This is the story of three families that were pioneers to Cloud County, Kansas, in the two decades following the Civil War. Their family surnames were Taylor, Millirons, and Johnston.
I haven't completed an exact count of all identified descendants of these families, but it is certainly over 1,000, possibly approaching or exceeding 2,000 of us. Some branches have not been identified and others have lost contact as the years have rolled by. If you are part of the family, I would appreciate updated information.
These families form their relationship to me through my paternal grandparents: Fred and Anna Taylor.
Fred's parents were Kansas Pioneers: Edwin Maxwell and Hulda Sarah (Beaty) Taylor.
Anna's parents were A.D. Millirons and Helen Ella Johnston , who were children when their parents immigrated to Kansas. A.D. Millirons' parents were Kansas Pioneers John and Martha Jane (Earhart) Millirons. Helen Ella's parents were Kansas Pioneers Archibald and Mary (Nellist) Johnston.
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In 1871, just six years after the Civil War ended, Edwin Taylor came to Concordia with his brother, Sam. He went back to Iowa to marry Hulda Sarah in 1874 and this young couple returned to Concordia to start their family. In this same year, a young man by the name of Wyatt Earp first earned a name for himself in a Kansas town called Ellsworth, about 100 miles to the south and west of Concordia. Edwin was 26 and Hulda 30 when they homesteaded in Kansas, just beginning their married life.
Two years after this, in 1876, John Millirons came to Kansas to establish his homestead. He went back a year later to bring his family to Cloud County. John and Martha (Earhart) Millirons were an older couple with their children already born and in tow when they moved to Concordia, right across the parallel from the Taylor's.
Then, in 1881, four years after the Milliron's arrived, the Johnston's, also an older couple with children already born, moved to the area. The Taylor's and Millirons had come by horse and wagon, the Johnston's came by train.
Three of the Millirons children eventually married three of the Johnston children. One of the children of those Millirons-Johnston marriages, Anna Laura Millirons, married one of the Taylor children, Fred Wilson Taylor, on December 23, 1908.
In 1997, there are over 100 living descendants of Fred and Anna Taylor. (Top of Page)
The Setting - NorthCentral Kansas
Concordia and Jamestown, Kansas (See Maps) are small farm communities (1994's population was approximately 6,000 and 300 souls, respectively) in North Central Kansas, about 30 miles south of the Nebraska state line, where the Taylor, Millirons, and Johnston families homesteaded in the 1870's and 1880's. These families were among the influx of settlers who moved from the East after the Civil War. Concordia is the county seat of Cloud County. Jamestown is a smaller town about 10 miles west of Concordia. It is between these two towns that our three families homesteaded.
For those of you who may think of Kansas as nothing but flat prairie land, let me assure you that it is not quite the picture you should have of Concordia. The real flat prairie doesn't really begin until about a hundred miles further west. The land around Concordia is gently rolling country. Concordia is located on the south bank of the Republican River. The country is rich farm land. The nearest large city is Salina, approximately 60 miles south (maybe 50,000 population today). Going to Salina was a big treat for our homesteading forefathers and their families.
Small wonder these families' offspring married - they were neighbors!! The Johnston's lived almost directly two miles south of the Millirons. The Millirons lived the next section south of where the Taylor's originally homesteaded. The Taylor's moved south and west of the Millirons shortly after the the Millirons moved to Kansas, but were still only a couple of miles away.
What a difference in so many ways was their life from ours. I sensed a particular feeling of neighborliness when I visited the area, as I drove senior members of the family around the homesteads in the 1970's and they would point out the Elfstrom place, the Hayden place, the McReady place, and recall all the children who lived and grew up there. How many folks today know their neighbors that well?
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In 1825, in the Church at Abbey St. Bathan, Scotland, John and Helen (Dickson) Johnston were married. They went on to have five children between 1825 and 1836 when they decided to uproot and come to America. They sailed for Canada and eventually ended up in Ontario, Canada. But, in that short span of time of coming to America, they lost two children, and then, within the year, the mother (Helen) became pregnant and the father (John) died.
