The Cabin on the Battleground

P1020620AllenHousetrees copy

In 2012, my folks and I made our first trip to Randolph County, North Carolina to explore the area where my paternal ancestors lived. Specifically, we were looking for the old Millikan family homestead. (It would take two more visits before we were able to pin that down.) One of the things we did was stop in at a used bookstore. I was looking for books on the history of the region and came across a book titled, An Independent People: The Way We Lived in North Carolina, 1770-1820 (by Harry L. Watson). As I flipped through the pages I saw references to the John Allen family and in particular, John’s mother, Phoebe. Now I realize that “Allen” is not a very unique name, but Phoebe stuck in my head. I knew we had Allen ancestors & checked our genealogy to see that Phoebe Scarlet married John Allen. John & Phoebe had a son, John. This had to be the same family. So I bought the book and read the section on the Allen family.

The book tells how the Allens ended up in North Carolina in the time before the Revolution. John Allen (1749-1826) was the first son of John Allen (1721-1754) & Phoebe Scarlet Allen (ca 1721-1815). He was born in Pennsylvania and moved with his widowed mother and 4 siblings to the Snow Camp community of Orange County, North Carolina when he was about 13 years old. They had 600 acres of land in North Carolina that the elder John Allen had purchased but never settled. The book states that John Allen the younger took responsibility for the land when he came of age, as his mother had remarried and moved to neighboring Randolph County, NC.

John went back to Pennsylvania in1779 and married Rachel Stout (1760-1840) and returned to North Carolina to raise his family on the farm. According to the book, the Allens had 12 children, with 10 who lived to adulthood. Essentially, the few pages described the Allens as a typical “yeoman” family. They lived in a cabin with a single main room and a loft. They farmed wheat, oats & corn and provided for their large family as well as the community. They also had sheep cattle and hogs on the farm. John Allen was a merchant and had a small store that stocked “silk, satin, calico, buttons, pins, pencils, shoes & hardware.” They had vegetable and herb gardens. Rachel Allen was known as a “healer” in the community and “grew very skilled in the uses of roots, herbs and the traditional folk medicine of her neighborhood.” John also was a teacher, and “regularly contracted with his neighbors to instruct their children in reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic.”

The main focus of the section on the Allen family was their cabin and how their home life related to it. Why the cabin? Well, turns out that cabin was moved from Snow Camp to the Alamance Battleground Historic Park in the 1960’s. So wait, some ancestors of mine had a cabin that was built about 1780 that was still standing and preserved at a Battleground? What was that all about?

According to information at the cabin site, “Allen family descendants lived in the house until 1929.” The Daily Times-News of Burlington, NC chronicled the project from the first documentation of the donation in the December 28, 1965 edition. The fund-raising article stated that the house was “donated to the state provided it is relocated at the Alamance Battleground.” The estimated cost of moving and restoring the house was $22,000. The house was moved the 13 miles from Snow Camp to Alamance on a flat bed truck mostly in two pieces, the main house and the roof. On June 11, the newspaper tells of the need for donations of large oak logs to be used in the restoration process. This restoration involved replacing much of the structure due to the deterioration of the wood. The dedication ceremony for the restored cabin took place on Sunday, May 28, 1967. Along with speeches from local dignitaries, there was a presentation by the Alamance Long Rifles organization which demonstrated the use of the old muzzle loaders that would have been used at the time of the Revolution.

Unfortunately, just as I found out about this cabin, I had to go home, so I couldn’t visit the site on that visit. But my folks were able to and they took some pictures. The book, An Independent People… provided more context to the photos.

First, looking at the exterior of the house: It is “a simple box of hand-hewn timbers.” Mud and grass seals the cracks between the logs. There are no windows, only 2 doors, so during the day, having the doors open would provide light & ventilation. Incidentally, the door openings were only about 6 ft high, so anyone taller than that would have to stoop to enter. “Wide eaves of the shingle roof extend over each entrance to form substantial porches.” The porches would have allowed space to do some of the daily work during the day. The back porch has a small enclosed room which could have served as a storage room or even John’s store. They would have kept the area surrounding the cabin clear of grass and vegetation to help cut down on insects and the potential of fire.

