Thomas Milliken
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Juniata County Millikens


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In 1907 an 800 page Milliken genealogy was published by Journal Press in Lewiston ME from information compiled by Rev Gideon Tibbetts Ridlon, Sr. of Kezar Falls, ME which relates the following:

"Family tradition makes this branch of the Milliken clan of Ulster stock. It is said that three brothers, whose names were Thomas, James, and Michael, came from some of the northern counties of Ireland about 1750-4, of whom the latter died on the voyage, and the two former sat down in Chester Co., PA. We know from the early records of Chester, that a whole nest of Millikens were living there as early as 1750, and that numerous branches hailing from this locality have scattered through PA, OH, and many states farther west. Some removed to NC during the great Quaker immigration as early as 1758, and their posterity is now almost as numberless as the "sands on the seashore." There was a James Milliken (spelled Millican by an illiterate clerk) at East Nantmeal, Chester Co. PA from 1753 to 1756, whose name appears on the tax lists as 'unmarried.'"

"This Juniata family is from old Presbyterian stock, and many of the name are still communicants of that church, to which a number of clergymen have been given, one at least of worldwide fame as the hero of Johnstown PA during the great flood, and one a missionary to China. The characteristics of the Scotch-Irish have been conspicuous in this family from their ancestor to the present generation. They are conservative, determined, honest, and good state builders; progressive and fond of education. Many, latterly, are in the medical profession. Some were Democrats, but left the party on the slavery issue, and recently a good number are Prohibitionists. They have inherited mechanical tastes and abilities, and their attention has been turned toward mechanical engineering and wood-working. Many have been farmers; some of them prominent as patrons of husbandry. Without aspiring to political distinction, some were called to legislative halls, and others to discharge the duties of judicial positions."

Note.--There is preserved in this family as an heirloom, a daybook of one John Milliken who was a merchant in Dublin, Ireland, in the early part of last century (the 18th), and family tradition, which lacks verification, has it that this John Milliken came to Dublin from Caithness, Scotland (Cromarty), and that three of his sons, or sons of Thomas his brother, emigrated to America, sat down in Chester Co., PA and became the ancestors of a host of Millikens in the middle and western states. There were certainly families of this name in Caithnesshire, Scotland, and early in the 18th century a small army of Millikens in Chester Co., PA.

The "daybook" mentioned above could be an important clue to our family's ties to the mother country. If ANYONE knows of the whereabouts of this old book, I would appreciate any info that might lead me to its current owner, so that I might see the book for myself and perhaps collect valuable info from it. [email protected]

The Ridlon book was published at an early year [1907] and was compiled in the latter part of the 19th century through correspondance with many of our grandparents and great-grandparents. It contains a wealth of information which has proven to be generally accurate. However, care should be given to ensure its use as a foundation on which to build further research. A family historian should seek documentation to verify what appears in print. Through several years of experience, I have learned not to believe all that was written in the published genealogies of yesteryear.

A good friend of mine, Anne (Milliken) Herrick, has been one of the biggest influences in my research efforts. Her techniques of digging through the primary records at courthouses, archives and historical societies have educated me in how a good genealogist conducts research. Anne is responsible for the discovery of a will for a man by the name of Holdcraft Stringer, dated 1757 pre-dating any prior documentation on this family line. My initial reaction when Anne proudly showed me this piece of evidence was, "That can’t be our family, Ridlon couldn't have been so wrong." My denial of things beyond the printed word would not allow me to consider this as something I should concern myself with.

Well folks, I have amended my views, my eyes have been opened, and the experience of several years of research has helped me to tie some of these loose ends together in my mind and it all makes perfect sense. Armed with an understanding of political boundaries and how they have changed over time shows that this will is in exactly the right place at the right time, and the names fall into place. Present day Spruce Hill Township was carved out of Turbett Township which prior to 1817 was a part of Milford Township. In 1831 Juniata Co was created from a part of Mifflin Co which at one time was a part of Cumberland Co PA. Therefore, the Milliken property when Thomas was alive was in Milford Township, Cumberland Co; although that same piece of land today is in Spruce Hill Township, Juniata Co.

The Holdcraft Stringer will is the most important document that has been discovered in our family in decades. Since this document pre-dates the birth of any of Thomas Milliken's children, it is assumed that the Millikens mentioned in this will were brothers and sisters of our family immigrant. Quite possibly, John Milliken (mentioned as being responsible for Holdcraft Stringer's burial) could be the father of our immigrant. Scottish naming patterns were still adhered to at such an early date. Martha, Susannah and Edward Milliken fit easily as siblings of Thomas, based on their approximate dates of birth.

