Growing Tomatoes for Van Camp

I found a piece of paper in my GG Grandfather’s stuff & wondered what it was all about. So I did a little digging. Here is the contract between GG Grandpa Lewis Elwood Millikan (1855-1949) and the Van Camp Packing Company:

LEMillikanVanCamp copy

So is this the same well known Van Camp company that makes Pork & Beans? And how did Elwood get involved in growing tomatoes for them?

Looking into the history of the Van Camp company, I found a notation at the Indiana State Library website. The company was started by Gilbert Van Camp in Indianapolis, IN. Gilbert’s son, Frank, is credited with adding catsup and bacon to the the baked beans recipe to give it a unique taste. So yes, this is the same Van Camp company that makes Pork & Beans!

How did Elwood get involved? He probably attended this meeting announced in the Sheridan News, January 10, 1902:


Seeing that the contract was initiated on January 25, he must have figured it was a good deal. He contracted for 3 acres of tomatoes. The last line of the agreement, however, gives an “out” for the company if they did not get a commitment of enough acres—their minimum was 300 total acres.

Another announcement in the Sheridan News January 31, 1902 indicated that the company was reaching the quota:


One more article in the Sheridan Weekly Sun November 13, 1902 gives a little information on how the overall crop did:


I don’t know much more about Elwood’s crop. I wonder how much money he made from this contract & if it was worthwhile for him. I did find that the Van Camp company advertised again in the Sheridan papers for tomato crops in the years to follow—so it must have been a lucrative deal for them.

So there it is, looks like GG Grandpa Lewis Elwood Millikan probably provided tomatoes to the VanCamp Packing Company at least for one season—what an interesting find!

© MJM 2018

An Inventor in the Family

One of the first things I do when looking for information on an ancestor is a simple Google search. I did that one day on a guy named Silas Portis & found an interesting piece of information. The first time I “Googled” Silas, I saw this drawing for a patent on a gate opening device.


Lately, the Google search gives a link in Google Books to Scientific American magazine from February 4, 1893, pg.73. This includes a nice illustration as well as a description of Silas’ device.


The whole idea is that a person would not have to get down from the wagon or carriage, hold the horse steady and at the same time open the gate, then repeat the same process to close the gate once the wagon had passed through.

Looking at the US Patent office rules, a person who wanted to file for a patent would have to submit a detailed drawing and description of the device as well as the appropriate fees. I searched the US Patent & Trademark office website <> for more information on Silas’ patent. Since the first drawing I found had a patent number, I was able to find the actual patent for Silas’ “Gate-Worker.” The Patent No. 436,543 was dated November 17, 1891. The specifications are very technical with a description of each element of the device and how it all worked in sequence to open & close the gate. Other information found in the Patent paperwork was that Silas was from Monrovia, Indiana and he assigned two thirds of the patent to Telemichus N. Bennett and Albert Taylor who also lived in Monrovia.

So who was Silas Portis? He shows up in the 1850 US Census in the Northern subdivision of Davidson County, North Carolina with his Mother, Rachel and siblings, Emeline, Elizabeth and George W (my GG Grandfather). Silas attended school within the year and is listed as a laborer.


Silas was born June 14, 1833 according to his headstone. Other records list 1834 or 1835 as his birth-year. In 1860, he shows up in the US Census, still in North Carolina, but this time in the Southern Division of Guilford County. He is listed as an Engineer with a group of other men, including 2 Miners, a Blacksmith, Carpenter, another Engineer and several laborers. The assumption is that he worked in a mine. There were gold mines in Guilford County, NC. His wife, Rebecca and their two daughters, Louise & Charlotte, are in a separate listing from Silas, but on the same page. I haven’t found any information as to what Silas did during the Civil War.

In 1880, Silas was living in Guilford Township of Hendricks County, Indiana. He has married a 2nd time after his first wife, Rebecca died. The 1880 Census lists Silas with his wife, son and step-son. At this time he was working in a Saw Mill.


On June 18, 1883, the Hendricks County Republican newspaper reports “Silas Portis has hired to the Monrovia millers as an engineer. Silas has been with us for some time and we regret that he is going to leave us, though while we lose a good citizen Monrovia gains one.”