The interior of the cabin was one large room with a loft. The fireplace and hearth take up almost the entire side wall of the cabin. The stairs to the loft were accessed to the left of the fireplace. There would have been corn husk mattresses on the floor of the loft for the children.

Allen family heirlooms dating to the time of the Revolution were also donated along with the cabin. The grandfather’s clock and the walnut Chippendale desk were mentioned in John Allen’s will. Also, a walnut Chippendale blanket chest was donated. Prior to the move, these objects were on display to help raise money for the project. The trundle bed provided sleeping area for the parents and small children.

Hard to imagine, but a large loom takes up one corner of the room. It was a necessity and the wool from the sheep was processed and woven to make the homespun utilitarian cloth. Out the back door, another necessity, the smokehouse. Although I didn’t see a privy, I expect there was something of that sort at one time.

I did manage to visit the battleground and the cabin on our next visit to North Carolina and I find it quite interesting to think that something that is connected to my ancestors still stands and is being preserved for future generations to get a glimpse of how the early settlers lived before and during the time this new republic was being formed.

The direct connection to me comes through two of John’s siblings. It took a while to figure these links, and I’m not fully confident of the dates, but here goes:

His sister, Hannah (1741-1834) married Nicholas Barker (1737-1826), their son, Enoch (1776-1848) married Elizabeth Davis (1782-1834), their son, Elihu (1822-1910) married Hannah Jane Allen (1825-1899).

His brother, Samuel (1751-1834) married Hannah Cox (1751-1823); their son, John (1782-1867) married Martha Clark (1793-1866); their daughter, Hannah Jane Allen (1825-1899) married Elihu Barker (1822-1910).

Elihu and Hannah Jane Barker had a daughter, Martha Ellen (1858-1932) who married Lewis Elwood Millikan (1855-1949). Their son, Arza Millikan (1883-1964) was my great-grandfather.

So, to sum it up, John Allen was my 6Great Uncle, his sister Hannah my 5Great Grandmother and his brother Samuel my 5Great Grandfather.

Next time, the Allen family connection to the Alamance Battleground…

© MJM 2021

Deciphering a Letter from Home

One of the things my Grandmother, Margaret Millikan McKinley gave me was a small wooden box, quite the worse for wear with the leather hinge that held the top on worn away long ago. She said the box was brought to Indiana from North Carolina by “Aunt Angeline” on a covered wagon. Angeline was Nancy Angeline Millikan (1852-1926). She was the eldest daughter of Clark Millikan (1824-1926), who came to Indiana during the Civil War. More information on Clark and Angeline can be found in previous posts.

MillikanBox copy

Anyway, if I remember correctly, this box held several of Clark’s property tax receipts, as well as other receipts and papers. One special item in the box was a small envelope addressed to Clark at Westfield Post Office, Hamilton County, Indiana. The envelope originated in New Market, North Carolina & was dated 7th month 18, 1866 [July 18, 1866].

1866 letter envelope copy

The envelope contained a single 9×12 inch piece of paper. Upon closer inspection, I realized the paper was actually divided into 4 sections when folded in half and looking at the front and back, so it was a “four page” letter.

The letter was from Asenath Powell to her brother, Clark Millikan. I scanned it in the four sections, partly because it was too big to scan as a single page and because it might be easier to decipher. Here is the scan of the first section:

1866 letter 1 copy

As mentioned, there was writing on both sides of the page and the ink obviously bled through, so it was a bit of a challenge to figure out what was written. Then I also discovered that, just like many old letters I had, there was no punctuation or capitalization in this letter.

Eventually, I was able to transcribe most of the letter & to make it easier to read, I corrected spelling and added punctuation. I also added a few notations about the people mentioned in the letter. Those notations are indicated by brackets.

