Oliver was born about 1837 in New Jersey, facts taken from his service records. It appears he stayed with the John Read family in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 1850 and attended school. Prior to the 1850 census, there is no list of names making it difficult to learn more about his background. Further investigation will let us know if he is a relative of the family, possibly orphaned, or apprenticing as a surveyor with Mr. Read.
In the 1861 Binghamton City Directory, Oliver is boarding on American Street and working as a cigar maker. At the same time, the war between the states has begun. Stephen D. Wilbur and Oliver Hunt Millham join the 109th Infantry in August 1862, Company E is their assignment.
Oliver performed well in the army and demonstrated leadership skills that were rewarded with promotions. By February 1865, he has attained the rank of captain.
- Promoted to Full Corporal on 18 Oct 1862.
- Promoted to Full Sergeant on 19 Nov 1863.
- Promoted to Full 1st Lieutenant on 18 Jul 1864.
- Promoted to Full 1st Sergeant on 01 Jan 1864.
- Promoted to Full Captain on 1 Feb 1865.
- Mustered out on 04 Jun 1865 at Delaney House, Washington, DC.
From May 1864 to April 1865, his men were engaged in almost daily battles or on picket duty. Notable among Millham’s first assignments as captain is the attack on Fort Stedman where The “Fighting” 109th recaptured Battery Number 11 on March 25, 1865. The 6th and 9th Corps held the front from the Appomattox to Fort Davis, March 29 thru April 2, 1865. Their final battle, and for practical purposes, the final battle of the Civil War was Petersburg that April day when Oliver’s future brother-in-law, Stephen Wilbur, received a shrapnel fragment in the right arm leading to amputation. Oliver attended the Grand Review in Washington, D. C. on May 23rd.
Capt. Oliver Hunt Millham of Binghamton married Sarah Wilbur of Hawleyton on August 8, 1866, in a ceremony performed by Rev. Paddock at the Hawleyton Methodist Episcopal Church. Their first child, son Ulysses, born May 13, 1867, died eight and a half months later on February 3, 1868. Another son is born in November of that year and named Ira Oliver Millham.
Dairy farming, the most common agricultural industry in the Southern Tier, carried the risk of bovine tuberculosis which could pass to humans prior to pasteurization. Several of our 19th and early 20th ancestors succumbed to this disease, and Oliver contracted it in the early 1870s. He moved his family to Raleigh, North Carolina to find relief for his symptoms which he claimed worked in an October 7, 1872 letter to a friend subsequently published in the Binghamton newspaper.
Dear Friend (Capt. M. B. Robbins):
It has been a long time since I have heard from you either directly or indirectly, and have a few minutes leisure I occupy them in writing you a few lines. Frist, you may know that I came to this place on account of my health; in short, I have consumption (tuberculosis), and if you have a friend who is afflicted in that way send them here as I can assure that this climate has done much for me; indeed, I am quite sure had I remained in Broome county, “hugging the delusive phantom of hope”, I would not have been alive to-day. I am a confirmed consumptive, but this climate is so genial I have the promise of at least a few years yet. I was in Binghamton during the month of August, and I assure you I grew worse every day after my arrival, and I note that I felt better just as soon as I returned to this place.
In my next I will write more of North Carolina, its products, natural advantages in farming, etc., and also of the many openings in the manufacturing line.
Yours, O.H. Millham
Oliver died in North Carolina on August 20, 1873. Burial took place at the Cline Cemetery, Hawleyton, New York, next to his infant son, Ulysses S. Millham.
The local GAR Post 610 is named in his honor along with the O.H. Millham, W.H.C where they held a maple sugar party on April 28, 1884 in Blanding Hall.
Husband of 3rd great-aunt
Ira Oliver Millham, his son, 1 cousin 3x removed