A sad event occurred in Silas’ family in September of 1888. His 10 year old son, Cecil died. The report is that Cecil was leading a cow to pasture with the rope tied around his waist. The cow became frightened and ran, dragging Cecil and killing him.

In 1900, Silas lives in Monroe Twp. of Morgan County, Indiana. He is listed in the US Census with his wife, Mary and 18 year old daughter, Ovis (or Avis). His job description is again Engineer. By this time, he has already secured his patent for his Gate-Worker device.

Silas died March 14, 1904. He was 70 years old. He is buried in West Union Cemetery, Monrovia, Indiana.

So, even though Silas Portis was not a direct ancestor of mine, he is still part of the family & it’s kind of cool to know that he has his name on a US Patent. I wonder if he made any money off of his invention? Knowing Silas’ story, maybe it’s not so unusual that some of my relatives have the need to “tinker” with things.

© MJM 2018

The New Mexico Homestead, Part 6

Proving Up.

Three friends from Indiana, Arza Millikan, Harry Kincaid and Elmer Davis filed homestead claims in New Mexico in February 1907. They moved out to their claims in August 1907. According to the Homestead Act of 1862, if they “improved” their claims—put up a house, fencing if needed; lived on the land & farmed it for 5 years, they would receive it free from the US Government (aside from filing fees.) However, they could also get the land quicker if they improved the land (put up a house & put in crops) and resided on it for 6-8 months. They would then pay a certain amount of money per acre to get the title to the land. The original Homestead Act set the price at $1.25 per acre. I’m not sure if this was still the price in 1907.

When a homesteader was ready to take legal possession of the land, they would get 2 neighbors or friends to vouch for the fact that they made improvements to the land and that they resided there for the required time period. These witnesses would sign the “proof” document. Notice of the intention to “prove up” was published in the local newspaper for 5 weeks to allow anyone who didn’t agree to contest the claim. When we visited New Mexico in 2007, we found actual newspapers from that time in a museum and saw the “proving up” notices for the three friends.

Harry’s notice was in the May 1, 1908 edition of the Nara Visa Register. Elmer’s notice was in the May 8 edition of the Nara Visa New Mexican.

On May 22, 1908, the Nara Visa Register included Arza’s “proving up” notice.


UnionCoNMCourthouseThe friends were witnesses for each other. The notices were recorded from the land office in Clayton, New Mexico, which was the county seat for Union County. So I guess the young men would have traveled the 39 miles up to Clayton to the courthouse to file their paperwork. This picture shows the Union County Courthouse as it would have looked at that time. It was hit by a tornado later in the year and had to be rebuilt.

One final notice in the Nara Visa Register from June 12, 1908:


Then on June 19, 1908, the Sheridan News reported the return of the young men to Indiana


So the three friends have returned home to the Indiana farms where they were born and raised. The New Mexico report indicates that they were going home for the Summer and would return to New Mexico in the Fall. As far as I know, they did not go back to live on the land. Perhaps they realized farm life would be easier on land in Indiana than New Mexico. Whatever the reason, they stayed in Indiana.

Arza made an entry in a farm ledger book January 1, 1909. In it he summarized his New Mexico adventure. I’ve already included part of that entry in some parts of this story. The rest follows: “We boys proved up and came back to Indiana June 13, 1908. A few days ago I rec’d Patent from the Gov’m’t. My claim cost me $600. beside almost a years time & hired help at grandpa’s.”

I have a copy of Arza’s land patent from the Bureau of Land Management’s website. The original is in the possession of a family member.


The land is still in the family. We visited it in 2007—it’s a pretty barren piece of property. But one must consider that the Dust Bowl affected this area of the country. Hard to imagine the land with any crops as the pictures saved from 1907/08 show the same thing we found—dirt and tufts of grass. Comparing it to the Indiana farmland where the young men came from, I think I can figure why they stayed in Indiana.