(page 1)

July the first 1866

Much respected and often thought of brother and relations one and all, I take this great pleasure of writing you all a few lines to let you know we are all about, but not right well. Lindon [Asenath’s husband] is right poorly. Mother [Sarah Clark Millikan (1800-1869)] was, about five weeks ago, very bad off with bowel complaint and weakness but she is so she can go about a little again. She has been here twice since, but it is a pretty tiresome walk for her for she is very weak. Rebecca Lamb [neighbor] was not well the first of last week. Her mother is about like she has been. Louisa [Millikan] is still very poorly. She has been having the chills this last week but I have not heard of Ben [Millikan] having any one, but he has the fever, that is the Jink fever. As I do hope, those few lines will go so of to hand and find you all well and in good heart. I hope Lydia [Clark’s wife] has got over the chill before now.

(page 2)

1866 letter 2 copy

We have had a very wet Spring and Summer until a few days. It seems like dry weather and it has been very cool. There has been a little frost in very North yet and some think there has been frost there; for they said William’s [Millikan] folks was going to where green-backs grow on the white oaks and the biscuits grow on bushes and we heard that he wanted his wheat crop back that he sold and he was coming back. So they say the frost had bit the money and biscuits too. Wheat is tolerable good this year though not as good as I have seen. Most of the people have their wheat half in corn too. She’s tolerable well. Allen [Millikan] said tell Thee he had corn to buy and nothing to buy with and had a hard time and seen no pleasure at all and wrote no letters to Thee nor no one else.

(page 3)

1866 letter 3 copy

We heard Winborn [Powell] had to leave that country for having some unbecoming talk to a girl. We have not heard any thing but that from him since before Christmas and we have written letter after letter. I want thee to try to find out if Thee can seen anybody from Grant county. We are all very worried about him for fear that somebody has killed him or he is in a lead box some way. Just find out as sly as Thee can is all I have to say. Mother is wanting to hear from you all very bad. She goes to Jefferson once and a while but it doesn’t seem like Clark’s, though she thinks very well of Becca. And if Lydia doesn’t get better, I wish she was back just like she was once. But I do hope as long as you are there you will all get in better health and then you would be better satisfied. For it is a hard case anyway or anywhere though.

(page 4)

1866 letter 4 copy

From Asenath Powell and family To Clark Millikan and family and en…[?]

We must do the best we can. Luzena [Honey] and her great man went to Surry [county] last Spring. They wrote back that they found Aunt Jane well and hearty. They left Oliver at Esther Reicks and Sammy is at George Goddets. I still have to write on the nasty old Rebel paper but I hope I will have some that is better before I wrote any more. Cradling [cutting wheat using a cradle scythe that helped align the wheat stalks as cut] this year was two dollars for a bushel of wheat. Edman and Linsy are beginning to cut out weeds and sprouts from amongst the corn right smart and Woodard can play with the babe right smart and it can begin to sit alone. I am rocking it and writing. I will put in another marriage in this letter, Nancy Beckerdite and Joseph Spencer. I have not had the chance to finish this letter. I have had so much to do it is now the ninth of the month and I will try to finish it if nothing happens.

There was also another note with this letter, which seems to be the continuation of the letter a few days later:

(front) This is the 10th of the 7th month.     We are all well as common today and I hope you are all the same. Thomas Sawyer was hauling his wheat in last third day and his mare started before he was thinking about it and threw him off the wagon and broke his arm and put it out of place too. Jabez [Powell] got a letter from Nathan D. Wilson and Joseph Davidson about Winborn’s capers, so it’s not worth Thy while to bother anything about him. We have not had any rain to do any good for three weeks and corn and gardens are suffering very bad. It looks some like it might rain before long. Parthena [Powell] is very weakly; more so this Spring than common. Clark [Powell] is as well as common. Dock got four letters the other day for Ben [Millikan]. I have not heard whether

