Cornelius McMillan Timeline

In every instance I have found, Cornelius spelled his surname “McMillan” with an “a”.  He was presumably born around 1834 in either Ohio or Michigan [Lincoln’s War Registration]; however, there is conflicting information from the Illinois State Board of Health at the time of his 2nd marriage to Santa Rosa White.  On the Return of a Marriage to County Clerk dated 13 August 1881 Cornelius states:

1) that he was only 31 years old (that would give a birth of 1850);
2) was born “on board ship in the Irish Sea”;
3) was born to John McMillan and Sophia Bowles; and
4) that the marriage to Santa Rosa White was his “first”.

This conflicting information makes it seem that there are two distinct men named Cornelius McMillan.  Santa Rosa White entered a 2nd marriage on 19 May 1892 at Evansville, VandenBurgh, Indiana, a man named Perry Campbell.  Her widow’s pension application is part of the same pension package for Cornelius.  She evidently presumed Cornelius to have died in Ohio, but that proved not to be the case as we’ll soon see.

So how do we know for certain that Cornelius McMillan, the soldier who served with the 12th Michigan Infantry during Lincoln’s War, was the same Cornelius McMillan who was husband to Fanny Dart and father to Edgar, Edward and John McMillan?  The proof is on Cornelius’ Declaration for Original Pension of an Invalid completed on 21 October 1872 at Paulding, Paulding, Ohio.  Cornelius, before a public notary, signed and attested to the following facts:

1) that he was then 36 years of age (that would give birth of 1836);
2) that his wife’s name was Francis R. Dart to whom he was married at Berrien County, Michigan on the 4th day of August, 1861;
3) that he is the identical Cornelius McMillan was was a private in Captain Brown’s Company J, 12th Regiment, Michigan Infantry Brigade who was honorably discharged at Cincinnati, Ohio on the 4th day of September 1862.

It does appear that there was a bit of deception on the part of Cornelius towards Santa White.  She may not have known about his previous marriage and thus not his children born to that marriage.  In fact, Santa for whatever reason, presumed Cornelius to have died.  She applied for widow’s pension in 1890.  She writes, “I have learned that my husband is dead.  Cornelius McMillan Pri[vate], Co J, 12 Mich Infantry, P O Saugatuck Michigan – he had a claim pending for pension at time of his death – He died 25 January 1890 at Cleveland Ohio…”

The Department of the Interior Bureau of Pensions wrote to the Postmaster of Stevensville, Michigan to inquire whether Cornelius McMillan, presumed to have died in Cleveland, Ohio, was alive or dead.  The postmaster received the letter and wrote back 7 days later saying, “I made inquiry of the family that Cornelius McMillan makes his house with…he is just now near Berrien Springs 12 miles from here…Mr. Reone[?] said he was here two weeks ago…they [the Reone family] calls for his mail as they expect to hear every day that he will be granted a Pension…Mrs. Reone said his wife was in San Francisco, California.”

Imagine Santy’s surprise to discover Cornelius was still living!  But why would she believe him to be dead?  Why did he leave in the first place?  From what I can discover Santy (his wife) never went to San Francisco, California.  Was this another lie told the Reone[?] family of Benton Harbor?

A later 1893 inquiry was made to determine whether Cornelius was then dead.  This was confirmed to be true.  Below is his obituary dated 8 March 1892, the day of his death.

The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan)
8 March 1892 p3

1) Cornelius McMillan died on 8 March 1892 at his home on 8th Street in Benton Harbor.

2) He was a member of the A W Chapman Post GAR of St. Joseph: the veteran organization that buried him.  Services were held at the hall on 7th Street occupied by the mission Sabbath school.

3) Specifies that Cornelius was a ship carpenter.

4) He had no relatives living in the vicinity.

5) Was presumably buried in Benton Harbor.  Unmarked grave?

Now that it is confirmed that the Cornelius McMillan who was married to Fanny Dart, who was the soldier assigned to the 12th Michigan Infantry, and who was married to Santa Rosa White was in fact one and the same person, what became of Fanny and the children they shared?  Rolling back the years to the time they were together, since Cornelius and Fanny were wed on 4 August 1861 in Berrien County, Michigan, the first census on which they would appear as a couple is the 1870 US.  And here we find them with sons, John, Edward and Edgar.