This left Helen with four children to raise by herself, which she seem to have credibly done, as the progeny of these four children now number a possible 1,000 to 2,000 people, of which the descendants of Fred and Anna Taylor are included. The two oldest stayed in Canada and descendants are many there. The third, Archibald, became a Kansas Pioneer, and the youngest, George, became a Michigan Pioneer.
The youngest child to make the voyage from Scotland was Archibald Johnston. He was under 5 when they arrived in Canada, born on June 18, 1832. In 1857, just before the Civil War was to break out in the United States, Archibald met and married Mary Nellist, who was born in Canada, on December 4, 1834, a descendant of English parents (Joseph Nellist and Mary Fletcher). They had four children in Canada and then decided to go to the United States during the Civil War.
The family lived in Pennsylvania in from 18?? to 1866, where Annie was born on July 2, 1866. Sometime between 1866 and 1872, the family moved to Brazil, Indiana. There is also indication that the family was in Danville, Indiana for awhile during this time period.
They had five more children during this period, before coming to Concordia, Kansas, in 1881, some 16 years later. They came by railroad, whereas both the Taylor's and the Millirons had come west by wagon. We don't know if Archibald or Mary were ever naturalized as citizens. See Marilyn Johnston's Johnston's Genealogy book for more details.
Thus, in 1881, 16 years after the Civil War, when Archibald was 49 and wife Mary was 47, and 9 kids ranging in age from 6 to 24, they put their roots down for the last time, in the rich farm lands near Concordia, Kansas. They settled on a farm when they first arrived, but moved in the first year to a 320 acre farm that became the "Johnston Home Place". Archibald farmed on this original homestead until approximately 1900, when he moved to town. One of the children took over farming the farm, but ownership of the farm passed to Helen Ella (Johnston) Millirons (1910, when Archibald died at age 78), then to A.D. Millirons (in 1923 when Helen Ella died), and then to our Anna Laura (Millirons) Taylor when A.D. died in 1931. However, the farm had a mortgage on it, and Fred and Anna lost the farm during the depression.
The descendants of Fred and Anna Taylor of my generation are 1/16th Scotch (from Archibald) and 1/16 English (from Mary Nellist). Surnames of our direct ascendants in this branch include Johnston, Nellist, Dickson, and Fletcher.
The Johnston's are now a big, big family, numbering over a thousand. There have been several reunions in Kansas, Michigan (another big group there of Archibald's brothers and sisters) and in Canada near where the original immigrant farm was.
See the story of the Johnston genealogy and family history.
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As the Johnston family was moving to the United States from Canada during the Civil War, John Millirons was serving in the Union Army. Just before entering the Army, on September 19, 1860, he married Martha Earhart in Unionville, Missouri. His obituary said that he moved from Ohio to Unionville in 1854. After the war, he would return to Unionville, Missouri for about 12 years. He served primarily in Missouri. His discharge papers describe him as 6'2" tall, light complexion, and blue eyes.
John came to Concordia by himself to setup the homestead in 1876. Twelve years after the Civil War, in 1877, when the West was being tamed and legends such as Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, and other gunfighters were making names for themselves in other Kansas towns like Dodge City and Abilene, he went back to Unionville, MO and the rest of the Millirons family moved to Concordia, Kansas, from Unionville, Missouri by covered wagon.
When the Millirons were unloading from their move, family legend has it that their first visitors were their neighbors, the Ed and Hulda Taylor's. John Millirons was 39 and Martha Jane was 37. Their children at the time they came to Concordia were Adolphus (A.D.), 12 years old, Delia, 9 years old, Laura 7 years old, and Jessie, who was 2 years old. The oldest boy, James Alphonse, had died at an early age.
The land was purchased from a Mr. Masberg and the Millirons family had to live for a while in a cave or a dugout. But John Millirons had the family house built in short order, as he had carpenter experience. (He later helped build bridges in the Concordia area.)
The Johnston place was 2-3 miles south of the Millirons place, and as a result, the families got quite familiar - familiar enough that three of the Millirons children married three of the Johnston children. This eventually created what is referred to as "double cousins", as the children of these marriages had both blood uncles and blood aunts.