Arza continued helping on his Grandfather, Clark’s farm until he got married in 1916 and took over the farm of his Father, Elwood. Elmer stayed on the farm just down the road from Arza’s the rest of his life. Harry got married to one of the girls from the Sunday School class, Florence Hinshaw. He worked at an automobile factory.

Here is one final picture of the three friends, Harry, Arza and Elmer, probably taken in the 1950’s:


Harry Kincaid, Arza Millikan, Elmer Davis

They shared an adventure in New Mexico—maybe trying to find their fortunes with land—but ended up back home in Indiana where their fortune could be found much easier.

© MJM 2018


The New Mexico Homestead, Part 5

A Visit From Home.

The Sheridan News from December 20, 1907 reported that “Mrs. Elwood Millikan left last Thursday for Nara Visa, New Mexico where she will spend the winter.” A notice from December 27 stated that she went to New Mexico “for the benefit of her health and to visit her son Arza.” Arza’s Mother, Martha Ellen “Mattie,” took the train out to stay with him for the Winter. Hard to imagine what benefit it would have been to her health, staying in a small cabin out in a field with no running water and leaky walls—remember snow came in between the boards. I have a couple of pictures from her time out there:


Here she is standing outside of Arza’s cabin. Looks like she was a small woman.


This picture was taken inside the cabin. I wish it was better quality. But some details can be figured out. First, it looks like there may be a curtain next to Mattie’s right elbow. Perhaps this was used to give a little privacy in the sleeping area. Behind Mattie is the bed with a quilt covering it. There are clothes hanging on hooks on the far wall next to what may be a small closet. Just below the clothes, leaning up against the wall in the corner is a rifle.

The Sheridan News again announced Mattie’s travels. On April 10, 1908, it reported that Mattie had returned home to Indiana the Saturday before. A letter sent to Arza from his sister, Edna, in May 1908 told a little about how Mattie fared while out in New Mexico: “We weighed mamma a few days after she came home and she weighed 95 1/2. We weighed her today and she weighed 102. She lost about 9 1/2 while in New Mexico and has gained near six since she came home.” I wonder if all that good food Arza reportedly had—canned milk, dried meat, beans and cornbread—had anything to do with her weight loss. But Edna tells of something else that may have contributed to it: “I suppose the steam baths and not eating very much was the reason she lost.” She then talks about borrowing a “cabinet” for a steam bath like Mattie had while out in New Mexico.

I found a couple of advertisements for these cabinets:

BathCabinetAlbuquerqueNMCitizenTueJune211898p2This ad is from the Albuquerque Citizen, June 21, 1898.


VaporBathThe Indianapolis News advertised this cabinet on February 17, 1900. A large advertisement for the Vapor Bath Cabinet included the information that it was “A Godsend to all Humanity…Guarantees Perfect Health, Strength & Beauty to Every User, and Cures Without Drugs All Nervous Diseases, Rheumatism, La Grippe, Neuralgia, Blood & Kidney Troubles, Weakness, & the Most Obstinate Diseases, by Nature’s Method of Steaming the Poisons Out of the System. It is an air-tight inclosure, in which one comfortably rests on a chair, and with only the head outside, enjoys at home, for 3 cents each, all the marvelous cleansing, curative & invigorating effects of the famous Turkish Bath.”

The price for the wonderful treatment device was $5.

I don’t know what kind of medical condition Mattie had that would have sent her out to New Mexico in the Winter. I’m sure it’s no wonder that she lost weight though if she regularly used a steam cabinet like one of these.

A couple of months after Mattie left New Mexico, Arza and his friends proved up their claims…

© MJM 2018

The New Mexico Homestead, Part 4

Settling in New Mexico

On August 22, 1907, the three friends, Arza Millikan (my Great-grandfather), Elmer Davis and Harry Kincaid got off the train in Nara Visa, New Mexico. They were ready to settle on their homestead land. Each had 160 acres in southern Union county, north of Nara Visa. Their claims were in a row, with Elmer’s farthest West, then Harry’s, then Arza’s, then the Moody family’s claim. It would have been a good day’s trip to go to Nara Visa for supplies from the train.

