"'Black Jack’ was a famous cook,” wrote Jeremiah Zeamer, editor of the American Volunteer newspaper. “He had a great reputation as a cook and caterer. Whenever in that part of the county there was a wedding, a dance, or a party of any kind for which a feast was to be prepared, ‘Black Jack’ was sent for to superintend the cooking and set the table, and so well did he do this that he was always in high favor with people who had appetites.”
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