(back) there was any one from Thee or not. I think that …[page torn] and Azel’s [Millikan] were aiming to have moved to that country if William’s [Millikan] folks had been satisfied. I have not seen Angelina [Millikan] since the day Lydia started, but I think I will go to see her if I live. They were all well about three weeks ago. I heard that you had not gotten acquainted with but one woman. If that is so, I will never come there for I might get sick, or some of the family and no one to come to see us some rights. The people out there are so clever and so they are very unclever. But some are always up on extremes. When I read a letter from Thee I am certain what it says, so I hate …[page torn] to read them as often as naught. So write soon as Thee gets this for we are…[end of page]

So Asenath wrote to let Clark know how their friends and family were faring after the Civil War. New Market, NC was a small community in Randolph County, NC. Clark’s wife, Lydia, and his family had moved from there to Indiana in 1865, at the close of the war. As mentioned in a previous story about Clark, he had moved to Indiana after deserting from the North Carolina Infantry.

I found a little more information for the people Asenath wrote about:

from page 1:

  • Louisa Millikan=possibly Martha Louise Millikan (1855-1879), daughter of Benjamin Millikan who is mentioned next
  • Ben=Benjamin Millikan (1831-1915), cousin of Clark and Asenath who went to Indiana with Clark’s family, then returned to NC after his wife died. It is believed that Clark and Ben “traded” their land in Indiana and North Carolina.

from page 2:

  • William Millikan (1835-1875)=brother of Benjamin mentioned in page 1. He moved to Indiana. Per the letter, it seems they were looking for a place where “green-backs” (or money) grew on trees.
  • Allen Millikan (1839-1921)=brother to Asenath and Clark

from page 3:

  • Winborn Powell (1844-1911)=brother-in-law to Asenath, moved up to Indiana during the Civil War, probably to escape being drafted into the Confederate Army. Sounds like he was up to mischief in Indiana & Asenath was concerned about his welfare.
  • Jefferson & Becca=unsure who this is. I don’t know if Jefferson is a person or place. I wonder if “Clark’s” is talking about Clark Millikan’s farm?

from page 4:

  • Luzena Honey (1831-1915)=sister to Asenath and Clark. She first married Franklin McKindre Reichs/Rike/Rich (1833-1863). They had two sons, Lewis Oliver & Samuel. Luzena married Ambrose Honey in 1865. I can’t say I have much information on Luzena and her husbands, hence the question of her first husband’s last name. Esther Reicks may have been Franklin’s mother, but I will have to dig deeper to find that connection. I do not know who George Goddets is. Anyway, while Luzena and her new husband, Ambrose went traveling—perhaps on a honeymoon, they left her young boys in the care of family & friends.
  • Aunt Jane=possibly Jane Millikan, whom some sources list as sister to Samuel Millikan (1789-1870). I haven’t found much about her either.
  • Edman, Linsy, Woodard, “the babe”= Asenath’s children, Edmond (1860-1927), Thomas Linsey (1861-1940), Woodard Martin (1862-1939) and “the babe” would be Cornelius Calvin (1866-1898).
  • Nancy Beckerdite & Joseph Spencer=friends of the family, members of Marlboro Meeting, she was born in 1828 & he was born in 1800. She was his 3rd wife.

from the additional page:

  • Thomas Sawyer=neighbor, listed as 28 yrs old in the 1860 US Census.
  • Jabez Powell=probably Asenath’s father-in-law.
  • Nathan Wilson and Joseph Davidson=listed in Grant county, IN in the 1860 US Census, both were listed as born in North Carolina. Regardless, they were probably family friends who were able to find out about what Winborn Powell had been up to and could report back to his family that he was alright.
  • Parthena and Clark Powell=Parthena Millikan (1829-1905), sister to Asenath and Clark, married Thomas Clarkson Powell (1828-1913), brother to Asenath’s husband, Lindon Powell.
  • Azel Millikan (1829-1890)=cousin of Asenath and Clark.
  • William Millikan (1835-1875)=cousin of Asenath and Clark, brother of Azel. Also mentioned on page 2.
  • Angelina Millikan (1852-1926)=Clark’s daughter from his first marriage to Nancy Adams. She may have stayed with relatives for a while instead of traveling to Indiana with Clark’s wife, Lydia and the other children. In the 1870 US Census, she is listed as living with an aunt and uncle in North Carolina. Eventually she did move to Indiana with the rest of the family. She reportedly brought the little box with her.

