noted in this colorful comment by surveyor, John Hume:

"Thomas Mylum refooses to have his Backline Run of his part of this Warrant by reason he says he will have more Land than the Warrant allows him & when I went to finish as before, the Chain Carriers mentioned in the within plan Cut a hickory Club to drive me off. G Hume".

John Jones and John Sampson were the Chain Carriers. You may view a larger image of this survey here (link) is an image of Hume's colorful note. [304]

John Bramham Survey, 12 May 1748
Jon Bramham Survey

By viewing their land plats (link) placed on a present day topographic map, you can see that Milam "may have wanted the dividing line to run Northwest instead of Northeast, which would have given him more farmable river bottom land" as my cartographer friend, Robert Vernon (link) suggested to me.

Thomas Milam next appeared in Orange County records in the Court Order (image) of 29 August and the Court Order (link) of 27 September of 1746 [31, 32] when he and Finley McColester were mentioned as Securities (link) for Margaret Rush, an older sister of Thomas’ wife, Mary Rush. Indeed this series of court cases [28 - 32] involving Margaret Rush and John Kelly are important evidence for my conclusion that Thomas Milam married Mary Rush, the daughter of William Rush IV, an Orange County Constable (link) . [100] I provide the detailed evidence for this conclusion in an article about their marriage which you may read here (link) .

Another important point about Milam serving as a "Security" for Margaret Rush and John Kelly was that he being required "to pay 500 pounds of tobacco or 50 Shillings" {£2 1/2} demonstrated that Milam was a freeman earning money and had the stature to act as a Security. [32]

In my chapter on Mary Rush's family you will learn 1) that the Rush family were Quakers (link) from Westmoreland County; 2) of the influence of William Duff, a prominet Quaker and wealthy land owner; 3) of the connection to Duff's trusted nephew, Robert Green, who was an Orange County Court Justice of the Peace (link), Church Vestryman (link), and a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses (1736 and 1738) and 4) of the earliest American imigrant to whom we are related through the Mary Rush line: Francis Gray, one of the first settlers of the Province of Maryland who was elected a Burgess to the Maryland General Assembly in 1639. The first William Rush imigrated from England to the Northern Neck of the Colony of Virginia about 1650 and married Francis Gray's daughter, Ann in 1658. You may read this previously untold and interesting history of Mary Rush's family by clicking here (link) .

I have discussed all of Thomas Milam's court records with my knowledgeable friends, Dewey Lillard (link) and Robert Vernon (link). We are in agreement that in the 1740s Milam worked for the aspiring gentleman, John Bramham, as an Overseer of his properties in Augusta County. In addition to his salary, half of their jointly held warrant on their 403 acres was a part of his compensation.

Culpeper County: 1749 - 1760

Photo of Thomas Mylam's Land in Culpeper CountyOn 15 June 1749, Thomas Milam had his 203 acre portion surveyed; you may view his survey here (link) . [306] By the time Milam received his land grant the following January (1750), his property fell into the newly partitioned off Culpeper County which was created from Orange County on 15 May 1749. [307] Culpeper County represented the disputed, northern portion of the old Orange County which Lord Fairfax claimed as part of his Northern Neck Proprietary. This explains why Thomas received a Northern Neck Land Grant (link) signed by Lord Fairfax rather than a Virginia Land Patent (link) . [10] You may read a transcription of the Grant here (link).

Thomas Milam's Deed Signed by Right Honourable Thomas, Lord Fairfax, Baron of Cameron, 31 JAN 1750.
Northeren Neck Land Patent

As was often the case, he lived on this land much earlier than the grant date since court records show that he had established close relations with his neighbors the William Rush family, John Kelly and Fenley McColester before August 1746. [28 - 32, 226] They all lived on or near Double Top Mountain as you can see on this map (link) .

Indeed it was quite common for settlers after obtaining a warrant to live on their land for several years before requesting a land grant in order to avoid paying the annual land tax, Quitrent (link), to Lord Fairfax while they cleared the land for planting, build a dwelling and constructed fences. In my chapter entitled "Court Records for Thomas Milam (ca 1716 - 1775)", you may read an abstract of each court record and deed in which Thomas Milam appears and read a discussion of these land transactions here (link).

