My Vision for a Milam History Website

By the early 1760s court records document Milams in four counties in Virginia: an Adam Milam in Dinwiddie County [6], a John Milam in Chesterfield County [7], a John Milum in Halifax County [8] and Thomas Mylam in Culpeper County [9, 10].

The vision for this website is to research and document the lives of these families in the context of the historical, cultural and religious changes enveloping them. It will attempt to add flesh and sinew to their existence as evidence permits. The impetuous for this undertaking was my sister, Carol Milam–Ogden’s, genealogic research which traced our heritage to Thomas Mylam of Orange County in 1738. My search utilizes the extensive resources of the Library of Virginia and its Record Center, the Historical Society of Virginia, individual county court and historical society records as well as visits to, and photographs of, the land these Milam families settled. The author is especially interested to learn how major historical forces may have affected the families such as the Great Evangelical Awaking of the 1740s – 1760s; the French and Indian War, the American Revolution and "Ohio Fever".

For example, before Thomas Mylam settled in Orange County, it was first settled by German indentured servants brought there by Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood to mine iron ore at Germanna (link) in 1714. Several of these families moved further west in 1725 to settle a couple miles east of Mylam’s future property and founded the Hebron Lutheran Church (link). About the same time two brothers, William and Benjamin Rush, acquired land very near Mylam’s future land along a stream known as Quaker’s Run. The Rush families were Quakers as demonstrated in a court record concerning their father’s Will and property inventory. [14] Thomas Mylam would later marry William’s daughter, Mary Rush. In July, 1749 the young George Washington (survey image) was appointed Surveyor of Mylam’s county – then named Culpeper County having recently been carved from Orange County. James Madison, principal author of the United States Constitution, grew up just 24 miles to the southeast of Mylam on his family’s tobacco plantation: Montpelier (link). In 1760 Mylam sold a warrant for 230 acres to John Green (link) who became Colonel in the 10th Virginia Volunteers and fought throughout the Revolution. Green County, Virginia, was later named for him and his father, Robert Green, a member of the Virginia House of Burgess (1736). In 1792, this southwestern portion of Culpeper County was named Madison County in honor of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States (1809–1817), and includes Mylam’s original property.

In late 1760 Thomas Milam removed from Culpeper County 120 miles south to Bedford County. In August 1767 he "entertained" the young Thomas Jefferson according to Jefferson's Memorandum Book: "Aug. 24. Paid at Milam’s for entertainment 5/." The next day, Jefferson inspected his properties in the county, one being Poplar Forest (link) which became Jefferson's retreat after serving as President of the United States.

Research thus far demonstrates that these early Milam families were not of the Gentry class, like the vast majority of early settlers of America. Indeed, unlike the colonies of New England which had drawn their population from the middle of English society, more than 75% of white immigrants to the Colony of Virginia had come as indentured servants. [15, 16] For the earliest Milams there are no records indicating that they were Justices of the Peace or Church of England vestrymen – nor do court records follow their name with the suffix "Gent." used to designate a member of the Gentleman class. These types of offices would have to wait until freedom was won and the democracy envisioned by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison was established.

My parents were from Kanawha County, West Virginia, where Thomas Mylam’s youngest son, Rush, settled in 1812. My father’s family lost their farm in the Great Depression and moved further north where my grandfather and father would labor in a steel mill. My mother’s family lived along Frog’s Creek and didn’t receive electricity until 1955. They lived in a small Jenny Lynn house with large rocks under each corner, a tin roof, a pot–belly stove in the living room, a wood fired kitchen stove, a water well off the back porch and an outhouse some 30 yards away. This grandfather farmed with horses – never owning power equipment – and only had cash when he sold a calf or hog in order to buy life’s staples: flour, corn meal, sugar, salt, pepper, clothes and seed for next year’s crops. But they cured the most delicious ham and bacon and made sausage flavored with sage. My mom rode on horseback in fall and spring to attend high school 4 miles away and, in exchange for room and board, cleaned house and did laundry so she could attend high school in the winter in the town of Sissonsville. Because of her high regard for education, my two siblings and I were motivated to earn graduate degrees. This Website is a celebration of the common man working for a better life for themselves and their children in the New World.

The articles published on this Website will be annotated to document the sources of information and are freely available to copy. I hope that you will be as excited as I am to find reference to your ancestors in various documents and perhaps to see an image of their land or their signing mark. All the words in bold type face are links to glossary definitions, photographs, maps, plats, etc. I urge you to explore by left clicking on them. Once you have clicked a link, it will be displayed in dark red type. Many of the images have "roll–overs" whereby, if you hover your cursor over the image, a second image appears. In the case of historical documents, the second image will be a typed transcription of the colonial script as demonstrated here (image) . Citations are enclosed within brackets [ ] and are found on the Citation link under Resources. Clarifications within my writing will be found within ( ) and within direct quotes will be found within { }. Since the spelling of the "Milam" name often varies even within a single document, I will sometimes revert to the generic "Milam" rather than using the various spellings.


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