One of the first things they had to do was put up shelter. My understanding is that the men used some type of “kit” houses with pre-cut lumber. My Grandmother told me that Arza had a Sears-Roebuck house. However, Sears did not sell kit houses in 1907. Other companies had kit houses at that time, but I haven’t been able to find what specific supplier they may have used. Anyway, the supplies would have come by train to Nara Visa, then the men would have taken them by wagon to their claims. I’m sure this wasn’t a quick or easy process. The homes themselves were single-room cabins. It would have taken about a week to build one from the pre-cut kit.

The best picture I have from the homesteaders is of Harry Kincaid in front of his cabin.HKCabinNMex

I also have a photo of Arza’s cabin. In the background to the right is possibly the Moody cabin.


Arza Millikan’s Cabin, New Mexico 1907

One thing that was pointed out to me about these cabins is the windows. They didn’t use just a simple single pane window with a hinge and latch. They used sash windows which would have been more expensive. Other than that, the cabins were pretty basic with only boards—no insulation or inside walls. So if there were cracks between boards, the wind would blow through & in the winter, snow would come through the cracks.

My Grandmother said Arza used cow chips for fuel. He did not have a well, so he had to haul water. He used canned milk, dry meat and lots of beans and cornmeal (used for mush, I bet). He also pulled his own teeth, gargled with kerosene and if he needed a doctor, he would travel to Amistad.

I have no idea what kind of crops the men may have planted while proving up their claims. I do know that they had time for a little fun. My Grandmother said the young men went to square dances & spelling matches and other activities at the Amistad school. The pictures she saved show evidence of some of their fun times enjoying the countryside.



They played croquet with the Moody girls. In the background is possibly Mr. Moody’s well-drilling rig.


playing croquet New Mexico 1907

One final picture shows someone’s sense of humor:



The caption on the back of this picture is “Tail-e-foning”. Note the hat the lady is wearing. When we visited a little museum in Amistad, we saw another picture of several people wearing the same style hat. We were told it was a common hat in Amistad. Remember the Wood’s (from the Hoosier Colony in Amistad)? Mrs. Wood was a milliner. I wonder if she made the hats?

So much for the fun times on the open range. Next time, a visitor from home…

© MJM 2017

The New Mexico Homestead, Part 3

Thanksgiving in New Mexico

Jumping ahead a little in the story of Arza Millikan (my Great-Grandfather) & his friends Elmer Davis & Harry Kincaid homesteading in New Mexico. They secured claims and moved to New Mexico in August of 1907. At the same time, other members of the Sheridan, Indiana community moved to New Mexico to homestead as well. The Woods family moved out to settle on land near Amistad in Union County, NM and helped establish a “Hoosier Colony.” On December 13, 1907, the Sheridan News published a letter sent from the Woods family describing the first Thanksgiving day the homesteaders shared:SherNewsFriDec131907p6headline

The letter continues: We thought that perhaps it would interest our friends in and about Sheridan to know how we spent our first Thanksgiving day in our new home. We attended services at our little town of Amistad and you would have been surprised if you had walked in and seen the crowd of people that were there, measuring about 300. After several songs by the choir and accompanied by two cornets and organ the latter presided over by Prof. Kelsey, late of Boston School of Music. Our pastor then gave a splendid address, theme “Our New Mexico Home as We See It,” which was heartily applauded.

We then sat down to a fine dinner consisting of turkey, chicken, cranberries, pumpkin, mince and other pies, cake and hot coffee, in fact all of the good things that go to make a Thanksgiving feast. After an intermission of one hour we were called to order and in a very short time $285 was collected to finish paying for the church and Academy building. Also $15 was raised for a charity fund. The service was closed with a splendid prayer by one of our many preachers for which this locality is noted. The rest of the day was spent in getting acquainted with our neighbors which we find to be a very fine class of people from almost every state in the Union. At the close of the day’s service the air resounded with the Academy yell which is too complicated to write in detail. As our party of 8 wended their way over the trail homeward (1/2 mile south and 3 3/4 east) we could look over the prairie and see the people going in all directions, some walking, some horseback, others driving burrow, horses & mules. Many in big wagons pulled by bronchos as was our own wagon.

