Franklin F. Milstead is my brickwall. He first appears as an adult in
Alabama 1836 and the last record found on him is in Texas 1873.
According to Milstead-Sparks oral histories [see here and here] he married a widow named
“Mary Brown” who had three children – Leap Gian, Laura and Bill
Brown. Franklin and she had four children, the oldest was
stillborn. One tradition has Franklin working around ferries on the
Coosa River near Rome, Georgia, at the time of the war between the
states. We can only document him in Cherokee Co. Alabama from
1843 to the mid-1850s. So far we’ve found nothing on him in Georgia
records beyond the fact his three children were living with their
sister in Floyd Co. GA at the time of the 1870 census. The Cherokee Co.
AL and Floyd Co. GA courthouse records covering this period were
destroyed. Strangely, Franklin is not found on the 1840, 1850, 1860 or
1870 U.S. censuses.
Recently learned oral histories
coming through Brown lines and findings of Brown researchers
differ a bit from Milstead traditions. Only the uncommon
name “Gionel Leeper Brown / Leap Gian Brown” with a
too-close-for-coincidence birth year links the two family
traditions. This oral tradition has parents of brothers, Guion
Leeper Brown (1832-1908) and William Lee Brown (1836-1917), as Felix
Brown and Christine (no surname stated.) If Laura is mentioned at
all, it’s only in passing with no specifics given. There is
nothing of the mother’s second marriage. Laura played a prominent
role in the lives of her Milstead half-siblings; but Laura’s son seems
to not have known about the families of his two Brown uncles.
[probate records Benjamin Milstead] This lack of documentation
for the two Brown sons is reason I’ve omitted references to them in the
“facts only” timeline for Franklin Milstead that follows.
A couple named Felix Brown and
Christianna May married 23 February 1831 in St. Clair Co. Alabama.
[source not cited; I suspect Ancestry list of AL Marriages] Brown/May
researchers have not been able to trace them after this marriage
record. Dates of their marriage and births of the three reputed
children of Mary/Christina and her first husband surnamed Brown fit
almost too well to be anything but the same family. Additionally
a Christiana Brown received a land grant in Cherokee Co. AL across the
Coosa River from Franklin Milstead’s tract. What troubles me is, the
few posters who provide a list of children for Felix and Christine
(May) Brown appear to have seen, and thus were likely influenced by,
the Milstead tradition. A death date for Felix Brown and
corroboration that Laura’s nee: surname was Brown would be nice.
So many stories are going around on
these families, I’ve tried to present documented facts only. Where I’ve
estimated dates, my reasoning is explained. You are free to
disagree with my reasoning and my personal opinion comments which
always begin with initials and are italicized. If you recognize
someone here or something seems familiar, please contact
1809-1812 birth in Alabama Franklin F. Milstead
LSS: Years based on his age stated in two depositions. Milstead
children responding to their father’s birth place on a census form all
1813-1817 estimated birth in Georgia, Alabama or Tennessee of Franklin’s wife. LSS:
Dates are based on biology. Laura was born 1834, but Laura’s reputed
older brother was born in 1832. A birth in 1813 makes the mother
17 when she gave birth to first reported child. Youngest child Alice A.
Milstead was born December 1855. A birth in 1817 makes the mother
42 at the time. All reputed and known children gave one of those three
states when answering the census question about their Mother’s
1834 March birth in Alabama Laura A
. (? Brown)
, future wife of George W. Williams
. LSS: Sparks family records; census for years 1870, 1880, 1900 and 1910.
1836 June 19 Franklin F. Milstead
enlisted for three months duty as private in Capt. Patrick’s Company of
Alabama Mounted Volunteers, 1st Batt’n, McMillion’s 4th Rgmt, Creek
War. He enlisted at camp 18 miles below Ft. Mitchell, AL –
Cowager. He was discharged 21 July 1836 at Montgomery, AL. /s/
George W. Patrick, Capt. St. Clair Volunteers. [National Archives
Military File Muster Rolls
1842-1844 estimated marriage year Franklin F. Milstead
and wife, name unknown. LSS:
Two histories agree their first child was stillborn. Second
child, Susan Milstead, was born 1845 or 1847 depending on source.