1870 US Census – Lincoln, Berrien, Michigan

Cornelius (Neal) was in Lincoln Township (and Niles) around 1870.  These were boating towns connected to the St. Joseph River where formerly boats were used to transport goods prior to the development of the railroad.  Neal was an essential part of this.  The 1870 Census does not show an occupation for Neal which is as it should be seeing how he was now an invalid with a war-related spinal injury.  He probably couldn’t work.  He was receiving government pension.

Neal McMillan, age 35 (born 1834-35), personal estate value $700, born Ohio (as opposed to “on board a ship in the Irish Sea”)
Fanny McMillan, age 24, born Ohio
John McMillan, age 6, born Michigan
Edward McMillan, age 4, born Michigan
Edgar McMillan, age 4, born Michigan

No other McMillan’s are found on the Lincoln Township Census.

“Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 10 March 2018), Anna Mc Millan, 07 May 1869; citing p 53 rn 94, Niles, Berrien, Michigan, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2,363,448.
Note: Some Ancestry trees have propagated the information that Cornelius had two other children:

Arthur, born 1870, died (?), and;
Cornelius Jr., born 1872, died (?)

Michigan GENDIS (Genealogical Death Indexing System) that encompasses deaths from 1867 to 1897 do not show either of these children while it does Anna who died in 1869.

Missing from the above 1870 Census is a daughter named Anna who died at 7 days old on 7 May 1869 in Niles, Michigan from unknown causes.
It is not known the date of Fanny’s death nor the place of her burial.  That is yet to be determined.  However, rolling forward to the 1880 US Census we find evidence that her three sons were living in Ohio, Edgar with her younger sister Sophronia (Safrona) Dart in Auglaize, Paulding, Ohio.  Cornelius is notably absent.
“United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 August 2017), Safrona Dart, Auglaize, Paulding, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district ED 124, sheet 538C, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1056; FHL microfilm 1,255,056.
The 1880 Census clip above is taken from the Auglaize, Paulding, Ohio census.  Note the census shows Edgar McMillen, age 15, living with Safrona Dart, age 26.  The question begs to be asked?  Who is Safrona Dart?  Note that “D” in the 5th column: that stands for Divorced.  Safrona calls Edgar her “son”.  Was this a clerical error?  Was Safrona Fanny’s sister?

The answer is found on the 1850 Census for Randolph, Cattaraugus, New York, for the Curtis Dart family.  Curtis was Fanny Dart’s father.  Sophronia was just 1 on the 1850 census (born 1849).  If 26 in 1880 she would have been born around 1854.  Ages were often estimated on census reports.  It is extremely likely that Safrona was Sophronia, Fanny’s younger sister.  Could Cornelius have married Sophronia after the death of Fanny?  I have found no evidence to confirm this.  Rather, the divorce was from the other son stated, William Harvey’s father, not from Cornelius.  Edgar may have been mistaken as hers during the census reading.  Or she may have taken him in and accepted him as her own.

“United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 April 2016), Curtis Dart, Randolph, Cattaraugus, New York, United States; citing family 22, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
Where were Edward and John?
In the same 1880 Auglaize, Paulding, Ohio census that featured Safrona and Edgar McMillan, is also found John McMullen, noted as being about age 16, a laborer, living under the Joseph Mansfield household.  This is likely Edgar’s older brother John.

“United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 August 2017), John Mc Mullen in household of Joseph Mansfield, Auglaize, Paulding, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district ED 124, sheet 539A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1056; FHL microfilm 1,255,056.

Sophrona L. Dart was in Niles, Berrien County, Michigan in 1860.  She was then 11.  This places here at or near where her sister would have died.

“United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 14 December 2017), Sophrona L Dart in entry for James C Donnell, 1860.

Sophronia L. Dart remarried Charles Schooley on 15 September 1880 (after the 1880 Census was taken) in Defiance, Ohio.

“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 10 December 2017), Charles S Schooley and Sophronia L Dart, 15 Sep 1880; citing Defiance, Ohio, United States, reference ; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 1,977,639.