What happened to Asenath and Lindon Powell and their family? They show up in the 1870 and 1880 US Census records in Hamilton County, IN, living near Clark and his family. After that, they moved to the town of Friend in Saline County, Nebraska, where they lived the rest of their lives. Lindon died in 1909, and Asenath in 1914. Several of their children also raised their families in Friend, NE.

One more thought: in her letter, Asenath complains about writing on “nasty old Rebel paper” but as bad as it was, that paper has held up through the 155 years since.

© MJM 2021

A 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration

Alva Lorenzo Boone (1861-1945) and Sarah Alzada “Allie” Erp (1869-1955), my great great grandparents were married in Clinton County, Indiana on November 28, 1889.

AlvaAllieBooneMarriageCertif copy

Alva was 28 years old and Allie was 20. My grandmother, Margaret Millikan McKinley, told me that these two tintypes were of Alva and Allie at the time they got married.

The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1939. The event was noted in the Indianapolis Star, Noblesville Ledger, and Sheridan News. The newspaper clippings indicated that they “started housekeeping” in the Dillard community and moved to their home “on the cement road east of Sheridan” in 1909. They worked the farm most of their life together.

The following picture of Allie and Alva was published in the newspaper as well.

Allie&AlvaBoone50th_anniv_in_home copy

Their entire family of 4 children, Chester Emmett, Rachel Gertrude, Mary Geneva, Richard Edwin; 8 grandchildren James & John Boone, Keith & Barbara Parr, Margaret Millikan McKinley, Frances Millikan Haskett, Betty Lou Millikan, Arza Clark Millikan, and one great grandchild were at the celebration. Photos were taken of the whole group. Their son, Richard Edwin, is missing from this picture as I expect he was behind the camera.

lg_group_Boone50th_anniv copy

Pictures were also taken of each family group. Interesting to note that Allie shows up on the porch in the background of many of the pictures.

Chester Emmet Boone’s family came from Connersville for the festivities.

Chester_Boone_family1939 copy

Rachel Gertrude Boone Parr and her daughter, Barbara came from New Castle, IN. Her son, Keith and his wife, came from Indianapolis, IN.

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Mary Boone Millikan and her family all came from Sheridan, with the exception of her daughter Margaret Millikan McKinley and family who came from Lebanon, IN.

Millikan_family1939 copy

Back row: Loran McKinley & son, Loran Jr, Arza Clark Millikan, Margaret Millikan McKinley, Robert Haskett. Front row: Arza Millikan, Mary Boone Millikan, Betty Lou, Frances Millikan Haskett

Richard Edwin Boone and his wife, Pauline came from Indianapolis, IN.

REdwinPaulineBoone1939 copy

The anniversary party included decorations of “large yellow and bronze chrysanthemums, golden bell place cards and a large wedding cake, which was decorated in pink and gold.” The cake was provided by Keith Parr.

Allie&Alva50thAnniv_w_cake copy

All in all, seems like they had a good time celebrating this milestone.

One final picture of Allie and Alva and their children:

AllieAlvaFamily50thanniv copy

Allie and Alva stayed in their home east of Sheridan until 1945, when they moved to the home of their daughter, Mary. Alva died in 1945. Allie spent the rest of her life in Mary’s home, and died in 1955.

© 2020 MJM

The Trophy

When I visited my Grandmother, Margaret Millikan McKinley (1917-2007), through the years, I remember seeing a trophy high up on a bookcase. I never looked at that trophy very closely & never asked about it. Then, my Great Aunt, Frances Millikan Haskett (1918-2018), displayed that trophy at her 95th birthday party & gave it to one of her nephews.