After acquiring land, Virginia law required the erection within three years of "one good dwelling of 20 feet by 16 feet" - at the minimum. Most commonly the beginner's house was one, or one-and-a-half, stories and had two rooms on the ground level, an earthen floor and a wooden chimney lined with clay at one gable. The exterior walls and roof were cover with riven clapboards (link) of oak or chestnut. [321] One long wall had a central door and the other a small window usually closed with shudders. Contemporaries estimated the longevity of such houses at a decade or so but with constant repairs they could be made to last 20 years. [326]

Below is a photo (link) of a reconstructed Virginia House typical for a beginner's homestead. Throughout the Chesapeake Bay tobacco growing region, it was the most common type of architecture from the mid 17th century until the third quarter of the 18th century when log cabins (link) became the preferred architecture on the expanding frontier. Please read my chapter on History of Colonial Houses in Virginia and Maryland for reconstructed drawings and images of early settlers' houses and the cultural and economic factors which influenced housing development by clicking here (link).

Reconstruction: Godiah Spray House, St Marys City, MD. Click image for details of construction.
Godiah Spray House

As late as 1787 no less of an authority on architecture than Thomas Jefferson [339] who designed his neoclassical residence, Monticello (link), and also the first buildings of the University of Virgina (link) wrote in his book, Notes on the State of Virginia:

"The private buildings are very rarely constructed of stone or brick; much the greatest proportion being of scantling (link) and boards { clapboards (link) }, plaistered with lime. It is impossible to devise things more ugly, uncomfortable, and happily more perishable. There are two or three plans, on one of which, according to its size, most of the houses in the state are built...." [314]

Unfortunately for our research - with the exception of land grants, surveys and deeds - Culpeper County records were destroyed during the Civil War as the county saw battles from the Summer of 1862. General Ulysses S. Grant encamped 100,000 Federal soldiers around Culpeper in December 1863 and didn’t withdraw completely until the Spring of 1864 when they moved south. In addition, the records of St. Mark’s Parish from 1754 through 1757 are missing.

In 1747, 1748 and even 1760 Milam was a Chain Carrier (link) for the county surveyors, Mr. George Hume and Richard Young. [226, 308, 309] You may view notations of Milam as Chain Carrier here (link) and here (link) .

From property transactions we learn that in the late 1750s Thomas Milam had plans to more than double the acerage of his farm because he had obtained a warrant (link) for 230 acres of adjacent land which extended north onto Fork Mountain. To get an idea of Milam's expansion plans, you may view the relationship between Milam’s original land and his warrant for 230 additional acres on this map (link) . The 230 acres contained in the warrant is identified on the map as "Christopher Dickens " a future owner.

On 26 August 1760, Milam assigned this warrant to John Green with his usual mark "TM". His son, Benjamin, was a witness and signed with his signature: "Benjamin Millam". Thus far it is the oldest Virginia record of a Milam's signature. You may view this record here (link) . It's important to know that Benjamin Milam needed to be only 14 years old to witness a contract, not the legal age (link) of 21 years old. Common Law (link) only required that the person be judged capable of “discretion” which was generally accepted as 14 years of age – but in some circumstances it could be younger.

Benjamin Millam's Signature on Thomas Milam's land warrant to the future Col John Green, 26 AUG 1760
Thomas Milam warrant to John Green

John, another son of Thomas, also appeared in Culpeper records in 1760 when he was recorded as a chain carrier along with his father for the survey of 107 acres for George Row made on 27 MAR 1760. You may view this survey here (link) . It's curious that William Milam, thought to be Thomas' eldest son, does not appear on Orange or Culpeper County records.

Why Did Thomas Milam Remove to Bedford County

What could have motivated Thomas Milam in 1760 to change his plans for doubling the size of his farm but instead to remove his large family 120 miles south to Bedford County? There are several possibilities: 1) the French and Indian War (1754 - 1763), 2) the persecution of the Quakers and Separate Baptists during the First Great Awakening in the 1750s, 3) a great flood along the Rose River which Jimmy Graves told me occurs twice a century, 4) the soil of his farm was depleted of nutrients by the demanding tobacco plant, 5) his impermanent Virginia House had reached the end of its useful life or 6) some of his sons were teenagers and the family needed to remove to a county where fertile land was less expensive.

In a letter to Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie, George Washington ( who was appointed Surveyor of Culpeper County in 1749 ) discribes the situation in Augusta County during the French and Indian War (1754 - 1763) where Thomas Milam may still have been overseer for John Bramham:

"Winchester, November 9, 1756 -

Honorable Sir:....From Fort Trial on Smith's River, I returned to Fort William on the Catawba, where I met Colonel Buchanan with about thirty conduct me up Jackson's River, along the range of forts. With this small company of irregulars, with whom order, regularity, circumspection, and vigilance were matters of derision and contempt, we set out, and, by the protection of Providence, reached Augusta CourtHouse in seven days....the wretched and unhappy situation of the inhabitants needs few words....They are truly sensible of their misery; they feel their insecurity from militia preservation, who are slow in coming to their assistance, indifferent about their preservation, unwilling to continue, and regardless of every thing but their own ease. In short, they are so affected with approaching ruin, that the whole back country is in a general motion towards the southern colonies; and I expect that scarce a family will inhabit Frederick, Hampshire, or Augusta {counties just west of Culpeper}, in a little while." { You may read Washington's entire letter here (link). } [424]

