William B. Milligan: Newville Coach Maker & Blacksmith

Advertisement for the sale of Milligan’s property. American Volunteer, February 28, 1839.

Advertisement for the sale of Milligan’s property. American Volunteer, February 28, 1839.

Because William Milligan went into debt and petitioned the court for the Act of Insolvency, a paper trail provides a look at the business of a coach maker in a small Pennsylvania town in the 1830s.

Milligan advertised in the June 5, 1838 edition of the Carlisle Herald and Expositor that he wanted several journeymen millwrights, carpenters and wagonmakers for his establishment in Newville.  He promised them "constant employment and the highest wages." By September 1838, the trustees of Milligan's creditors had taken over his business and employed hands to finish all of the work in Milligan's shop consisting of four wheel carriages, gigs and harness, wagons and thrashing machinces, which they offered to sell at the cheapest prices in order to close Milligan's business.

Before the end of the year, a Mechanics Lien was brought against Milligan by William Barr and Daniel Dunlap trading under the firm of William Barr & Co. They had furnished materials amounting to $66.85 between April and June 18381 and constructed a two-story log house and a frame house and shop in Newville for Milligan on the north west side of the main street. They wanted to be paid.

Milligan couldn’t pay them, so in 1839 he petitioned the court for the Act of Insolvency. The list of his creditors was lengthy, and he owed them almost $5,000. The reason he gave for becoming insolvent was that he “was largely engaged in the coach making business and the manufacturing of harness, wagons, thrashing machines, etc. He contracted debts in the purchase of stock and materials which the proceeds of his business did not enable him to pay, and the pressing demands of his creditors obliged him to give up his property for the use of his creditors.”2

On March 14, 1839, Milligan’s trustees held a sale of his real and personal property.3 The real estate consisted of Lot #24 which was 60 feet in front on the north side of Main Street by 180 feet, on which was erected a log house and kitchen and a blacksmith shop. Milligan’s personal property consisted of:

  • 7 thrashing machines and horse powers
  • 10 clover machines
  • 1 first rate turning lathe with its tools
  • 1 turning lathe “horse power”
  • 2 elegant carriages
  • 6 elegant buggys “lined with fine cloth and well finished”
  • 3 neat Dearborn wagons
  • 1 large broad wheeled wagon, new
  • 1 second handed Barouche and 1 second handed Gig
  • 4 sets of elegant white and yellow mounted harness
  • Riding bridles, martingales, breech bands, cruppers, collars, blind bridles, back bands, belly bands and halters
  • 2 sets of Smith tools, 1 set of Coachsmith tools and 5 sets of Carpenters tools
  • 1 machine for bending tire
  • A quantity of plough irons, and other iron, old iron and scraps
  • A large lot of plank, scantling boards, etc.
  • 1 elegant new fashioned Cooking stove
  • Household and Kitchen furniture of various kinds, etc.

By 1850, Milligan was living in Shenandoah County, Virginia where he kept a hotel. In 1860 he was a hotel keeper in Allegheny County, Virginia.4 Milligan died in 1884 and is buried in Cedarwood Cemetery in Edinburg, Shenandoah County, Virginia.5

This entry covers the following people:

This entry covers the following places:

This entry covers the following subjects:

Similar Entry

References (Sources Available at CCHS in bold)

[1] Cumberland County Prothonotary, Papers: Mechanics Liens 1838.036. SciFi Case 1838 November Term #50. Cumberland County Archives, Carlisle, PA.

[2] Cumberland County Prothonotary, Papers: Insolvent Debtor Petitions 1839.1795. Cumberland County Archives, Carlisle, PA.

[3]American Volunteer, February 28, 1839.

[4] The 1870 U. S. Census of Shenandoah County, Virginia shows the household of farmer William B. Milligan. He was born in 1801 in New York. His wife, Mary, was born in 1803 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, their son John D. was born in Cumberland County, Pa. in 1843. In 1880, William and his wife were living with their son John and his wife in Madison, Shenandoah Co., Virginia.

[5] Ancestry.com U.S. Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current.