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Our Early Milligan Immigrants
By : Pam Vaughan

      The earliest Milligans of which we have record is that of James and his son, David.
James was born in Northern Ireland betweern 1710-1730. (per World Family Tree)
There was a freqent exchange of people between N. Ireland and Scotland, and certainly Milligan was a Scottish name probably from Galloway in the southwest part of Scotland, an ancient kingdom of Scotland. This would be near the River Nith where today many Milligans still live. James married Elizabeth Joyner in Northern Ireland and together, they had the five children that we know about:
James (b:1740-50),
David (b:1740-1),
Andrew (b:1740-45),
Agnes (b: 1750), and
Fergus (b:1750.) (per Ibid.)
This particular Fergus is not one of the direct ancestors of the Perry County, IL Milligans, but it does show that the name is a traditional Milligan family name. Why they left Ireland is not known nor is the date nor ship of emigration to the American Colonies known. But it is apparent that the three oldest Milligan children were born in N. Ireland, so they probably came between 1740-1750.

      There is speculation that they came to Pennsylvania first and then went down to the Carolinas. This was a common route for immigrants. We do know with certainty that they settled in Iredell County which is in the eastern part of North Carolina for a number of years as can be attested in 1790 Federal Census records. Most of the population of the Carolinas was Irish or Scottish during the colonial era. Here our ancestor, David, met and married Sarah Stephenson who was probably born in Iredell County between 1754-1765. (per Ibid.) She was the daughter of James Stephenson (b: 1724) and Sarah Kelly (b: 1725.) (per Ibid.) both born in Belfast, Antrim, N. Ireland. Stephenson is a Scottish name and Kelly is an Irish Catholic name. One can infer that the reason these two emigrated was because Irish Catholic and Protestant marriages were certainly frowned upon in the "old country" until the second half of the twentieth century. James and his wife, Sarah, both died around 1817 in Iredell County.

      David and Sarah Milligan had eleven children, all born in North Carolina:
Sarah (b: 1775-1785), (per Ibid.)
Forgus (b: ca. 1782),
James (b: 1 Mar 1801),
John (b: 1810),
Mary, and
Not much is known about the later children. After spending many years in North Carolina, David, Sarah, and many members of their farming family "moved" according to Robert Robertson in his book, Pioneer Families of Perry and Randolph Counties, Illinois, "from Iredell Co, NC to Tennessee. In 1812 they moved from Tenn. to Perry Co, ILL, near the present town of Pinckneyville. In 1813 they again moved to Randolph Co, ILL locating near the present town of Sparta, where they died" (per Robertson, Pioneer Families of Perry and Randolph Counties, Illinois)
David was 70 when he came to Perry and Randolph Counties which are close to each other. What a guy; at his age he was still pioneering! He died in 1830 at the age of 90. We don't know when Sarah died. They are probably buried near Sparta, Randolph Co, IL, but I haven't been able to locate the cemetery. It may be Old Bethel Cemetery where some of his relatives are buried.

      David's son, Forgus, grew up to marry Elizabeth Patterson in North Carolina. There is debate over where she was born. Our Milligan Family Bible (started by Milton Wiley Milligan, their grandson) says that Milton Wiley's grandmother "crossed the sea at 17." It probably does refer to Elizabeth since right after this entry it mentions her father, John Patterson, and how he was believed to have fought in the Revolutionary War. When I've researched John Patterson's records online and in library books for the Revolutionary War, there were many John Pattersons who fought. This was not an uncommon name. In the genealogy card catalogue at the Perry County Library in DuQuoin, IL, Elizabeth's family card said she was born in Ireland, but I don't know what is the source of this data.

      Forgus and Elizabeth went on to have many children, thirteen that we know about.
The first part of their large family was born in the Carolinas:
James (b:Feb 1806),
Abner Newton (b: ca1808),
John T (b: 9 Mar 1810),
Sarah Ann (b:1811),
Forgus Milton (b: 1812),
Eliza Jane (b: 1816),
William Russell/Russel (b: 1817).
The later children were probably born in Perry County Illinois:
Mary Lenora (b: 1819),
Joseph B. (b: 1820),
Nancy, and
Thomas B.
Of the thirteen, James and Forgus Milton were the only ones born in South Carolina (per 1850, 1860 Perry County Federal Census) and their birthplace seems a little odd since many of the other siblings were born in North Carolina. Iredell County, however, was not far from South Carolina. Perhaps Elizabeth looked for a better midwife which was not an unusual thing to do. There were Milligans living in South Carolina at the time, but we are unsure if they are related to our Milligans. Perhaps she went to stay with relatives there.