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I finally looked at it and read the inscription: “Sheridan Dairy Assn. Awarded to Arza H. Millikan, Sweepstakes Bull, Sheridan Indiana, Aug. 16, 1916”

So then things started to make sense.

I found some Sheridan News articles about the Dairymen Association Picnics on the NewspaperArchive.com website.

The page-one article from August 18, 1916 indicated that the 1916 picnic was the 2nd annual event and hailed it as a “dairy picnic and bull show.” There were estimated to be two to three thousand in attendance. There were also “several exhibits of machinery silos, etc.” Not to mention the merry-go-round and ice cream stand! A letter I have that Arza’s Aunt Alice Millikan Cox (1864-1926) wrote to her daughter, Carrie (1888-1985), said that there were “200 gallons of ice cream given away and 30 men to dish it out.”

The article stated that “Sheridan has become, … one of the big milk producing centers of the country & the greatest in Indiana.” It listed the names of the Sheridan Dairy Association officers: M.M. Evans, President; A.H. Millikan, Vice President; C.O. Ogle, Secretary-Treasurer. The officers and the Dairy Association were commended for holding a dairy show which had “good talks on dairying and it offered a great opportunity for displaying and studying and selling high grade thoroughbred dairy cattle.”

The Sheridan News article listed the winners of the Cattle show. Turns out Arza won more than one award. He won 1st place for “Bull Class 1, 3yr. and over,” Sweepstakes Bull, Best Jersey Bull and Bulls Sold in Sale. Of the four silver cup trophies awarded, Arza won three, all for Jersey Bulls. He also won $77 in prize money with $70 of it being for one bull. I don’t know what happened to the other trophies.

The letter from his Aunt Alice also mentioned his winnings. She said he got a “nice blue bow with a button and a bow with a picture of a bull on it” for a bull that he bought at the show. That may have confirmed something that I saw in a picture of Arza and a bull.

Millikan455Arzaprizebull

Is Arza wearing a ribbon on his jacket?AMribbon

Is this one of the prize-winning bulls from this Dairy Picnic? At this point I don’t know.

Turns out that Arza also won prizes for his cattle at the first Dairy picnic in August, 1915 and the third Dairy picnic in 1917. All of this was reported in the Sheridan News from August 20, 1915 and September 14, 1917.

In 1915, Arza won 1st prize for the Class 1 Bull category and the Sweepstakes Bull Prize. He also gave one of the instructional talks at the picnic.

In 1917, he won the $20 trophy for the Sweepstakes Bull, the $10 trophy for the best Jersey bull and the $25 prize for the “best heifer sired by a Park Farm’s bull.” He also won the $5 1st prize for the “Bull 1yr. old, under 2” and $2 3rd prize for the “Heifer 1yr. old, under 2.”

Two more pictures of Arza and his bulls:

Millikan460Arzabull

Millikan459Arzabull

Perhaps one of these was a “Prize Winner.”

Regardless, it seems that my Great-grandfather, Arza H. Millikan (1883-1964), was gaining a reputation for the quality and pedigree of his bulls & dairy cattle.

© MJM 2019

 

Farm Girls

FranMarg

Frances & Margaret Millikan

 

My Grandmother, Margaret Pauline Millikan, was born September 17, 1917. Her sister, Miriam Frances Millikan, was born November 20, 1918. Their parents were Arza Millikan (1883-1964) and Mary Boone Millikan (1897-1992). They grew up on the family farm on Mulebarn Road near Sheridan, Indiana. The two girls were almost inseparable growing up.

 

Farm life was full of responsibilities. Feeding the chickens was one chore the girls could do while they were rather young.