Dates are based on “at least three years” before Susan’s birth allowing
for two full-term pregnancies
1843 May 6 application for survey of 45.50 acre Land Grant from state of Alabama to Franklin F. Miller
(sic) Certificate #7387; located in Section 29, Township 10, Range 9
East. [page 185 Cherokee County Heritage vol. III, No. 3 July 1974
citing Tract Bk p. 63] 1 March 1843 survey application for
48 acres to Christina Brown
, Certificate #6697, the South West part of NE 1 /4 Section 29, Township 10 South, Range 9 East. [ibid] LSS: This is across (cattycorner) the Coosa River from Franklin’s land
1843-1846 estimated birth year in Cherokee Co. AL of first child
of Franklin F. Milstead and his wife.
LSS: One family history says the child was a stillborn, unnamed boy
while another says that the child was a girl named Mary.
1845 May 1 Alabama Land Grant #7387
to Franklin F. Milstead of Cherokee Co. Alabama
paid in full at the General Land Office, Lebanon, Alabama. The 45
& 50/hundreds of an acre was the North part of North
half-fractional Section 29, Township 10, Range 9 East. [BLM
website; page 130 Family Maps of Cherokee County, Alabama: Homesteads Edition
by Gregory A. Boyd]
1845 October 6 (tombstone) birth Susan Milstead
. [Findagrave: Cruce Cemetery, Stephens Co. OK – Susan Jones] LSS: An attached note at this site reads:
“Some family legends have Franklin’s children born in Rome, Georgia,
but there are no records to support his ever living there. [Yet] ‘Born
in Georgia’ is engraved on her stone.”
1847 October 6 birth in Cherokee Co. AL Susan Milstead
Sparks family records; 1870, 1880 and 1900 censuses; her husband’s
deposition in 1900 that his wife, Susan, was 53 years old.
[Ashton citing MCR 583 Nat’l Archives microfilm NARA 1301] show
her birth year as 1847. Birth in Cherokee Co. AL because her father is
documented as resident of that county and state before and after her
1848 April 4 birth in Cherokee Co. AL Benjamin Franklin Milstead
. [Okla. Death Certificate #894; tombstone; Sparks family records; censuses; newspaper obit.]
1850 November 20 Franklin Milstead, aged thirty eight years, resident of Cherokee Co. Alabama
appeared before Jackson Smith, Acting Justice of Peace for the county.
He swore he was the same person who received discharge papers
original copy attached, who served as private in Capt. Geo. W.
Patrick’s Co., Regiment of Alabama Volunteers commanded by L. G.
McMillion in the War with the Creek tribe. He volunteered at
Montgomery and was discharged at Montgomery. /s/ Franklin (his + mark) Milstead
. [Bounty Land Warrant #48433 Nat’l Archives Land Entry Files Box 1984] LSS: He made this application under Military Act of September 1850.
1851 June 20 Military Warrant #11.240 to Franklin Milstead
, Section 21 Township 10, Range 9 “Land settled by Franklin Milstead” [Darfield, Marily David The Old Mardisville, Lebanon and Centre Land Office Records and Military Warrants 1834-1860
citing Military Warrants 1851-1854 Lebanon Office.] LSS: The archivist at the Alabama State Library said the microfilm is too faint to copy.
1851 July 15 Alabama Land Grant to Franklin Milstead
40 acres, Warrant #13954 under Military Act of 1847 located Section 21,
Township 10 South, Range 9 East. “Specifically the SW of SE
corner of SE 1 /4.” [p. 177 Cherokee County Heritage
vol. III No. 3 July 1974 citing Tract Bk p. 60]
1855 April 12 Cherokee Co. Court
: Franklin F. Milstead, aged about Forty-Six
duly sworn, says he is identical with the Private serving in Capt.
Patrick’s Co., Rgmt Alabama Volunteers ... was in actual service
fourteen days ... He made application under 1850 Military Act and
received bounty land warrant #11.240 for 40 acres; warrant was legally
disposed of and can’t be returned. He is now applying under
Military Act approved 3 March 1855. /s/ Franklin F. (his x mark) Milstead
Witnesses: Lewis Cunningham, Frizzell M. Hardwick, residents of said
county and state. [Bounty Land Warrant #48433 Nat’l Archives Land
Entry Files Box 1984] LSS: Franklin Milstead and Lewis Cunningham meet up again in 1873 in Texas when Cunningham purchased this land warrant.
1855 December 29 birth in Cherokee Co. Alabama Alice Allen Milstead
. [family records; tombstone.] LSS: This is the last record of Franklin’s wife. An internet tree spells the middle name “Alline”.