After doing our chores, we had our regular Thursday evening prayer meeting and our hearts went up in prayer for our loved ones and friends in our good old Hoosier state of whom we had thought a great many times during the day and we thanked our Heavenly Father for his many blessings and tender care for us in our Western home. The Woods Family

Since Arza and his friends settled near Amistad as well, it is expected that they attended this gathering.

I do have a picture labeled “Thanksgiving at Moody’s.” Most likely it is from Thanksgiving 1907.


The Moody family had the property bordering Arza’s on the East. Alfred Moody and his wife, Mary had three daughters, Sylvia, Florence and Helen. Sylvia and Florence were teen-agers in 1907. I expect they were a little infatuated with the young men who lived nearby.

The photo isn’t the best quality & the people are unidentified, but I think the 3 in white are the Moody girls.

So the homesteader’s first Thanksgiving in New Mexico was spent visiting with new friends, enjoying food, company and entertainment. I guess that’s what holidays are about.

©MJM 2017

The New Mexico Homestead, Part 2

Westward Ho! Well, almost. As mentioned in Part 1, Arza Millikan (my Great Grandfather) and his friends Elmer Davis & Harry Kincaid were making plans to move out to the land they had made claims on in New Mexico. They gathered their supplies, made plans to take care of business at home in Indiana, and prepared to head West.

SherNewsFriAug91907p1Other members of the “Hoosier Colony” were on their way in August. This article from the front page of the Sheridan News, August 9, 1907, tells of the Woods family moving out West:

Arza, Elmer and Harry were ready to leave later in August. But first, they had a going away party with some of their friends. On August 16, 1907, there was a notation in the Sheridan News of this gathering:


One of the items my Grandmother gave me was a collection of pages stitched together at the top to make a little booklet. I think each young man received one of these from his friends at this party. It contains a few practical hints and recipes for the men to take along with them.

recipe8jpg copy

Recipe Book pg. 8

This little recipe booklet gave Arza the basic recipes for such staples as Mashed Potatoes, Baked Beans and Potato Salad. Then there were the recipes for Puff Ball Donuts & Good Graham Gems. Our favorite recipe is for Fried Mush—an Indiana farm staple. Step one of the recipe is to go to Harry’s and get some leftover mush.

Each recipe or hint was personally written for Arza by one of his friends.

So then the young men took their hints and well-wishes from friends and family and headed out to New Mexico. Arza’s journal entry stated that they “shipped goods, provisions & mules down in a car with Walter Edwards & Tim Jones.” The trio of friends left August 20, 1907 with Mrs. Susan Walker & Cyrus Johnson via Chicago this time. They were met in Nara Visa by Clarence Walker on Thursday evening, August 22, 1907.

Arza’s notes do not indicate if the men went directly to their claims or stayed in Nara Visa for a while while they gathered all of their provisions and building supplies. Homesteaders often stayed in Nara Visa in camps while waiting for supplies. There is a picture of Arza standing in front of a tent which was reportedly made for him by the young women of Sheridan. I wonder if this photo was taken in Nara Visa.


The three friends have made it to New Mexico to start their adventure. I wonder what they will encounter out there?

To be continued…

© MJM 2017

The New Mexico Homestead, Part 1


Arza Millikan

One hundred and ten years ago my Great Grandfather, Arza Millikan, homesteaded in the territory of New Mexico. That didn’t make sense to me because this was the same Arza Millikan who grew up on the family farm near Sheridan, IN. On that farm 100 years ago, my Grandmother was born. Her siblings were born there as well. Even my Dad was born on that farm. So where did New Mexico fit in? How long was Arza there? And why didn’t he stay on his homestead?

I can’t remember exactly when my Grandmother, Margaret (Millikan) McKinley, mentioned that her Father homesteaded in New Mexico. I do remember that I didn’t quite understand it. Turns out, hearing that he was in New Mexico homesteading made some sense because I had some letters and cards that were addressed to him in Nara Visa (pronounced with a long i), New Mexico. I also had his bank book from the First National Bank of Nara Visa. So what was his story? Why did he go? Why did he return to the Indiana farm?