Thomas Milliken's wife, Mary Jane McConnell had a brother Joseph who married Susannah Milligan in the Tuscarora Valley of what was then Cumberland County PA. In the early years of pioneer settlements, it was quite common for brothers and sisters in one family to marry sisters and brothers of another family.

In Milford Township, Cumberland Co, the 1771 & 1774 tax lists include Edward Milligan as a Single Freeman. Edward is also listed as the owner of a distillery there in 1794. Edward lived for a while in neighboring Huntingdon Co but his descendants state he had ties to Juniata. Edward’s father-in-law was killed by Indians [see Early Settlers], and Edward became an avid Indian fighter and Revolutionary War veteran. In The Michael Hileman Memoirs under the heading The Early Years, "Grandfather Milligan" is in reference to Edward. They were all in the right place, at the right time, and the pieces all fall into place.

U. J. Jones compiled a History of the Early Settlement of the Juniata Valley 1856 Philadelphia, published by Henry B. Ashmead. In his descriptions of Col. John Armstrong's Expedition against Kittaning (Chapter X), he included a list of the killed and wounded. Returned in Colonel Armstrong's official report of the expedition, under Captain Armstrong's Company it lists as Killed Holdcraft Stringer. Edward Milliken is also mentioned in various places in this book during descriptions of fights with Indians. If Holdraft Stringer was a close family friend or relative, and Edward's sister Margery and her husband Francis Innis were captured by the Indians, and Edward's father-in-law was killed by the Indians, all of these factors could explain why Edward was such an avid Indian fighter.

For the family record, I include this link to my own transcription of the Holdcraft Stringer Will, with a word of encouragement to all researchers of the early history of this family to consider the evidence at hand, and not rely on the written word of early genealogists in trying to find the truth of the earliest generations of our family.

Holdcraft Stringer Will

Alan Milliken, author of the Regarde Bien, has given some thought to how the Juniata County Milliken family might connect with the motherland Scotland. These are Alan's thoughts and should be considered work-in-progress.
Alan's website about: John Milliken

One final clue that may someday incite a future researcher, is what I would classify as a gut-feeling by Rev. Ridlon. Under the heading of Posterity of William Millikan, Rev. Ridlon states the following: "From an extensive correspondence extending to every known family of the name, and a study of their temperaments, habits, physical types, business methods, etc., I am more and more impressed with the strong resemblance between the descendants of William Millikan who settled in Randolph Co., N.C., and the families settled in Washington, Westmoreland, Huntingdon, Mercer and Juniata counties in Pennsylvania. The majority of the men, especially of the earlier generations, have been tall, rawboned, muscular and of fair and medium complexion. They were men of motive temperaments and many possessed great natural mechanical ability. Not many of the pioneers were educated, but all were fond of reading and were well informed. They have not taken kindly to the pen."

Thomas Milliken

Thomas MILLIKEN, born abt 1730; died abt. 1778 in Milford Twp., Cumberland Co., PA; buried abt 1778 in Milford Twp., Cumberland Co., PA. According to a genealogy published in 1907 by Rev G T Ridlon, Thomas Milliken came from one of the northern counties of Ireland, and with his brother, sat down first in Chester Co., PA. He subsequently secured a grant of several hundred acres of land in [what is now] Juniata Co., probably between 1760 and 1770, and there cleared his farm, now in Spruce Hill Township in the Tuscarora Valley. At the beginning of the Revolution, he with several neighbors walked to Lancaster, PA where they joined a company of expert riflemen, then being made up; a company that became a part of the Second Regiment, and was sent to Cambridge, Mass. where they arrived August 4, 1775, and participated in the latter engagements in the locality under General [Charles] Lee. He was with [Benedict] Arnold in Quebec, and during the expedition rendered valuable service as a spy. Afterwards, he served under [Israel] Putnam, and was attached to [George] Washington's staff. In 1778, completely broken down by long marches, exposure to cold and hunger, he was sent home and soon died.

WILL: Cumberland County PA Courthouse Book D Page 449 #92

BURIAL: McKee Graveyard

Thomas married (1) Mary Jane MCCONNELL abt. 1765. Mary, daughter of James MCCONNELL, born abt. 1747.


+ i Click here for more on John Milliken
John settled in Greene County PA about 1801

+ ii Click here for more on James Milliken
James remained in Juniata County and has many descendants still residing in the area. One line of his descendants moved westward to IA, NM, AZ, CA.

+ iii Click here for more on Edward Milliken
Edward moved to Dauphin County and left some descendants in Duncannon and others in the Speeceville area. He then moved to Westmoreland County PA and left a line of descendants in the area of New Florence, and another line of descendants in Allegheny Township, Westmoreland County, near the town of Freeport. Several of his descendants live in the Pittsburgh area.

+ iv Click here for more on Samuel Milliken
Samuel remained in Juniata County and has several lines of descendants still living in the county.

