My Vision for a Milam History Website

By the 1760s court records document two major Milam families in the Colony and Dominion of Virginia: 1) a John Milam Sr first found in Brunswick County [7], then in Chesterfield County [636] and then in Halifax County [8] and a Thomas Milam first found in Orange County [9], then in Culpeper County [10] and finally in Bedford County.

My vision is to research the lives of these families in the context of the historical and cultural changes enveloping them. I will attempt to add flesh and sinew to their existence as the recorded evidence permits. My search utilizes the extensive resources of the Library of Virginia and its Record Center and the Historical Society of Virginia in Richmond espepcially county court records. I will suppliment the historical records with visits to the lands these Milam families settled.

The author is especially interested to learn how major historical forces may have affected these families especially the Great Evangelical Awaking of the 1740s – 1760s; the French and Indian War, the American Revolution and "Ohio Fever". The motivation for this undertaking was my sister, Carol Milam–Ogden’s, genealogic research which traced our heritage to Thomas Mylam of Orange County, Virginia, in 1738.

For example, before Thomas Milam settled in Orange County, it was first settled by German indentured servants (link) 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 Milam’s future property where they founded the Hebron Lutheran Church (link). In 1726 two brothers, William and Benjamin Rush of Westmoreland County, acquired land very near Milam’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 Milam would later marry William’s daughter, Mary Rush. See here (link).

 

George Washington 1789 - 1797              James Madison 1809 - 1817                Thomas Jefferson 1801 - 1809
Stuart Portrait of G Washington Stuart Portrait ofJ Madison Stuart Portrait of T Jefferson

Gilbert Stuart Portraits, 1821, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

In July, 1749 the young George Washington (link) was appointed Surveyor of Thomas Milam’s county – then named Culpeper County having been carved from Orange County. James Madison Jr, "Father of the United States Constitution", grew up just 24 miles to the southeast of Milam on his family’s tobacco plantation: Montpelier (link). Madison was born about the same year as Milam's son, Moses - 1751.

In 1760 Thomas Milam sold a warrant for 230 acres to John Green (link) who became Colonel in the 10th Virginia Volunteers and fought throughout our Revolutionary War as would four of Thomas' sons. Green County, Virginia, was later named for him and his father, Robert Green (link), a member of the Virginia House of Burgess (1736). When in 1792, the southwestern portion of Culpeper County became Madison County in honor of James Madison Jr (link), "Father of the┬áConstitution" Milam’s original property then fell into Madison County where it is today. Madison became the fourth President of the United States (1809–1817).

In late 1760 Thomas Milam removed from Culpeper County 120 miles south to Bedford County. In August 1767 he "entertained" the young Thomas Jefferson (link) 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 (1801 - 1809). [429] See details here (link).

Research thus far demonstrates that these early Milam families, like the vast majority of early settlers of America, were not of the Gentry (link) class. For the earliest Milams there are no records indicating that they were Justices of the Peace or Church of England Vestrymen (link) – nor do court records follow their name with the suffix "Gent." used to designate a member of the Gentleman class (link) or Gentry. 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 Milam’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 Miller 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 25 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 village of Sissonsville, WV. 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 references to your ancestors in various documents and perhaps to see an image of their land or their signing mark.

The words in bold type face are links to glossary definitions, photographs, maps, plats, etc. I urge you to explore by clicking on them. My citations and references are with [ ] and may be found here (link) and in the left menu at 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 revert to the generic "Milam" rather than using the various spellings.

 

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