The first of these couples to marry was just 9 years after the Millirons moved to Concordia - A.D. Millirons and Helen Ella Johnston. They were married in the Millirons "home place" in 1886. John and Martha "retired" to Concordia in 1888, and A.D. farmed the Milliron place for almost 25 years, until about 1911 or 1912. Although John Millirons retired from farming, he became a superintendent for the Kansas City Bridge and Iron Co. and was involved in the construction of several bridges across the Republican River in that part of the state. All five of A.D and Helen Ella (Johnston) Millirons' children were born on the Milliron Home Place, including Anna Laura (Millirons) Taylor. Fred and Anna Taylor were married in that house on December 23, 1908 in a double wedding with her sister Nellie to Roy Clemons. I noted newspaper articles of the Wright Brothers having an accident flying their flying machine while I was looking for their wedding announcement. Fred and Anna took over the farm in about 1911, and farmed it for something less than 10 years. Arleen (Taylor) Nichols and Ed Taylor were born there.
The property is still owned by the family today: 1997. Grace (Finley) Millirons died while living there, approximately 1994. The barn is still the original barn and the house, although added to over the years, is still the basic homestead home built by John Millirons. The farm had no modern utilities at all until 1939, when running water and a bath were installed - but no hot water! The house even in 1976 did not have hot water - Grace would heat her water on the stove. The running water comes from a well on the farm. Electricity came in the early 40's with REA - Rural Electrical Agency. For non-electrical needs, fuel oil was until gas was hooked up in the 1950's.
After A.D. Millirons moved to town, he became involved in local politics and became Mayor of Concordia for eight years from 1917 to 1925.
John Millirons died on October 18, 1927, at age 89. The Kansas recorded: "Cloud County had never had a finer citizen than John Millirons. He was man of fine intelligence, capable in business matters, and successful in the moderate ambitions that were his, which was to raise a family of sons and daughters honorably and well, and by his precept and example to be worthy to enjoy the same esteem among their fellow men that was his to enjoy. He was of that neighborly type of citizen whose character was formed by association in his youth with the pioneers of our western civilization - generous, large-hearted, loyal, honorable in every dealing with others, holding honesty and honor above all other worldly considerations. Of such a mold was John Millirons, a fine man has gone from among us in his death."
I have accounted for 220 descendants of the Millirons family, all but a handful of which are also Johnston's. This is because many descendants of these pioneers are also descended from Archibald Johnston, as three Millirons children married three Johnston children. The only Millirons child not to marry a Johnston, Delia, had one child. This resulted in a number of "double cousins". This number is assuredly low, as it was probably only 95% when most of it was compiled, and a good portion of this count is 10 years old.
See the story of the Millirons and Earharts Family History and Migration.
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During the 1840's, the James and Sarah (McCart) Taylor family was in Richland County, Ohio and gave birth to Edwin Maxwell Taylor on May 25, 1848. The James and Sarah (Feather) Beaty family was in Kingwood, Preston County, West Virginia, and gave birth to Hulda Sarah Beaty on September 8, 1844. Hulda's family moved near Grace Hill, Iowa when she was nine (1853) according to her obituary. Thus, he was 12 and she 16 when the Civil War broke out.
The James Taylor family moved a farm a few miles southeast of Keota, Iowa, and the Beaty family moved to a farm near Grace Hill, Iowa. Grace Hill is a few miles south and east of Keota.
In 1871, Ed and his brother, Sam, came to Kansas from Iowa by covered wagon. Sam later moved to Phillipsburg, Kansas. Three years later, in 1874, Ed went back to Iowa to wed Hulda Sarah Beaty and brought her back to Kansas. He was 30 and she was 26. They were younger than the Johnston's and Milliron's who moved to Concordia, but they arrived in Concordia first. The original homestead building was still standing in 1978. I took a picture of it then.