MargFranchickens

Grandma said they also had the responsibility of driving the cows “to the 30.” The two girls would take the herd of 8-10 cows from Arza’s farm down the road about half a mile to 30 acres of land that his Mother, Martha Ellen Barker (1858-1932), inherited. Grandma described this chore when I interviewed her in 2006:

“Frances and I drove the cows every day…We were 10 years old when we started herding the cattle from the barn lot down to the corner. You had to keep them from going west or south, you had to get them turned, be sure that the gates were locked on everybody’s fence…We drove those cattle from the home over and over again to the corner again, back up to the 30…We’d drive those cattle back and there was no fence. We had a lane we drove them back and part of the time that would be a big corn field clear back to the woods. You had to keep them on that lane and get them back to the 30…There was a big water tank like the old water tanks were that you pumped a full tank of water. And we’d pump a full tank of water and walk home. Then go back and get them in the evening. We’d pump a tank of water at the barn for when they got back. We did that for a long time.”

She also remembered other chores on the farm: “And Frances and I worked in the field. I remember one time when I—Daddy had plowed that big field over at the 30 that was East of the woods and I rode a drag. I mean a drag that was just heavy boards with a couple of 3 rocks on it to help hold it down. And it had dried out…and I could hardly ride the drag. ‘Course you stood up on it, but it just pulled my arms ’til I was nearly sick. That field was so rough and the disc just didn’t cut it down. Daddy had a tractor of course and we had disked it but it didn’t work. I never rode the disc—that was a little dangerous because you’ve got all those cutters. But I had a harrow and that drag and that was one of the hardest jobs I ever did in the field.”

Margaret and Frances helped load beans: “Daddy and Grandpa Millikan would pitch the beans, work on beans on a wagon…They’d pitch those up and we’d have to cram them down and move stuff around. We did the same thing with hay.” Grandma remembers one time when she was a teenager and almost had a heat stroke when helping with the hay. They also helped plant potatoes and load the silo with corn. “Those kind of were dirty jobs; you didn’t have any bathrooms or bath tubs to clean up in. Used water in an old tub.”

But farm work wasn’t all they did growing up. They would play tag in the yard at night with neighbor kids. They would read a lot. Their Father, Arza, worked his Grandfather’s farm when the girls were little (Clark Millikan died in 1926). They would accompany Arza to the farm either by wagon or in “the old open touring car” mornings and evenings when he would go to do chores. She remembers “we got roller skates and learned to skate on the sidewalk that went up to the front door.” And she remembered “turning somersaults in the yard, because they kept the yard mowed and we didn’t at home…Frances & I were turning somersaults in there one day and I don’t know if it was Aunt Allie or Aunt Angie that came out and told us the chickens had been in that yard and they didn’t want us to get the chicken manure in our hair. Such a crazy thing to remember.”

When Margaret started school, Frances went along. The two sisters stayed close all of their lives. They double dated when they were teenagers. They worked together at the Sheridan Grille restaurant before Margaret got married and Frances went to college. Margaret married Loran McKinley in 1936 & Frances married Robert Haskett in 1939. They started raising families & eventually Margaret settled in Sheridan and Frances in Westfield. Both ladies were active with the church & supported missions.

In the 1970’s Mary Millikan sold the farm and moved to a house next door to Frances in Westfield. Margaret and their other sister, Betty Lou, lived with Mary. Eventually, Margaret and Frances moved to a Quaker-run Senior Apartment complex in Westfield. Margaret died in 2007, she was 90 years old. Frances continued on until this year. She died April 1—Easter Sunday. She was 99 years old.

I’m sure there were many more stories that we would have loved to hear from Margaret and Frances. They shared what they wanted to, or what we asked them about. As it is, we do know they were shaped by their early years working hard on that farm near Sheridan, IN.

horseMargFranMargaret & Frances with one of the horses at their home near Sheridan, IN.

© MJM 2018

 

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:

SherNewsJan101902p12VanCampAd

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:

SherNewsJan311902p1VanCamp

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

SherWeeklySunThurNov131902p8VanCamp

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

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.

ArzaMillikanNMnotice

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:

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

.SherNewsFri6191908p7AMreturnfromNM

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.

SER_Patent_30001

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:

HKAMED1950sIN

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:

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

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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.

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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.

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hillsideNM

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

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playing croquet New Mexico 1907

One final picture shows someone’s sense of humor:

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“Tail-e-foning”

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.

NMThanksgiving1907

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