Incidentally, this is how both John and Edgar McMellen came to be in Paulding County, Ohio and why Edgar James McMellen, son of Edgar Joseph, was born there.  It is known that Edgar’s twin Edward was also there as his daughter Lina was born in Blue Creek, Paulding, Ohio in 1892.

“Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962,” database, FamilySearch( : 11 February 2018), E.J. Mcmellon in entry for Lina G. Mcmellon, 08 Mar 1892; citing Blue Creek, Paulding, Ohio, reference ; FHL microfilm 925,298.

This places all three sons in Paulding County, Ohio during the 1880s after the death of their mother Fanny.

Returning to Cornelius.  Where was he in 1880?  Apparently in Illinois where he married Santa Rosa White, daughter of Marcus and Nancy White on 13 August 1881.  The record states that she was just 20.  He likely lied about his age saying he was 31 when in reality he was close to 50.  The couple were married by John Crozier, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Olney, Illinois.

“Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1940,” database, FamilySearch( : 18 October 2017), Cornelias Mcmuellan and Santa Rosa White, 13 Aug 1881; citing Richland, Illinois, United States, county offices, Illinois; FHL microfilm 1,221,093.

Did Cornelius and Santa Rosa have any children together?  Yes.

According to a notarized affidavit, part of Santa’s widow’s pension application, Nancy Goldring, aged 67, and John B. Young, aged 67, both of Knox County, Indiana declared:

“We know that Santy Rosa McMillan now Campbell – who is in Mound City Ills and resides there is late the lawful wife and widow of Cornelius McMillan…we know that she was never married till she married the soldier Cornelius McMillan…and they both lived together as man and wife until the said Cornelius McMillan died and neither was never divorced from one another…and we both know that Effie[?] Zebda McMillan is their lawful child and is living…at this date with her mother Santy Rosa Campbell at Mound City Ills…and we know that this said child is the only living child under sixteen years old…and that the said child since the death of its father Cornelius McMillan has been constantly under the care and control of its mother…and we both know that the said child Effie[?] Zebda McMillan was born on or about 5 January 1888 – and the said child was born an invalid and is and has been ever since its birth to the present a helpless child now deaf & dumb…”

The affidavit further declares that Cornelius left his widow and invalid child nothing by way of property or money.

Santy Rosa’s notarized Declaration for Widow’s Pension states that Ethel[?] E. McMillan was born 5 January 1880.

Then on a Declaration for Dependent Widow’s Pension dated 5 August 1891, Rosa McMillen lists two children under the age of 16:

Effie [Ethel] Elzebda (a deaf mute) born 5 January 1882 and…
Francis Della[?] born 13 November 1884 (now deceased)

A later letter dated 6 March 1911 confirms the (1) living daughter named Effie Elizabeth born 5 January 1882.

Rosa wrote a typed letter on 16 February 1909 addressed to the Honorable Commissioner of Pensions in Washington D.C. that states, “My child, Etha Zebda McMillan…was paralyzed ever since about two years old, is with me and in a pitiful helpless condition…at its present age only weighs about thirteen pounds and is a complete skeleton, and on the mercy and charity of the people.  We own no home nor have we any income in any way, only what is given us.  As my late husband, Perry Campbell, is an invalid, unable to work or get about in any way, having met with an accident about four years ago from the kick of a horse.”

A General Affidavit written by Mrs. Caley F. Fleming of Grundy County, Missouri states that [I] “was with Rosa McMillan the wife of Cornelius McMillan the day she gave birth to girl baby, which to the best of my recollection was about the 5th day of January 1888.  Afterwards, the name of Etha Zebda was given the child.  If my recollection serves me right, Dr. Lewis Sheifferstine was the attending physician, who is now dead.  This occurred on Butler Street, Olney, Illinois.”

A Dr. Whitaker of Mound City, Illinois examined Etha Zebda McMillian on 13 July 1911 and wrote concerning her: “I have this day examined Etha Zebda McMillian who is living as this date and is with her mother Rosa Campbell formerly Santa R McMillian and who is now residing in Mound City Ill. and find her – the said Etha Zebda McMillian – totally helpless and totally deaf and partially dumb.  [They] are totally deprived of sustainence [sic] and are entirely on the charity of the city.”