Their first two children, James William (who died as an infant), and Aurie Edna (later to marry Ethan McBride), were born in this little house. (In the same year that Aurie Edna was born, 1876, Wild Bill Hickok was killed in the Black Hills, North Dakota, and the country celebrated its 100th birthday.) In about 1877, the Taylor's moved to what I'll refer to as the "Taylor Home Place", where they lived until the turn of the century. Here the rest of the children, including Fred Wilson Taylor, were born. A brother of Edwin Maxwell Taylor (Alexander) must have been with them at least for awhile, as he died at the age of 24 in 1879, and is buried in the family plot in the Fairview cemetery. During the time these children were being born, Jesse James, Johnny Ringo, and Billy the Kid had all been met an untimely end to their lives.
What a beautiful sight it was where this farm was when I visited in the 1970's. The farm was nestled in a small valley with a high ridge on the east and a hill on the southeast. A creek called White Creek ran through the middle of the farm. Although the creek took tillable acreage from the farm, it provided needed water. The original buildings have all been razed and it is just farmland now. Some of the nails from the buildings were recovered and framed by family members.
Marjorie recalled that farms back then always had orchards. She recalls a plum thicket at the Taylor place which yielded jars and jars of delicious plum butter as well as a black walnut grove. They also had bee hives and honey. She recalls two orchards, one of which was peach trees. She remembers picking apples on her way to school to go with her lunch. Although most farms in those days had orchards such as these, they are all nearly gone now. Most farms nowadays only use trees like elms, oaks, and maples for shelter breaks, not for food.
Although most farms in the Concordia area these days grow wheat, she remembers the Taylor's grew mostly corn. Hogs were their primary livestock and chickens, of course, were everpresent.
Marjorie (McBride) Weaver remembers the Taylor's as upstanding Methodists, and the Taylor's were fine horsemen, always having good teams of horses.
Sometime in this time frame, Edwin Taylor either purchased a farm in western Kansas, near Collier, or made arrangements to farm it. George and Robert, his sons, farmed it as young men .
Edwin Taylor died on April 6, 1906, of "apoplexy" (what heart attacks were called then) at age 57, and Hulda Sarah moved to Jamestown shortly after. The boys stayed on the farm. Huldah died from complications from a fall from an icy porch one winter on May 4, 1911. She was 66.
Edwin was working in his garden with his daughter Sarah (Aunt Pim) when he suffered his apoplexy.
Marjorie recalls that they must have had a phone in 1906 because Aunt Pim (Sarah) called the Millirons to stop Uncle George who was delivering the thrashing machine someplace.
The following quotes are from his obituaries:
"He was known to all as a kind and loving husband and father, an obliging friend and neighbor, and always had a kind word and pleasant smile for everybody. In his death, the entire community suffers a loss..."
"Mr. Taylor was one of the most highly respected citizens of the community, a pioneer, coming to the neighborhood in the early seventies and in all of that time enjoyed the confidence and respect of all who knew him, and was certainly without an enemy; always ready to aid the unfortunate and distressed. By his untimely death, we lose a good neighbor and a kind and honest man."
See the stories of the Taylor, McCarts, Beaty's, and Feathers families and their pioneer stories.
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If you are descended from Fred and Anna (Millirons) Taylor, you have an interest in all these pioneers as they are the parents of Fred and grandparents of Anna. (There are now over a 100 of us.)
Descendants of the other children of Ed and Hulda Taylor are not related to the Millirons or Johnston's. This would be the McRae's, the McBride's, and the George Taylor's. There are a good sized group of George Taylor's progeny.
If you are reading this and are a Johnston, there may be tie-ins with the Millirons in that 3 of the Millirons children of these pioneers married 3 Johnston children. (The only Millirons grandchild, Walter, did not have any children, so the Millirons name has reached an end in our family).
If you are a descendant of John Lawrence Hass, you are only related to the Millirons/Earharts, as he was the only grandchild of John Millirons who was also not a grandchild of Archibald Johnston.
There are at least several hundred of you Johnston's out there who are descendants of Johnston children who did not marry Millirons children.
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To Fred and Anna (Millirons) Taylor Story
Copyright 1996,1997 by Norris M. Taylor, Jr.
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