Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History

Milam-McKinney Family Papers

Manuscript Collection: MC040

Collection Summary

Creator: Milam family
Title: Milam-McKinney family papers
Dates: 1809-1941
(Bulk: 1828-1836)
Abstract: Correspondence, financial papers, legal papers, printed materials, photographs, creative works and a map document the families of Benjamin Rush Milam and Collin McKinney from 1809 to 1941.
Identification: MC040
Quantity: 1 box (.4 linear ft.)
Language: Materials are in English and Spanish.
Repository: Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History, La Porte, Texas

Creator Sketch

Soldier, colonizer and entrepreneur Benjamin Rush Milam was born in Frankfort, Kentucky, on October 20, 1788, the fifth of six children of Moses and Elizabeth Pattie Boyd Milam. He began a life of traveling after serving with the Kentucky state militia in the War of 1812. In New Orleans in 1819, Milam joined an expeditionary force to help the Mexican revolutionaries gain independence from Spain. He served as a colonel and was twice imprisoned and twice released.

In 1824 Milam was granted Mexican citizenship and made a colonel in the Mexican army. That year he also met English entrepreneur and Mexican army general Arthur G. Wavell, with whom he became a partner in a silver mine in Nuevo Leon and a licensed empresario for Texas colonies. Milam managed the Wavell Colony, located in what is now Lamar, Red River, and Bowie counties, as well as portions of Fannin and Hunt counties in Texas, and Miller County in Arkansas. Milam's duty of drawing settlers from the United States was hampered by Mexican hostility to slavery, massive log jams on the Red River, and disputes between the United States and Mexico over the eastern boundary of the colony.

In 1835 the Mexican government was overthrown and Milam was captured and imprisoned by Santa Anna's forces. He eventually escaped and made it to the Texas border in October of 1835. He joined the cause for Texas independence and participated in the Texian capture of Goliad. Convinced that the army's official decision not to attack San Antonio would be a terrible mistake, Milam rallied 300 volunteers on December 4, 1835, to strike the next morning, thus drastically changing the course of the revolution. On the morning of December 7, Milam was struck in the head by an enemy sniper's bullet, killing him instantly. Two days later General Cos' Mexican force surrendered to the Texas rebels.

Collin McKinney was born on April 17, 1766, in Hunterdown County, New Jersey, the second of ten children of Daniel and Massie Blatchley McKinney. The family migrated to Virginia in 1770 and in 1788 to Kentucky. In 1792 McKinney married Annie Amy More, with whom he had four children. After Annie's death, he wed Elizabeth Leek Coleman, in 1805, and had six children with her. McKinney moved with his immediate and extended family to Hempstead County, Arkansas in the mid-1820s and there met and befriended Benjamin Rush Milam. Between 1830 and 1831 McKinney and most of his relatives moved into the Wavell Colony. He knew the colony was in disputed territory but was lured by Milam's promise of large land grants.

McKinney became involved in the burgeoning Texas government. One of five delegates from the Red River Colony to the 1836 Washington-on-the-Brazos Convention and one of five appointed to a committee to draft the Texas Declaration of Independence, McKinney was a signatory to the document. He was a member of the committee that produced the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, and was elected as a Red River County delegate to the First, Second and Fourth congresses of the Republic. In 1840 he joined other family members in the portion of Fannin County that became Grayson and Collin counties. The latter county and its seat, McKinney, were both named in his honor. He died on September 9, 1861, at his home in Collin County. In his 95 years McKinney was a land surveyor, merchant, politician and lay preacher, and a subject or citizen of six different governments.

Jefferson Milam (1802-1844), only son of Archibald and Susan Shannon Milam, was Ben Milam's nephew and worked with his uncle as a surveyor of the Wavell Colony, beginning in 1826. Milam settled in the area in 1830, and in 1831 married Eliza Serene McKinney (1813-1904), youngest daughter of Collin McKinney. The couple had ten children, including Robert A. Milam (1840-1913), who grew up in Bowie County, Texas, served in the Confederate Army, ran a brick manufacturing business in Cedar Bayou, and served as a judge of a justice court in Harrisburg. Robert Milam married Lucy Webb Milam.