+ v Click here for more on Thomas Milliken
Thomas moved to Centre County PA and died there. Most of his descendants moved west to Stephenson County IL and Black Hawk Co IA

A little known, interesting claim-to-fame exists for all the descendants of the Juniata County Milliken family.
Thomas Milliken's wife, Mary Jane McConnell, had a brother named John who married Elizabeth Dunbar.
John & Elizabeth (Dunbar) McConnell had a daughter, Sarah McConnell who married Robert Wilson.
Robert & Sarah (McConnell) Wilson had a son, John McConnell Wilson who married Ruth Goheen.
John M & Ruth (Goheen) Wilson had a daughter, Mary E Wilson who married Samuel McCartney Jackson.
Samuel M & Mary E (Wilson) Jackson had a daughter, Elizabeth Ruth Jackson who married Alexander Maitland Stewart.
Alexander & Elizabeth R (Jackson) Stewart had a son, James Maitland Stewart, more commonly known as Jimmy Stewart of It's a Wonderful Life fame.
What a great American icon we all share a bloodline with.

Note.-- James Milliken Esq., late of Marionville, MO, wrote the compiler of this volume, that his grandfather had three or four daughters; that one married Hughes, one married Guilford, and another married Gray. Subsequent statements from a reliable source show that there were twin daughters of Mrs. Milliken named Mary and Martha, who were only half-sisters of the sons of Thomas Milliken. Mary Milliken married George Guilford, and Martha Milliken married Asher Muddaugh. Perhaps "nuf sed." --G T Ridlon

James Milliken Esq., of Marionville MO was James Boggs Milliken [1828-1899]. His grandfather would have been James Milliken [1769-1858] a son of the immigrant, Thomas Milliken. If James Boggs Milliken was referring to James, the note above makes no sense because the descendants of James & Jane Boggs are well documented.

The "subsequent statements" from an unknown “reliable source” seem to add more confusion to the story. The note may hold some degree of credence in that the immigrant, Thomas Milliken had a brother named Edward who had two daughters, Mary and Martha (quite possibly twins) who would have been cousins to the sons of Thomas.

Interestingly, the names also seem to jibe loosely with another pioneer family of Juniata Co, the Grays, who connect to the Milliken family through Mary, wife of Samuel Milliken [1773-1805]. Asher Middaugh married Martha Gray, George Gilliford married Elizabeth Gray and James Hughes married Rachel Gray. The said Rachel Gray was a daughter of Mary Gray (wife of Samuel Milliken) from her first husband, Hugh Gray. Her relationship to Martha & Elizabeth, however, is not known. It appears to me that several wires have gotten crossed in the James Boggs Milliken statement. –Mike Milliken

Ridlon wrote:
The old Milliken homestead is situated about one mile from the Fort of the Tuscarora Mountain [Fort Bigham], and on the northwest side, and originally consisted of 400 acres, but divided into three farms, the homestead comprising 170 acres. The first house, built of rough, undressed logs, was of two rooms, and had an immense chimney also built of logs. This pioneer dwelling stood on a hill directly east from the present house, which is in the center of the farming land. It was built about 1754.

The present residence, and the fifth house built on the farm, was erected in 1833. It is of mountain stone, the walls are two feet in thickness, and there is an immense chimney at each end with four open fireplaces, chimney pieces and mantles. This house has nine rooms, and a hall nine feet wide extending from side to side in which a stair leads to the second story. Water is brought in pipes from a never failing spring at the foot of a hill on which the mansion stands. A fine apple orchard is cultivated on the northwest, and with peaches, pears, and grapes on the southeast. Every field on the farm is named, and the site of each of the five houses is well known.

On the northwest side of the farm is the highway leading from Mexico to Concord, known locally as the "mountain road." The nearest town on the Pennsylvania railroad is nine miles away. This homestead is in Spruce Hill Township. The McKee graveyard, where many of the Milliken family are buried, is on the south side of the hill about one mile from the house, and is a small enclosure.

Click here for a transcription of the McKee graveyard from July 1921 by Leonard Lytle of Detroit MI.

Click here for photos of all existing grave markers in the McKee graveyard on Find-a-Grave.

The photo above was taken several years ago.
An adjoining property owner removed many of the grave and fieldstone markers, then did some landscaping to turn the cemetery into usable yardspace.
Below is all that is left of the cemetery today.