Based on the above information, it does appear that Cornelius McMillan and Santy Rosa White did have two children together, the first, Francis Della born 13 November 1884 (having died before 1891), and the second, Etha Zebda McMillan, a deaf mute, who was likely born 5 January 1888 and still living in 1911.

Is it possible then that Cornelius McMillan abandoned his young family?  For whatever reason Rosa believed that Cornelius had gone to Saugatuck, Michigan and later died in Cleveland, Ohio.  Neither appear to be the truth.  It is an odd situation to be certain.

Cornelius McMillan, War Veteran
Returning to Cornelius’ Declaration of Original Pension dated 21 October 1872 at Paulding, Paulding, Ohio, there is a physical description of Cornelius.  He was then 36 years old (born 1836), stood at 5 feet 8 inches tall, was of light complexion, had light hair (blond?), and blue eyes.
Cornelius was alive in 1890 to complete the 1890 Census Veterans Schedule.

1890 Veterans Schedules – Lincoln Township, Berrien County, Michigan

Cornelius McMillan [sic]; Private; Company J; 12th Michigan Infantry; enlisted October 1861; discharged October 1862; served 1 year; post office – Stevensville, Berrien Co, Michigan; disability incurred: injured spine; remarks – discharged for disability.

Digitized history “Record Twelfth Michigan Infantry Civil War 1861-1865” available for viewing here contained the following.
At age 27 Cornelius McMillan enlisted with the 12th Michigan Infantry and was assigned to Company “C”.  A soldier assigned to Company “J” wished to be transferred to “C” on account of his brother being a part of that unit so Cornelius volunteered to switch companies.  Cornelius enlisted for 3 years but only served 1 on account of an injury received at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862.  Below are unit muster reports for Cornelius time in service.  Note Cornelius absence from his company in May/June of 1862, this being after the April 1862 battle.
Note also that the muster report is in error stating that Cornelius died from disease while AWOL.  The transfer to Company “J” allegedly took place on 1 September 1862 but all company books were lost at the Battle of Shiloh thus causing a great amount of confusion that would ultimately delay Cornelius from obtaining his pension.

There is a bookmark attached to the file that states the “charge of absence without leave was removed, discharged on surgeons certificate of disability on 4 September 1862.”

This information is collaborated by Cornelius’ Pension Request below.


Cornelius McMellen of the 12th Michigan Infantry, Co. “C” did apply for an invalid pension (no. 27648) on 30 June 1863 and his wife Santy R. later for a widow’s pension (no. 441464 on 19 July 1890.  His widow applied from Indiana.

I manually searched the “Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897” unindexed collection on FamilySearch for Berrien County in the years 1889 and 1890 but did not find Cornelius listed as having died there.


Cornelius McMillan of St. Joseph, Berrien County, Michigan, who served as a Private in company J of the 12th Michigan Infantry was awarded $12 per month commencing on 21 March 1891 for “injury of left wrist, rheumatism, and disease of the rectum.”

These are not the disabilities that he sought compensation for however. He injured both his back and his left breast. During his required medical review the doctor wrote that Cornelius “states he received an injury by artillery wagon running against him 1862 while in the service and he suffers from it yet, and that in same year he was kicked by a mule.”

The doctor examined his person and signed a Surgeon’s Certificate.

His pulse was 75; respiration 18; temperature 98.5. He then stood 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed in at 125 pounds. His age: 67.

Doctor wrote, “there is a slight scar on anterior surface of chest 1-1.5 inch in diameter, not tender or adherent and situated 2 inches below and to right of upper extremity of sternum. This applicant states [it] is result of injury to chest. There is no depressions or irregularity of the ribs over any portions of the chest indicating former injury and no external marks except scar above noted. We find no dullness on percussion over any portion of the chest, and vocal resonance is normal. There is a severe rheumatic condition afflicting most of the joints of body, worst at present in both hips, both shoulders and left elbow. There is much creaking of knees and shoulders on motion and motion of these joints is much impaired, motion of both knees 1/2, hips 3/4, and shoulders 1/2 impaired. Both arms cannot be raised above a horizontal position. Left forearm cannot be extended by 30 deg. and attempts at forced motion of their joints causes severe pain. Fingers of both hands are quite stiff and grasping power of both hands is 3/4 lost. Muscles of right side of chest are quite sore and painful on pressure. There is a narrow indistinct scar 1 1/4 inch long by 1/16 inch wide situated on outer surface of left wrist over lower extremity of radius. This is quite tender on pressure.