Scope and Content Note

Correspondence, financial papers, legal papers, printed materials, photographs, creative works and a map document the families of Benjamin Rush Milam and Collin McKinney from 1809 to 1941. The business dealings and colonization activities of Benjamin Rush Milam, Collin McKinney, and their associates, especially in the 1820s and 1830s in the Wavell Colony of the Mexican state of Texas, are recorded in the correspondence and financial and legal papers. Ben Milam's correspondence consists of three letters sent and 16 received from 1827 to 1835, concerning the Wavell Colony, a silver mine in Mexico, and Milam's visit to England, circa 1831. Five letters to Collin McKinney, 1836 to 1854, cover military matters, martial law in Texas, disputes over Ben Milam's lands, and annexation of Texas to the United States. Other correspondence includes proclamations by David G. Burnet and Sam Houston (one letter each) in 1836 to the people of the Red River settlements, and four letters from Robert A. Milam concerning his experiences as a Confederate soldier before, during and after capture by Union forces at the battle of Vicksburg. The financial papers of Ben Milam consist of statements, bills, inventories and receipts, from 1828 to 1834; his legal papers include printed colonization contract forms, other contracts, petitions, a lease and a promissory note. The legal papers of Collin McKinney and his family are membership affidavits and certificates. The Printed Materials series contains speeches before the U.S. House of Representatives and the Texas legislature, as well as newspaper clippings of obituaries on various Milam and McKinney family members. Creative Works consists of poetry and genealogical data. The map is an 1879 Rand McNally map of Texas and the Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma). Two photographs of paintings of Benjamin Rush Milam, and one photograph of the Collin McKinney Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, circa 1921, are also of interest. The collection is arranged by series, according to type of material, then by sub-series, according to the creator. Those documents of the Correspondence, Financial and Legal series not addressed to or written by any Milam or McKinney family member are arranged under "Collected" sub-series of their respective series.


Organized into nine series and 28 subseries: I. Correspondence; II. Financial; III. Legal; IV. Printed Materials; V. Creative works; VI. Photographs; VII. Maps; VIII. Works of art; IX. Photostats; arrangement is alphabetical and chronological within subseries.


Restrictions on Access


Terms Governing Use

Open for research by appointment.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the San Jacinto Museum of History. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Library Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Jacinto Museum of History as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Index Terms

Kerman, George
McKinney, Collin, 1766-1861--Archives
McKinney family
Milam, Benjamin Rush, 1788-1835--Archives
Milam, Benjamin Rush, 1788-1835--Portraits
Milam, Eliza S., 1813-1904
Milam family
Milam, James, b. 1792
Milam, Jefferson, 1802-1844
Milam, Robert A., 1840-1913
Williams, Earl Stanley
Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Collin McKinney Chapter--Photographs
Wavell Colony (Tex.)
Land tenure--Texas
Silver mines and mining--Mexico
Collin County (Tex.)
Texas--Annexation to the United States
Texas--History--To 1846
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives, Confederate
Vicksburg (Miss.)--History--Siege, 1863
An act to organize the county courts, and to define their powers and jurisdiction
Constitutional Governor of the State of Coahuila and Texas to its inhabitants
Map of Texas and the Indian Territory
Proclamation to the citizens of Texas residing in the municipality of Red River
Speech of Charles Brown, of Pennsylvania, in the House of Representatives, February 3, 1849: in reply to Hon. Richard W. Thompson, of Indiana, on abolition and slavery
Speech of Mr. David S. Kaufman, of Texas, delivered in the House of Representatives, Monday, June 29, 1846: in committee of the whole on the state of the Union, on the bill reported from the Committee of Ways and Means, amendatory of the Tariff Law of 1842
To the citizens of Texas west of Red River

Other Archival Resources

Special Collections Division, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries; Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin; Baylor University.

Administrative Information


[Identification of Item], Milam-McKinney Family Papers, MC040, San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Texas.


Purchased from Robert A. Milam, Jr., 1954.

Processing Information

Processed by Joel Minor, 2001.


"Milam, Benjamin Rush." The Handbook of Texas Online.

"McKinney, Collin." The Handbook of Texas Online.

"Wavell, Arthur Goodall." The Handbook of Texas Online.


Correspondence: Benjamin Rush Milam

box folder
34 1 Sent: W.P. Hickman; Gov. Pope; E.W. Williams 1830-1832
2 Received: I.L. Bennett; N.D. Ellis 1830-1832
3 Received: W.P. Hickman 1831-1833
4 Received: Harrison Hopkins; P.H. Hunter 1829-1831
5 Received: I.R. Lewis 1835
6 Received: J.R. Lynch; George Miller; D.L. Murch; W.S. Parrot 1828-1831
7 Received: Rector; E.W. Riley; Johnston L. Tines; J.W. Zacharin 1827-1832

Correspondence: Mrs. E. Milam

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34 8 Received: Envelope undated

Correspondence: James Milam

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34 9 Sent: Collin McKinney 1841-1845