For the techies out there, GPS coordinates are as follows:

McKee Graveyard
40 degrees 27' 29.42" N
77 degrees 29' 32.56 W
elev: 590 ft

40 degrees 26' 19.94" N
77 degrees 29' 54.60" W
elev: 666 ft

Fort Bigham
40 degrees 25' 32.25" N
77 degrees 31' 27.93" W
elev: 623 ft

Sarah Augusta (Prior) Smith and the DAR

Below are links to parts of a manuscript compiled by Sarah Augusta (Prior) Smith circa 1920. [Library of Congress:] She attempted to prove Revolutionary War service for Thomas Milliken, but when no record of Thomas Milliken's service could be found, it appears that John Milligan was named as the Patriot ancestor. They believed John to be the son of Thomas, unfortunately, the references that they used were for another Revolutionary War veteran, John Milligan, who resided in Westmoreland Co PA.

There are errors in Sarah's documents, so please use extreme care when using her as a reference.
Some weight should be given to the manuscript: Some Facts of the Military Service of one John Milligan with Addenda, by Mrs. Rae (White) Evans, 1948
Mrs. Evans cites several Milliken/Milligan sources, and seems to support the belief that John Milliken (son of Thomas) was entangled in the records of other John Milligans. I personally do not believe that Thomas Milliken's son, John, had any military service.

Milliken and Milligan by Sarah Augusta (Prior) Smith

Milliken and Milligan with marginal notes
Evidently these were photocopied in a hurry, but what you see is what I have. They may contain some value.

Handwritten family notes by Sarah Augusta (Prior) Smith

Family Military Records by Sarah Augusta (Prior) Smith

Prior Family Pictures by Sarah Augusta (Prior) Smith
Note: This image is slow to view, but is meant to preserve the quality of the original and can be enlarged by clicking on the image once it is completely downloaded.

Milliken Family Pictures by Sarah Augusta (Prior) Smith
Note: This image is slow to view, but is meant to preserve the quality of the original and can be enlarged by clicking on the image once it is completely downloaded.


DAR Patriot Index Lists Thomas: b c 1730 PA d 1778 PA m Jane McConnell Pvt PA
no longer may be used as proof of service.

Early newspaper article/obituary references to Thomas Milliken as a Revolutionary War veteran

Martha (Milliken) Endslow obit with references to Thomas Milliken as a Revolutionary War veteran

PA Archives Series V, Volume 6, Page 53 [John Milligan] referenced in notes by Rae (White) Evans and erroneously referenced in early DAR applications

PA Archives Series V, Volume 6, Page 227 [John Milligan] referenced in notes by Rae (White) Evans and erroneously referenced in early DAR applications

PA Archives Series V, Volume 6, Page 646 [John Milligan] referenced in notes by Rae (White) Evans and erroneously referenced in early DAR applications

Sarah Augusta (Prior) Smith Application to the DAR through Abraham Stiles

Elizabeth Anne Mills Application to the DAR using the Ridlon Book as proof
published books can no longer be used as proof of service

Mary Jane (McConnell) Milliken Correspondence for DAR admittance via Thomas Milliken's wife due to her paying taxes (see tax lists below)
What an outright shame that her husband reportedly came home, broken from his service in the war and soon died, yet his wife is cited as the Patriot ancestor because she paid taxes after his death. His service is not acknowledged by the DAR because they will not accept published works as proof of service. Unfortunately no other record of his service (except for the G T Ridlon book and the references in family obits) has been found.

Tax Lists referenced in correspondence for Mary Jane (McConnell) Milliken

Thomas Milligan on Cumberland County PA Tax Lists

1771 Page 188

1772 Page 346

1773 (Thomas not found)

1774 Page 296

1774 Page 298(Edward)

1775 Page 535

1776 Page 186

1777 (not available)

1778 (Thomas does not appear)

Floyd Hoenstine Letter (1947) Correspondence from Laura Morris to Floyd Hoenstine requesting proof of Thomas Milliken's military service. Floyd Hoenstine was a highly respected genealogist in central Pennsylvania and operated a genealogy rental library for many years.

Copy of Ridlon letter to Sarah A (Prior) Smith (1920) Copy of correspondence from Rev. Ridlon to Sarah Augusta (Prior) Smith with additional notes by Sarah.
(these pages were attached with Laura Morris' letter to Floyd Hoenstine)

Ridlon Publication Notes G. T. Ridlon's advertisement for the publication of his book circa 1907.

These pages are a compilation of the research of Michael A Milliken with the help of many others. Anne (Milliken) Herrick, Jean (Milliken) Bruce, Colleen (McConnell) Eagan, just to name a few. Be sure to visit my Home Page for information about me and my work and contacts in genealogy. Perhaps you would like to take a quick look at my interactive ahnentafel chart to find other family lines that I have researched and links to more descriptive information about them.

The Milliken's of Juniata Co PA is now also available in a searchable database at RootsWeb's World Connect project with many more generations than appear on these pages. Enjoy! I also welcome any E-Mail... feel free to contact me by clicking on the graphic below. Thanks for visiting!

The graphics on this website are not in the public domain.
© 2009 by Michael Milliken