Applicant states results from a sword wound received while in the service. Also states that the rheumatic disease commenced while in the service. The rheumatic trouble is quite severe at present time and all movements of body cause evident pain. Muscles of back are much atrophied and tender on pressure. He is unable to reach the floor without taking hold of some object with one hand. Sphincter ani muscles are much relaxed and there are 2 internal pile tumors 1/2 inch in diameter not irritable or bleeding at present. All measurement correspond. Hearts sounds are considerably roughened but we find no murmur at present. Other organs in normal condition except as stated. No other disability found to exist.”

So what did happen to Cornelius and where did it happen?

In his own words from a signed affidavit, Cornelius writes…

4 May 1891
as told by Cornelius McMillan
Special Examiner’s Report
“says he is 67 years old. I have no occupation. I used to be an Engineer & Carpenter. I am now unable to do any kind of (?) work. I am (?) identical Cornelius Mc Millen who enlisted as a member of Co. “C” 12th Regt Mich Vol in Octo (?) 1861. I was in Co. “C” for a short time & was transferred to Co. “J” same Regt. in place of John Shelby who was transferred to Co. “C”.

“The transfer was made at Niles Mich. Shelby had some relatives in Co. “C” and wanted to get into that co. so I exchanged with him.”

“I was discharged service when (?) in Oct. 1862, can’t tell the exact time.”

“I claim pension for an injury to my back and breast. I incurred this injury to my breast at the battle of Shiloh Tenn in April 1862 by being run over by an arty [artillery] wagon.”

“When I was run over by the Arty wagon we were fighting over a (cross, brass?) piece of arty located south & west of a church called Shiloh Church one half or three quarters of a mile from the Church. The Arty started to run and one of the wheels of the Arty wagon ran over my chest & head. I was knocked almost senseless and my left wrist was cut at the (?) rendering my thumb almost useless. The injury of my back incurred at Hamburg Landing Tenn while I was in hos at that place by being kicked in the back by a mule. The kick broke three ribs loose from my back bone and two of the ribs were broken twice.”

“I was out poking around the hospital camp and one of the teamsters asked me to help him hitch up his team of six mules and I did undertake to help him when a big bold face mule kicked me in the back and that is about the last that I remember until I found myself home here in Benton Harbor. I was taken home to my wife & my wife’s father. My wife is dead also my father-in-law. “

“When my chest was hurt at Shiloh we were fighting as a regt & co. but we were pretty badly mixed up and I can’t tell of many that were with and near me when I was hurt. Capt. John Mason(?) was with me when my chest was hurt also Matt Wilson. Capt Mason is dead died in the (?) at Chicago. Wilson is alive. Capt Go. (?) of Berrien Springs saw me when (?) Hos at Hamburg Landing. Frank Hardenbrok of Riverside Mich. says that he saw me at Hamburg.”

“(?) when I was in the Hos I was never injured to any part of my person prior to my enlistment. I was a (?) at (?) time.”

“I was examined by a Board of Surg’s when I enlisted at Niles Mich. We were all stripped and examined thoroughly.”

“My memory is very poor & I can hardly remember (?) any more. My head (bothers?) me awful.”

“A man carried me from Benton Harbor to my home two or three miles over here. When I came (?), but I cannot (?) for the life of me what his name is. he was a son-in-law of Jake Van (Hours?) of this place. Van (Hour?) is dead now.”

“I do not remember the name of the teamster who I undertook to help hitch up the mules at Hamburg Landing.”

“Matt Wilson is the only one that is living that I can remember (?) of who was present when I was run over by the Arty wagon at Shiloh in April 1862. I think the teamster is the only one who was present and knows about my being kicked in the back by the mule at Hamburg Landing. I have received no injury to my back or chest since my discharge from the service. Dr. John (Beu?) of Benton Harbor treated me for my back chest injuries soon after came out of the service. He also treated me for chronic diarrhea & measles. I had the measles in Nile Mich before going to the front & I had them the second time here in Benton Harbor right (?) afterwards.”

