BIOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM HODGE McMILLAN
Submitted by Nancy Lindroth.
75th Anniversary Issue - "The Alpena Journal"
Vol 75 Section A # 38
Alpena, Jerauld County, South Dakota
Thursday, June 5, 1958
(Author not named.)
“Mac” McMillan Pioneer, Farmer, Cattleman, and Auctioneer
W. H. McMillan was a native of West Virginia and lived near Wheeling. He began dealing in livestock and produce from the farms in that community. He was well known as a wrestler and was handy with a six shooter. Later he became interested in oil well and with others dropped a large sum of money in the oil fields. He had his mind set on going west from the letters he received from his cousin the Whites. He left for South Dakota where he visited the T. L. Whites and George Whites where they lived in Cherry Township.
Excellent crops were being grown at that time in South Dakota and cattle and horses were roving the prairies. Mac was delighted with the west and lost no time moving his family to Cherry township in early spring of 1892.
Lean years followed in dirt farming and he turned again to dealing in livestock, and later ran a skimming station to help bring in the shekles. In the meantime several nephews came west to see the country and visit with the McMillans and Whites - Hayes Cunningham and three brothers, Clyde McMillan and David Kern and two brothers and other friends of the boys. Some of these were helping ‘Mac’ on the farm while he bought hogs and cattle around Alpena and vicinity.
It must be remembered that there were many fine and well educated people to associate with and ‘Mac” suggested that something be done to organize and make use of some of those talents that were running loose. So literary and debating clubs were organized -- also Sunday school and a church which made a real community. Many wiped the dust off their spelling books too and other communities were challenged to spelling contests.
Among those leaders were the Hatches, Lynns, Wileys and other families who put real push into the activities.
“Mac” was one of the many farmers to move to Alpena later. Alpena became a widely known shipping center and he could operate better from that town.
From teaching voice to blowing his old brass horn that he brought from Wheeling, he bought an instrument and joined the Alpena band. The band director had insisted and rightly so, that all have the same make of instruments.
“Mac” was a lover of horses and expert in the saddle too. On trips into North Dakota for some wild broncs, he showed the boys how to pick off grouse with his six-shooter.
As a member of the town board he helped put in a race track. The trotter Dan Sprague took the first race on that track. One of his pacers took first at the state fair.
A star postal route was established, running east of Alpena with W. H. as carrier.
He was one of a company to install telephones in Alpena. He bought J D Chamberlain’s meat market and used it as an office as well as market. It was during his term as mayor that the water system was installed in town. An artesian well was located on main street and the board had a pond built where the school ground is today. Swimming and boat riding were quite the thing at that time.
In cooperation with his son, O G McMillan, a light plant was put in town. Soon nearly all the residences and business places had electric lights. The plant was a direct current system which later hooked on to the large network.
Mr. “Mac” was probably best known as a livestock auctioneer. This helped him to meet many people, especially so in Jerauld County. I could add that Pat McDonald had “Mac” act as deputy sheriff at times. All this added up to little when it came to seeking office.
He was a candidate once and was beaten. His work apparently did not mix well with politics. He was listed as a Republican with prohibition tenderness cropping out at times.
T L White and W H McMillan grew up as close neighbors. The former was a real populist Democrat; that latter a red hot Republican. They argued and debated and made many speeches but always were close friends. I have often thought of this. A larger sample was shown by W J Bryan and Teddy Roosevelt as opposing candidates; best of friends with no mud slinging.
The big little city of Alpena at that time had more teachers, ministers, tired and retired farmers than any other town of it’s size in South Dakota, truly some--to be proud of. This makes for better living indeed.
1901: During the first week in December W H McMillan and J D Chamberlain purchased the Alpena meat market of Andrew Mercer, and a few days later W R Wiley bought the furniture store and business of J D Chamberlain.
1902: W H McMillan sold his meat market to Geo. Marston June 23rd. About the same time J S Tripp opened a drugstore on the north side of Main street west of Chamberlain’s store.
1903: on September 4th, 5th, and 6th. Horses were entered from Huron, Carthage, Plankinton and Alpena. The first trotting race was won by W R (should be H) McMillan’s horse, “Dan Sprague,” and the first running race by Frank Shull’s gelding Ukiah.
Wheeling: W H McMillan was raised in Webster District, near Rock Lick , Marshall County, WV. Marshall County is south of Wheeling WV, which is in Ohio Country, WV.
Visited The Whites: - Henrietta McMillan (aunt of W H McMillan) married Christian WHITE in Marshall Co WV. They had the following children:
Samantha WHITE - b 1859 - d 20 Oct 1865
Thomas G WHITE - b 1861 (Believe the extractor could have misread “L”)
George N WHITE - b 1866
Sallie J WHITE - b 1863
Note #1: 1870 Henrietta died in Marshall County
Note #2: 1870 Census - Christian WHITE with the children above but w/o spouse and Samantha.
Thomas Lincoln White
Note #1: T L WHITE paid SD taxes in 1884.
Note #2: A birth record lists Thomas Lincoln WHITE and Jessie Frances SMALL as parents - Jerauld Co SD
Malcolm Christian WHITE b 4/22/1892 (SD State File # 401053)
Note #3: A birth record lists Thomas Lincoln WHITE and Clara Bell WOODRUFF as parents - Jerauld Co SD
Frank WHITE b 8/20/1902 (SD State File #401054)
George Newton White
Note #1: A birth record lists George Newton WHITE and Lenna C HUGHES as parents - Jerauld Co. SD
Lotta Dee Etta WHITE b 11 Oct 1888 (SD State file #474074) (female)
Note #2: A birth record lists George Newton WHITE and Lenna Calvert HUGHES as parents - Jerauld Co SD
Bessie Nell WHITE b 25 Nov 1886 (SD State Record 474078)
Hayes Cunningham s/o Pap and Priscilla Jane (McMillan) CUNNINGHAM stayed in Alpena SD according to Maude Fordyce document in Marshall Co. Museum, Moundsville WV. (Priscilla was a sister of W H McMillan.)
Clyde McMillan b 24 Apr 1878 Marshall Co WV son of John Oscar McMillan (brother of W H McMILLAN )and Amanda (KERNS) McMILLAN (sister of Medora KERNS - spouse of W H McMILLAN ) returned to Marshall County. He died 13 Jul 1938 and is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Marshall County, Callis WV.
David Kern (should read KERNS) - brother of Medora (KERNS) McMILLAN and Amanda (KERNS) McMILLAN. He returned to Marshall Co to live. He married in 1867 and his wife died in 1901. (see Medora's obit for additional family info)