1856 January 3 Warrant #48433 for 120 acres issued to Franklin F. Milstead
his military service during the Creek Wars per Military Act 1855.
[Bounty Land Warrant #48433
Nat’l Archives Land Entry Files, Box
1856/7 approximate marriage year George W. “Wash” Williams and Laura A. (? Brown)
[Family records; 1870 and 1880 censuses for age of first child] LSS:
My guess is, his full name was George Washington Williams. Census
records show George or G. W. Williams, but the family referred to him
1866 Cherokee Co. Alabama State Census, Township 10 Range 9 East: Household of G. W. Williams
consisted of 2 males under 10; 2 males 10-20; 1 male over 20; 1 female
under 10; 1 female 10-20; 1 female over 20. [Walker citing
Ancestry microfilm p. 19] LSS:
Although we can’t prove this is Franklin’s step-daughter Laura and her
husband, a few things suggest it. First, this is the same township and
range along the Coosa River where Franklin Milstead’s land was located.
The make-up of the household is remarkably similar to the 1870 Williams
household when three Milstead children were residing with them. The
problem, the 1870 Cherokee Co. AL census shows a G. W. Williams
26 born Georgia with wife Laura 25 born Alabama residing in Township
10, Range 9 Centre.
1870 August 1 Floyd Co. Georgia census, P.O. Cave Springs Subivision 141: Household 472/467 George Williams
, age 47 born SC; wife Laura
35 born AL; Williams children: Patrick 12, Edwin 11; Sallie 8; Robert 4; Lillie 2; Milsteads: Susan 23; Benjamin 22; and Alice 13
. [Walker citing Ancestry Roll 149 p. 281] LSS: All were born in AL except George.
1872 approximate year of move of the Williams and
Milstead family from Cave Springs, Georgia to Hunt County in
north-central Texas. LSS:
Based on reported birth states of youngest two Williams’
children: Persey born January 1871 Alabama and Mary, born March
1873 in Texas.
1873 April 14 Cherokee Co. Texas deed: Franklin Millstead
sold warrant #48433 for 120 acres to Lewis Cunningham of Cherokee Co.
Texas. The warrant was issued for Milstead’s service in the 1836
Creek War. [Nat’l Archives Land Entry Files, Box 1984 Warrant
#48433; Cherokee Co. Courthouse records] LSS:
Milstead and Cunningham had known each other back in Cherokee Co. AL.
This is the last record we have located on Franklin F. Milstead.
LSS: Additional proof of family connections:
1876 January 30 marriage Hunt Co. TX James A. Sparks
and A. A. Mitchell
[sic] [Hunt Co. TX Marriage License]
1880 Cooke Co. TX census District 115: L. A. Williams 45
household consisted of (Williams) W. E. 22, Sallie 17, Robert 14,
Lillie 12, Persey 9 – all born in AL – and Mary 7 born in TX. Also “sister” Susan Milsted 34
born AL. [census Dist E.D. 115 p. 316C] The J. A. Sparks 29
and Alice A. 23
(both parents born AL) household consisted of “daughter” Mary B. 2
and “brother” B. F. Milstied
. [ibid 314D] LSS: Daughter Mary B. is actually son Marion Benjamin Sparks.
1888 (1889) July marriage in Montague Co. TX Sterling “Star” Jones
[William Star Jones] and his 2nd wife, Susan Milstead
. [Ashton citing MCR 583 from National Archives microfilm NARA 1301 and some duplicate pages from Footnote.com]
1931 March 31 death in Marlow, Stephens Co. OK Benjamin Franklin Milstead
at the home of his nephew, Robert Williams [OK Death Certificate #894;
newspaper clipping; probate records] Benjamin’s heirs at law as
reported by (nephew) R. C. Williams, administrator of the estate:
R. C. Williams, P. G. Williams, Sallie Genie (children of Laura Williams dec’d ‘who was a sister of Benjamin
F. Milstead dec’d); Florence Forth (child of Susan Jones, a deceased
sister of Benjamin); and Marion Sparks, Mary Johnson, Bertha Edmister,
Robert Sparks (children of Alice Sparks, now deceased, a sister of the said Benjamin
F. Milstead.)” [Stephens Co. OK probate packet #1463 Benj. F. Milstead
Linda Sparks Starr firstname.lastname@example.org