“Perry (Roome?) of this place saw me in the Hos at Hamburg Landing Tenn. He belonged to Co. “L” 3rd Mich Cav. He saw me just after I got kicked by the mule. Frank Hardenbrad also saw me while in the hos. I don’t know why he was there. He belonged to Co. “L” 3rd Mich Cav. Matt Wilson & Capt. Mason were the only ones of my Co. that saw me at the Hos at Hamburg Landing aside from the (?). I was sent from the field of Shiloh to Hamburg Landing Tenn. then to Henderson KY and then to Evansville IND and on home.”

“I have understood your questions and my answers are correctly recorded.”

Signed Cornelius Mc Millan


Knowing now what became of Cornelius McMillan from the time he entered the 12th Michigan Infantry until his death, let’s roll back the time to the era before Lincoln’s War to determine what can be discovered about Cornelius.

The first census before the war was the 1860 US Census.  Cornelius is found living in Watervliet Township, Berrien County, Michigan.  Watervliet is NE of both Benton Harbor and St. Joseph where we find Cornelius after the war.  Cornelius was then living with the Elias Turrell family and works as a boatbuilder.

1860.  US Census – Watervliet Township, Berrien County, Michigan.

Cornelius was living in Berrien County in 1860.  He is found in the Turrell household and fits the right age.

Elias D. Turrell, 38, farmer, born in Connecticut
Caroline Turrell, 37, born in Pennsylvania
Annice A Turrell, 15, does housekeeping, born in Ohio
William H Turrell, 7, born in Ohio
Adda O Turrell, 5, born in Michigan
Anna A Turrell, 1, born in Michigan
Cornelius McMellen, 25, boatbuilder

What brought Cornelius to Berrien County?  Where were his parents John McMillan and Sophia Bowles?

“United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch( : 14 December 2017), Cornelius Mc Mellen in entry for Elias D Turrell, 1860.

On the very same 1860 Census living in the same township as Cornelius is a man named John McMellen.  John is a ship carpenter.  He lives with the Charles Hibbard family (an Engineer), is 58 years old (born 1802), and was born in New Hampshire.  John appears on page 19; Cornelius on page 16.  It is extremely likely that this John McMillan is the father of Cornelius.  John would have been 32 when Cornelius was born.  Where was Sophia Bowles, John’s wife?  Was she then deceased??

“United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch( : 14 December 2017), John Mc Mellen in entry for Charles R Hibbard, 1860.
In the book “A Twentieth Century History of Berrien County Michigan” by Judge Orville W. Coolidge, on pages 182 through 185, is found a section on early commerce through St. Joseph prior to the railroad coming into the area. It reads:

“Before the building of the Michigan Central Railroad through the southern part of the county, the St. Joseph river was the medium of transportation for merchandise and agricultural products between the east and southwestern Michigan and northern Indiana.  In the early history of the white settlements, merchandise came from New York City by the Hudson river to Albany, thence by the Erie Canal to Buffalo, and from Buffalo by sailing vessels to St. Joseph, where the merchandise was loading into keel boats, flat boats, arks and other craft, propelled by oars and poles, which ascended the river for nearly one hundred and fifty miles.  In turn flour, wheat and other products were conveyed east by the same route.  The arks were especially used for the transportation of grain and flour…the amount of business done by these early boats was immense.  By 1840 as many as sixty keel boats were traversing the river.”

Many boats are then discussed.  “The ‘Indiana,’ built by Captain John McMillan in 1843, was the largest and swiftest boat which had yet run on the river.  Under Captain Brewer she often made the run from St. Joseph to Niles and back again to St. Joseph, a distance of one hundred miles, between sunrise and sunset.  The ‘Algoma’ was built by Wheeler & Porter and made her first trip on the river in 1845 under Captain Edward Smith.  She was more costly than any preceding boat, but inferior in power and speed to the ‘Indiana.’ ”

“The ‘Algoma’ and the ‘Indiana’ generally towed the keel boats up the river to their loading places, from whence upon receiving their cargoes, they floated back to St. Joseph.”