Correspondence: Jefferson Milam

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34 10 Sent: Eliza Milam 1838

Correspondence: Robert A. Milam

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34 11 Sent: C.M. Milam; Eliza Milam; Laura L. Matthews 1830-1863

Correspondence: S. Milam

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34 12 Sent: E.S. Williams 1830 June 30

Correspondence: Milam Family

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34 13 Sent & Received: Benjamin T. Milam; Laura Milam 1929-1940

Correspondence: Collin McKinney

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34 14 Received: Robert Allen; Charles Carron; John H. Dryer; Archibald Fry; J.W. Throckmorton, envelope 1836-1858

Correspondence: Collected

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34 15 David G. Burnet: "Proclamation to the Citizens of Texas Residing in the Municipality of Red River" 1836
16 J. Coleman - fragment 1834 November 29
17 T.N. Davis to L.D. Cable 1833 April 25
18 Elias Gilman to Mr. Stanley 1834 September 19
19 Sam Houston: "To the Citizens of Texas West of Red River" 1836 July 2
20 George Kerman to George Aldrich, Matthew Gray, W.P. Hickman 1828-1830
21 Earl Stanley Williams to Sam T. Bell; Joe T. Dewitt; P.T. Hickman; J.R. Lynch 1831-1837
22 Major Williams to Thomas R. Neff 1837 March 18

Financial: Benjamin Rush Milam

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34 23 Statements of Accounts 1831-1833, undated
24 Bills 1828-1834
25 General: Actions of Debt; List of Supplies; Receipt 1831-1833

Financial: Lucy D. Milam

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34 26 School Tax Receipt 1932 December 31

Financial: Collected

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34 27 George Kerman: Statement of Account; Inventory of Estate 1830 December 3, undated
28 Statements of Accounts 1827-1828, undated
29 Receipt undated

Legal: Benjamin Rush Milam

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34 30 Petitions 1830-1831
31 Contracts 1830-1831
32 Colonization Contracts - Spanish 1826-1827
33 Colonization Contracts - Photostat 1826-1827
34 Transcripts - handwritten translations of colonization contracts 1826-1827
35 Powers of Attorney 1831 February 28
36 General: lease; promissory note; petition fragment 1831-circa 1834

Legal: A. W. Milam

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34 37 Will 1863 January 27

Legal: Robert A. Milam

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34 38 Military Documents 1863

Legal: Collin McKinney

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34 39 Deacon Certificate: Photostat 1817 October 11
40 Affidavits: Photostats 1835-1854

Legal: Collin and Elizabeth McKinney

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34 41 Membership Certificates: Photostats 1846 May 10

Legal: Mary McKinney

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34 42 Affidavit: Photostat 1809 June 9

Legal: Collected

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34 43 Affidavits 1824-1829, undated
44 Court Documents 1827-1828
45 General: promissory note; certificate of agreement; land survey notes; resolution; public notice 1827-1835, undated

Printed Materials: Broadside

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34 46 Address: "The Constitutional Governor of the State of Coahuila and Texas to its Inhabitants" 1835 April 15

Printed Materials: Pamphlets

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34 47 Act of the Republic of Texas Legislature: "...the Establishment of a General Land Office" 1837
48 Speeches by U.S. Representatives David Kaufman & Charles Brown: "The Mexican War"; "Amendatory of the Tariff Law of 1842"; "Abolition and Slavery" 1846-1849
49 Memorial by James Milam: "Memorial of the Heirs of Benjamin R. Milam, to the Legislature of Texas, Praying Relief" 1851

Printed Materials: Newspaper Leaves

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34 50 Telegraph & Texas Register; Bonham Advertiser 1839-1849

Printed Materials: Newspaper Clippings

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34 51 Obituaries: Eliza S. Milam; Albert W. McKinney; Alonzo Steele; Robert A. Milam 1904-1914
52 Biographical Renderings: Benjamin Rush Milam undated
53 General: roster; picture & caption; two articles 1912-circa 1941

Creative Works

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34 54 Poems: "Ballad of Ben Milam"; "The Alamo - March 6, 1836"; "In Loving Memory of Lutie" undated
55 General: note on death of Benjamin Rush Milam; biographical sketch of Collin McKinney; genealogical data undated


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34 56 Benjamin Rush Milam; James Milam; Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Collin McKinney Chapter; unknown woman 1921, undated


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34 57 Texas and Indian Territory 1879

Works of Art

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34 58 Illustration: Benjamin Rush Milam statue undated


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34 59 Petition for land; correspondence; news article 1830-1914