      According to Robert Robertson , Forgus, Elizabeth, and their brood went to Illinois in the spring of 1827 from North Carolina (per 1830 Perry County Federal Census) through the Cumberland Gap, the traditional route to Tennessee. It seems that some of our Milligans stayed (or had stayed when David, the dad, went through) in Tennessee and our Forgus and Elizabeth did for a few months as well. They went onto Milligan Hill, Perry Co., IL and onto Four Mile Prairie. Milligan Hill is 3 miles NW of Pinckneyville, IL. His scattered properties are now part of Pyramid State Park, a former strip coal mining operation where the mined holes have now become lakes and ponds. Forgus, Elizabeth, and their children's families set up successful farms just outside Pinckneyville. Forgus and Elizabeth had about 600 acres much of which was purchased from Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales. (per Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database, They raised cattle, hogs, milk cows, sheep, and corn. (per 1850 Agricultural Census, Perry Co., IL) In the 1850 Agricultural census, they had 10 milk cows and 350 lbs. of butter, so we can assume they ran a small dairy. It said in Robertson's book that after Forgus arrived, he had a dispute with his sister Sarah's husband. Sarah and John Flack moved therefore to Ellis Grove, Illinois in 1830. (per Robertson, Ibid.) In the Perry County probate ledger of 22 March 1859, it lists Forgus Senior's date of death as 21 Sept 1857 although his tombstone states he died 2 March of that year. The sale of the chattel of his estate was dated 17 April, 1857. Perhaps the September date refers to when the estate was settled. Elizabeth had died 6 Feb 1855. She and Forgus are buried in Hopewell Cemetery 4 miles west of Pinckneyville where they had been part of the Presbyterian congregation. It's a lovely spot on a rise, but now has a hog farm next to it, and the smell doesn't aid in the bucolic setting. However, someone has tended their graves as well as the old cemetery itself.

      Forgus Milton Milligan, their son, married Eupha Leslie in Perry County in 1834. She had been born in Ohio. (per Milligan Family Bible) Elisha Leslie was her father who died in 1844. He was a veteran of the War of 1812 and was a pioneer in Ohio. Eupha was mentioned with a claim of $34 against her brother John's estate. (per John Leslie's estate file, Perry County Courthouse) She is mentioned in our family Bible as "Ufa Lisley" and in one census record as Eutha. On legal documents Forgus Jr. went by Forgus M. Milligan He was called, however, Milton by most people. He was referred to in the family Bible as the "august [reverred] Milton." This was probably true. In the probate ledger of 1859, I saw his name mentioned over and over in dealing with extended family matters. For example his forty-five year old brother, Thomas B., apparently had been insane for years. Forgus M., "a respectable member of said county," finally took the situation to court to have Thomas declared legally insane and committed to the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane. In the 1859 probate ledger, he also became the legal guardian of William Chalmers, John C., and Eliza Milligan, children of his deceased brother, Abner Newton Milligan.

      From the estate appraisal and estate sale, we can ascertain certain aspects of Forgus and Eupha's lives. A good many horses were sold. There were many young ones; he probably didn't expect to die so young, but he did invest in good horses. There were also several mules and oxen sold so we can also assume Forgus was a hard worker. Eupha also had a spinning wheel and a bag of wool. In the 1850 agricultural census, they had fifteen sheep; there was no loom so we can infer that she was a knitter or crocheter and sold the surplus wool. Also in this census they owned 260 acres, 9 horses, 30 milch cows, 2 working oxen, 80 other cattle, 100 swine (it's interesting that no swine were included in the estate sale), 2000 bushels of Indian corn, and 600 lbs of butter. They could both read and write. Books were listed in Eupha's inventory. Eupha leaves several handwritten receipts in Forgus' probate file; there was also her inventory of household goods after Forgus' death, all in lovely script. It was also interesting that in her inventory, she had to list a number of personal belongings such as her feather bed and then buy them back from the estate. One must suppose there were no community property laws in nineteenth century Illinois. We hope her sons treated her well after her husband's death!

      Forgus and Eupha are without tombstones, but it is believed they are buried in Hopewell Cemetery probably near his parents. Forgus Jr. died on 25 May 1864 at the age of 52 without a will. His file at the county courthouse in Pinckneyville is a thick one. It lists his sons, Joseph B. and James C. as the executors of his estate, and it went through probate for over two years. Since Forgus died so young, perhaps he didn't leave a will because he expected to be around a lot longer. His son, James, came home on leave from the Civil War in March of 1864, and he stayed home AWOL until the following January. I suspect, Forgus had been stricken by some two-month lingering illness before his death, perhaps a stroke, and James stayed to play his role as the eldest of the sons and executor of the estate.

      When it finished probate, the estate left all children a sum of money- James C., Mary A, Joseph P., Milton Wiley, Madison M., and Celesia E. were left $419.19 each. Eupha inherited $1257.57, a grand sum in those days. Daughter, Elizabeth, had been listed in the 1860 census in this household but not in the final will so it is assumed that she died between 1860-1864. Madison and Celesia were in their teens when their father died; their guardianship was put in the hands of their older brother, Joseph.

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World Family Tree
Robertson, Pioneer Families of Perry and Randolph Counties, Illinois
1830 Perry County Federal Census
1850 Agricultural Census, Perry Co., IL
1850, 1860 Perry County Federal Census
Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database,
Milligan Family Bible
John Leslie's estate file, Perry County Courthouse



2007-2008 GWayne Hinton

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