Arza may have got the notion to go out West from stories from neighbors or notices posted in the newspaper or other periodicals. He may have seen a news clipping like this one from the Sheridan News May 17, 1907:SherNewsFriMay171907p1NewMex

But even before that time, the area of Nara Visa was being promoted as a great place to settle. The Tucumcari, New Mexico, News from February 3, 1906 reported that Nara Visa was “Booming.” It reported that survey work was being done to lay out the town. There was already a postmaster there.

Perhaps Arza saw a report like this one from the Tucumcari News from June 6, 1906:

Then another report from the Tucumcari News, January 12, 1907 told of how the settlement was being advertised around the country:


The letters & papers I had gave me some idea of when Arza was in New Mexico—1907-08. He would have been 24 years old when he had this adventure. He summarized his trip in a farm journal entry January 1, 1909. “On the morning of Feb 19-07. Elmer Davis Harry Kincaid Clarence Walker & myself started to New Mex to file on homesteads. All filed on adjoining claims…

The Sheridan News announced this information on February 22, 1907:


Arza and his friends set out for New Mexico together, going by way of St. Louis. It would have been a 2 day trip by rail from Indiana to New Mexico. They went to evaluate the possibility of homesteading in the territory. I don’t know much about Clarence Walker except that he sold his claim due to an unrelated lawsuit. Elmer Davis lived on the adjacent farm just East of Arza’s home. He and Arza were life-long friends. Harry Kincaid, another friend, was younger than the others. He was 21 when he joined the group for New Mexico.

At the same time that the young men took their trip to scout out the land, the Tucumcari News had another report of the growth of Nara Visa. From the February 23 edition:


So, by all the publicity, the area around Nara Visa, New Mexico sounded like a great place to set up a homestead. However, there was a cautionary notice in the Sheridan News March 1, 1907:SherNewsMar11907p7Hortonville

Arza returned to Indiana after filing his claim. The Sheridan News reported his return March 11, 1907:SherNewsFriMar11907p7Arza

But these young men weren’t the only folks from Sheridan to go out West.

William J. Woods, a prominent citizen of Sheridan took the trip to New Mexico as well. There were several newspaper articles about his plans for homesteading. Some of these articles give more information about the process for settlement.

The front page of the Sheridan News, February 22, 1907 reported on Mr. Woods’ return from New Mexico where he secured claims of 160 acres each for himself and other family members. It reported that they expected to have a “regular Hoosier Colony there before very long.” The specific requirements for homesteads were spelled out: “Parties taking the claims now will be compelled to occupy them on or before August and must remain there about 8 months before the title is passed to them.” Arza and his friends would follow the same guidelines.

Mr. Woods and his family settled in Union county, NM near the new town of Amistad. This area was 24 miles north of Nara Visa. Arza and his friends also secured claims in Union county & Amistad was closer to their claims than Nara Visa. However, Nara Visa was on the direct railroad line and would have been the starting point & supply line for homesteaders in the area.

The Woods family made plans to pack up and move to New Mexico in the months after securing the claims. The Sheridan News reports their plans. First, from the February 22 edition and then from the May 10 edition showing the header of a full page advertisement announcing the closing of William E. Woods’ store.



The young men were making plans as well. Arza had to secure help to work his Grandfather’s farm while he was gone. His journal entry from 1909 states he “hired Willie Kinneman to work from August 1, 1907 to May 1, 1908 for $140 and $18 per month” until he returned. They also collected supplies to ship out to New Mexico. My Grandmother wrote that Arza took a wagon, 2 mules, harness, bedding, folding bed, food, cooking utensils, plow, harrow and a bicycle with him. He also took a tent that was reportedly made for him by the young women of the Sheridan community. The bicycle he took along was later stolen.

The friends prepared to leave for their New Mexico adventure in August 1907…

to be continued…

© MJM 2017

A Pre-Nuptual Agreement

My folks and I traveled to Randolph County, North Carolina a few years ago looking for the old family land. We spent time searching deed records, specifically looking up any deed reference to our Millikan ancestors. One item we came across was a pre-nuptual agreement from 1870. I figured “pre-nups” were relatively recent contracts, so I was surprised to find one in the deed records.


