Milligans’ ancestor helped found two Northwest Florida towns

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Rufus Milligan house in Milton, Fla., which was built in 1889. It has been restored and serves currently as a museum. | Courtesy photo

The earliest ancestor of the Milligan family who resided in the Covington County area to be found by this writer was Rufus Milligan. Rufus was the son of Stephen and Susannah (Passmore) Milligan, who resided in Wilkerson County, Ga.

Stephen was born in 1795, and Susannah was born in 1790 in Wilkerson County. Rufus also had a brother named Stephen Passmore Milligan.

One record shows that Rufus Milligan was born in Alabama in 1827. In the 1885 census for Santa Rosa County, Florida, Rufus and family were enumerated in the following manner. Rufus, 60 years of age; wife, C.E., 55; W.F., 28; Mary, 26; Adam Joseph, 24; Kate, 22; and Senca, 21. Rufus had married Caroline Franklin, daughter of William Barnett Franklin and Martha (Brunson) (1804-1901), circa 1848. The census record indicated Caroline was born in 1827 in Clark County, Ala.

Rufus and Caroline had at least two additional daughters in 1885 who were probably already married and living in their own homes at the time. Olive Milligan was born in 1849, and Sarah Alice Milligan was born in 1855.

A son, Sumpter Milligan, was born in 1859, was not in the household in 1885, so he may have been married or on his own as well. There may have been other children as well who have not been identified.

The information gathered to date shows Rufus and Caroline rearing the following children: Louise, b. ca 1845, m. Ed Doty; Mary E., b. ca 1747; Olive, b. 1849, m. (1) Cal Holley (2) ? Mahone; Adam Joseph, b. 1851; William F., b. 1853, m. Carrie Mahone; Sarah Alice, b. 1855, m. ? Goodwin; Kate, b. 1857, m. Charles Perrenot; and Sumpter, b. 1859, m. Minnie Mints.

Rufus and family resided in Santa Rosa County, Fla., at least from before 1860 until his death in 1891. He established the first sawmill in his area, and became one of the earliest settlers in that section. His business success as well as his family name gave rise to the name for the Town of Milligan, Fla. Rufus later moved to a site called Mill Town, which would later become the Town of Milton. In that location he prospered quite well financially.

Rufus expanded his growing business by adding additional partners and extending the railroad on to Laurel Hill, Fla. There is also a good chance that he was responsible for taking the railroad on to Florala. Through his business endeavors and successes, Rufus Milligan became a very wealthy man.

Rufus built a fine house in Milton and later had an impressive Victorian house constructed. Fortunately, that house has been preserved and renovated into a museum, which is currently being operated.

At least three of Rufus’s children moved to Covington County and made their homes in Andalusia. William F. Milligan and wife, Carrie, arrived during 1905, and Kate Milligan and husband, Charles Perrinot, came around the same time. Sumpter “Sump” B. Milligan and his family arrived here soon after 1900. Sumpter became a significant builder of Andalusia, so his family and contributions to the town will be presented in the next column.

The sources for today’s writing include research conducted by Dr. William Hansford of Birmingham, census records,, and Gus and Ruby Bryan’s Covington County History, 1821-1976.

Anyone who might any correction to the above facts or who has additional information on the Milligan and/or Perrenot families is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or email:

FAMILY REUNION: Descendants of Isaac Wilson Odom will gather for their reunion on Sat., May 28, Memorial Day weekend, at the home of Peggy Chesteen at 29720 Hammett Road, Andalusia.

Activities should begin around 10 a.m. and last until. It is hoped that some music makers will play and sing for the group in the afternoon. Everyone is encouraged to attend and bring a “covered dish” dinner.