Chester R. Young in his The Effects of the French and Indian War on Civilian Life in the Frontier Counties of Virginia considered Culpeper County itself one of the “refuge counties” to which threatened settlers from the Shenandoah Valley fled. [423]

As mentioned above, the Rush family were Quakers (link). Indeed, Mary Rush Milam's grandmother, Elizabeth Rush, so stated in court when she returned the Inventory of her late husband, William Rush III’s, after his death in 1708 and refused to swear on the Bible as Quakers did refuse.

"Elizabeth, relic of William Rush {III}, deceased, returned into Court an Inventory of her deceased Husband’s Estate (upon her solemne protestation according to Law) shee professing to bee a Quaker. Inventory dated 26 Jan 1708/09

Teste: James Westcomb, Clerk of Court" [51]

The Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy provides histories for the meeting houses in Virginia including Goose Creek Monthly Meeting in Bedford County - there was no Quaker meeting house in Orange or Culpeper Counties. [741] The minutes of the first Monthly Meeting in Bedford County are dated 15 SEP 1757; a stone meeting house was completed in 1789. In a chapter entitled "Marriage Bonds of Bedford County", nineteen Milam marriages are recorded beginning with Moses Milam (19 OCT 1774) and included Rush Milam (16 JUL 1883). You may view the complete list here (link) .

In preparation for their move to Bedford County, Thomas and his wife, Mary Rush Milam, on 17 August 1760, sold the "203 acres whereon the said Mylum now liveth and whereon his Dwelling house now Standeth" for £ 90 of the current money of Virginia also to Christopher Dickens. [310] At the end of this deed both Thomas and Mary signed with their marks, "TM" and "Q", which you may view here (link) .

NOTE: I think the reason Thomas Milam learned to write his initials and his sons became literate was because his wife, Mary Rush, was a Quaker from a literate family. Witness their son Moses Milam's Memorandum here (link). And it's why sons John and Rush were appointed Constables and John and William Lieutenants in the Bedford County Militia.

Deed signed by Thomas Mylum with "TM" his mark and by Mary Mylum with an "O" her mark.
Thomas MIlam Deed to Christopher Dickens 17 August 1760

Thomas' removal to Bedford County - another refuge county - most likely was due to a combination of factors. By May 1768 his brother-in-law, John Kelly, and his wife, Margaret Rush Kelly, also removed to Bedford County. The Kellys were Quakers and were persecuted for their beliefs in the early 1740s. The details are here (link).

Bedford County: 1760 - 1775

Painting by Edward Beyer, Town of Liberty, 1855What is most interesting about the Milam family in Bedford County is that the first court record is for William Milam dated 26 May 1760. He along with Charles McLaughlin and Robert Fitzhugh were "appointed to appraise the estate of John Vance, deceased". [425] You may view the order here (link) . Therefore William was already established in Bedford and sufficiently knowledgeable of local values for the court to assign him this task three months before Thomas Milam sold his farm in Culpeper County on 17 August 1760. [310] And it was seven months before Thomas signed an indenture with Richard Calloway for 400 acres of land along Hurricane Creek in Bedford County on 27 January 1761. [426]

These facts raise several questions: 1) how long had William lived in Bedford County to become so well known and respected? In the more than 22+ years that Thomas Milam lived in Orange and Culpeper Counties he was never assigned such a task; 2) if William was born in 1746 as traditionally believed, he would have been 14 years old. Is it conceivable that a 14 years old was experienced enough with the values of various articles to assist in an estate appraisal? and 3) given his apparent older age and useful skills, is it not curious that William is not found in Culpeper County records like his brothers, Benjamin and John. Please read my discussion of these finding by clicking on Genealogy Notes (link) . What shall become clear in my chapter on William Milam is that he will be the most prominent and successful Milam in terms of court appointments, military rank and land holdings in Bedford County. Read more here (link).

