1854: John Bruce Milroy to Samuel Milroy

What J. B. Milroy might have looked like in 1854

This letter was probably written by John B. Milroy (1819-18xx), an overseer on the plantation of Edward Clemmons James of Washington County, Mississippi, in 1850. He may have been the same “J. B. Milroy” enumerated in the 1860 census as a merchant residing in Bolivar, Mississippi.

Nothing more could be found concerning him or his family except that his “home” was probably in Kentucky, which is likely where his brother Samuel and/or his father — still living in 1854 — were residing. [Note: See comments below for updated information]


Greenville, Mississippi
December 3d 1854

Dear Brother,

Page 1

I received your letter dated the 13th of November and Father’s dated the 2d two days since and was truly glad to hear from you as it was more than two months since I had heard from before and was getting very uneasy about you as Father has always been very regular in writing to me. Since I wrote to you, my health has improved very much. I was able to resume my business more than a month ago and my general health is very good though my knee is still a little stiff and crooked — but I can walk on it though not very far at a time as it gives out. But I can attend to the most of my business on horseback.

I have no news worth your attention. If the Ohio River is in a condition that boats can run up it, I think that I shall go up the first of January and see you but if it is not, I will go to Texas and go home on my return from there.

The fall and winter so far has been dry and pleasant. Cotton crops are nearly all gathered in this neighborhood which is generally light.

Page 2

Give my respects to Father and the family and all my friends that may enquire after me. I do not know whether you will get this letter in time to write to me that I may get it by the first of January or not as the mails are very slow judging from the time it has taken Father’s letter of the 2d of last month to reach me. I shall write to Father in about to weeks and, if I should go to Texas, I will write to you from some point on my route.

When I wrote to you about my sickness, I was very much discouraged as the physician that attended me said that he did not think that I would be able to walk for several months and that it might be years before I would recover the entire use of my leg. But he was very much mistaken. I have beset mustang liniment freely and have derived more benefit from it than all the medicine the doctor gave me.

Very respectfully yours, &c. — J. B. Milroy


2 responses to “1854: John Bruce Milroy to Samuel Milroy

  • S. Smith

    John Bruce Milroy was born 1819 in Kentucky. He was my Gr-Gr-Gr Grandfather’s younger brother. His letter of December 3, 1854 was sent to their mutual brother Samuel M. Milroy (b. 1821) who lived in Hancock County, Indiana. Their father was General John Milroy (1776-1858) who also lived in Greenfield, Hancock County, Indiana.

    It may be of interest that John Bruce Milroy’s first cousins were well-known Union officers Major-General Robert H. Milroy and Colonel John Beard Milroy of Indiana. Our understanding is that John Bruce Milroy served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Bolivar Greys (Mississippi), but there doesn’t seem to be much of a paper trail for him so perhaps his health prevented him from serving long. We can find no trace of him after the war.

    John Bruce Milroy had another brother named Dr. Henry A. Milroy who died in Washington County, Mississippi (as far as we know) after 1845. Henry was married, and both of his sons (William and Edward) eventually fought for the Union. My ancestor was older brother James Huston Milroy (1814-1839), who moved south about 1833 with two brothers and a cousin named Felix Huston. James died in Houston, Texas, after serving as an officer in the Army of Texas, but we know that he also lived in Mississippi for a time. He and Felix Huston were in Natchez in the 1830s and rode to Texas with a brigade of Mississippi Rifles in 1836, but joined General Sam Houston’s army a week after the battle of San Jacinto.

    My family would be very interested in any additional information that your organization may have on the Milroys and/or Hustons. Letters relating to James H. Milroy were recently auctioned off to the public in Dallas. At the very least, I wanted to supply a little more information on John Bruce Milroy. He may have been born in Kentucky while his mother was visiting relatives (definitely not Tennessee). But the family moved to Indiana soon after the War of 1812, and his father was clerk of Jackson County, Indiana in 1816. At a young age he sought his fortune “Down River” and landed in Mississippi working as a “overseer.” We don’t have a death date for him or know where he was buried.

    Thank you, — S. Smith

  • Griff

    Thank you very much for your comment. I hope this letter was useful to you. It was sold on e-bay by the gentleman I transcribed it for and published here with his permission. Ironically, I know exactly where Greenfield, Indiana is — I graduated from high school there! Please let us know if you have any family photos that I might include with this article or any other information such as you have already provided that would be useful to others doing research on this family. — Griff

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