Mordecai Mendenhall & Sarah Millikan Marriage Contract 1870

This is from Randolph County deed book 36, page 288. It records the marriage contract between Mordecai Mendenhall and Sarah Millikan dated March 24, 1870. In the contract, each one of them agrees to release the rights to the other’s real estate & personal property. So who were they & how do they fit into my family?

Sarah Millikan was born Sarah Williams in 1806. She married Benjamin Millikan in 1824. Benjamin was the brother of my 4th Great Grandfather, Samuel (1789-1870). Samuel’s son, Clark, (1824-1926) moved from North Carolina to Indiana. I’ve written a few posts about Clark. Benjamin and Samuel each received part of the original Millikan land from their Father, Benjamin (1775-1842).

Sarah and Benjamin had 7 children: Milton (1825-1908), Daniel W. (1828-1914), Azel (1829-1890), Rebecca (1831-1911), Benjamin (1831-1915), Nancy (1833-?) & William P. (1835-1875). Some of their children moved to Indiana, others stayed on the family land in North Carolina. Benjamin died in 1836, leaving Sarah with the children to raise alone. She shows up in the 1850 Census as Sarah Williams (her maiden name) with real estate valued at $500. In 1860, her real estate is worth $800, with personal property worth $500.

Mordecai had also been married and had a family before he married Sarah. In the 1850 Census, his Real Estate was worth $200. By 1860, his wealth had jumped significantly. His Real estate was worth $7000 and Personal estate worth $8150. Maybe this is part of the reason for the pre-nuptual agreement.

The 1870 Census has Mordecai’s Real Estate worth $2500, Personal estate $5000. Sarah’s Real estate is worth $1000 with personal property $500.


Mordecai died at the age of 87 in 1879 of “typhoid flux”. Sarah lived until 1884, showing up in the 1880 census living with her son, Daniel. Sarah was 77 years old when she died.

So while these two individuals weren’t immediate ancestors of mine, it is kind of interesting to see that even back in 1870 they intended to protect their individual assets. I didn’t find Mordecai’s will. There is no indication in Sarah’s will that she had any additional property from Mordecai. So, the assumption is that the children of each one’s first marriage inherited from them.

© MJM 2017

Grandpa’s Jobs

Another Labor Day holiday, so time to look again at the work some of my ancestors did. While most of Dad’s side of the family were farmers in the early years, eventually some of them found work off the farm.

My Grandfather, Loran McKinley, Sr. (1916-2003) worked several jobs in his lifetime. He compiled a list of those jobs, probably for a class reunion. Eventually, that list made it to my collection.

First, from 1936 to 1938, he worked at the American Rolling Mill (ARMCO Steel Mill) in Middletown, OH. The company produced rolled sheets of steel. He had this job when he got married to my Grandmother, Margaret. While there, he practiced and honed his skills as a crane operator. His first pay check for 40 hours of work was $36. The recession caused him to move on to another job.


 This card gave him access to practice on the cranes at the factory.

From 1939 to 1941, he worked for Interstate Foundry in Indianapolis, IN. He worked as a foreman and overhead crane operator. He made 40¢ per hour.

From 1941 to 1950, he was self employed. He had a farm & drove a milk route for Polk Dairy. No, he was not a “milk man.” He picked up milk from the dairy farmers and took it to the Polk Dairy in Indianapolis. I’ve been told that his job was considered “essential” and therefore he was not drafted into the military during WWII.

From 1950 to 1952, he worked for AVCO Corporation in Richmond, IN. He was Security Guard at this manufacturing plant.

Then, from 1953 to 1981, he worked for the Chrysler Corporation as a Security Guard. He indicated that 3rd shift pay was $3.56/hour.

He retired from Chrysler and moved to a farm near Sheridan, IN.

After I saw the list of jobs that he had, I asked Grandpa what was his favorite. He replied, “farmer.” So, even though he had experience in other areas of work, he still went back to the original family business, farming.

© MJM 2017