Photo of Thomas Milam's Land in Bedford County The Indenture (link) signed in Bedford County, Virginia, between Richard Calloway and Thomas Millim dated 27 JAN 1761 is an important document since it proves a couple of points: 1) that the Thomas Milam who was granted land in Culpeper County in 1749 is the same one that is found in Bedford County in the 1760s; and 2) that the date Thomas moved to Bedford County was late 1760 or early 1761. This is a transcript:

"Know all men by these present that the Thomas Millim of the County of Culpeper in the Colony of Virginia, Planter (link), am holden and firmly Bound unto Richard Calloway of the County of Bedford in the Colony, a Gent. (link), in the Sum of Eighty pounds current money of Virginia.....dated the twenty seventh day of January & in the year of Our Lord one thousand seventeen Hundred and Sixty one___________________1761" [385]

The Condition is such that the above bound out Thomas Millim or his heirs.....shall well and truly pay unto the above named Richard Calloway or his heirs.....just and full sum of forty £ of like current lawful money in the manner and form following, (Viz) Twenty £ on first day of July next and Twenty £ the first Day of November next ensuring the date hereof without fraud or causing further delay that then this obligation to be void and of non effect or else to stand and remain in full force and virtue.....

Sealed and delivered in the presence of                                   his

                                                                                     Thomas " TM" Millim


John "X" Reeves

Wm Ritchie"

My photo of this beautifully preserved original document may be viewed by clicking here (link).

Thomas Milam Signed this Indenture with his Mark: TM.
The Clerk of Court spelled his name, "Millim".
Thomas Milam Land Contract 1761

This purchase didn't go smoothly since Calloway brought Milam into court in February and again in March of 1762 for payment of this debt. Orginal Writ (link) .

Writ for Thomas Milum to appear in Court to answer Richard Calloway's complaint.
Writ 26 MAR 1762

At the 23 March 1762 court, the case was "Agreed. Dismissed." When Thomas Milam completed the Lease and Release (link), the court ordered his deed to the four hundred acres "lying and being on both sides of Hurricane Creek" recorded on 24 MAY 1763 . [427]

The next day, the 25th of MAY, the Court declared:  "Thomas Millim is exempted from paying County & Parish Levies for the future". [432] Court Order (link).

"Thomas Millim is exempted from paying County & Parish Levies for the future."
Thomas Millim exempt from Levies

This was granted by the court when someone "was from age or infirmity adjudged by the commissioners incapable of supporting themselves by labour". The fact that they used the term "for the future" meant that it was permanent; otherwise the Court would have specified a time period such as "for this year". Thomas' infirmity may explain his difficulty in paying Richard Calloway on time. There is very little more in Bedford County records on him beyond the sale of 200 acres of his farm to John Richey which was recorded on 23 JUN 1765. [433]

Thomas Milam "entertained" Thomas Jefferson, 24 AUG 1767

Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of our Declaration of Independence, was elected the second governor of Virginia and served from 1779 until 1781. Jefferson then served as United States  ambassador to France between 1785 and 1789. Finally Jefferson was elected the third President of the United States and served two terms from 1801 until 1809.

So it was remarkable to learn that on 24 AUG 1767 young Thomas Jefferson’s Memorandum Book records a payment to a Milam in Bedford County:

"Aug. 24. Pd. at Milam’s for entertainment 5/." [428]

Thomas Jefferson, as Governor of Virginia (1779 - 1781)
Thomas Jefferson Governor of Virginia

At the time, Thomas Jefferson was a 24 year old attorney practicing in Staunton, Virginia, the seat of Augusta County. In August 1767 he made a ten day trip on horseback to visit the county seats of Bedford, Amherst, Orange, Culpeper, Frederick and Fauquier counties. (see the map below). After detouring to visit the "Natural Bridge" in the northwest corner of Bedford County on August 23rd, he traveled southeast toward the Bedford County seat at New London. Mr. Gene Crotty in his book, Jefferson's Western Travels Over Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, speculates that Jefferson rode first through Arnold's Valley, then crossed the Blue Ridge at Petite's Gap to enter the Otter River valley. [429]

At one point, the road south to New London runs parallel to Hurricane Creek where Thomas Milam by then owned 200 acres of land. In 1767 Thomas was the only Milam who owned land in the county so Thomas Jefferson must have spent the night and had a meal at his house. [430] William Milam was the next to acquire land when he patented 600 acres along Meadow Creek in August, 1772. [431]

Jefferson used the word "entertainment" to mean either lodging or a meal or both. It’s interesting that the 5 Shillings that Jefferson paid Milam was the same amount that he paid a few days later at Penn's Tavern and at Key's Tavern on August 27th and 28th. And it was twice the 2 Shillings and 6 Pence he had paid at Paxton's Tavern on the 23rd. Perhaps Jefferson paid 5 Shillings for lodging plus a meal and only the 2 Shillings and 6 Pence for lodging. There is no court record of Milam receiving permission to run a tavern so Jefferson would have stayed at Milam's home.

