Franklin F Milstead

Franklin F. Milstead
c1809 - after April 1873

Copyright Linda Sparks Starr, October 2013

LSS:  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 me.


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 said Alabama.

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 birthplace. 

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. LSS: 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 birth.

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, his 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. CourtFranklin 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 for his military service during the Creek Wars per Military Act 1855. [Bounty Land Warrant #48433 Nat’l Archives Land Entry Files, Box 1984] 

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 as “Wash.”   

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] 

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