“…till 1851, when the Michigan Southern Railway was completed to South Bend and the upper river commerce was practically at an end.  The boats then engaged in the transportation business on the river were mostly sold and transferred to other rivers.  The ‘Schuyler Colfax,’ commanded by Captain Ezekiel Reynolds, ran between South Bend and Niles some time after.  Besides these boats, the steamers ‘St. Joseph,’ commanded by Captain Charles F. Howe and the ‘Pilot,’ commanded by Capt. John McMillan, ran for some time on the river.”

Jackson Citizen Patriot |Monday, May 09, 1870 | Jackson, MI | Page: 3
Captain John McMillan is mentioned in this brief obituary article from which may be gleaned the following information:

1) John McMillan was a “Captain”
2) John McMillan was a pioneer of Berrien County
3) John died on 25 April 1870 from a paralytic attack
4) John was then in St. Joseph working
5) John’s son (unnamed) was also in St. Joseph
6) John built the “Indiana” in 1843
7) John commanded the “Pilot”

Coldwater Sentinel
Friday, Sep 12, 1845
Coldwater, MI
Page: 2
That this John McMillan is connected to the previous is evident by the name of the boat, “The Pilot”.  The article dated 25 years earlier places John in Berrien County and possibly in Branch County where Coldwater resides.

Detailed information is given about “The Pilot” and how John McMillan, the builder, stood alone on deck while the supports were removed and the boat eased into the water.  He must have been very good at his craft – and likely taught his son all he knew.

“The Pilot” was 90 feet long and held 160 people at its launch.  But what additional information can be picked from this article about John.

1) John held title of Esquire.  This does not mean he was a lawyer, as this term is later used to represent here in the States.  In English circles this was a title of respect.

2) John built the steamship “Pilot” in Union City, Branch County (1845).

On 10 September 1838 a John McMillan of St. Joseph County received a land patent from Michigan with the following legal description:

the South half of the West fraction of Section 20,
In Township 6 South
of Range 12 West
in the District of Lands subject to sale at Bronson, Michigan,
containing 42 acres and 37/100s of an acre.

Negative Searches

1850 Union, Branch County, Census – no McMillan, searched 31/31 pages
1850 Fabius, St. Joseph County, Census – no McMillan, searched 12/12 pages

That John McMillan is mentioned in the History of St. Joseph County, Michigan as operating a ship-yard is a direct parallel to what we know about John from preceding information.  This serves to identify this John, the one of St. Joseph County, as the John who was the ship-builder and Captain in Berrien County of later years, where Cornelius McMellen also resided.

That he is mentioned as being present here in the late 1930s, it is possible that he would appear in the 1840 Census for Constantine, St. Joseph, Michigan.  And that is precisely where he is found.

John McMillan is head of the household with the following family:

1 male under 5 (Cornelius)
1 male 10 to under 15
1 male 30 to under 40 (John)

1 female under 5
2 females 5 to under 10
1 female 10 to under 15
1 female 30 to under 40 (John’s Wife)


The following paragraph was found on pg117 of the History of St. Joseph County, Michigan written by L H Everts & Company and published in 1877.
Miscellaneous Tidbits that May be Important…
In the Pioneer Cemetery of Nottawa, St. Joseph, Michigan
are buried the following:

Aaron McMillen (1789-1874)  Find-a-Grave Memorial

Adrilla McMillen (1813-1893) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Albert McMillen (1812-1879) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Amandaville McMillen (1827-1911) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Cynthia Ann McMillen (1845-1865) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Estell P. McMillen (1858-1953) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Fanny E. McMillen (1849-1870) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Florence A. McMillen (1881-1902) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Floy Ruth McMillen (1883-1929) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Floyd E. McMillen (dates unknown) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Franklin P. McMillen (1852-1908).  Find-a-Grave Memorial

Harriett McMillen (1848-1867) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Harriett McMillen (1818-1845) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Laura Ann McMillen (dates unknown) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Olive McMillen (1791-1862) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Robert Kelsey McMillen (1822-1875) Find-a-Grave Memorial

Sevilla L. McMillen (1845-1851) Find-a-Grave Memorial

William McMillen (1821-1845) Find-a-Grave Memorial

William Riley McMillen (1838-1910) Find-a-Grave Memorial