Map of Thomas Jefferson's Horseback Trip August 18 - August 28, 1767. Click to enlarge.
From Gene Grotty's Jefferson's Western Travels Over the Blue Ridge Mountains, page 19. [429]
Map of Thomas Jefferson's Route in August 1767

{ Note: Thomas Jefferson and the Natural Bridge: 1) Jefferson wrote of the Natural Bridge in his book, Notes on the State of Virginia: "Natural Bridge was the most sublime of Nature's works". [442] 2) In 1774 Thomas Jefferson acquired a patent for 157 acres which included the Natural Bridge from the Virginia Land Office in Williamsburg. [xxx] }

It interesting to speculate on that evening's conversation. Jefferson might have mentioned that James Steptoe, the Bedford Clerk of Court, was his classmate and friend at William & Mary College and that, after visiting Steptoe, he planned to inspect his properties in the county, one being Poplar Forest (link) which became Jefferson's retreat after serving as President of the United States. [429] One wonders whether Thomas' sons remembered his visit when nine years later Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence or when he was elected Governor of Virginia in 1779. Jefferson would later write that when staying at Poplar Forest he made "frequent journeys to Bedford {previously New London}" so he was no stranger to the community.

On 1 JUL 1774 Thomas Milam prepared his last Will and Testament which was recorded in Bedford County, Will Book 1, page 227 - 228, on 27 MAR 1775: [434]

"In the name of God, Amen. I, Thomas Milam, of the County of Bedford being in perfect health of Body and of perfect mind and memory thanks be given to God. Calling to mind the Mortality of my body and knowing it is Appointed for all men once to die  do make and Ordain this my last Will and Testament.

that is to say, Principally and first of all, I give and recommend my Soul into the hands of Almighty God that gave it and my Body I recommend to the Earth to be buried in decent Christian Burial at the Discretion of my Executors ~ nothing troubling ~ but at the General resurection I shall receive the Same again by the mighty power of God and Touching such worldly Estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me with in this Life, I give devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form,

First I give and bequeath to my two Youngest Sons: Viz: Solomon and Rush Millam all and singular my Lands, Messuages (link) and Tenements to be equally Divided between them, and by them and their Heirs to be possessed and enjoyed forever. Also I give and Bequeath to Mary Millam my dearly beloved Wife (whom I appoint, make and Ordain the Sole Executrix of this my last Will and Testament) all my Stocks of all kinds together with all my Household Goods, Debts and moveable Effects.

And I do hereby utterly disallow, revoke and Disannul all and every other former Testaments, Wills, Legacies, Bequests and Executors by me in any wise before Named, willed or Bequeathed. Ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last Will and Testament. 

In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & Seal this first day of July 1774

Thomas "T" Milam

Signed, Sealed, Pronounced and Declared in the Presence of us:

William "W" Willson, John "X" Reaves and James Willson."

{ T was Thomas' mark on this occasion; he had used TM previously. W was the mark of William Willson and X the mark of John Reaves}

His Will may be viewed at these links: Will page 227 (link) . Will page 228 (link) .

On 27 MAR 1775 his Will was recorded in Bedford County, Order Book, page 93. [435]

"The Last Will and Testament of Thomas Milam, Deceased, was proved  and Ordered  Recorded. And on the motion of Mary Milam the Executrix (link) therein mentioned, Probate is granted her in due form where upon together with William Willson and John Reaves her Securities (link) Entered into and Acknowledged their Bond and made oath according to the Law.”

Thus, most likely Thomas died in February or early March of 1775. The Inventory of his estate was not recorded in the Bedford County Will Book. However, there are no records from April 22, 1776 until July 22, 1776 due to our pending Revolution. Obviously Mary Rush Milam was still living in late March 1775. Sons, Rush (16 years of age), Solomon (perhaps 18) and Zachariah (around 20) would work their father's farm with advice from their older brothers.

Sons of Thomas and Mary Rush Milam

I. William, Born circa 1738, or earlier {see above} - Orange County (became Culpeper County in 1749)

II. John, Born c. 1742 or earlier {see above} - Orange County (in 1749 Culpeper County)

III. Benjamin, Born c. 1746 or earlier, {see above} - Orange County (in 1749 Culpeper County)

IV. Moses, Born c. 1752 or earlier {see above} - Culpeper County

V. Zachariah, Born c. 1755 - Culpeper County

VI. Solomon, Born c. 1757 - Culpeper County

VII. Rush, Born October 1759 - Culpeper County, according to his Revolutionary War pension application


Please see my Thomas' Records Chronolgy where you may read an abstract of each court record and deed in which Thomas Milam appeared and read a discussion of his land transactions here. (link)


NOTE TO READERS: 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)

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